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Should we go towards less units on screen (but keep similar gameplay)?


BeTe
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We already discussed a bit of this here: https://wildfiregames.com/forum/topic/86939-why-units-are-produced-so-fast/

Intro

So we have situation that most of fights start around 15-20 mins (at least with ~1400 players that I play with). In that time we have huuuuuge chaotic blob of units, like 150+ units. 

I think it cause few problems:

1. For me as new player it's very hard (and frustrating?) to estimate how big opponent's force is and to send appropriate amount and type of units to defend (or attack). I think overcommitment is not good in RTS.... I guess I will improve skills in this but why not to motivate people to continue play by making game appealing.  

2. Hard to distinguish units to find proper counter. Or if I have huuuuge blob in a battle and I want to kill separated opponent's Sieges, it's hard to find 3-4 swordsmans to kill them (I don't want to separate all of the swords).

3. Harded microing, relying more on luck.

4. Performance/lag.

 

Goal
 

In this topic:

A. first of all I want to understand if 0 A.D. is intentionally developed like that? I mean, I do understand people don't want to make yet another AOE clone, but most of modern and good RTSes are different regarding this (AOE, SC, WC, C&C Generals, etc.).

 

B. I want to ask community if all of us agree on this? 

 

C. Discuss solutions: 

Like I have on my mind to simply increase price and time for each unit but increase proportionally damage, capture and resource collection. And anything else? Like simply double all of that. 

I might take some time to develop a mod or we can try to incorporate it in Community-Mod (although it might be to big change for such balancing project).

 

- - - 

Looking forward to all opinions from everybody. And thanks for replies for (A.) in advance. :D 

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The usual cap is at 200 -300 pop which is reasonable for this type of game. The issue is buildup / replenishing of troops is to fast which makes spamming to dominant. Also battles are to short, basically two blobs meting and going up into air almost instantly. Me thinks fights to be more attractive if they take some decent amount of time. Maybe halving damage values for all units / structures would be about right?

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I think the game plays best at around 150 max pop. different limits change a lot how the game is balanced and plays.

44 minutes ago, hyperion said:

The issue is buildup / replenishing of troops is to fast which makes spamming to dominant.

not true.

46 minutes ago, hyperion said:

Me thinks fights to be more attractive if they take some decent amount of time. Maybe halving damage values for all units / structures would be about right?

I also think fighting could be slower, but if you think about it, this goes in the opposite direction of longer train times that you suggested just before.

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1 hour ago, alre said:

I think the game plays best at around 150 max pop. different limits change a lot how the game is balanced and plays.

Well, on a map like Corsica vs Sardinia 150 pop will be eaten into by far to much by ships. Sure while cav is so dominant and only costs 1 pop on mainland 150 is fine as well. Also the 200-300 are meant as a rough target to optimize the game for, not what works best right now for a specific map type.

 

2 hours ago, alre said:
2 hours ago, hyperion said:

The issue is buildup / replenishing of troops is to fast which makes spamming to dominant.

not true.

Many games are loctus like gathering to boom to push, very high level games might be a bit different but not by that much in the end.

We could also say gather rates are probably to height, training times matter a lot less, or if you want people to have much more expansion pressure drastically reducing the gathering slots per resource entity might work as well.

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8 minutes ago, hyperion said:

Many games are loctus like gathering to boom to push, very high level games might be a bit different but not by that much in the end.

true. this is a distinctive issue with 0AD, that @ValihrAnt called "booming = turtling".

- men are the best defence, the best attack, and the best eco

- it's easy to keep your men all together and your eco active and defended

train times, gather times, spamming, fighting times, they don't matter. gathering slots instead is important for the second factor, but it's not easy with forests.

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I am not sure why people mention pop. limit? It'd make game even worse - you need more time to get to P3 (weapon upgrades, Rams, etc.) so I can make any damage. That prolong fight even more than horrible ~15-20 minutes that we have now.

I'd like to be able to capture something with 5 units, not that I must have huge blob of unknown units that I can't distinguish or micro. I am talking from lower-mid level players perspective, like 1000-1600, which is majority as I could see.

Edited by BeTe
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5 hours ago, hyperion said:

The usual cap is at 200 -300 pop which is reasonable for this type of game. The issue is buildup / replenishing of troops is to fast which makes spamming to dominant. Also battles are to short, basically two blobs meting and going up into air almost instantly. Me thinks fights to be more attractive if they take some decent amount of time. Maybe halving damage values for all units / structures would be about right?

interesting. maybe we would actually see more strategies with longer battles.

while 0ad takes skill in multiplayer, huge chunk of that skill is basically how fast you can build whole kingdom and army.

I know there are people who can attack you from 4 sides in same time while improving their eco but majority of matches in multiplayer are decided by how fast players can reach full pop.

if battles were less about unit spam, but more about how you use these units - wouldnt that breed more strategies and strategists?

 

also please make it so ranged units arent always the strongest units because that kills any possible battle plan other than spamming melee cannon fodder and putting it in front of ranged units.

 

and perhaps add counters to the game and make them strong enough to make it impossible to ignore them.

that will make battles more significant. right now the battles are basically 'who has more DPS' thus players only play the civs with highest dps, and recruit only 1-2 type of units with said highest dps.

Thats just boring approach to the battle. But counters add some more rules. Example: if enemy1 sends cavalry during a battle, enemy2 should call their sword formation back, and put their pike formation forward.

this will require players to recruit more types of units than just <ranged units as dps + some spearmen as cannon fooder + swordsmen against rams>.

Edited by thankforpieOfficial
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17 hours ago, alre said:

men are the best defence, the best attack, and the best eco

I'd hard cap all units at 80% gathering rate of females and drop capture attack form all eco/builder capable units as a try.

 

16 hours ago, BeTe said:

I am not sure why people mention pop. limit?

Because opting for closing in to pop limit will always be required. Sure sometimes you might win (or lose) on the way there and if early boom isn't that fast this will be more likely.

 

16 hours ago, thankforpieOfficial said:

interesting. maybe we would actually see more strategies with longer battles.

I'd say it would be a contributing factor for more strategic possibilities but not a panacea.

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35 minutes ago, hyperion said:

Because opting for closing in to pop limit will always be required. Sure sometimes you might win (or lose) on the way there and if early boom isn't that fast this will be more likely.

I am still not sure why you mention this in context of this topic... TLDR; I think main part of problem is that you need relative huge blob to make serious damage (except maybe Rams or Hero units). I think I emphasized it in the first post. There are just too many units out there... I don't see reason. Why not have less but more strong units instead?

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2 hours ago, BeTe said:

I am still not sure why you mention this in context of this topic... TLDR; I think main part of problem is that you need relative huge blob to make serious damage (except maybe Rams or Hero units). I think I emphasized it in the first post. There are just too many units out there... I don't see reason. Why not have less but more strong units instead?

if you want less units, that's less pop cap. strenght is relative.

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13 minutes ago, alre said:

if you want less units, that's less pop cap. strenght is relative.

Not sure what you mean? Isn't it absolute? For example if I want to capture garrisoned barracks, I can't efficiently do it with 5-10 (or whatever) units, I need like 20-30-40-50 (doesn't matter actually). It's almost half of my population (all my army) if I set pop limit to 100. Isn't that bad that I need all army to get so small value in return?

Isn't it case I need big blob to do damage (capture or destroy)? Except sieges or eventually some of hero units...

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it's not as small as a value when your max pop is lower. for a 200 pop game, one needs some 5-6 barracks, for a 100 pop game, 3 barracks are enough, your eco is smaller and barracks price is relatively bigger. in any case, most important thing is beating down your opponents pop anyway.

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20 hours ago, thankforpieOfficial said:

interesting. maybe we would actually see more strategies with longer battles.

while 0ad takes skill in multiplayer, huge chunk of that skill is basically how fast you can build whole kingdom and army.

I know there are people who can attack you from 4 sides in same time while improving their eco but majority of matches in multiplayer are decided by how fast players can reach full pop.

if battles were less about unit spam, but more about how you use these units - wouldnt that breed more strategies and strategists?

 

also please make it so ranged units arent always the strongest units because that kills any possible battle plan other than spamming melee cannon fodder and putting it in front of ranged units.

 

and perhaps add counters to the game and make them strong enough to make it impossible to ignore them.

that will make battles more significant. right now the battles are basically 'who has more DPS' thus players only play the civs with highest dps, and recruit only 1-2 type of units with said highest dps.

Thats just boring approach to the battle. But counters add some more rules. Example: if enemy1 sends cavalry during a battle, enemy2 should call their sword formation back, and put their pike formation forward.

this will require players to recruit more types of units than just <ranged units as dps + some spearmen as cannon fooder + swordsmen against rams>.

this comes up fairly often. I'm not too excited by counter play, but I would like it indeed if focus shifted from spamming and unit cramming, to more varied battle strategies. how is it going with the return of chokepoints?

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2 hours ago, alre said:

it's not as small as a value when your max pop is lower. for a 200 pop game, one needs some 5-6 barracks, for a 100 pop game, 3 barracks are enough, your eco is smaller and barracks price is relatively bigger. in any case, most important thing is beating down your opponents pop anyway.

Yeah makes sense. Thx for clarification.

One question: if I play "optimally" (balanced production of infantry and workers) will I reach P3 faster or slower on smaller pop limit?

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IMO for this as for the balancing, we need to work something crucial out: Time.

The essence of the problematic is the very basis of 0 A.D.: Pitched civilizations in a City era. That's a great start. Yet (ingame) time is a requirement for getting balancing right.

When we have time, we can finally balance the pop cap / reproduction rate, max age, training times, unit speeds, ... because we can use real world values that are well known.

Likely we then have to keep it somehow interesting. Also for MP. That may be the real balance act ;) I think the potential of 0 A.D. for such experiments has risen significantly.

Our beloved balance discussions can bear a healthy amount of fruits if we have some reference. Instead of relatively balancing a small part of the picture, the entire picture requires our attention.

A crucial setting is the real to ingame time speed ratio. If an ingame day is over after 10 minutes, we may never have that true thrilling and interesting feeling. The friction and spice.

Edit: The most suitable magic number likely needs some trial and error and is subjective hence may require some consensus poll after some experimentation

Edited by Radagast.
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As for time there will be a ratio ;) 1s doesn't equal 1s ingame. 1 person doesn't equal 1 person ingame.

Without reference, all we do is guess and then quarrel about it as the years have shown. :torch:

If not the cap, then at least natural population growth and decline and demography may be helpful or at least an interesting experiment

Edit: I'd even encourage to remove the artificial cap. When it's balanced, it won't be needed anymore. It's a "hack" (no offense meant). More realistic: cap = living space (volume) / living space per person (if you can't feed them, the people will reduce naturally anyway ;)).

Edit2: living space can be territory-derived, not necessarily living houses built. That allows for a very risky uncommon strategy to skip structures, gathering people and go on elsewhere early conquering or hiding in the mountains. Or starting construction at easier to defend location. Also this means enemy won't know your exact position only because they know the map and start locations by heart.

Edited by Radagast.
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4 hours ago, alre said:

at 100 pop, slower. at 150 pop, maybe faster, because you slow down unit production and focus on technology at some point. champions are particularly valuable at low pop cap.

Yeah, I tried few games on 150-200 and timing is quite similar. 

And blobs are smaller and game feels much better. For now at least. I think it will be even better if discussed changes about buffing P2 from community-mods topic (https://wildfiregames.com/forum/topic/83784-introducing-the-official-community-mod-for-alpha-26/) are implemented. 

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On 15/10/2022 at 12:47 PM, hyperion said:

I'd hard cap all units at 80% gathering rate of females and drop capture attack form all eco/builder capable units as a try.

Yes, or as mentioned by @DarcReaver and others maybe finally fix the anomaly of citizen soldiers bearing their weapons around all the time. Very realistic ;)

IMO citizens can defend. But the "mayor" will have to ring the bell. Destroying your infra shouldn't be so simple then though. It should be more about occupying them. People focused. Can improve realism and feel

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Hello,

I find the current situation pleasant. Having small armies of 30-50 units at the start of the game (less than 10min of play) or large armies of 100 to 160 units after 13-14 minutes of play suits me. Of course it depends on the maps and if we have been quiet for boom.
I like having time to fight, I mean it

In fights I like to have time to replace units, bring in reinforcements, bypass. We are far from total war but I find it nice. 0AD does much better than other rts on the duration of fights (for example AOE2 it's really boring and fast).

To facilitate the management of your army I advise you to use the groups of units (if you do not already do it) ctrl 1 ctrl 2 etc and use shift for add unit to group.

Of course I would like units to be slightly bigger and spaced out when moving.

 

---

One could imagine a MOD 0 AD with a really different game from a military point of view. In Warcraft 3. About twenty units, quite large on the screen, a significant amount of life points. and skills for the most part for a lot of micro management in the fights but it will surely be less charming on the attractive antique aspect.

---

A 0AD with battalions can be cool too, to see how it is managed.. A city phase and city development then a battle phase in the middle of the map in battalion mode.. a mod already exists?

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