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Civ differentiation : playstyles


maroder
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Much of the discussion about differentiating the civilisations in the game is right now focused on small changes to enable different strategies for the different civilisations. But I want to open a discussion here if those changes are not a bit too "small".

If we look at other successful strategy games (in the widest sense) be it card games as magic the gathering or competitive online games as league of legends, we see that they enable the player to have completely different playstyles, which is probably why so many people like to play these games -> everyone finds a playstyle they like. For me 0ad is at the moment more comparable to chess; you can play different strategies, but it's still chess and always kind of the same, regardless which strategy you choose.

I know that the civs kind of already represent different playstyles, but what if we would really accentuate that? I think vanilla AD could learn much from Hyrule conquest in that regard.

So accentuate the playstyles of each civ, but also give them weaknesses through that instead of trying to balance them in every phase of the game.

here just some links to interesting videos who touch upon this topic in game design:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXQzdXPTb2A

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5Uk13mQdm0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QuKpJTUwwY

But to come to an end here, I very much agree with sera in this discussion here

https://code.wildfiregames.com/D4273#182067

The thing that would be needed first to do that is a design document about how each civ should play.

So feel free to tell me if you agree or disagree on this ( every civ should have a vastly different / unique playstyle).

If this was always the goal of the differentiation and I just didn't get the extent of the planned differentiation then please excuse my slow mind.

Also independent of your opinion regarding the above, feel free to give your ideas about how to best structure such a collaborative design document creation process, as that may be beneficial nevertheless.

Edited by maroder
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Disclaimer: I'm not a competitive, or even particularly good player. I mostly just play 0ad casually, and I don't have too much experience.

That being said, however, I completely agree with this. I think that more gameplay styles would make the game much more enjoyable. Right now, basically all strategies can be done with all civs, with only varying degrees of effectiveness. What I would do to differentiate styles while still maintaining some balance is this: I would give each civ a unique style or bonus, but each style or bonus is countered by another civ's bonus. That way, each civ is unique, while not being overpowered. For a very basic example:

  • Britons raid, giving them strong early attack and the ability to build bases beyond their borders, but are weak in the late game.
  • Iberians turtle, with strong walls and defensive structures, but weak offense.
  • Macedonians have good seige, giving them the ability to destroy defensive structures easily, but a weak early game.

The Iberians'  defense counters the Britons' raiding, the Macedonians' seige counters the Iberian defense, and the Britons early expansion counters the Macedonian's late game.

This is just a basic example, a more elaborate design would be necessary for the game, but I hope it gives a good idea.

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1 hour ago, maroder said:

I would not go as far as that (one civ clearly counter another), but nice to hear someone generally agrees.

I would like to see a mid-game "Spartan Phalanx Push" be just as viable as an early game "Britons Slinger-JavCav Rush." Spartans wouldn't be locked-into that strategy, but their military would be generally geared towards it. As much as Macedonians would be more geared toward a late-game combined arms approach, and Persians heavy on cavalry and Mauryas relying on massed archers, augmented by War Elephants and Chariots later.

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2 hours ago, maroder said:

I would not go as far as that (one civ clearly counter another), but nice to hear someone generally agrees.

Yes, that probably wouldn't be a very good design choice, it would probably be better to have more than one civ per gameplay style/strategy. The concept I was trying to illustrate was that different playstyles would counter one another, and that each civ would be optimised for a certain playstyle. The counters shouldn't be so powerfull that it's nearly impossible for one civ to beat another that counters it, but it should provide a difficult challenge.

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I know that we are all looking to diversify civilizations, and I think it is great to focus the civilization on what they do best. However, I think we should avoid narrowing the options available to that civ. 

Britons, for example:

3 hours ago, maroder said:

Britons could be the civs who shine at early agression but kind of suck in late game

The problem with this is it would make player behavior predictable. I prefer giving britons a great early game, and an average late game. 

3 hours ago, maroder said:

the playstyles of each civ

If I can sum up my views on civs in one sentence it is: civilisations should not have playstyles, civilizations should have options, players should make the playstyles. Does this make sense?

I think it is good to give each civ a few things they are great at, but not limit player choices because they feel the need to do what is "best" for that civ. I give an example of a bad civ for uniqueness/options balance in a25: Carthaginians. Carthage has one strategy that is "the best", it is almost impossible to counter. Uniqueness should come from unique options and not entire unique strategies.

 

 

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Some general gameplay classes for styles I've thought of, just brainstorming for the moment

  • Defensive civ, slow expansion, resistant to rushing
  • Raiding civ, good at building small bases, very mobile, but weaker in a straight fight
  • Trading civ, good at trading, other economy is weaker, vulnerable to trade chain disruption
  • Seige civ, good at destroying cities and heavy fortifications, weak early game
  • Economy civ, powerful resource production, vulnerable to raids destroying production structures
  • Mercenary civ, good at amassing a powerful army quickly, but requires massive resources
  • Naval civ, good at destroying ships, more vulnerable on land
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42 minutes ago, BreakfastBurrito_007 said:

I can sum up my views on civs in one sentence it is: civilisations should not have playstyles, civilizations should have options, players should make the playstyles. Does this make sense?

Tell me Blizzard didn't have playstyles in mind when they designed the civs for Starcraft. Tell me Westwood didn't have playstyles in mind when they designed the civs for Command & Conquer. :)

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1 hour ago, BreakfastBurrito_007 said:

If I can sum up my views on civs in one sentence it is: civilisations should not have playstyles, civilizations should have options, players should make the playstyles. Does this make sense?

That makes sense, and I can see why you wouldn't want civilisation playstyles to diminish options, but there are two reasons I think playstyles would be better.

1. Balance

I think that the game really has to make a choice between civilisations that are mostly identical, with only cosmetic differences, or civs that, in some way or other, do end up encouraging different playstyles. Since the consensus on the forums seems to be against identical civs, it seems that civs will have to differentiate in some way. If this has to happen, it's better that it happen in a planned way, so that civilisations don't end up completely unbalanced, and each civ's direction is coherent. If the different playstyles are planned, the playstyles themselves can be balanced without making the civs identical.

2. Options. 

I don't think that distinct playstyles would diminish the options for player strategies. It might diminish the options available for a certain civ, but it would make more strategies available overall. As it is now, there are certain strategies available to most civs, but civilisations are played in mostly the same way. With distinct playstyles, choosing a certain civ would give you a lot more options for strategy. For example, on a mountainous, rough map, you might want to choose a civilisation well suited to raiding and quick mobility, or you might want to go with heavy fortifications. Or on a naval map, you might want to go for naval superiority, or build a trading fleet to fund a more traditional army. Choosing civs with specialised playstyles would allow any of these strategies, while right now most civs have only slight advantages for any of these plans.

Additionally, this could introduce a huge variety for team games. What civ each player chooses could become a much more important decision. One player could go for a powerful economy to fund a mercenary-oriented ally, for example.

 

In short, I think that even if playstyles decrease options for individual civs, they would increase options overall. In my opinion, that's a beneficial trade-off.

Edited by Nullus
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I think beyond uniquess there should be at least 2-3 viable ways to do the different play-styles (Edit:  Note, I'm a fan of games that average about 22 mins of playtime and, sometimes, go for 40+ in a very rare case - but with constant battles and few boomers).

Note:  I'd also split Camels/Horses into Camels/Calvary with Camels getting a bonus vs horses, especially close combat camels.  However, strongly weak vs infantry.

Britons:

  • Quick phasing ('instant' or cheaper phase upgrades)
  • p2 rams (b/c rams are only siege)
  • p2 heroes
  • Cheaper puppies (p1) and puppy champions (p2)
  • Ability to upgrade skirmishers to skrim cav OR skrim chariots.
  • p1 chariot skrimishers that are non-champion. Skrim cav are p2.
  • p2 champions
  • Chariot Priests

Gauls:

  • Start with a mounted priest
  • p1 sword cav (even w/ bonus) instead of skrim cav
  • p2 rams (b/c rams are only siege)
  • p2 heroes
  • p2 champions
  • p1 fanatics that are less expensive
  • ability to upgrade skirmishers to skrim cav OR skrim chariots
  • Can build spear calvary in p2. 
  • Mounted Carnucos
  • Cav Mounted Priests

Spartans ("Walls?  What true man builds walls?")

  • p1 skiritai
  • spearmen in p2
  • skirmishers in p2
  • p2 rams (b/c rams are only siege)
  • p2 heroes
  • in p2 upgrade skiritai to cavalry skiritai
  • no walls, no palisades (like in a23)
  • skrimisher chariots
  • captured barracks in p1 can build spearmen/skrimishers.

Mauryans (Elephant exhibitionist civ)

  • regular javelineers
  • 2, 3 and 4 population elephant archers (see atlas - could be buildable seperately or by individually 'mounting' archers)
  • 2, 3 and 4 population elephant javelineers (elephant skrimishers - 3 and 4 pop as above could be buildable seperately or by individually 'mounting' skrimishers)
  • 2, 3 and 4 population elephant spearmen (non siege elephant, similar to archers/skrim8shers on mounting extra units)
  • 2, 3, and 4 population elephant priests (yes, lol)
  • elephant hero does a bonus

Macedonians:

  • p1/p2 arsenal
  • p2 upgrades in arsenal
  • p2 siege tower
  • p2 heroes
  • AOE tech for ranged catapults in arsenal
  • Remove the sword champs.  Current champions counter fine.
  • +20% bonus vs athens/sparta and 10% debonus vs rome.

Romans (No palisades civ, vulnerable p1 and/or p2 b/c stone walls expensive.  Basically, a civ that can entrench in a forward position but has issues defending hometown.):

  • Encampments produce catapults and bolts.
  • Units can be transferred between encampments if encampments are within XYZ of each other's range.
  • Remove arsenal from buildings
  • Put all arsenal upgrades in fort and ecampment buildings
  • Building of fort enables upgrades from encampments and fort.  If you lose fort upgrades to siege not possible until a new fort is built.
  • Add AOE upgrade to catapults
  • No palisades (don't need 3 types of walls).  Siege walls include palisades properties and current properties. Siege walls more expensive.  Regular walls more expensive (e.g., their roads allowed enemies to traverse their lands quickly)
  • On Roman influence areas enemies, allies, and romans (all units) move 15% faster.

Seleucids

  • Add more cavalry diversity
  • phase 2 elephant stable
  • Camel swordsmen
  • AOE tech for ranged catapults in arsenal
  • regular chariot buildable in p2 that can be upgraded to champion chariot
  • Chariot Priests

Iberians

  • Let them build walls connected to starter turrent.  Somehow this doesn't work now.
  • p2 heroes
  • phase 2 rams (b/c only has rams)
  • cavalry swordsmen (see atlas) in p1 and champions in p3.  Iberians need cavalry swordsmen.  They should be there.
  • Mounted Priests

Athens:

  • Champions from barracks.
  • Use current champion buiding for another purpose (make that the barracks equivalent?)
  • Archers are non-merc
  • Sword cav in p1
  • AOE tech for ranged catapults in arsenal

Carthagians:

  • Merc buildings in p1
  • Merc units in p1
  • AOE tech for ranged catapults in arsenal
  • Civ that shines in  p1 and p3 but has a dry spell in p2 basically.
  • Sacredband units give a +10% dmg boost to nearby units but not other sacred band units

Ptolemies:

  • Old no-wood dynamic returns
  • Skrimisher mercs buildable in p1
  • Heroes buildable in p2
  • Expansion building buildable in p1, including all mercs from building
  • Camel swordsmen and spearmen
  • AOE tech for ranged catapults in arsenal

Kushites:

  • Merc buildings buildable in p1
  • Merc camel clubmen

Persians

  • All non-champion calvary units available in p1 (including non-champion chariots - buildable from CC and stables)
  • Return of the chariot archers that are non-champion (but leave champion chariot)
  • Mounted  and Chariot Priests

 

 

 

Edited by Dizaka
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4 hours ago, BreakfastBurrito_007 said:

The problem with this is it would make player behavior predictable

Well, it would make their playstyle more predictable, but it wouldn't and definitely shouldn't make their choices obvious. As @Dizaka wrote, each civ still needs to have multiple options and strategies, they should not be one trick ponies.

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50 minutes ago, Dizaka said:

Quick phasing ('instant' or cheaper phase upgrades)

I like the idea. It will give them a short edge, not too early and not too late. 

52 minutes ago, Dizaka said:

Romans:

  • Encampments produce catapults and bolts.
  • Units can be transferred between encampments if encampments are within XYZ of each other's range.
  • Remove arsenal from buildings
  • Put all arsenal upgrades in fort
  • Add AOE upgrade to catapults
  • no palisades (don't need 3 types of walls).  Siege walls have palisades properties.

I think the Romans should have a population bonus. Their manpower was enormous for the time:

 

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5 minutes ago, Genava55 said:

I like the idea. It will give them a short edge, not too early and not too late. 

I think the Romans should have a population bonus. Their manpower was enormous for the time:

 

Feels like Romans could be unique in that they have (1) smaller citizen population but (2) additional merc population to top them off that can gather resources slower but maybe be better at fighting (basically, all units have merc counterparts).  Could be like a 110/120 or 80/150 split.  Sort of like there is a separate population for dogs.

Edited by Dizaka
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55 minutes ago, Dizaka said:

in p2 upgrade skiritai to cavalry skiritai

I feel this might go to far for sparta, but I like the "make him ride a horse" upgrade idea for some civs.

 

58 minutes ago, Dizaka said:

3 and 4 population elephant archers

Could you please elaborate on this one?

 

1 hour ago, Dizaka said:

Camel swordsmen

Is this a new merc?

@Dizaka I think these are great ideas overall, and I like the vision for each civ. There are a couple things here and there that seem a little op.

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21 minutes ago, BreakfastBurrito_007 said:

Could you please elaborate on this one?

3, 2 (Currently used), and 4

image.thumb.png.53b4ea7b867b258d0355c97e8971ad70.png

 

 

  

21 minutes ago, BreakfastBurrito_007 said:

Is this a new merc?

No, just regular units (sword/spear).  However the clubmen would be for kush.

 

Edited by Dizaka
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7 minutes ago, Dizaka said:

Feels like Romans could be unique in that they have (1) smaller citizen population but (2) additional merc population to top them off that can gather resources slower but maybe be better at fighting (basically, all units have merc counterparts).  Could be like a 110/120 or 80/150 split.  Sort of like there is a separate population for dogs.

Romans didn't employ many mercenaries during the epoch of the game (though, they did do it from time to time; Balearic Slingers and Cretan Archers for example). About half of their armies were made up of Roman citizens, and the other half made up of local allies (local to the theater of war; the Pergamenes and Rhodians in the East for example, Numidians in North Africa), and their Italian subjects (the "Extraordinarii" were picked from this group). Later, the Social War in Italy would force Rome to make all free Italians into Roman citizens, increasing manpower for the legions ten fold. 

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50 minutes ago, Genava55 said:

I like the idea. It will give them a short edge, not too early and not too late. 

I think the Romans should have a population bonus. Their manpower was enormous for the time:

 

high birth rates. among other factors, very different from when it is decadent.

That in nations is always the key, in addition to a high sense of order and discipline.

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While I would agree that 0ad would benefit from some balancing strategy, "playstyle" sounds like something hard to be anywhere close to balanced.

21 hours ago, maroder said:

 

Britons could be the civs who shine at early aggression but kind of suck in late game.

Macedonia could be the civ with a very slow development, but with superior siege strategies and late game. ect. ect.

 

If I look at that example, your description let me think that all Brit-Mace matchup would be about an early game in which Brit aggress Mace. In most case Brits should take a decisive advantage and if that wouldn't happen, Brit should simply resign before late game because they missed their shot and Macedonian superior siege and late game would allow them to take the advantage.

 

I think my view is close to breakfastburrito, I would offer to each civilization similar option but allow players to decide how they want to play it. It is important that every civilization do not become too predictable. A system with at least a "threat strategy" (rushing)  and a "punishing strategy" (booming/lategame play) would make more sense (Mid games strategy feels currently missing...). The gameplay could later be further differentiated by introducing potentially several threats, various definitions of what is early game/late game for each civilization etc...

 

Rushing/booming/harassing should be decent strategies for every civilization, but it would be nice if each civilization is able to do it differently. Defining a rush specific to a civilization would consist in combining civilization bonus+starting units+ starting building+available units/technology to allow for that rush to be specific.

For example: Romans have faster training of soldiers, giving them a barrack that cost only stones, the availability of swordmen p1 which allow to use starting resources for faster soldiers production and maybe one additional starting units could allow that civilization to go for early infantry rush. A Roman player would decide whether he wants to go for that infantry rush, if we wants to add a few spear cavalries to implement a more complex version, or if he prefers booming and plays something specific to Romans in late game. The enemy would have to decide whether he prepares to defend the Roman infantry rush, goes for a rush specific to his civilization or boom to play a later game strategy specific to his civilization but about equally valid as a lategame strategy. 

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I believe that I already outlined my opinion much earlier regarding a very obvious Spartan gimmick:

Be able to train Spartans at phase 1.  Simply speaking Sparta without Spartans is stupid.  My proposal in a thread regarding ways to diversify champions included making making Spartan hoplites free as well, only offset by a lengthly recruitment time, two population, and a hard cap of one Syssiton in the Village Phase and +1 for each subsequent one.  Technologies would be able to change the characteristics of its citizenry over time, making each Phase give an option to represent the political elements affecting Spartans.

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I think we should brainstorm, it is a creative and group exercise to open the mind.

 

Iberians = Defensive and skimishers, good cavalry.

 

Rep. Romans = Good defenses and superior infantry as well as siege engines.

 

Carthage Commercial Strong Walls defenses and Mercenaries.

 

Egypt = Economic granary of the Mediterranean the southern kingdom complement of the Seleucids.

Seleucids = Large variety of powerful troops rapidly expanding across the map.

Macedon, simple compact Strong and flexible infantry army with fast and effective cavalry. Lots of Greek science.

Gauls, rapids, good use of metal and Rush fast good looting and burning cities. Good rush.

 

Britons = would be like the Gauls but with more success defending and counterattacking., Good complement for defensive civs.

 

Maurya = good cavalry and mighty archers and elephants.Good for Rush and Defend. (booming spam)

Persians = Economy, good cavalry and infantry fast and easy to produce, civ for booming.

Athens = civilization of water and technology, well balanced.

Spartans = slave economy, nation of warriors and constant training, good quality with few troops.

 

Kushites = Millennial wealth, mercenaries, trade archers and very diverse troops. ( booming)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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25 minutes ago, Thorfinn the Shallow Minded said:

Be able to train Spartans at phase 1.  Simply speaking Sparta without Spartans is stupid.  My proposal in a thread regarding ways to diversify champions included making making Spartan hoplites free as well, only offset by a lengthly recruitment time, two population, and a hard cap of one Syssiton in the Village Phase and +1 for each subsequent one.  Technologies would be able to change the characteristics of its citizenry over time, making each Phase give an option to represent the political elements affecting Spartans.

The only way I could see this happening would be to give the sparta the option to train hoplites 1 at a time for 30 seconds each from the cc to prevent them from booming women while making hoplites for free, this way the 0 cost of hoplites would also be an opportunity cost of the CS and women that could not be trained in the meantime. This feature is one that would be either not strong enough and no one would ever use or too strong and it would be OP.

 

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