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Shuttling Resources is Problematic


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The idea of dropping off resources is a staple of the RTS genre, but for 0 A.D, it limits key design aspects of the game.  As has been noted, changing movement speeds has a direct impact on gather rates since units have to deliver resources to drop-sites.  Interestingly enough, the original vision was to not have this kind of feature, and in some of the first alphas, this was nonexistent.  The initial plan was to construct structures that had an aura; units could gather within this aura and not outside it.  This was clearly a very restrictive choice.  What I would rather propose is that drop-sites (including worker elephants) would provide bonuses to collection rates within their auras.  Instead of increasing the resource capacity units could hold, technologies could instead increase the effect or range of the building's aura.  

This could benefit the game in a number of ways:

Movement speeds would have less importance for the economy, making it possible to have greater unit diversity.

Performance might increase since units would not have to calculate routes as much.

There might be chances for diversity as some civilisations might be better at collecting resources outside the range of drop-sites while others might have ones that are much drop-site auras that are smaller but have much more potent effects.  

Edited by Thorfinn the Shallow Minded
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15 minutes ago, Thorfinn the Shallow Minded said:

.  Interestingly enough, the original vision was to not have this kind of feature, and in some of the first alphas, this was nonexistent.

Do you have a source for that, for further reference?

15 minutes ago, Thorfinn the Shallow Minded said:

Performance might increases since units would not have to calculate routes as much.

Auras are performance heavy... So it might not be visible.

15 minutes ago, Thorfinn the Shallow Minded said:

would provide bonuses to collection rates within their auras.

Would it be rates, or carry limit? According to TechModifications we support the following.

ResourceGatherer/BaseSpeed		
ResourceGatherer/Capacities/{Resource Type}	
ResourceGatherer/Rates/{Resource Type}	

 

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24 minutes ago, Stan` said:

Do you have a source for that, for further reference?

The War Story represents some aspects of the original game.  There are a lot of intriguing differences to be found.

https://trac.wildfiregames.com/wiki/War_Story

Probably some more search archaeology could bring up the other points as I didn't find everything I remembered.  Obviously this isn't meant to be lifted up as the 'Holier Than Thou' relic, but I just brought it up to show that this idea is nothing new.

24 minutes ago, Stan` said:

Would it be rates, or carry limit? According to TechModifications we support the following.

It would be rates.  In this model units would automatically trickle resources to the player much like Khmer farms in Age of Empires II.

 

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1 hour ago, Thorfinn the Shallow Minded said:

Probably some more search archaeology could bring up the other points as I didn't find everything I remembered.  Obviously this isn't meant to be lifted up as the 'Holier Than Thou' relic, but I just brought it up to show that this idea is nothing new.

I always forget you've been there for eleven years…

I believe that there is some good stuff still lingering there and in the design document. Unfortunately all the attempts of getting it up to date have failed so far. It's a too big investment for too little benefits. Maybe when I'm relieved of my duties someday, I'll look into bringing back the old vision for fun.

However a lot has changed in the past twenty years, while the RTS genre didn't evolve much it would seem a lot of focus have shifted towards the multiplayer mode for better or for worse.

1 hour ago, Thorfinn the Shallow Minded said:

In this model units would automatically trickle resources to the player much like Khmer farms in Age of Empires II.

I'm not sure one can do that currently. Maybe @Freagarach knows.

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Gather rates are high compared to carry capacity, making shuttling more important in 0ad than most other games I'm aware of. If you want to reduce importance of shuttling you have to make units spend more time gathering instead of walking, not the other way around. I think it was AoE III that does away with shuttling altogether.

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1 hour ago, Stan` said:

I'm not sure one can do that currently. Maybe @Freagarach knows.

It might be worthwhile checking how things functioned in previous alphas before shuttling existed.  I believe it was either Alpha 4 or 5 when the change happened.  The following video shows a bit of that in action; aside from that, it's fascinating seeing things like the changes in the UI.

 

18 minutes ago, hyperion said:

Gather rates are high compared to carry capacity, making shuttling more important in 0ad than most other games I'm aware of. If you want to reduce importance of shuttling you have to make units spend more time gathering instead of walking, not the other way around. I think it was AoE III that does away with shuttling altogether.

That's more or less the point, getting rid of shuttling entirely.

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1 minute ago, Thorfinn the Shallow Minded said:

It might be worthwhile checking how things functioned in previous alphas before shuttling existed.  I believe it was either Alpha 4 or 5 when the change happened.  The following video shows a bit of that in action; aside from that, it's fascinating seeing things like the changes in the UI.

I think it's when @Ykkrosh rewrote the simulation from scratch :)

 

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1 minute ago, LetswaveaBook said:

Is this absolutely necessary? I am led to believe that the cost of aura´s should not be performance heavy. @Stan`, can you exactly explain what makes aura´s performance heavy?

Auras perform range queries which can be expensive.

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I did a bit of experimenting with modifying resource drop distances in A23. I didn't bother with auras or anything: just loosened the leashing on the am-I-close-enough-to-my dropoff-point-yet check. Unless that part of the code has received heavy modifications since then, it should not be hard to implement variable drop distances, and the performance hit should be very-small to non-existent.

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I agree that removing shuttling can solve some issues. I think it was determined to implement shuttling after the first few alphas to make the game look livelier (busier, more interesting to look at and manage). As noted, the "aura range" approach was restrictive and once shuttling was implemented, no other solutions were attempted.

I would rather keep shuttling, but it needs fixed because of the movement rates. Luckily Delenda Est doesn't have this problem. ;) But one way to mitigate it at least somewhat is to double carry capacity, which means units spend more time gathering and less time shuttling. Another way (perhaps in concert with the capacity change), is to implement a shuttling speed component in UnitMotion. A 2nd walking speed if you will, that we can make universal to all infantry, that kicks in when dropping off resources. Yes yes, people could potentially micro this to get around the shuttling speed, but I would say "good luck to you" micro-ing the shuttling of 100+ units while doing everything else. Lol Only going to happen in edge cases and not very important (there are ways to mitigate this at any rate).

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1 hour ago, Freagarach said:

Heavy enough to probably break any mod modifying UnitAI, and any (probably all) of the "action" components (e.g. Attack, ResourceGatherer, Build, Garrison, Heal).

:scared:

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1 hour ago, Freagarach said:

Heavy enough to probably break any mod modifying UnitAI, and any (probably all) of the "action" components (e.g. Attack, ResourceGatherer, Build, Garrison, Heal).

Apocalyptic

 

8 minutes ago, wowgetoffyourcellphone said:

But one way to mitigate it at least somewhat is to double carry capacity, which means units spend more time gathering and less time shuttling. Another way (perhaps in concert with the capacity change), is to implement a shuttling speed component in UnitMotion. 

Good ideas for easy implementation.

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2 hours ago, wowgetoffyourcellphone said:

But one way to mitigate it at least somewhat is to double carry capacity

And / or reduce gathering rates. As some people complain EA to be to be to spamy reducing gathering rates is probably better.

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22 hours ago, hyperion said:

And / or reduce gathering rates. As some people complain EA to be to be to spamy reducing gathering rates is probably better.

Won't that just make the game even more slow paced? I dont understand in which regards it would make the game less spammy. More generally, I think per design, macro and eco will always have a prominent part in any RTS.

What about playing on map with sparse resource and lower pop? By definition, spamming would not be an option.

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On 19/05/2021 at 9:24 PM, Stan` said:

Auras are performance heavy... So it might not be visible.

My experience in testing City Building and Morale mod, yes they are. RangeQuery are surprisingly taxing on performance. The larger the range the more processing it takes. I do not recommend making any change to auras for this, at least if it involves affecting gatherers. Gatherers can move in and out of aura range, triggering range update every single time, taxing performance along the way.

Doubling the gather capacity and reduce gather rates are a good option, also I think having slower movement when carrying resource should work. The technology to increase gather capacity should also increase unit movement while carrying resource. You can also change the animation i.e. from carrying a block of metal ingot to perhaps pushing a cart like traders do.

Going Age of Empires III way of eliminating dropsites entirely, I personally don't think this is suitable for 0 A.D.. It eliminates dropsite placement strategy.

Another, perhaps more extreme solution, is to go Rise of Nation route. Dropsite has aura that automatically 'gathers' from all relevant resources within dropsite's range, i.e. trickles from resources within aura. Garrison more workers to increase the gather rate. It uses aura, yes, but since resources don't move, should not be too taxing on performance.

 

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I don't see any need for this. There is already an incentive to build more local drop sites to limit shuttling distance. Likewise, you can just research basket techs to carry more res. I also don't see why it unit speed matters--if a player makes all of one unit type then that unit type should be rushable. A properly built eco will address all the problems you describe, and if a player doesn't do it then they will have a worse eco. 

To me, all this does is necessarily take out strategy in what units are trained, what buildings are built, and what techs are researched. 

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2 hours ago, chrstgtr said:

I don't see any need for this. There is already an incentive to build more local drop sites to limit shuttling distance. Likewise, you can just research basket techs to carry more res. I also don't see why it unit speed matters--if a player makes all of one unit type then that unit type should be rushable. A properly built eco will address all the problems you describe, and if a player doesn't do it then they will have a worse eco. 

To me, all this does is necessarily take out strategy in what units are trained, what buildings are built, and what techs are researched. 

yes i don't see issue me too

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5 hours ago, chrstgtr said:

I don't see any need for this. There is already an incentive to build more local drop sites to limit shuttling distance. Likewise, you can just research basket techs to carry more res. I also don't see why it unit speed matters--if a player makes all of one unit type then that unit type should be rushable. A properly built eco will address all the problems you describe, and if a player doesn't do it then they will have a worse eco. 

To me, all this does is necessarily take out strategy in what units are trained, what buildings are built, and what techs are researched. 

Simply speaking units of different speeds, regardless of the proximity of the resource, are going to have different gather rates.  More time walking back and forth means that there is less time actually working; it's simple math.  

How would eliminating or reducing the effects of unit speeds on their economic efficiency be bad?  Frankly I find it absurd that say a skirmisher is a better lumberjack than an archer due to their uses in the battlefield a questionable thing.  

10 hours ago, azayrahmad said:

Another, perhaps more extreme solution, is to go Rise of Nation route. Dropsite has aura that automatically 'gathers' from all relevant resources within dropsite's range, i.e. trickles from resources within aura. Garrison more workers to increase the gather rate. It uses aura, yes, but since resources don't move, should not be too taxing on performance.

I like this, but I think that one of the biggest problems it would face would be the current resource distribution in 0 AD, which is currently less systematic than other RTS games.  Still, it's a worthwhile approach.

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