Only 4 resources. Good or bad?

The new Heroes games produced by Ubisoft. Please specify which game you are referring to in your post.

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ThunderTitan
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Postby ThunderTitan » Aug 23 2010, 8:40

konfeta wrote:Perhaps. But before you do that, you probably want to cut down on the actual number of resource variants you have. After a certain point, this becomes irredeemably complex and a hell to balance.


Not if the new uses are there for every faction.

Elvin wrote: But if the focus is not there anymore it stands to reason that they have other plans to spice up the adventure map.


It's kinda cute that you actually think that... but usually the case is that when they take something out to make things more "streamlined" they're not going to add something else to "complicate" it back again.

wimfrits wrote:more special resources only serve to increase the *luck* factor instead of a strategic factor.
In my opinion, Heroes should be a strategy game.


What's with everyone wanting strategy games to have zero luck in them... i for one would rather be a general then a chess champion.
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Postby Kristo » Aug 23 2010, 12:20

Since I play single-player games against the AI, anything that makes it easier for the computer player is a good thing IMHO. Fewer resource types makes it easier for the AI to value things (less complicated). Towns' area of control over mines makes it easier for the AI to defend them. I think some patience is in order here. If these changes make the AI play better and don't take away from the true Heroes feel too much, then I'm all for them.
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Postby ThunderTitan » Aug 23 2010, 12:28

Is it really easier for the AI with less resources?! Wouldn't it just a a question of copy-pasting stuff for each rare resource, as they all have the same worth overall (just matters what faction you are, and the AI needs faction specific programming anyway if they'll make them different enough like they say).

H5's AI could have had no resources, and it would still be too stupid. I mean it received resources anyway, so it could easily ignore mines and still be a challenge... but it wasn't.
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Postby Qurqirish Dragon » Aug 23 2010, 13:37

Ryder wrote:I've just had an idea and I dont even know if I like it but I'm going to put it out there anyway.

Why do mines last the entire game? Surely the resource would have to run out at some time. So my thought was, at the start of each game, the mine would have a random lifespan added to it. It might give the resource for 40 days, or it might for 100 days and then just cease giving resources. Maybe even turn into a haunted mine when the resources cease.


I don't see why mines should run out- indeed I think they are correct in NOT running out. People often argue "in reality, after a while you deplete a mine..." To this I counter: a typical HoMM map lasts about 6 months, even for a slow player (as I normally am, as I like to expand slowly and explore everything). When have you ever heard of a mine depleting in only 6 months? I wouldn't be surprised if you could find an example, but it definitely would not be the norm. An remember, the Heroes setting doesn't have modern mining techniques, so it would take even LONGER to run out, as the mining is slower.
What would be more interesting is giving you the option of "reckless" mining, where you increase production of a mine, but there is a chance of causing a collapse, and thus shutting the mine down for repairs. The amount of increase / shut down time would have to be balanced of course, but it would add an interesting early game decision: play it safe, knowing you won't be able to build X until week 2, or push the mines to get the resources in week 1 and risk not getting them until week 4...
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Postby klaymen » Aug 23 2010, 13:52

Qurqirish Dragon wrote:What would be more interesting is giving you the option of "reckless" mining, where you increase production of a mine, but there is a chance of causing a collapse, and thus shutting the mine down for repairs. The amount of increase / shut down time would have to be balanced of course, but it would add an interesting early game decision: play it safe, knowing you won't be able to build X until week 2, or push the mines to get the resources in week 1 and risk not getting them until week 4...


Now, this is an interesting idea. Though it will again increase the luck factor in the game, nobody is forcing you to do it and if you want to push your luck, go for it.
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Postby Mirez » Aug 23 2010, 14:34

only bad thing about reducing the amount of resources I can think of is the lower amount of neutrals you have to defeat. I like exploring the map, defeating neutrals more then the actual running around chasing heroes taking towns and losing them on day 7
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Postby Adicto » Aug 23 2010, 14:48

ThunderTitan wrote:
wimfrits wrote:more special resources only serve to increase the *luck* factor instead of a strategic factor.
In my opinion, Heroes should be a strategy game.


What's with everyone wanting strategy games to have zero luck in them... i for one would rather be a general then a chess champion.

Because if we want randomness we will play cards or dices, since those things do not require several hours of your life for just a single game.

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Postby konfeta » Aug 23 2010, 14:54

only bad thing about reducing the amount of resources I can think of is the lower amount of neutrals you have to defeat. I like exploring the map, defeating neutrals more then the actual running around chasing heroes taking towns and losing them on day 7


That's not inherently true. There can be other map objects. And the mine system can be tweaked to result in similar number of mines required despite only have 4 resources.

Not if the new uses are there for every faction.


New variables = greater complexity = more stuff to playtest = more difficult to balance. It might be "easier" to balance in principle because you have more stuff to tweak and finetune, but catching and fixing balance problems is almost always a question of QA unless the developer screwed up big time. This is especially true with a franchise that has had a historically weak presence on-line, so it is more difficult to tap into the fanbase for feedback.

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Postby Nelgirith » Aug 23 2010, 16:03

ThunderTitan wrote: What's with everyone wanting strategy games to have zero luck in them... i for one would rather be a general then a chess champion.

Mixed bag. I love having a part of randomness, but not fully relying on it. I remember H3 or H5 games with heros never getting Logistics (which is mostly a killer not to have in multi).

Also the Ultimate skill is already quite tedious to obtain, if you factor in the randomness, there's about 0 fun when you get to choose between 2 "wrong" sub-skills.

I admit that being sure that I'll get my uber build at level 30 seems a bit boring, so I hope there will be a real choice between several pathes for each hero.

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Postby Ethric » Aug 23 2010, 16:09

Randomness is good, within reasonable parameters... try GalCiv II with megaevents turned on if you want loony-tunes randomness :D
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Postby ThunderTitan » Aug 23 2010, 16:20

konfeta wrote:
only bad thing about reducing the amount of resources I can think of is the lower amount of neutrals you have to defeat. I like exploring the map, defeating neutrals more then the actual running around chasing heroes taking towns and losing them on day 7


That's not inherently true. There can be other map objects. And the mine system can be tweaked to result in similar number of mines required despite only have 4 resources.


Then what's the point besides giving people the impression that it's less complex by only having 1 resource shown...

Adicto wrote:Because if we want randomness we will play cards or dices, since those things do not require several hours of your life for just a single game.


And if you want no luck involved you can go play chess...

No one is asking for total randomness, but real life strategy always involves an element of chance, which is why being a chess master doesn't automatically qualify you to lead an army. Taking all the chance out just leaves you with a nice math model for you to apply in order to win.


Note: there are plenty of card games that have nothing to do with luck btw!
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Postby Kristo » Aug 23 2010, 17:03

Adicto wrote:Because if we want randomness we will play cards or dices, since those things do not require several hours of your life for just a single game.

A good strategist plans for bad luck and doesn't rely on good luck. If a lucky skill draw (e.g., Logistics) becomes critical for winning, then the game has a skill balance problem, not a luck problem.
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Postby ThunderTitan » Aug 23 2010, 17:07

Vox Populi is on my side for once... nice. Also, they all make good points too... extra nice.
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Postby Qurqirish Dragon » Aug 23 2010, 17:43

Just a note to make, from my observations playing the Disciples 3 demo (I downloaded it last night- 3.7 GB over DSL takes a while)

resources:
D3 has 5 resources in it: gold, ore, and 3 magic types (I assume 1 per faction)
By comparison the previous versions had 1 magic type per faction +gold (which gave either 5 or 6 resources depending on the version)
This tells me that they realized that having multiple resources in common between factions was a benefit. I don't know what they think about the "rare" resources, as in disciples each faction has a specific magic resource it needs (with trace amounts of others for high-level spells), while in heroes most factions needed 3 of the 4 rares in decent sized amounts.

The problem Disciples has with the magic resources is that except for (possibly) late in campaigns, the ones for other factions are literally useless (as opposed to the HoMM case where the other-faction resources are useful in the early/mid game but not late), going after them is merely a waste of time, or an indirect attack on the enemy.

I would prefer the apparent way H6 is going to the Disciples way, but I think that reducing the number of resources is not too horrid either. I actually think that 2 common and 2 rare resources would be better than 3 common and 1 rare (counting gold as a common resource) for Heroes. That is, if you have to reduce the resources, reduce the common ones, which normally aren't worth contesting anyway. Thematically, of course, you really need both wood and ore, but for gameplay purposes, only one is sufficient.
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Postby Pitsu » Aug 23 2010, 18:08

Qurqirish Dragon wrote:(as opposed to the HoMM case where the other-faction resources are useful in the early/mid game but not late),


And even this is not the case in open large maps of H1-3. Because your faction is not well defined there and after a few weeks you may have for instance 2 sorc, 2 wizard, 1 barb and 1 warlock castle, with even higher variety of towns available for capture. Your starting town is there to give you a start, not to define with whom you have to finish the game. In the end of a very large map you will be hiring the strongest troops from many faction and use up more than one rare resource.
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Postby alma » Aug 23 2010, 18:48

I think it's good, it makes multiplayer much more competitive which is always good.

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Postby konfeta » Aug 23 2010, 20:40

Then what's the point besides giving people the impression that it's less complex by only having 1 resource shown...


Less resource pick up types to reduce extent of randomization, simpler to balance every map for every faction as you don't need to make sure every town has appropriate access to enough of their separate resources, etc.

Alternatively, less need of having every mine type might translate to other, more interesting map objects that can increase game depth by being given regularity they may not have had before.

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Postby vicheron » Aug 23 2010, 21:50

konfeta wrote:
It encourages getting mines before your opponent since the only way for your opponent to take those mines back is to take your town, which is much riskier than taking mines.


That's wonderful. Except it doesn't, because the whole "can't flag taken mines" thing depends on area of influence exerted by the town in question. I really doubt they would have the area of influence extend all the way to your opponent's mines, and if they are smart, they will allow shaping it in the map editor so we can have maps where castles are nearby without intersecting areas of influence


If that's the case then they need to learn from games like Disciples, Kohan, and Rise of Nations. They need to have ways of expanding your territory and reducing your opponent's territory like with the rods in Disciples. They need to give bonuses for being in your own territory and penalties for being in enemy territory like in Rise of Nations/Legends. It would also be nice if they added some kind of research tree or hero skill that lets you increase friendly territory bonuses and decrease enemy territory penalties.

Instead of scrapping the old resource system, they should build on it and keep adding new uses for the rare resources. That's they've done in every game.


Perhaps. But before you do that, you probably want to cut down on the actual number of resource variants you have. After a certain point, this becomes irredeemably complex and a hell to balance.


Why? They've been adding new uses to rare resources in every game. Why would they suddenly need to reduce the number of resources now?

There is just so much important crap tied to the traditional HoMM resource system that every addition forces you to consider the balance of utilizing resources for town development as opposed to new features. Throw in the typically highly random nature of HoMM, and something will break. I think that stripping down the complexity and rebuilding the new resource system from the ground up with new uses in mind would be the superior approach. Just tacking new uses on an old system is creating an nonviable monster that would choke any possible strategic expansion of the concept under balancing problems.


The whole point of having several resources is to force you to balance their use, that's part of the strategy. It's not like your opponent doesn't have to worry about these things, they also have to balance the use of rare resources.

And how would adding new uses make the system nonviable? That's like saying if stores are selling too many things, there would be no viable way for you to spend your money. You just have to plan more carefully on how to spend those resources. Some options may give you an early game boost while others will benefit you more in the long run. It'll depend on the map you're playing and the kind of strategy you're using.

It would be more difficult to balance but if Stardock managed to make a complex game Galactic Civilizations with a budget of less than $1 million, I don't see why they can't balance out 4 resources in Heroes.

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Postby Kristo » Aug 23 2010, 21:58

GalCiv was made for love, not profit. Stardock the company doesn't care if they never see another dime from it. They have other sources of income. Also, the GalCiv games are single-player only. Balance issues are less obvious and less of a problem when you don't have to make it fair for multiplayer.

Game balance is a Hard Problem. Case in point is the open-source game Battle for Wesnoth. It's been under active development for 7 years and they've only recently stopped tweaking things for game balance. And that's with thousands of multiplayer games played on their servers. A for-profit game company that isn't named Blizzard usually doesn't have the time or money to make that happen.
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Postby konfeta » Aug 23 2010, 22:14

The whole point of having several resources is to force you to balance their use, that's part of the strategy. It's not like your opponent doesn't have to worry about these things, they also have to balance the use of rare resources.


No, the point is, factions in this game tend to use different distribution and different total amounts of resources to build up their dwellings. The strength of each factions factors in hero abilities, spell access, unit qualities, and expense of reaching each unit. And half of that stuff is basically randomized, meaning that every town needs to be viable on a variety of map designs without players getting particularly screwed over with bad arty/resource/level up placement or the converse and getting a gamebreaker combination.

Throwing in unique resource usage adds another variable that interacts with every other one of those variables to this already very complex system, that if I need to remind you, has never actually been balanced in any of the previous installments. You need to make sure that the new resource usages are balanced between factions if they are made different, and balanced against common usages between factions such as buying spells, etc. You need to make sure that early vs. late game balance isn't significantly impacted by these new tools. You need to make sure that both heavy utilization of these resources and traditional Heroes economy/army build up focus don't obsolete each other. Etc. and so on.

All of this demands playtest time, which this company might not have given Ubisoft's history.

There is also the ever eternal question of trying to draw in new players while retaining the old. No company survives on an existing fanbase with every sequel because there will be invariably players who hate new changes, and no company grows without attracting new fans. While ideally a game should retain enough complexity to keep the old fans occupied and be accessible enough to attract new people, when you are ultimately given the choice between burning your company down "for the art" and a chance to survive as a company so you can do the "art" thing later, the choice is obvious to sane people.

Don't forget that this is Ubisoft we are talking about, one of the less nice publishers out there. And be mindful that whatever changes to make the game more mainstream have been made, it could have been a lot worse. Ubisoft was seriously considering making HoMM 5 an RTS or an RPG for sake of broadening the appeal.


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