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Topic: More economic?

hessenfarmer
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Posted at: 2020-05-05, 10:39

Tribal-Chief wrote:

I agree with the fact that WL is not an economic game.

depends on the win condition I believe.
in collectors f.e. it is all about producing more then any other player.
And it already has more economic options then its inspirational ancestor Settlers 2. Although I admit that the economy isn't that complex in general.

With most economy games there is usually a currency to measure your worth, that is how good your economy is, are you earning more than maintaince costs plus expansion costs? The only real method of measuring your performance in WL is to build weapons and defeat opponents which is more of a measure of your military skill. You end up, if you are none violent, deriving pleasure from exploring a map in peacefull mode or on your own but there is no real economy to manage.

According to our homepage it is "Widelands is a free, open source real-time strategy game" so for an RTS it is not that much military focused in comparison to other RTS games. In Widelands you are not able to mange your troops in the field, neither do you have the possibility to make tactical decisions using different types of troops. We don't have range attacks or any other tactical possibilities. So for me it is not about military skill but about the skill to quickly produce and upgrade soldiers. The real fighting is just a number scheme of what you were able to produce. Personally I don't know any other RTS that is less focused on military. Perhaps you have any examples?

A start was made some years ago to add trading posts, which would mean something more of an economy, but the war mongering (mainly Germans) stick with their national sport. There needs to be more economic decision making in the game. Maintainace costs for all buildings, carriers that only work if supplied with luxury goods, abandoning gold as as ware used for weapons adding copper, tin and silver at least. When you have soldiers deserting due to not being fed and carriers going on strike because they want more furniture then you are starting to get an economy to manage, something that is more interesting than watching two soldiers simulate a fight to the death while thier fellows watch.

That really might be a nice game. However I am afraid this would not be widelands any more. And I don't understand why you are promoting simple and wrong prejudices against other players nationality. Especially as the thread opener has this nationality as well as others that might agree on your points.

It should be possible to play a full game with no military, but the option of soldiers should be left in for those that want it.

It is: collectors or wood gnome with peaceful starting condition.
On the other hand you could skip a lot of the economy in this Win conditions with the peaceful option, and the game just will be a race for ground (wood gnome) or ressources collectors.


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Nordfriese
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Posted at: 2020-05-05, 10:59

I also think that Widelands is too military-focused.

Currently there are three ways of playing:

  • Collectors or similar where the match is over after a short time, but you only need a small fraction of the economy to win the pretty pointless objectives. Trainingsites and the like are not needed.

  • Peaceful matches without such objectives, where the only goal is to have fun – but here, almost the whole economy is superfluous, because without the need to train soldiers there's basically nothing to do.

  • Fighting matches that are all about destroying every enemy in your path.
    (EDIT: Some of them are very economy-focused initially, e.g. no metal challenge, but in the end it boils down to "conquer everything".)

And none of these really appeals to me at least. Casual players like me who don't care much about fighting are stuck in the dilemma that without fighting, the economic aspects also go away. (You only need a building material economy and nothing else to explore the map).

I have been thinking about making a "busyness" win condition that frequently gives the player new economic objectives like "operate 100 mines at > 90% productivity while keeping the ore target quantities below X" and allows to play indefinitely (no time limit) while not decreasing the fun… but again the problem that such objectives are ends in themselves.

What we need are more production pathways that do not lose their purpose in non-fighting games. These would not be needed in performance-centered MP matches (therefore, no balancing required as long as the existing pathways are not affected) to keep up an economic aspect for casual players in endless 1-player games. A possibility would be to have some singleplayer scenarios that add a bunch of special buildings with completely new pathways, but in the long run it would be desirable to expose such approaches to free games as well (as an option, so that MP players are not forced to change their gameplay at all, e.g. by having a singleplayer only game-setup option "Economy Ultra Mode").

Edited: 2020-05-05, 11:04

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the-x
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Posted at: 2020-05-05, 11:19

Nordfriese wrote:

And none of these really appeals to me at least. Casual players like me who don't care much about fighting are stuck in the dilemma that without fighting, the economic aspects also go away. (You only need a building material economy and nothing else to explore the map).

Yes, i see that point also. Not so hard as you but this is something.

  • reduce moving speed of soldiers

  • tower woth range that can attack

like a catapult, which is so strong in the beginning and later can be conquered

  • Slow fights down

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the-x
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Posted at: 2020-05-05, 11:25

Another idea to solve the problem is rare ressources you do not find in any game

must not be that much, maybe only diamond or silver

and depending on that you have a completely different build up

  • silver for a economic ware that makes production faster

  • diamond for the highest upgrade for a hero


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hessenfarmer
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Posted at: 2020-05-05, 11:41

Nordfriese wrote:

I also think that Widelands is too military-focused.

As written above I disagree but I think think this particular issue is not the root cause of some players discomfort.

Currently there are three ways of playing:

  • Collectors or similar where the match is over after a short time, but you only need a small fraction of the economy to win the pretty pointless objectives. Trainingsites and the like are not needed.

  • Peaceful matches without such objectives, where the only goal is to have fun – but here, almost the whole economy is superfluous, because without the need to train soldiers there's basically nothing to do.

  • Fighting matches that are all about destroying every enemy in your path.
    (EDIT: Some of them are very economy-focused initially, e.g. no metal challenge, but in the end it boils down to "conquer everything".)

I fully agree to this analysis, however this is only true for multiplayer. In single player we have the campaigns which should make for some fun due to scripted story line and aditional objectives being introduced. And we have some challenge maps where the fun comes from shortage of ressources or other bottlenecks that need to be solved.

And none of these really appeals to me at least. Casual players like me who don't care much about fighting are stuck in the dilemma that without fighting, the economic aspects also go away. (You only need a building material economy and nothing else to explore the map).

Again true but only for multiplayer. in a single player game you don't need to take much care on the fighting as you always can reload if something went wrong, you just can build up an economy that supports the creation of trained soldiers and then you can explore the map. to make this not boring you need some restricitions or challenges to overcome. These should result from map design, scenario creation and the AI. For singleplayer we try to make the AI better to increase difficulty, cause difficulty should represent fun as long as there is the safenet of reloading. And we try to make new missions and scenarios. If you don't like to fight against AI either, well then what is the logic in playing RTS games. ;-). Perhaps a economic simulation would fit better then (free TTS f.e)

I have been thinking about making a "busyness" win condition that frequently gives the player new economic objectives like "operate 100 mines at > 90% productivity while keeping the ore target quantities below X" and allows to play indefinitely (no time limit) while not decreasing the fun… but again the problem that such objectives are ends in themselves.

What we need are more production pathways that do not lose their purpose in non-fighting games. These would not be needed in performance-centered MP matches (therefore, no balancing required as long as the existing pathways are not affected) to keep up an economic aspect for casual players in endless 1-player games. A possibility would be to have some singleplayer scenarios that add a bunch of special buildings with completely new pathways, but in the long run it would be desirable to expose such approaches to free games as well (as an option, so that MP players are not forced to change their gameplay at all, e.g. by having a singleplayer only game-setup option "Economy Ultra Mode").

Now I fully agree the point is not whether the game is too much focused on military. The point is how to make it more and longer fun for singleplayer. Here I see the following options:
- new winconditions and/or startconditions or combinations (already improved for b21) - more scenarios (as the story itself has a fun component)
- new map challenges (although most of the bottlenecks thinkable already implemented)
- better AI
- new tribes (already under way)

All of the above was the reason for me to start contributing. And it is still the biggest focus of my contributions.
However I accept that to keep the game compatible for MP (which is by definition not peaceful for the vast majority) we need to consider some balancing issues. And I still believe both aspects make the heart of widelands and we should aim to get the differing requirments considered as much as possible.


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Tribal-Chief
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Posted at: 2020-05-05, 12:03

hessenfarmer wrote:

According to our homepage it is "Widelands is a free, open source real-time strategy game" so for an RTS it is not that much military focused in comparison to other RTS games.

Looks like page was rewritten some time ago, it used to say it was an economy simulator, more about building up than tearing down.

If this is the direction WL is going then I will restart my Widerland fork and have fun my way.


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Nordfriese
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Posted at: 2020-05-05, 12:52

Perhaps I didn't express very clearly what is the deciding factor for long-term singleplayer fun to me.

Let me compare to OpenTTD: There, I transport cargo, to gain money, to build new transport routes, to transport more cargo, to gain more money, to build new transport routes, and so in indefinitely. This is a very fundamental positive feedback loop that only ends when every last town and industry is connected to my transport imperium which would take hundreds of years gametime. No chance that this self-supplying way of playing ever ends before I decide to hit the Quit button.

In Widelands, the entire economy is focused on one purpose: Train soldiers. With them I can defeat the enemies – but there is a finite number of them, and once the last one is defeated, soldiers are useless. Now a strong and well-balanced economy does nothing to help me continue having long-term fun. Highly trained soldiers don't get more ores or fish. They don't contribute anything to my economic success. There is no fundamental feedback loop in Widelands except the extremely simple construction materials industry.

That is why I want Widelands to offer more such fundamental economic loops as found in e.g. OpenTTD: So that there can be a very complex economy, where every single building plays in, to get the economy ever growing, with economy growth resulting (by complex mechanisms which must be managed by the player) in more economy growth.
The Tech Tree concept suggested by the-x would be a way to achieve this: The economy grows, so I can afford to buy plans, which make the economy grow more, so I can buy more plans, and so on.

This is the kind of concept that Widelands needs and lacks. In my opinion.

Edited: 2020-05-05, 12:53

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hessenfarmer
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Posted at: 2020-05-05, 13:34

Nordfriese wrote:

Perhaps I didn't express very clearly what is the deciding factor for long-term singleplayer fun to me.

Let me compare to OpenTTD: There, I transport cargo, to gain money, to build new transport routes, to transport more cargo, to gain more money, to build new transport routes, and so in indefinitely. This is a very fundamental positive feedback loop that only ends when every last town and industry is connected to my transport imperium which would take hundreds of years gametime. No chance that this self-supplying way of playing ever ends before I decide to hit the Quit button.

Correct but OpenTTD is a completely different type of game. And after a while it does not deliver any new mechanics or objectives as well. So if you have no opponent there isn't much of a challenge in it after some time. I am playing an endless game of Patrizier2 from time to time but I am in a state where this is only fun if all other games including widelands are to challenging due to me being tired from the day.

In Widelands, the entire economy is focused on one purpose: Train soldiers. With them I can defeat the enemies – but there is a finite number of them, and once the last one is defeated, soldiers are useless. Now a strong and well-balanced economy does nothing to help me continue having long-term fun. Highly trained soldiers don't get more ores or fish. They don't contribute anything to my economic success. There is no fundamental feedback loop in Widelands except the extremely simple construction materials industry.

I think Widelands isn't about playing endless games as in its whole concept it is finite in a single game. Finite ressources, finite space, finite opponents, and so on. The only thing that is not finite theoretical is maps, scenarios and tribes. So for me long term fun can be genereated by trying to play every map with every single tribe in every single start position. By this you get endless hours as well but in different games. Once a challenge is mastered. you go to the next one. In this sense MP is only another flavour of challenge but with a different focus then in singleplayer.

BTW. how difficult it could be to manage even the small complexity of widelands economy could be seen in 2018 tournament of einstein where the aim was to produce the biggest amount of heros, stored in militarysites in a 24 Hours gametime game in a single player no opponents setup. And in this type of game heros were only needed as measurement for the economic output.

That is why I want Widelands to offer more such fundamental economic loops as found in e.g. OpenTTD: So that there can be a very complex economy, where every single building plays in, to get the economy ever growing, with economy growth resulting (by complex mechanisms which must be managed by the player) in more economy growth.

I can't remember any complex loops in OpenTTD though I haven't played it recently. Above you mentioned exactly one everlasting loop to earn money.

The Tech Tree concept suggested by the-x would be a way to achieve this: The economy grows, so I can afford to buy plans, which make the economy grow more, so I can buy more plans, and so on.

Something similar was introduced in later Settlers parts. And something at least pointing in this direction is contained in the ideas for europeans tribe by MarkMcWire. However I am afraid that this concept is finite as well and in the end it ends up again with the need to have more land, more ressources and this leads to fight the enemy.
So as long as we don't change the type of game that widelands is from RTS to economic simulation (where different tribes wouldn't make much sense) we won't find a solution that brings that kind of fun into endless games that you described.
And I wouldn't vote for such a drastic fundamental change.

This is the kind of concept that Widelands needs and lacks. In my opinion.

In my opinion it doesn't lack much, rather then more variety in terms of tribes, maps, different AI and especially scenarios.


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hessenfarmer
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Posted at: 2020-05-05, 13:46

Tribal-Chief wrote:

hessenfarmer wrote:

According to our homepage it is "Widelands is a free, open source real-time strategy game" so for an RTS it is not that much military focused in comparison to other RTS games.

Looks like page was rewritten some time ago, it used to say it was an economy simulator, more about building up than tearing down.

I don't have the history of our page, but the wikipedia entries citing that page are showing from the very beginning in 2004 that it is a slow paced RTS. Just like Settlers 2 and imho the whole series is a slow paced RTS. And in fact it is more about building up (producing more and better military) then tearing down (controlling the military units in the most effective way). Even in the Anno series which is closest to us probably there is more focus in military control and ship usage then in widelands. But in the end it isn't or at least wasn't a simulation game.

If this is the direction WL is going then I will restart my Widerland fork and have fun my way.

that might be a solution in general for some players to fork off a new simulation game. However there aren't enough contributors yet for this one so this might end with both forks lacking. Although it is your freedom to change whatever you like for your own. you might still wan't to share this fork in our github environment. I always tried to take both views into account in the discussions the single player part and the multiplayer part, but it seems to be difficult.


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Nordfriese
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Posted at: 2020-05-05, 14:00

hessenfarmer wrote:

In Widelands, the entire economy is focused on one purpose: Train soldiers. With them I can defeat the enemies – but there is a finite number of them, and once the last one is defeated, soldiers are useless. Now a strong and well-balanced economy does nothing to help me continue having long-term fun. Highly trained soldiers don't get more ores or fish. They don't contribute anything to my economic success. There is no fundamental feedback loop in Widelands except the extremely simple construction materials industry.

I think Widelands isn't about playing endless games as in its whole concept it is finite in a single game. Finite ressources, finite space, finite opponents, and so on. The only thing that is not finite theoretical is maps, scenarios and tribes. So for me long term fun can be genereated by trying to play every map with every single tribe in every single start position. By this you get endless hours as well but in different games. Once a challenge is mastered. you go to the next one. In this sense MP is only another flavour of challenge but with a different focus then in singleplayer.

Exactly. The game is made to be finite. But resources are not really finite because mines still produce when resources are depleted, and then it is merely required to have many of them, and a strong food economy. Space is also not a real issue – on a 512×512 map it is practically impossible to really fill the whole map with buildings.

Also there are two ways of defining long-term fun. For you it mainly means the initial challenge of building up a settlement from scratch. For me it means keeping the economy running for a very very long time and ever increasing. Widelands currently only supports the first way of playing, the second one becomes pointless when the last enemy was defeated. That's what I want to change.

BTW. how difficult it could be to manage even the small complexity of widelands economy could be seen in 2018 tournament of einstein where the aim was to produce the biggest amount of heros, stored in militarysites in a 24 Hours gametime game in a single player no opponents setup. And in this type of game heros were only needed as measurement for the economic output.

That is why I want Widelands to offer more such fundamental economic loops as found in e.g. OpenTTD: So that there can be a very complex economy, where every single building plays in, to get the economy ever growing, with economy growth resulting (by complex mechanisms which must be managed by the player) in more economy growth.

I can't remember any complex loops in OpenTTD though I haven't played it recently. Above you mentioned exactly one everlasting loop to earn money.

In the base game it's the only one, but with a few clicks one can enabled the FIRS addon which introduces more industries with multiple in- and outputs, some of which can be used to boost the production of other industries. This makes for many interesting feedback loops. (e.g. Wald produces Holz, Sägewerk turns it into Schnittholz, Holzverarbeitung turns this into Ersatzteile, which boost the production of Steinbruch, which produces Stein, Kalkbrennerei turns this into Landwirtschafts-Betriebsmittel, which is accepted by the Wald to boost Holz production).
A concept that is perfectly imaginable for Widelands but not present here.

The Tech Tree concept suggested by the-x would be a way to achieve this: The economy grows, so I can afford to buy plans, which make the economy grow more, so I can buy more plans, and so on.

Something similar was introduced in later Settlers parts. And something at least pointing in this direction is contained in the ideas for europeans tribe by MarkMcWire. However I am afraid that this concept is finite as well and in the end it ends up again with the need to have more land, more ressources and this leads to fight the enemy.
So as long as we don't change the type of game that widelands is from RTS to economic simulation (where different tribes wouldn't make much sense) we won't find a solution that brings that kind of fun into endless games that you described.
And I wouldn't vote for such a drastic fundamental change.

As an additional game mode perhaps? How about a new game mode "Economy Challenge". Some buildings (trainingsites, weapon industry) are disabled there, and many other buildings are enabled only in this mode. So this would extend Widelands to provide another way of playing without affecting the other ways of playing at all. So we'd have a "high complexity" game mode with many buildings, which only makes sense for very long games for players who don't think in terms of winning or losing, and the default "balanced" modes.

EDIT: We frequently get suggestions about more complex economic pathways (e.g. using food to improve farms, making foresters having to water trees, hop for making beer…) which are always rejected because they would screw up balance and change the tribes too much. Such a mode would allow us to implement all such suggestions and make the suggesting players happy.

Edited: 2020-05-05, 14:04

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