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Topic: Suggestion about Soldiers Part3

Astuur
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Posted at: 2011-03-26, 12:32

Even if the focus of the game is in building an economy, we should still make the inevitable warfare a bit more interesting.

We should allow the player to modify his army according to the basic objectives „conquer“ or „defend“.

I would like the game logic to make a distinction whether soldiers are currently defending (reacting to an enemy assault)
or attacking (attack button pressed).

These two cases could lead to different soldiers’ behavior according to some other circumstance.
There is a variety of options as to what the „other circumstances“ might be.

I want to roughly outline a few here, but I am sure there could be a lot more:

Case 1) Modify behavior based on the military building.

A "Barrier" is clearly a defensive structure by nature.
When attacking, each barrier could only contribute 1/4 of its soldiers to the assault,
but this type of building could be made very useful for the case "defending",
by an increased healing rate.
Building suitable for „attack“ purposes could be invented or redefined from existing ones.

Case 2) Modify behavior based on population density.

A very densely populated areas (workers/area unit) could make soldiers more determined to conquer new territory.
Likewise a hardly used area inside a realm could be weakening the offensive power.

Case 3) Modify behavior based on living standard.

Well filled stocks (selected Wares per worker) might give an advantage in defense.

Case 4) Modify behavior based casualties.

The soldiers may be hesitant (weaker) to attack if the casualties are high (within a limited period), but still defend with full force.

Case 5) Modify behaviot for research

When scientific research is implemented some day, the user should have a choice to which goal he dedicates his resources to; Defense or offense should be an option.

That's all for the moment :) So please give me your ideas about all of that.


Being no programmer, I apologize for all my suggestions that imply undue workload and for other misjudgements due to lack of expertise or relevant skills.
I am on Win32, have no means to compile, and rely on prefabricated distributions (Thanks to Tino).

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ixprefect
Joined: 2009-02-27, 14:28
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Posted at: 2011-03-27, 14:20

We should allow the player to modify his army according to the basic objectives „conquer“ or „defend“. I would like the game logic to make a distinction whether soldiers are currently defending (reacting to an enemy assault)
or attacking (attack button pressed).

Technically, there is already a distinction in the code, but for most practical purposes it is not very relevant. What do you think should be the difference between attacking and defending soldiers? I don't think you've made any concrete suggestions here.

Case 1) Modify behavior based on the military building. Case 2) Modify behavior based on population density. Case 3) Modify behavior based on living standard. Case 4) Modify behavior based casualties.

I am sceptical about all of these because it is not clear to me how they could be made transparent to the player in a way that can actually be understood without reading lots of manuals. A lot of free software games suffer from having a lot of neat features that are totally opaque to anybody who doesn't dig through non-existing manuals. I don't want to fall into the same trap.

Case 5) Modify behaviot for research When scientific research is implemented some day, the user should have a choice to which goal he dedicates his resources to; Defense or offense should be an option.

I wonder whether you are biased here by other strategy games. In classical RTS, people seem to make a decision between defense and offensive playing, where offensive essentially means rush early, rush often. The thing is, there are no rushes in Widelands, because you first have to expand your territory to a point where you are in contact with your opponent. So I seriously doubt that this defense vs. offense is a meaningful choice in Widelands.

Perhaps there are strategy choices that could be made possible in Widelands of a Rock/Paper/Scissors type - in most RTS, this is established via different unit kinds, but that's a different axis from offensive/defensive.


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Venatrix
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Posted at: 2011-03-27, 18:29

Case 2) Modify behavior based on population density. A very densely populated areas (workers/area unit) could make soldiers more determined to conquer new territory. Likewise a hardly used area inside a realm could be weakening the offensive power.

Well, I would say that a densely populated area is in need for better protection because you don’t want to lose your work areas and sometimes can’t afford such a loss. On the other side soldiers in an almost empty area probably are getting bored after some time and are eager to do some thing and fight the enemy. face-wink.png

That’s the only case I would consider useful and understandable.


Two is the oddest prime.

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Astuur
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Posted at: 2011-03-28, 15:33

ixprefect wrote: Technically, there is already a distinction in the code, but for most practical purposes it is not very relevant. What do you think should be the difference between attacking and defending soldiers? I don't think you've made any concrete suggestions here.

Well, I have mentioned it with the barrier example, well, sort of... but it's not very clear, I agree. It is not about the individual soldiers' properies, but about going out of their buildings. "Good at defending" basicaly means no change. Our soldiers already are good at defending meaning that they come to the aid of smaller attacked buildings and fight. If we would want to further increase the "defending" abilities, we could give defenders an advantage by temporarily raising the healing capabilities of their military sites while and after they are under attack. As for the "conquer" capabilities, it is similar. What we now have, being able to send all but one soldiers from all sites within reach to an assault, would be the highest conquer ability. If circumstance are less than ideal, the percentage of available soldiers from each site could lessen.

I am sceptical about all of these because it is not clear to me how they could be made transparent to the player in a way that can actually be understood without reading lots of manuals.

I can clearly see your point. But I think if explained not in general, but for a specific example, it gets easy enough.
"You're supposed to take good care of your soldiers. They will remember if you have sent them to missions inflicting high losses within the last 30 minutes and will follow your assault command in lesser numbers than expected." should be okay, no?
"As a result of the high living standard in your realm, your soldiers have developped a robust health. The defending soldiers get a bonus on healing speed, as long as they are not attacking themselves." could be another example.
We could send this info as messages if and when the situation occurs.
But, as I said, I see the danger and fully agree that it must be avoided. I have not played many RTS games, so I doubt they have influenced me.
But I will try to give you the general sentiment behind all this:
For my taste the balance of speed vs. careful setup is too much on the speed side. You must expand quickly at all cost as long as unclaimed territory is available, because the size of the territory (roughly equivalent to your farming capacity and mining ressources) determines your chances from this early stage on. I would like the game to better reward good placement of production buildings, a good way system, filled stocks and in general a thoughtful planning for future expanding. Too much seems to be just make shift for the immediate needs.
Being able to hold off the enemy for a while while you order your realm with the last finishing touches could help. But maybe that is just my perception.

@ Venatrix: The main point was to have that destinction between defense and offense. I did not know that technically it already exists. This is just a rough first draft. You're idea ist just as reasonable as mine - or certainly many others that coudl be found.


Being no programmer, I apologize for all my suggestions that imply undue workload and for other misjudgements due to lack of expertise or relevant skills.
I am on Win32, have no means to compile, and rely on prefabricated distributions (Thanks to Tino).

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ixprefect
Joined: 2009-02-27, 14:28
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Posted at: 2011-03-29, 16:17

Hmm, the expansion thing is an interesting question. My thinking is mostly influenced from multiplayer, though having now played in Collectors mode was also an interesting lesson.

There is a limit to how fast you can expand in terms of the building materials you have available. Especially in the early game, it can be beneficial to not expand like crazy in all directions, if this means having more wood available for production buildings. But of course more territory equals more access to resources. If you have a natural and interesting way to affect that, I'm curious to know that - if it somehow goes beyond simply making military buildings more expensive.

The other thing is basically whether there should be some fighting advantage for defending soldiers. I'm not sure how that would really be implemented, since attacking in order to re-take one of your own buildings could also be considered part of defense.


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Astuur
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Posted at: 2011-03-30, 08:36

ixprefect wrote: There is a limit to how fast you can expand in terms of the building materials you have available. Especially in the early game, it can be beneficial to not expand like crazy in all directions, if this means having more wood available for production buildings. But of course more territory equals more access to resources.

In my experience this is hardly ever the case. Leastways not for wood, where a shortage can be overcome quite easily. It often makes sense though to save your marbles when playing the empire. Also "in all directions" is only what I do when I lack all info from my scouts.

If you have a natural and interesting way to affect that, I'm curious to know that - if it somehow goes beyond simply making military buildings more expensive.

It's hard to tell what really is at the basis of this exploding expansion. You can best see it with the AI because that's where the AI is particularily good at. In part, of course it is the self-multiplying nature of the game itsself, but I think transportation is another key element. I think that the transportation system for wares in WL simply is too effective, especially when using the animal carriers. You can build your road system too carefree and traffic jams have become very rare.
Transportation ought to come with a price. I wish there was an easy way to make carriers walk slower just for testing purposes. I was about to test a cruelly increased building cost for warehouses, combined with a need for a "big" space to see if that could help, but a crash stopped me. I will try now with a new game.

The other thing is basically whether there should be some fighting advantage for defending soldiers. I'm not sure how that would really be implemented, since attacking in order to re-take one of your own buildings could also be considered part of defense.

Very true. I have always thought that in WL conquering seems to be easier than defending, but I cannot prove it. Besides, it is not so much the "defending" itsself that I want to see rewarded but the effect of a well planned topographically static economy (vs. a fast expanding agressive land conquering with all its structural shortcomings.). In parts this comes from taking over alien military buildings (but we had that discussion already). If soldiers needed to be supplied with rations etc., if might also be a move in the right direction.
For the moment I'm quite simply unable to come to a conclusion. More thinking needed...


Being no programmer, I apologize for all my suggestions that imply undue workload and for other misjudgements due to lack of expertise or relevant skills.
I am on Win32, have no means to compile, and rely on prefabricated distributions (Thanks to Tino).

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ixprefect
Joined: 2009-02-27, 14:28
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Posted at: 2011-03-30, 10:04

ixprefect wrote:

There is a limit to how fast you can expand in terms of the building materials you have available. Especially in the early game, it can be beneficial to not expand like crazy in all directions, if this means having more wood available for production buildings. But of course more territory equals more access to resources.

In my experience this is hardly ever the case. Leastways not for wood, where a shortage can be overcome quite easily. It often makes sense though to save your marbles when playing the empire. Also "in all directions" is only what I do when I lack all info from my scouts.

Did we ever play a multiplayer game together? It seems to me that our playing styles are very different. I almost never build scouts, for example, because I prefer to use the resources for expansion rather than exploration.

It's hard to tell what really is at the basis of this exploding expansion. You can best see it with the AI because that's where the AI is particularily good at. In part, of course it is the self-multiplying nature of the game itsself, but I think transportation is another key element. I think that the transportation system for wares in WL simply is too effective, especially when using the animal carriers. You can build your road system too carefree and traffic jams have become very rare. Transportation ought to come with a price. I wish there was an easy way to make carriers walk slower just for testing purposes. I was about to test a cruelly increased building cost for warehouses, combined with a need for a "big" space to see if that could help, but a crash stopped me. I will try now with a new game.

Interesting thoughts. I'm uncertain in this regard, and with a less efficient transportation system, things are even more strongly affected by changes in how the economy assigns supplies to requests.

Very true. I have always thought that in WL conquering seems to be easier than defending, but I cannot prove it. Besides, it is not so much the "defending" itsself that I want to see rewarded but the effect of a well planned topographically static economy (vs. a fast expanding agressive land conquering with all its structural shortcomings.). In parts this comes from taking over alien military buildings (but we had that discussion already). If soldiers needed to be supplied with rations etc., if might also be a move in the right direction.
For the moment I'm quite simply unable to come to a conclusion. More thinking needed...

I can think of two things that could contribute to conquering appearing to be easier than defending:

  1. It is often possible to attack with a very large number of soldiers that simply overwhelms the soldiers in the defending building.

  2. When soldiers retreat, they stop being blocking and can no longer be challenged.

While this can work to the advantage of both attacker and defender, I suspect that it more often works to the advantage of the attacker: It happens not too rarely that you attack somewhere with 15+ soldiers that are then all standing around the attacked building, with one attacking soldier fighting against one defender at the enemy building flag. When the attacker's fighting soldier gets down to low health at the end of one battle, it will simple walk through all the other attacker soldiers to go home and restore. Occasionally, the defending soldier can also do that, but of course the time for healing inside the building will usually be short.

This behaviour is particularly frustrating because soldiers in combat cannot usually walk through each other. It would be more consistent if the attacker's low-health soldier were blocked from retreating by the other attacking soldiers.

Note that in the short run, this behaviour can sometimes work to the defender's advantage, because the attacker's soldiers give up in time. However, in the long run, it allows attackers to often take over even well-defended enemy buildings with rather few losses. This can not only be considered unfair, it can become frustrating because it seems to violate the law that soldiers block each other.

I'd be interested to hear some opinions on this matter.


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SirVer
Joined: 2009-02-19, 15:18
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Posted at: 2011-03-30, 11:37

The idea to buff defending soldiers has been discussed before and discarded; I guess on the mailing list, but maybe also on the bug tracker though I was unable to find either discussion right now.

I feel the defender is at an disadvantage as soon as the attacker can muster more soldiers; the reason for this is that then all military buildings will only contain one soldier as all others go out to fight the attackers. One fight is then enough to conquer a military building, even if the defender has stronger soldiers. I feel this should be somehow tunable.

On the other hand, if you attack a building with 2 very strong soldiers inside, your soldiers will queue up and be killed one by one while always the other defender heals inside the building. This is a huge advantage for the defender; if he could define how many soldiers should stay at home.

My point is that I wished for some global military options; also for example when soldiers retreat when injured. I also think that retreating soldiers should still be attackable by enemies that would be idle otherwise.


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Astuur
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Posted at: 2011-03-30, 12:37

Always good to listen to the folks with intimate knowledge of the game mechanics. face-smile.png
There is a LOT to think about....
As such things are not found elsewhere, I guess this work is for those, that can decipher code.

I remember that "pursuit and kill" was a topic once.
If I remember well, Nasenbaer was strongly opposing it. I tried to find that, but failed.


Being no programmer, I apologize for all my suggestions that imply undue workload and for other misjudgements due to lack of expertise or relevant skills.
I am on Win32, have no means to compile, and rely on prefabricated distributions (Thanks to Tino).

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BeniH
Joined: 2011-05-16, 15:49
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Posted at: 2011-05-16, 17:48

Hello, firstly i want to excuse my lenghty post, but i tried to write a self-contained concept here.

i followed the discussion and wanted to say that Astuur has some good points in his three Threads. Im a fan of the first settlers and rarely played settlers-II and never anythiong beyond that.

While some of the WL-features are very usable, i think they impose too much micro management, especially at training and equipment. As a leader of a whole Tribe i do not want to worry about things like how trained a individual soldier is.

In settlers-I we had a simple "level" system of soldiers. The first one was the recruit, going up to the knight in LVL5. The only difference in Appearance was the helmet and with this, they were very easily recognizable. Until the present day, i do not know the exactly benefits of the individual units, knowing only that the later was better than the former. Training was done with "spare" units inside the Warehouses and considerably faster in the HQ. Training also did not use any resources but time. Only "spare" units were trained, the ones in garrison did only train veeeery slowly (depending on building size).

Also warfare was very simple but also predictable (but also unfair at defense, especially against AI in later games). The effectiveness of attacking units depended (on the players view, i dont know the code) on both morale and unit level. Morale was boosted by supplying the military buildings and warehouses with Gold. When attacking an enemy military installation, you could choose how many units should attack by distance, and which should go first (Level from low to high or from high to low). The available soldiers were defined by a "border" setting, defining how many soldiers need to stay home. As an example: i have three towers at my border, (1 close to any border, 1 medium and 1 far) Ind want to attack the enemy tower. Each tower holds 5 units in different levels (15 total). My Bordersetting is configured in such, that the close buildings should at least remain at a "well guarded" (in S1 there was no actual value to be entered) state, meaning that only 1 of the 5 garrisons was allowed to leave for attack. The border setting for medium was 50% and for far 25%, giving me a total of 1+2+3=6 (rounded so mor ppl remain home for safety reasons) units to attack. When i select "weakest first", conseqeutntly the engine iterated the level from below.

My current thoughts:

  • I like that training Soldiers needs ressources.

  • I don't like that training them needs some micromanagement and also i cannot recruit more soldiers that i have place in my garrisons, not allowing me to build up a "fast reaction force" to restock frontier garrisons in the event of Attack or Defense.

  • I don't like that each soldier is individual, this makes management hard. It nice to have such things like Defense/Attack as it allows for differentiated Strategies, but i think this is not in conformity with the goal not to make a MilSim. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is, if a unit dies or not. As long as we do not have the possibility to order individual units, i dont see need for this sort of micromanagement and in fact think it should at least be hidden.

  • Also i dnont think its neccessary to decide which soldiers should stay home and which should sweep out to attack based of some defense value; its by way enough to know that one soldier is better than the other.


To put it into a possible concept poposal for WL:

Units layout

  • Hide the complex HP/AT/DEF/... levels from the user, instead combine them in few unit-levels that are clearly distinguable from another and always better than the previous level (consistent inside a tribe, meaning always better in all categories than the level before; but tribes should differ). Eg.: Recruit (LVL=0; HP=100; AT=10; DEF=10) | ... | Knight (LVL=5; HP=500; AT=50; DEF=50)

  • Represent each level of unit with a unique, light distinguable avatar. To do this via the helmets and units size is a good starting point, maybe its also useful to add a "level-bar" (stars below the health bar to indicate level)

Recruitment

  • implement a global recruiting selector definig how many of new citizens will be "carrier" or "recruit". Depending on this setting, the economy will create a demand for a recruit and also for the needed ressources. This allows us to build up and train a "reserve army" like described above; the army size is not directly dependant on the count of military buildings and their garrison configuration.

  • a new recruit always stay in the warehouse he was recruited in and waits there until a demand for him is generated.

Garrison

  • Implement a border setting something like explained above: Enhance the current Mil-Building stuff with a minimum-garrison setting, so players can tell the economy how many soldiers should be at least in the building (so they can be excluded for attack). The current setting remains the "maximum" garrison that the economy will always try to meet.

  • Implement a new global interface in which the player can define the min/and max values based in percent globally, and which is reevaluated when any border of any tribe changes so he does not need to always recheck individual garrison settings. For example i would be able to say "all direct front buildings, man with Min=100% / Max=100%.", if then an enemy places a new mil-Building more near to my front, my border garrisons are stacked up automatically. It would be great, if the player could exclude individual buildings from this rule, for example to have important strategic defenses alwas manned at max in case the enemy is really fast (something like a "yes/no"-box at the min/max/kick garrison config window)

  • Place an indication showing the current and the min/max values for a military building. Also show the distance of the building to enemy borders in accordance with the scale implemented with the just discussed global distance-garrison-interface

  • Any Demand should be fullfilled by the most high soldier available. This ensures several things: Firstly, new garrisons will be manned with the highest units available currently in any warehouse. Secondly, a player can say "replace this front-soldier with a better one" simply by kicking the desired unit out of the mil-building.

Training

  • Like now, a training facility not filled completely according to the current setting will create a demand for a suitable soldier (one that could be trained, it would be best if this were the lowest level soldier available): Recruited soldiers in the warehouse will move to the most suitable training facility.

  • there he stays until he is kicked out. The demand cycle begins; either he moves back to training (if no other demand is filed), to a garrison not at max or to a warehouse.

  • If the the training facility trained him to the highest level the facility can, he also leaves like described above.

  • simplify the training: Hide the individual categorys, just generate the demands for training and if they are fullfilled, rise the level of the solider. Do not forget that Experience should be a demand like with the miners. Experience should be gained either by combat, by staying in a garrison (slooowly by time) or by staying in a training facility (fast by time).

  • Implement an overall "replace troops" button to be able to simply exchange troops: Once clicked, the economy calculates, based on the min- and max garrison settings of the military buildings, which units are "kicked out" and be replaced by better ones. It will be good, if near-front buildings are considered first, since both for attack and defense, strong soldiers are needed there more urgent. Something like this pseudocode: "[select military buildings, sort by border-distance, ascending] -process building> [for each garrison-member: [(current_garrison > min_garrison) && (is there a higher level soldier in a warehouse?) -yes> kick unit and create demand] ]" This should ensure a good distribution based on min-settings and available, better trained units in warehouses.

Attacking

  • Implement a new option to select if either the lower ranks should attack, or the higher levels. One would choose the lower levels for example, if he wants to ensure that a proper defense remains home.

  • The number of Attackers should respect the min-garrison setting, so the player can decide very nicely how vulnerable he wants to be after the attack. The attacking soldiers should be mustered based on distance to the target, so the nearest own military building should be emptied until the min-setting, then the next far one, and so on. Settlers-I had a very nice interface for that which showed how many soldiers where available from which distance.


Conclusion:

With the system desribed here, it would be possible to overcome some important problems while keeping it all simple and transparent. The system is very flexible and players can deal with rather complicated situations like "i want to train few heros but have the bulk only at medium levels". Also he does not need to worry about individual training considerations - after all im a leader not a training mentor face-wink.png Also no micromanagement is needed as there are global rules. Training also is a self-runner and just needs adjustment if needed - the player can concentrate on strategic decisions and his economy.

It all boils down to the point that the normal garrisons only interact with the troops stocked up in the warehouses. This stock is automatically and regularly trained by the training facilities, as long as there are enough ressources (weapons, recruits, etc).

Also it is to note, that not so much changes in the concepts already implemented like it reads above.

Edited: 2011-05-16, 17:56

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