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Discussion of the Inclusion of mod civilization in A24


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2 hours ago, Genava55 said:

For the moment the game is coherent with this huge European/North-African/Middle-Eastern network but adding the Han dynasty for example will mess it up a little bit because the Han are very far and the only pretext should be obscure stretching and justification through steppe civilization (a black-box where you can throw every cultures in to justify anything). Don't forget too that at this time China is not an homogeneous world. There is a lot of other factions that could be justifiably introduced through the Han, like the Baiyue/Minyue, the Qiangs/Chiangs, the Dians and the Nanyue.

I honestly think you're the one stretching it :P There is nothing obscure about the (military, economic and cultural) contact of the Han Chinese with the steppe peoples... The steppe peoples (Xiongnu and Scythians) stretched from China to the Black Sea, which is obviously among the many other prime reasons to have them in order to tie in the East with the West. The term "justification" is unjustified here. It's history, not conjecture. Also having the most powerful nomadic civs of the day and their associated gameplay would be pretty unique, and a great added value to a genre like classical RTS as a whole! Comparing the "Baiyue/Minyue, the Qiangs/Chiangs, the Dians and the Nanyue" to the Han Chinese is a little bit ridiculous, so I'm not even going to go there. 

 

2 hours ago, Genava55 said:

Even if I'm not against new civilizations, I agree and I think adding new factions should not be a priority. Even the Scythians, the Thracians or the Hans are excessive and we should let the mods experimenting and gathering information.

Overly subjective. And adding new civilizations has little to do with other parts of the game-develoment. Totally different people put different types of effort into the different areas of development. Working on new civs, for example, has little to do with pathfinder reworks, AI, performance optimizations etc... Different "departments"... Stanislass is a rare example of an all rounder, but most people focus on one specific part of the development (Code/Art/Research/Legal/Promotion/etc). Of course there's always a lot of overlap, but halting civ development does NOTHING to speed up development in other departments. I'm 100% confident it's the opposite. New civs generate excitement and attract new crowds. They benefit the development as more people become interested, and may end up becoming contributors in other departments.

 

2 hours ago, Genava55 said:

I think there are two extremely opposed examples of successful RTS: AoE with numerous clone factions, Starcraft with only three factions but with huge difference and depth.

0 A.D is clearly between both, but we must ask ourselves the question of which side it is heading.

 I don't think 0AD should be looking at these games for too much inspiration anymore. Especially not Starcraft. Both of those games are fantasy based (yes, AoE is historical fantasy), whereas 0AD attempts historical accuracy, where it's possible. We should take it further, and make each civ unique based on their actual history! There is soooo much history to work with to draw inspiration from, and you conveniently left out the Total War series, which can feature more than a hundred factions in a single game! That is the direction we should take, and we should stop entertaining the idea that a 3 faction system is even remotely relevant to 0AD.

Total War uses cultural groups. This provides the basis for "macro-balancing". Different factions within the same cultural group would have more superficial differences (micro-balancing). This system would work like a charm for 0AD. My preliminary thoughts:

Macro-balancing: there are 4 main civ-types:

  • Barbarian
  • Greco-Roman
  • MMA (Mixed Martial Arts)
  • Nomadic

Barbarian civs have a simple gameplay, boom early, recruit large numbers of relatively poorly armoured units. Greco-Romans have more advanced gameplay, are unrivalled in terms of heavy infantry, but generally have mediocre cavalry and skirmishers. MMA civs mix heavy infantry and advanced gameplay with good Barbarian or nomadic mercenaries. Their units, however good, are outmatched by their counterparts in specialized civs. Nomadic civs are nomadic… Strong offense, miserable defense. 

Of course this is a very simplistic representation of what I have in mind, and I'm sure people like @wowgetoffyourcellphone could develop this system into a beautiful flower.

Also, there is nothing arbitrary about selecting the most powerful civilizations of the day. Also, China has a population of 1.38 BILLION people and one of the richest histories in the WORLD. Almost 1/5th of the world population. Talking about "fairness" when preferring the Chinese over any other civ at this point is very weird. 

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I split this topic as best as I could sorry if some posts are missing. To get on this topic. The inclusion of mod civilizations have been discussed over the years to some extent and ended up

I can stop saying it. And watch people trying to do stuff in vain and lose hope and motivation, like I nearly lost mine last year of ever getting inside the team one day because I wasn't good enough.

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 nothi

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30 minutes ago, Sundiata said:

Different "departments"... Stanislass is a rare example of an all rounder, but most people focus on one specific part of the development (Code/Art/Research/Legal/Promotion/etc). Of course there's always a lot of overlap, but halting civ development does NOTHING to speed up development in other departments. I'm 100% confident it's the opposite. New civs generate excitement and attract new crowds. They benefit the development as more people become interested, and may end up becoming contributors in other departments. 

I have seen many mods dying for this reason in huge varieties of game but maybe my experience is wrong. I think having a basic game that works well and is well-honed is what attracts people with useful skills. I won't argue anymore since I'm not opposed to new civilizations in the game, I am simply a follower of caution and temperance. If adding new factions does not affect the development of the game then why not. But if you add more tactical depth and more depth to each faction, there is already a lot of work. 

And stay modest, bro'. 0 A.D. is still a fantasy game. Just like the Total War series. It is only an artistic interpretation of history for amusement. 

 

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1 hour ago, stanislas69 said:

I really hope to do what I call the engine split for A24

does it means:

1- we have 1 core game , and each single civilization become separate from main game 

2- user can install game and optionally install civilizations... for example i may only install Persian ...

Am i right? interesting idea :)

 

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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.

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Let me just add my 2 cents, how will multiplayer work properly if every civ is optional? Won't you have to download every single faction regardless, so that you can ensure compatibility with the host's game? For example say if player one downloaded the Romans and spartans factions, player 2 downloads the Kushites and Athenians, won't they all need the exact same civ roster to be compatible? If I just download the Spartans, I won't be able to join a host's game if they have athens, kush and rome, because I would have missing files/mods,  this would kind of mess up multiplayer with each person having their own roster of factions? 

What about multiplayer balance? One could download a super overpowered civ while the latter could have a very weak civ.

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3 hours ago, Prodigal Son said:

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.

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. 

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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.

 

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0AD is a very special game. One of the most special Classical and Historical RTS games in my opinion (for a number of reasons). The history is paramount in this. No other game of this particular format has been so serious with regard to history, and that's a major selling point for a lot of us. Age of Empires is truly a joke from a historicity perspective. It's not good at all, and a lot of us have been waiting nearly 2 decades for a game that at least tries to be accurate within the limited format of "classical" RTS. 0AD isn't perfect, I know, but the intention is there. This should be stimulated (as was the original intention to have historically diverse gameplay), not nipped in the bud by talk about 3-4 civs, or many identical civs. There are plenty of neurotic fantasy games with the desired balance for competitive play. More often than not, historical elements and details that could offer juicy game-play are shunned because of balance concerns. Why in the world would you want to turn this into another starcraft (and probably fail). In my opinion, apart from the missing campaigns, 0AD also left Age of Empires in the dust a few alphas ago.

The game has been in development for 15+ years, so development time is not something I count. This isn't a commercial project with cut-throat deadlines. If it takes 5 years to develop a certain feature, no problem, I'd still be here and excited once it's ready, as I've been following the development since 2011, I get more excited each year. I've seen many things happen that I didn't expect, and am pleasantly surprised by all the developments each alpha. I've seen the impossible become possible. I just abhor the idea of "going back". Where I'm from, we have a saying: "Forward ever, backward never!". 

Why copying game-mechanics from popular fantasy games? Why compete with fantasy at all, if we have our own (pretty large) historical niche. Instead of doing what all those other non-historical guys have done, and probably achieve nothing but mediocrity in a sludge-fest of hundreds of similar games, why not try something truly original? Something that emphasises the historical character of the game, rather than reduce it to a superficial historical veneer? What would be the point of the game if all the historical nuances are smoothed out in favor of competitive gameplay? What would be the point? Not that the one precludes the other, but why is that competitive play seemingly always takes precedence over diverse and exciting SP-experience, while the vast majority of players aren't competitive players, at all... In fact, most people never even touch multiplayer! 

In short, most of us don't want another starcraft. Please. Age of Empires is passé. They had their time. There's a new king. We shouldn't start backtracking now. 

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Also, the asymmetrical elements of Total War definitely carry over into MP-games as well, and certainly haven't been an impedance to its popularity. 

So some some civs might become "stronger" in a general sense than others. This should hardly be a surprise to anyone that has ever picked up a history book. You're still free to choose whichever civ you want, so if you're all about your rating, then you go for 1 of those 5 or 6 "OP-civs". The thing is, a lot of us really enjoy fighting from an underdog position. It's supremely gratifying to win a game when you were dealt "a bad hand". Asymmetry can be just as much an asset as a liability. Especially if it increases unpredictability, like a good player trashing everyone with a "low-tier" civ. It's fun! Mediocrity is always a liability in a game, never an asset. 

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You know, it is not mandatory to sacrifice the historical part for the gameplay. A healthy game will get anyway a lot of modders because they are looking for a new mean of expression, a medium to make what they want. Rome Total War 1 was awful but easy to mod, it got one of the biggest community. Mount and Blade is a fantasy game, it got even historical mods too. The engine of 0 A.D. is well suited for modders then you have no reason to worry.

Having a competitive community in the other hand...

Especially in the era of live streaming and gaming channels.

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5 minutes ago, Genava55 said:

You know, it is not mandatory to sacrifice the historical part for the gameplay. A healthy game will get anyway a lot of modders because they are looking for a new mean of expression, a medium to make what they want. Rome Total War 1 was awful but easy to mod, it got one of the biggest community. Mount and Blade is a fantasy game, it got even historical mods too. The engine of 0 A.D. is well suited for modders then you have no reason to worry.

 Having a competitive community in the other hand...

Especially in the era of live streaming and gaming channels.

Sure, mods can fix a lot. Not denying that. But why does SP take a backseat? I'm concerned with the base-player, casual Joe looking for a good historical RTS. Not a stale remake of fantasy genres, but something that oozes good history. Majority of gamers don't mod their games, and having to download mods to make the game interesting is the wrong approach. The game should be interesting by default, not a stale starcraft of AoK clone. I'd rather strongly argue that all the multiplayer guys and galls should come together and agree on their MP-wishes, and put out an official "Competitive Mod" each alpha. Those people are much more likely to actually download and use mods. Then we can finally develop some actual gameplay for the rest of us.  

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28 minutes ago, Sundiata said:

Sure, mods can fix a lot. Not denying that. But why does SP take a backseat? I'm concerned with the base-player, casual Joe looking for a good historical RTS. Not a stale remake of fantasy genres, but something that oozes good history. Majority of gamers don't mod their games, and having to download mods to make the game interesting is the wrong approach. The game should be interesting by default, not a stale starcraft of AoK clone. I'd rather strongly argue that all the multiplayer guys and galls should come together and agree on their MP-wishes, and put out an official "Competitive Mod" each alpha. Those people are much more likely to actually download and use mods. Then we can finally develop some actual gameplay for the rest of us.   

First of all, I'm not a competitive guy. My favorite RTS was AoM which I have mostly played in single player mode. I don't know why you take this badly the comparison with Starcraft and AoE. It was only a fundamental comparison. AoE is a clone factory balanced by numerical bonuses/penalties with only an aesthetic polish. Starcraft is a game where the factions are very different. It is only a fundamental question about the gameplay I'm rising: Do we want to add new factions to increase the depth of the gameplay and to propose a new way to play? Or do we want to add new factions to give more aesthetic diversity ?

I think that currently we could already exploit more what is already created. 

Edit: For example if we stay on a basis with CC, barracks, fortress, market, houses etc. I don't see the interest to add a nomad faction. Even historically less-urban and less power centralized factions have the same basis than the urban and imperial ones in the current state.

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1 minute ago, Genava55 said:

First of all, I'm not a competitive guy. My favorite RTS was AoM which I have mostly played in single player mode. I don't know why you take this badly the comparison with Starcraft and AoE. It was only a fundamental comparison. AoE is a clone factory balanced by numerical bonuses/penalties with only an aesthetic polish. Starcraft is a game where the factions are very different.

I get the comparison, I just think it's been high time to think outside the box and look beyond the horizon. Not be tied down by a very limited 20 year old spectrum. 

 

Quote

It is only a fundamental question about the gameplay I'm rising: Do we want to add new factions to increase the depth of the gameplay and to propose a new way to play? Or do we want to add new factions to give more aesthetic diversity ?

It's not a question of "or". These things aren't mutually exclusive, at all.

 

4 minutes ago, Genava55 said:

 I think that currently we could already exploit more what is already created. 

That's definitely true. 

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2 minutes ago, Sundiata said:

It's not a question of "or". These things aren't mutually exclusive, at all.

Yes I agree. It is just to highlight the two ends of the spectra. The truth lies between an unproportional mix between both.

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@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

 

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:) 

@Genava55 Sometimes we like to argue a lot, but in the end, we all just want the same thing: a great game. 

I know I'm overly ambitious with regard to what I'd like to see developed, but the Pyrogenesis game-engine is really a dream come true. I'd like to see 0AD, as the flagship project, to make the most use it's potential, and do what all those other games couldn't. Real historicity. Real sense of immersion. Those things require more depth. Not more neurotic microing that scared off the bulk of RTS gamers a decade ago. I think the starcraft and AoK analogy is problematic because those games themselves are problematic, because of the nostalgic hold they have over many people. They're not considered the best games because they're objectively better than other games in the genre, but because they were epic in their day, innovative and refreshing. Now nostalgia is left, but the old formulas will never inspire such feelings of exhilaration again, because they're no longer innovative or refreshing. They're standard, and to achieve the same feeling in a new game, entirely new stuff needs to be developed, not seen before. That doesn't mean that all the standard stuff needs to be thrown out, at all. But the Steppe cultures for example offer a lot of potential in regard to never before seen gameplay. Adding never before seen civilizations (for most people) and their unique traits (like Kushites and Mauryas) is another thing that really adds exotic flair, while civs like Gaul, Rome and Athens provide us with the well known civs we're all familiar with, and provide an anchor in time. The biggest draw-back for city builders is that they lack good combat. The problem with battle simulators like TW is that they lack good base-building. 0AD already has a relatively developed mix of features. The features just need polishing. Microing needs to be removed from some places, to allow more depth in others, particularly eco and civilian stuff as well as battle mechanics. Some people are scared this might become an unholy concoction that will never work. I'd argue the opposite. The deadening simplicity of the eco, combined with complicated unit-micro tactics that take advantage of substandard mechanics that most people aren't even aware of, is the real unholy concoction.  

 

@Prodigal Son Thank you for your extensive explanation, I always appreciate when someone takes their time to explain their position. I don't have much to argue about what you said.

5 minutes ago, Prodigal Son said:

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.

This is exactly why I'd like to see a coin/gold/silver resource introduced into 0AD, because it could do so much for balancing, helping to nuance costs and expand the sense of economy beyond resource gathering (and sending a cart back and forth to "markets" in the middle of nowhere, serving no one). Some people are scared of more than 4 resources. Like 5 or 6 resources are too difficult to keep track of. I don't understand that. 

0AD can be in a league of its own. It just requires bravery, patience and a lot of skilled contributors. 

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9 minutes ago, Prodigal Son said:

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? 

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.

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@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.

 

Edited by Prodigal Son
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In marketing aspects, I believe what the game is trying to achieve in its Mediterranean-centered theme is to have its own branding. Branding plays an important role in establishing an impact on your target market. You need to have a strong and solid identity in order to be remarkable. In my opinion, this is part of the game design. This is the objective of the developers, to come up with a historical RTS with an ancient Mediterranean.

DLCs or expansion packs could come along afterwards. This could be observed in the industry, best example for this would be how the developers of the Total War series, slowly absorb other cultures via DLCs.

This is also why we have mods for the game and an active modding community here, to satisfy the urge of the community to have them as playable factions which the game could not include at the moment, for reasons stated in previous discussions. Adding more factions at the current state of the game will only increase the workload of the developers and moderators and will consume their schedule even more at the sacrifice of the free time which could have been spent on currently open tickets which will further speed up the overall development progress of the game.

In my personal opinion, I am not against this, I personally like the idea of having more factions. It is just that this feature is not ideal for the current state of the game. Maybe this could be worked out in the future. :)

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17 hours ago, Prodigal Son said:

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.

There are games with 100+ resources, and this not what I want for 0AD, but I don't think having 5 or 6 resources could be too difficult for anybody to handle. I think having some sort of currency could really help soft cap potential OP-units, by adding a different requirement than just throwing some more metal at it. This is one of the problems of the game currently, people just recruit the "best" units they can "afford". If a slightly more complicated requirement like acquiring "coin" to pay for champions or mercenaries, you'd automatically have a more diversified army: peasant levies → citizen soldiers → champions, costing food/wood, food/wood/metal, food/wood/metal/coin respectively, for example. Coin could also be used in research and construction of monuments like the wonder and even temples. It could also refreshen the current market mechanics. Maybe you could even demand tribute from weaker players.

Another "resource" I'm fond of is "honor & glory", similar to DE. More like a sort of "health-bar" that is influenced by glorious actions like winning battles and building monuments, and would in turn influence the "moral" of units. A sort of global moral. Could cause units to perform badly when the kingdom's honor is low/units become more bribable, or even susceptible to conversion to another faction. Switching alliances a lot will negatively impact your honor and glory, for example, as will keeping slaves or deleting units. Performing costly sacrifices at your temple could in turn increase it again. 

These are just thoughts, and I know it sounds rough on the edges, but the 4 resource thing is one of the things I really don't enjoy about many classical RTS games, 0AD included. I believe in at least trying to instill the idea that running an empires requires more than cutting wood, hitting rocks and farming in the middle of town. There was money involved. Tons of it! I know these things are just abstractions, but they're just a tad too abstract for me. 

Either way, the game is too unit-micro heavy, and unit-microing like dancing units, or having to deal with dancing units is exactly the type of micro that most players really don't enjoy. It's the bad kind of complexity that detracts from the game for most of us. When fighting battles, people prefer to have the feeling that they're actually commanding an army in battle, not constantly be reassigning brain-dead individuals that for the love of god can't figure out how to choose a sensible target. In competitive games, failing to unit-micro will get you slaughtered, and this is really not the way to go in a game of ancient warfare, at all. In League of Legends type games, and even starcraft, yes, but a game of ancient warfare, no! It should be about strategy and tactics. Warfare in antiquity was about formations, the age of the phalanx, battalions, platoons, squads, whatever. Not dancing! Not telling every individual what to do all the time. A lot of these fighters were trained and experienced warriors, but currently they all behave like a bunch of suicidal berserking man-children.

So I'd say, reduce complexity in unit-microing by using battalion systems instead, and add complexity in the form of directionality of damage as well as the economy. 

 

9 hours ago, wackyserious said:

In marketing aspects, I believe what the game is trying to achieve in its Mediterranean-centered theme is to have its own branding. Branding plays an important role in establishing an impact on your target market. You need to have a strong and solid identity in order to be remarkable. In my opinion, this is part of the game design. This is the objective of the developers, to come up with a historical RTS with an ancient Mediterranean.

The Mediterranean has been done a bajillion times already... I'm not against it, and I'm very happy to be able to play with Rome or Carthage or the Athenians. But it's not the type of branding that will make 0AD famous. 0AD has achieved something amazing by adding factions like the Kushites and the Maurya, because they're not Mediterranean, and feature very rarely in any kind of game. Having the Kushites and Maurya makes 0AD unique. Romans and Athenians doesn't make 0AD unique, or memorable... In addition, factions like the Seleucids and Ptolemies whom are both quite obscure as well, adds even more to the exotic flavor of a game that also has all the "standard" civs. What's even more brilliant is that all these civs were in direct military contact/conflict with many other civs, making them actually really relevant, and adding many plus-points in my book. 

Adding the Kushites to 0AD is making waves, slowly but surely (and I haven't done any promotion yet). The research thread has more than 65.000 views and counting! By far the most popular civ-proposal so far. This isn't some weird testament to myself, but to the history of the Kushites, who's obscurity turned out to be gold! Simply never having heard of them has generated so much interest in so many people, and artists and even historians with Phd's have been consulting the thread for their own research, and there's overwhelmingly positive feedback on youtube video's discussing or featuring 0AD's Kushites. I think the full effect of the Kushite addition will only be felt over the next few alphas, but they're already basically selling themselves... I know that adding the Kushites meant absolutely nothing to some people, but it meant the world to many others. Any number of civs, especially the Han Chinese, Xiongnu, Thracians, Scythians, Greco-Bactrians, Parthians, Garamantes, Numidians, Nabataeans etc have the same potential.

Also, as an artist yourself, do you think that you not making new unit textures for new civs speeds up development in other departments? 

To clarify, I'm not saying that the team should officially commit to adding this faction or that faction to the next alpha or something. The Kushites were originally developed in mods. First in Delenda Est, then in Vox Populi, and then in a vanilla compatible mod. This was a healthy development process that didn't require any official commitments from the development team, until they were satisfied with the quality and decided to add it to the main game. Developing civs in mods is just fine. The problem is that when the development team has this dogmatic stance on not adding any civs anymore up front, it works very discouragingly for potential contributors. I worked really hard on the research for the Kushites (sleepless nights hard), and I did it thinking it would take a miracle for it to be added to the main game. A miracle is what I received, and I will be forever grateful to the development team for granting my childhood wish of being able to play as a proper African civ in a historical RTS. This was a black nerd fantasy come true. A dream! Not just for me! But to be honest, there were moments of depression, thinking I was doing all this work for nothing. Again, I'm not saying the team should commit to anything, I'm just saying the team should encourage independent civ-development with the possibility of adding to vanilla, once certain quality requirements are met. The only thing this would require from the team is to stop saying "we're not adding new civs" like it's the official mantra. I think a lot of sinophiles for example have long abandoned Wildfiregames because of this. 

 

9 hours ago, wackyserious said:

DLCs or expansion packs could come along afterwards. This could be observed in the industry, best example for this would be how the developers of the Total War series, slowly absorb other cultures via DLCs.

But 0AD isn't a commercial project, neither is it bound by corporate deadlines. Those things you describe, DLC's and expansion packs, are blatant money-grabs. Ugly side-effects of 21st century capitalism, rather than a testament to good or even moral game-development.

The expansion pack formula doesn't make any sense if you're not about the money, and makes even less sense considering 0AD takes less than a Gigabyte to download. If it was already 20 Gig, I'd understand splitting it up. But it's not even 1 GB... 

Edited by Sundiata
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