Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.

Once upon a time…

A city level in War of Magic had two key game mechanics attached to it.

First, it determined what improvements you could build. The higher the level, the more powerful improvements you could construct.

But secondly, it limited the number of improvements you could build as well. 

Unfortunately, this had the effect of being very frustrating to users who quickly discovered that they couldn’t get their settlement to the next level without wrecking something which is highly annoying.  So it was taken out.

In v1.3, it’s back. But with a  twist. This time, housing improvements will always be available to construct. Thus, if you max out a settlement, you’re not stuck, you can still upgrade it with more housing.

This will add some teeth to crazy cities that have no local population but have immense numbers of studies and the like. While some users have expressed an interest in limiting what you can build based on the population of that settlement, I preferred to see this mechanic a bit more abstracted. After all, I live in Canton Michigan but work in Plymouth Michigan.  But there should still be some rough correlation between city expanse and population.

When combined with the fact that repeatable improvements will cost increasing amounts and you bring the world back to having a smaller number of important cities without quite so much sprawl.

The beta process will let us do some rebalancing based on this sort of thing.


Comments (Page 1)
on May 31, 2011

I'm curious to see how many non-housing buildings we can make in a level 1 or level 2 town, as a major issue (in my opinion) is the validity of creating many small cities just to increase your production of materials/tech as you gain additional building and training queues. By the way you describe it, it actually sounds like you want to tear up the big high-level cities in favor of smaller ones, but we are already doing that in a min-max game.

On the other hand, high-level cities DO look like rubbish visually, sometimes covering a whole screen and leaving almost no room until the next city. That leads to a "map of cities" rather than a "map of the world" in long games (inherited from the general uselessness of the world, of course).

Regardless, what about prestige buildings? They are only concerned with city growth as well, and most are what I would consider "organic" (an inn is organic, a theater is organic, a monument isn't). Similar to lacking housing in a "capped" city, the user will possibly feel the need to destroy production buildings in favor of prestige buildings. It's sort of the same problem as housing, only not as bad.

 

 

on May 31, 2011

I don't see how this would improve the game.  I also don't think the abstracting particularly makes sense, but I'm unsure- this is something that needs to be tested.

 

One idea: limit cities on tiles, but level 5's get no limit, and housing and bonus tiles/buildings (shards, resources) don't count against the limit.

 

Second idea: limit city building to a radius around the town center, based on level, and maybe prohibit city building within your own influence.

 

on May 31, 2011

i too have read this a few times and still don't really understand it. as far as i was aware you could build as many buildings as you liked (other than uniques) in any settlement so long as you had enough citizens (and you almost always did). wasn't that the point? that citizens > buildings > production? i often had settlements with more citizens than population, which i thought was weird, but i assumed that those buildings were being "deactivated" (and if not, why not, if there aren't enough people to run them?)

what i found more annoying was stuff like hitting the housing limit and not being able to get to level 3 and upgrade my hovels to houses. ridiculously, i couldn't continue to increase my population BECAUSE i couldn't continue to grow my population. yes, you read that correctly. the free housing (from WHERE?) when levelling up a city makes this jump even more jarring. and then stuff like doubling my research across my empire overnight because i researched a new type of study (that i don't even have to pay for). so basically the best way to win the game was to make a beeline for the housing and food techs at the beginning of the game (esp the refined housing tech).

fundamentally, i never really understood the idea of having both population costs AND city level requirements. surely they're both a measue of the same thing?

wouldn't it be easier to simply add more levels, and give settlements up to 6 buildings at level 2, up to 8 at level 3, or whatever. that way you can easily predefine exactly how powerful and large a town can be by it's level, instead of dealing with huge numbers of citizens and buildings. instead of determining buildings by population and production by level, determine production by population and buildings by level. you could then insure economies of scale by having those buildings produce a certain amount per citizen (this is what gives value to population between levels, and results in a dip in production when you recruit soldiers). this way the tile limit would never be a gameplay issue, because the maximum city level would have a lower building limit, and even after than, production would could continue to increase with population.

at the moment, because end level pop is so huge compared to early levels, you either make studies cost 5 pop and have hundreds by the end game, or make them cost 10 and have them unbuildable at the start. all the fixes seem to be awkward workarounds to attempt to escape this fact, such as the recent decision to make your second library cost twice as many people as your first. they are attempting to stop building numbers from growing exonentially (as your population does) by making the costs of buildings grow exponentially. and so the two cancel out and the number of buildings grows at a steady rate. if you limited numbers of buildings by settlement level instead of people, this would happen anyway, without crazy mathematics, because the settlement level requirements increase at an increasing rate already.

and because you can't make the second level studies cost more pop than the old ones (ie you have to go from 1/5 people to 2/5 people instead of 2/7 people) the bonuses from getting the tier 2 studies are obscene once you manage to cheese-ball your way to them first.

i also thought i read in another recent blog that housing no longer needed to be actively built in order to save tiles, size and performance. this seemed eminently sensible to me. or was that for fallen enchantress?

 

EDITed several times.

on May 31, 2011

The housing thing was for FE.

on May 31, 2011

Well, the only thing will be again city spam... the more city you have, the more building you'll be able to produce, the more terrain you'll be able to gain, etc. All will then point to the war tech because Civ and other wont be that effective since they will grow exponentially in requirement and army wont. In the end, you will always need to build a lot of city and a strong army to win, no matter what.

on May 31, 2011

This seems like a good system to me. A improvement over what we have now.

on May 31, 2011

Heavenfall

On the other hand, high-level cities DO look like rubbish visually, sometimes covering a whole screen and leaving almost no room until the next city. That leads to a "map of cities" rather than a "map of the world" in long games (inherited from the general uselessness of the world, of course).

i agree with this 100%. this is one of the things that turns the game into fugly as it progresses. cities grow so much it eats the so called fantasy world around it making it look like one giant urban sprawl of a map. i really think the accual zone a city can grow in needs to be shrinked as to not eat the map. oviously all the buildings need to be shrinked into the box. like a lvl1 city can be 1by1 tile. lvl2-3 can be 2by2 tiles and lvl 4-5 can be the max 3by3 tiles.

buildings should be placed and arranged automatically by the computer as you build your city. ( elimating micromanagement of zomg i want this building facing a particular direction BS).

in summary placing a max on how the city can expand visually will remove THE FUGLYNESS that large cities turn into later on in the game AND GOBBLE UP THE MAP.

end qoute:   if i wanted to look at a map of an urban sprawl i would load up simcity2000. when i want to play a fantasy game i really want the fantasy uniqueness flavor not eaten by urban development.

on May 31, 2011

noobshot


i agree with this 100%. this is one of the things that turns the game into fugly as it progresses. cities grow so much it eats the so called fantasy world around it making it look like one giant urban sprawl of a map. i really think the accual zone a city can grow in needs to be shrinked as to not eat the map. oviously all the buildings need to be shrinked into the box. like a lvl1 city can be 1by1 tile. lvl2-3 can be 2by2 tiles and lvl 4-5 can be the max 3by3 tiles.

this is what i was getting at in the above rant. if you limit the number of buildings by city level and determine their production by the city's population (instead of the other way around, as now), you can exactly limit how big a city of any level will be. that way you can keep cities sane looking, whilst still getting all the benefit of population as it increases. and you will never need to worry about hitting the tile limit.

i know i've said this all before, but it's the only sane, simple and practical solution i've heard.

on May 31, 2011

Cities do get rather large but since the world is so empty there is no real need to make them smaller. Plus placing all those buildings allow you to claim resources and expand your borders, if random improvement placement is your thing you just have to double click.....

One thing that bugs me about cities is that all the buildings are so small and there are no tall towers. It would be cool if libraries and sanctums could stack on each other to form towers. This would look much cooler, make spam cities use less tiles, and make cities look more organic because libraries aren't over 50% of the city. To bad but I don't think it would be possible to mod in.

Sethai
This is what was getting at in the above rant. If you limit the number of buildings by city level and determine their production by the city's population (instead of the other way around, as now), you can exactly limit how big a city of any level will be. That way you can keep cities sane looking, whilst still getting all the benefit of population as it increases. You also will never need to worry about hitting the tile limit.
*Fixed, seriously even if you are using a phone or something it's horrible to read.

He is adding a building/tile limit determined by city level, and city level does effect and thus determine production. So what are you trying to get at? Plus the new scaling population costs will decrease building spam.

on May 31, 2011

Another idea perhaps to deal with the sprawl:

 

Instead or in addition to increased population costs for buildings, maybe increased time to build, though build times get reduced in higher lvl cities.

 

One way to slow urban sprawl is to slow the pace of built buildings, or have fewer, more meaningful buildings.

 

on May 31, 2011

You know, there's a good point here.  City placement of buildings on the map has little value (there's no economic strategy to improvement placement, and only limited strategic value, such a choking off an access point...in a game with raise and lower land, not particularly valuable).  Maybe we should go ahead and let the computer place buildings for us, since there's needless micromanagement to the process.  By the time I'm L3 or above, I'm pretty much randomly placing tiles anyway, most of my special tiles have been connected up to gain the defensive benefit.

on May 31, 2011

While we're working on make city levels matter again... could we also do something about the city level-up bonuses?  Here are the things we've requested a number of times:

1.  Don't make us choose our bonus immediately--let us come back to it after we've reviewed our city and the rest of our kingdom so that we can be sure to pick the right thing.

2.  Give us more choices-- spell research, tech research, gildar, and random monster spawn is not enough.  Let us choose materials bonus, crystals bonus, horse bonus, prestige bonus, mana bonus, greater number of tiles bonus, troop creation bonus, diplomacy capital, etc.  Those are all kind of basic.  Be creative.

on May 31, 2011

Trojasmic
While we're working on make city levels matter again... could we also do something about the city level-up bonuses?  Here are the things we've requested a number of times:

1.  Don't make us choose our bonus immediately--let us come back to it after we've reviewed our city and the rest of our kingdom so that we can be sure to pick the right thing.

2.  Give us more choices-- spell research, tech research, gildar, and random monster spawn is not enough.  Let us choose materials bonus, crystals bonus, horse bonus, prestige bonus, mana bonus, greater number of tiles bonus, troop creation bonus, diplomacy capital, etc.  Those are all kind of basic.  Be creative.

 

I like these ideas, I've been thinking similarly.  

 

One other thought quasi-related thought:

  •  With each increase in map size add 1-2 squares to the minimum distance between newly founded cities

 

One of my favorite reasons to make sprawling snake cities is to provide visibility in my controlled area.  I would be very happy to shrink cities down, but it would be nice if there were some sort of lookout tower we could construct (it could be captured or destroyed) to enhance sight.  

 

I still find it too bad that we can see what our enemies cities are doing when they are in the fog of war.  You should have to have the settlement in your units field of vision for that.  

 

What if each time we built a duplicate building the originally placed building just grew in size.  That should help hider the sprawl, at a glance you would still get the jist of what that city is up to.  Could also add an interesting look to things.

 

Cheers 

 

 

on Jun 01, 2011

DsRaider

He is adding a building/tile limit determined by city level, and city level does effect and thus determine production. So what are you trying to get at? Plus the new scaling population costs will decrease building spam.

Apologies, my shift key broke a long time ago and i got out of the habit.

 

Well, the point is that right now population determines the number of buildings, not the production of those buildings. This is supposed to be the main thing that determines how many buildings you get. However, it is usually the tile limit that ends up more significant in all but a few situations. So if we now add a building limit at specific levels, isn’t that now three total ways of saying the same thing ? (ie, that a city of a given size can only perform so many functions). And if only one of those limits is relevant most of the time, what is the point in the others?

So wouldn’t it be easier to just throw out the citizen system (ie, population cost) altogether, and simply determine the number of buildings by settlement level alone? (and set this in a way so that you never reach the tile limit). You can add more finely grained settlement levels if that helps. The value of population is in determining levels, and levels limit the number of buildings. Simple no?

If you want to give population a value in itself, then you can determine the production of those buildings / head of the population (ie, each study, of which you may build up to 15 in a level 5 city, produces 0.1 research per head). I’d prefer this because that way you can continue to get a benefit as your population increases indefinitely, without having to keep building more studies and run into the tile limit. And this way when you recruit troops, production goes down because the population goes down, without the need for a citizen system. And you don’t get ridiculous situation like when you can’t increase your population by upgrading to houses because you can’t increase your population to level 3. Or doubling of research rates when you get to level 4 and all your studies are upgraded.

If you have 2 studies in a level 3 city, and have the super studies tech, then the second one becomes a super study producing 1.5 research per head.

If the idea of production / head scares people (and i don’t see why, since tax already works like that anyway, and everything else would if you could actually build up to your citizen limit), then you can just have a fixed production value per building (and the game becomes even easier to balance).

But surely it’s easy to see how simply limiting the number of buildings by level and ONLY by level removes a huge amount of redundancy, confusion and is much easier to design for?

on Jun 01, 2011

The citizen system is needed for town growth, and as a cap for infinite building.

 

I think part of the problem is that the citizen system isn't forcing hard choices that much right now (though Brad's changes might work for this)

 

I do think getting rid of human city-placement is a good thing, it adds very little and is micromanagey.  Unneeded feature.

 

 

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