Prototyping

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Postby Groovy » Feb 6 2015, 12:26

I have decided to drop the restriction of having 3 dwellings/lairs per level per faction. I'm busy with the Homestead faction revision, and from the lore point of view, it just made sense to have four level 2 lairs to choose from. I'll use all four and compensate somewhere else.

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Postby Groovy » Feb 19 2015, 11:24

If we end up using region-themed map fragments instead of the current regular 3x3 ones, then I'll probably ditch mines in favour of having region-based resource production. Each region would then produce certain resources based on its type for whichever player controls it (nothing if it is contested), with bonuses based on what creatures have settled there.

I'm quite partial to the idea of regions because it would extend the tabletop version of Heroic to the strategic world map mode. I was originally going to design a separate game for that, but it would be cool if it all worked together within one package.

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Postby Panda Tar » Feb 19 2015, 12:11

Well, you can always create economics that could be based on a number of regions conquered, which could represent, each of them, a symbolic number of a certain resource, the one that faction usually need the most. For example: owning 1 region will produce 1 gem daily. Owning 2, 3 gems, and so on.

P.S.: in addition to natural resources from that region, I've meant.

How will resource then work? Having a mass of rough terrain and mountains will automatically provide ore?
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Postby Groovy » Feb 19 2015, 20:42

Something like that. I was thinking of classifying regions into types, and having each region type produce a predefined combination of resources. This would be boosted based on who has settled in the region, and what bonuses are available in the nearby town that controls the region. To simplify things, I was going to partition the map into a group of regions with a town, so that it is clear which town can control which regions (a more flexible arrangement would probably require an electronic implementation).

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Postby Groovy » Mar 3 2015, 6:32

After some reflection, I think that the social behaviour of units that is currently reserved for heroes - where they boost the units around them in some way - should be used much more widely. This occurred to me while pondering what a beholder in the service of the Homestead faction might do, and deciding to make it a scout that extends the range of other shooters around it in addition to being a shooter of its own. If done well, this would make the placement of units on the map relative to each other extremely important, because different arrangements would give the units different capabilities.

Hopefully the heroes will still feel like a cut above the rest due to having the most exotic bonuses - converting lightning to chain lightning and things like that.

I'll soon post the current unit lineups for the core factions, in case anyone would like to suggest social effects that could be added to them. I'm frantically trying to finalise the factions for this Thursday, when I'll get to spend a day playtesting the game at a company team building event. I'll probably post the updates soon after...

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Postby Panda Tar » Mar 3 2015, 13:48

I see. So it'll be like those units will have an aura of effect.
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Postby Groovy » Mar 6 2015, 14:01

Thanks for that. I'll model this behaviour as an ability and call it the Aura of Effect. :)

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Postby Groovy » Mar 6 2015, 14:26

I did some play testing at the company team building event yesterday. To speed things up a bit, we omitted the resource component from the game and just assumed that everyone had enough resources for whatever they wanted to do. To my surprise, the game played better than with resources. It was much faster, with little loss of complexity. We didn't progress all that far into the game, so there could well have been problems waiting for us further on, but I think it's worth exploring whether dropping resources is viable. If not, I'll try to incorporate Magic the Gathering's resource model, which involves usage without accumulation.

With the addition of new game features and a few more still in the works, the game is getting quite complex. Cutting out features that consume a lot of player time for limited benefit would be very helpful at this point.

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Postby Panda Tar » Mar 6 2015, 14:32

Interesting - it's a bit hard, for me, thinking on a game like that without resources though. How would we balance one power's to acquire things? I thought briefly at population, something we see in some games. As you build up your kingdom, populace rises and that could reflect on the amount of things you could do each turn (including hiring). I don't know how that would work in your model.
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Postby Groovy » Mar 6 2015, 15:57

Population is exactly the limiting factor I had in mind, but it works a bit differently. It is modelled explicitly in Heroic.

Starting from your town, as you move across the map, you discover dwellings and lairs where other races/species live. Each of those dwellings has a certain maximum population size, determined by its creature level, that normally doesn't change during the game. Creatures are removed from the dwelling when they are used for any purpose (trained into troops, etc). New creatures fill up the empty slots at the beginning of each week, up to the dwelling's maximum population size. The same is true for towns. It is basically how HoMM works.

The twist introduced by Heroic is that each creature can be used for multiple purposes. For example, a Siren in the Sylvan faction is categorised as a worker, which means that it can be used to operate any Sylvan war machine (there are three). It is also used (as a Nymph) to train Dragon creatures into Faerie Dragon units, and as a Dryad to produce the Woodwalk artefact. So, if a player builds a Ballista war machine operated by Sirens (four workers are needed to operate it), it means that he will have no Sirens left for anything else that week.

The more dwellings and lairs you control, the more, and more diverse, units, artefacts, etc you'll be able to produce.

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Postby Panda Tar » Mar 6 2015, 16:04

Hm ... I kinda understand it. I do think it's easier to grasp while playing it and testing. ^^ I mean mostly because which such details, if it won't be too difficult/time consuming to players to keep up with the amount of information. Do you reckon it's not that much?
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Postby Groovy » Mar 6 2015, 16:22

As I was typing my previous post, two thoughts occurred to me:
  • It's just nice to work with resources instead of buildings and equipment popping out of thin air. It makes them feel more tangible, at least to me. Like they are made of something real, and it took real effort to make them
  • I really don't like thinking of the world in terms of resources. It gives me the impression that all it's good for is to be consumed. This is one of many aspects of our culture that I'd like to change. I'd much rather it be a living world

We already have creatures like vines in the game, which produce crossbows in the Homestead faction, and poison (as Poison Ivy) in the Sylvan faction. Perhaps we should extend this idea to everything for which we would ordinarily require resources?

Another benefit of doing this is that every faction would get the resources that it needs from whatever environment it finds itself in (dwellings and lairs are custom-populated during play to suit whatever faction is playing there).

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Postby Panda Tar » Mar 6 2015, 16:26

Sounds good to me.
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Postby Groovy » Mar 6 2015, 17:05

I'm not sure what you are referring to.


Using your example of having a number of sirens, and some were being used here, then another number used there, and then you have some still available, and now multiply that by all other units you will be dealing with, and all their interactions. I wonder if it's not difficult to keep track of those numbers only. Understand?

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Postby Panda Tar » Mar 6 2015, 17:17

Jesus, sorry, Groovy. I edited your post instead of replying it. ^^ Sorry. But that's your answer there.
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Postby Groovy » Mar 6 2015, 17:39

Hmm... why don't I have such powers? :cry:

Panda Tar wrote:Using your example of having a number of sirens, and some were being used here, then another number used there, and then you have some still available, and now multiply that by all other units you will be dealing with, and all their interactions. I wonder if it's not difficult to keep track of those numbers only. Understand?

Got it.

Each town, dwelling and lair has a counter that indicates how many creatures are currently in it. That counter is reduced by one every time you take a creature out, and restored to maximum at the beginning of each week. These are the only counters that I'm currently using. Keeping track of them hasn't proved difficult or tedious yet, but I'll have to do more play testing to be sure.

What has proved a challenge yesterday is figuring out what you can do at any point in the game, as defined by the town dependencies (the first image in the Sylvan and Alpine town threads). This has more to do with the type than number of creatures available. I'm optimistic that a well thought-out layout of the dependency image will resolve this problem. Mind you, removing resources will drastically reduce its size.

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Postby Panda Tar » Mar 6 2015, 17:47

Ah, ok. :)
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Postby Groovy » Mar 6 2015, 20:15

There’s something else that might be worth describing as it’s relevant here. There is a difference between the number of units that can in principle be produced by a faction, the number of units that can be produced in a given game, and the number of units that a player would actually want to produce.

Using Sylvan as an example, it is currently able to produce 29 different types of units. So if a player were to utilise it to its full potential, he'd get 29 unit types * 4 tokens each = 116 unit tokens on the map. It's actually more, thanks to neutral units, heroes, mercenary camps, etc, but let's ignore those here.

The above number results from the player being able to satisfy all the unit dependencies. A typical map will only satisfy 1/3 of those dependencies - only one dwelling and one lair per level out of three that the faction can use. This means that, in an actual game, the player will only be able to train a bit more than 10 different types of units.

In a well balanced design, he'd want to train all ten. But not at the same time. The unit power progression is such that level 3 units make level 1 units obsolete, and the same for level 4 and 2 ones. So the player doesn't gain anything from training low-level units once high-level ones become available. He also has an incentive to get rid of low-level units by upgrading them - typically into similar higher-level units, riders of various beasts, or war machine crew. So the number of unit types that a player will utilise at any given time starts off quite low, and peaks probably in the 6-8 range. This gives 8*4 = 32 unit tokens on the map for an army at full capacity. I haven't encountered anything close to this scenario - thanks to combat losses that took time to replace - but this might change as I play on larger maps.

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Postby Groovy » Mar 8 2015, 10:10

I've posted the current version of all the core factions. Now I'm going to spend some time play testing them, including at least one complete four-player game, to see whether dropping resources is a viable option, and what creature line up changes I might have to make as a result.

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Postby Groovy » Mar 9 2015, 17:27

With resources replaced by resource-like creatures, this might be an opportunity to introduce equipment as standalone items that players can choose how to equip their units with. To date, I've incorporated equipment into unit designs. I didn't see much point in giving players the choice of where to place it when it was produced from generic resources like wood and iron that were usually available. Now that their supply has become more randomised, a standalone approach might be warranted.

For example, a player might use a shapeshifting metallic creature to produce a specific metallic unit, or metal armour that can equip other, unarmoured units. I'm thinking of giving each unit a single equipment slot where the player can place an item of equipment during play.

I'll explore where this leads with the next iteration of faction design...


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