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 Post subject: Troop enforcements
PostPosted: Fri Jun 23, 2017 9:35 am 
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Dyson Forest

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When playing around the idea of peaceful expansion and slow stealth changes, i thought it would be good to be able to temporarily boost local troops for defense. A peaceful expansion player probably will not have the military tech or fleets to secure the border.

How about:
  • you can drop your troops on your own planets, this adds the corresponding troop number to the troops on the planet
  • if you have more troops than target troops, troops number is decreased by 4 each turn ( SetTroops value = Max(TargetValue, Value-4) )
  • if you are supply connected to a planet with a specific building "defense academy" number is only decreased by 1 each turn ( SetTroops value = Max(TargetValue, Value-1) )


So, player-A with bad military but good troops can build a new colony/outpost in a territory which A cant defend against enemy ships, staff it with a high number of troops to prevent it temporarily from being captured to buy it time (e.g. for stealth to kick in or to move fleets into position).

As a counter tactic, Player B can blockade the system in order for the enemy troops number to dwindle.


I see balancing issues with defense focus and also maybe it is too cheap/powerful to bring up your defenses to max troops in a short time. Also interaction with advanced troops and faster meter changes techs needs to be determined.

It would help with securing strategic positions (enemy first has to cut off the system from the "defense academy" and hold it for some turns in order to minize own troop losses). What do you think?

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 Post subject: Re: Troop enforcements
PostPosted: Fri Jun 23, 2017 5:44 pm 
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Currently there are two (planned) concepts that will require the ability to increase the troop strength on certain colonies beyond the normal level, as well as some way to "transport" troops from "troop sources" to "troop sinks":

  • Making troop ships consume troops at the colony where they are produced (which actually is already implemented, but currently disabled because it does not work unless you have some means to provide sufficient number of troops at colonies where you produce troop ships).
  • Happiness mechanics: if the pop on a colony gets too unhappy, rebel troops are going to generated which need to be supressed. If the rebel troop defeat the imperial troops, the colony secedes.

Being able to manually transfer troops between your colonies using troop ships has been repeatedly suggested before, but rejected because that would lead to too much micromanagement (the same has been suggested for transporting pop between colonies with colony ships, and rejected for the same reasons). Other ideas for "troop management" mechanics:

  • Make certain colonies "troop sources", either by producing a special building, setting a focus or both, and other colonies as "troop sinks" (same means). Troops are then removed from the sources and distributed to the sinks.
  • Have influence projects which allow you to transfer troops between colonies. Which basically amounts to having to pay with the influence resource instead of (one time) PP costs for buildings or the loss of resource production on the colonies where you need to use a special focus.

If the colonies you want to tranfer troops between need to be supply connected, then cutting off that connection would be a viable strategy to bring a colonies troop reinforcements down, like you suggested.

I think the actual final mechanic will be some kind of mix of the above ideas (and probably some others people will come up with). E.g. turn a colony into a "Military Academy"/"Ground Forces Center"/whatever by setting a special focus. This colony will have substantially increased troop strength and troop regeneration levels, and also act as a "troop source", that is, it provides its troops to "troop sinks". Those "troop sink" colonies could be set by having a special influence project assigned to them.

Just an idea of the top of my head.


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 Post subject: Re: Troop enforcements
PostPosted: Sat Jun 24, 2017 6:33 am 
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Observation: the 'troop pods consume troops' system was changed to allow consumption of other supply linked systems but it still broke the AI and needed a fair amount of discussion before proper implementation, given how busy we were at that time it got put off and we never got back to it.

I wouldn't have a massive problem with both population and troops being able to move from 'full' worlds to empyt worlds along supply as long as 'normal' growth were reduced to take it into account—population grows too fast on larger heavily inhabited worlds as it is but full worlds should be able to export colonists.

I had previously thought ability to move people manually might be fun but the argument that it's way too much micro for this sort of game is compelling and I'm now opposed, but if there were a way to script movement so a tech did it that would be fine and add flavour to the game.

Another side point: troop growth is gated by combat in system, which I'm fine with, but the amount of troops initially after conquest is worked out in a way which is opaque to me and can give some strange results, especially true if I've sneaked stealth troop ships into a system contested between two AIs. How/where is it worked out so I can look at balancing it a bit?

I definitely like the idea of troop garrison worlds and potentially buildings to support that, maybe having that world on Defence could add bonuses in different ways as well. It would give the Raargh something to do when they're not trhowing rocks at each other.

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 Post subject: Re: Troop enforcements
PostPosted: Sat Jun 24, 2017 1:50 pm 
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MatGB wrote:
… population grows too fast on larger heavily inhabited worlds as it is but full worlds should be able to export colonists.

Just a quick thought regarding population growth: is it an exponential curve or an S-curve? S-curve seems more in line with reality and, tweaked properly, would tend to offset the advantage of high-max-population planets.


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 Post subject: Re: Troop enforcements
PostPosted: Sat Jun 24, 2017 2:12 pm 
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Maths stuff, more exponential,
Code:
float PopCenter::NextTurnPopGrowth() const {
    float target_pop = GetMeter(METER_TARGET_POPULATION)->Current();
    float cur_pop = GetMeter(METER_POPULATION)->Current();
    float pop_change = 0.0f;

    if (target_pop > cur_pop) {
        pop_change = cur_pop * (target_pop + 1 - cur_pop) / 100; // Using target population slightly above actual population avoids excessively slow asymptotic growth towards target.
        pop_change = std::min(pop_change, target_pop - cur_pop);
    } else {
        pop_change = -(cur_pop - target_pop) / 10;
        pop_change = std::max(pop_change, target_pop - cur_pop);
    }

    return pop_change;
}
freeorion/PopCenter.cpp at master · freeorion/freeorion

I don't mind the curve, better planets with more people should grow faster, I think it gets too fast nearer the end and is slightly too slow at the beginning.

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 Post subject: Re: Troop enforcements
PostPosted: Sat Jun 24, 2017 3:27 pm 
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MatGB wrote:
Maths stuff, more exponential …
(Code omitted)
I don't mind the curve, better planets with more people should grow faster, I think it gets too fast nearer the end and is slightly too slow at the beginning.

Hmm, yes … similar to an S-curve when growing, but it doesn’t level off as quickly at the high end. Exponential decay when falling. I agree, it should level off more at the high end. At the beginning, well, brand-new colony, not many people, not surprising the takeoff is slow. Gives us incentive to research Lifecycle Manipulation, eh? And to implement those population-shifting mechanisms you were talking about.

Thanks for the code.


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 Post subject: Re: Troop enforcements
PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2017 11:20 am 
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Dyson Forest

Joined: Tue Sep 30, 2014 10:01 am
Posts: 226
MatGB wrote:
Observation: the 'troop pods consume troops' system was changed to allow consumption of other supply linked systems but it still broke the AI and needed a fair amount of discussion before proper implementation, given how busy we were at that time it got put off and we never got back to it.

I wouldn't have a massive problem with both population and troops being able to move from 'full' worlds to empyt worlds along supply as long as 'normal' growth were reduced to take it into account—population grows too fast on larger heavily inhabited worlds as it is but full worlds should be able to export colonists.

I had previously thought ability to move people manually might be fun but the argument that it's way too much micro for this sort of game is compelling and I'm now opposed, but if there were a way to script movement so a tech did it that would be fine and add flavour to the game.

Hm. If the consumption thing is too difficult - why not make it monotonic and leave the reduction part out?

It also makes some sense that planets will only send troops into space if they think they can defend themselves.

What I mean, instead of the current growth of troops:
  • calculate the number of available new troops (probably depending on population total; probably per supply group; good troops species produce more troops)
  • distribute the new troops in the same supply group (very maybe depending on species):
    • first to defense focus planets
    • then to staff troop ships. maybe distinguish staffed and unstaffed troop ships (so production and staffing are decoupled)
    • then staff all planets which are not fully staffed with troops

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 Post subject: Re: Troop enforcements
PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2017 12:22 pm 
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Ophiuchus wrote:
What I mean, instead of the current growth of troops:
  • calculate the number of available new troops (probably depending on population total; probably per supply group; good troops species produce more troops)
  • distribute the new troops in the same supply group (very maybe depending on species):
    • first to defense focus planets
    • then to staff troop ships. maybe distinguish staffed and unstaffed troop ships (so production and staffing are decoupled)
    • then staff all planets which are not fully staffed with troops
The major problem with approaches like this is that the program has to decide on priorities for the player, in this case on where to distribute new troops first, second, and so on. Filling up defence focused colonies before staffing new troop ships will most likely not always be the optimal choice. There are going to be situations where getting those new troop ships out will be more important than filling up defence focused colonies.

Which is why we try to avoid solutions which require automated decision making regarding priorities (or any automated decision making). That's against our design philosophy.


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 Post subject: Re: Troop enforcements
PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2017 1:04 pm 
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Dyson Forest

Joined: Tue Sep 30, 2014 10:01 am
Posts: 226
Vezzra wrote:
Which is why we try to avoid solutions which require automated decision making regarding priorities (or any automated decision making). That's against our design philosophy.

I hope you could rephrase that a bit so I understand better. Because most of the things the player cannot control is "automated decision making", e.g. the random shooting in battles. Most of the time I have different priorities for the targets depending on the situation.

I do understand that people want different things in different situations. But as long as rules in the game are understandable and the same for all, i think its ok. I understand that the ships in battle shoot at random so I plan and play accordingly.

Probably the bad thing in my suggestion is that not being automatically optimal could mean micromanagement (changing planets focus in order to staff more troops probably sucks). But deciding from where to take troops also sucks (if you have change it multiple times).

Its relatively easy to put troop ship production on hold. You only have to find the item in the queue, not the planet in the universe.
So how about the other way round? First staff fleet and then defense planets, then the other planets.

On the other hand I get the feeling that mixing attack and defense troops introduces a lot of complexity, so maybe one shouldnt try.

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 Post subject: Re: Troop enforcements
PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2017 1:13 pm 
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We are planning (or at least Geoff's mentioned the idea) of having a 'target priority' system for combat that will introduce player choices, the current random system is a stopgap that gets tweaked and improved on when people have time: it works but isn't ideal, which is better than some other things that need dev time.

Basically, if we put dev time into fixing a problem, it should be to make things less random and more under player control, introducing a new random element isn't what we'd want to do, make sense?

NB: I've had some of my ideas shot down because they introduced randomness unnecessarily, and those more senior than me were right to do so, we want a deterministic game, random elements are there but we want as few as possible, not some introduced by deliberate design. Make sense?

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 Post subject: Re: Troop enforcements
PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2017 1:44 pm 
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Ophiuchus wrote:
I hope you could rephrase that a bit so I understand better.
Ok, I'll try. :D
Quote:
Because most of the things the player cannot control is "automated decision making", e.g. the random shooting in battles. Most of the time I have different priorities for the targets depending on the situation.
I don't think you can really compare that to your proposal of automated troop distribution. The one thing is a game mechanic that tries to abstract the myriad of decisions and actions taking place in a space battle, made and executed by a large number of beings who make up the crews of the participating spaceships. The random elements simulates all the complex (and partly unpredictable) things (tactics and counter-tactics, maneuvers and counter-maneuvers employed by all the combatants) which make up a space battle.

This is necessary and unavoidable, otherwise the combat engine needs to enable the player to make all the decisions of all the participants involved (from the fleet commander to the captains of the ships down to the gunners firing the cannons and the fighter pilots). Which of course is impossible (aside from creating something that nobody ever would want to play), so all games which contain (or are all about) space battles have to abstract and simulate those elements to a varying degree (depending if you make a epic strategic game or a highly detailed tactical game).

How and where you distribute your resources (like you planetary garrison troops) in a strategy game is a very different matter. That is a very strategic decision, which a strategy game like FO is all about, and automating such a decision isn't what we want. There are basically two ways to design game mechanics which involve decisions that might get too detailed for the player to handle manually all the time: either go the simulation way and automate things like you proposed (which makes sense for games that are designed to be simulations), or design the mechanic in a way that such detailed decision making gets abstracted, so no automated decision making is necessary.

For FO's design philosophy the second option has been chosen (eons ago by the ancient founding fathers of this legendary project, which we, their descendants, still respectfully bow to ;)). FO is deliberatly not a simulation, but more oriented toward how board games work.

The other thing is what Mat already mentioned. The current combat mechanics are a stop-gap solution and definitely will be replaced by something that gives the player more control. One of the many things in the queue...


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 Post subject: Re: Troop enforcements
PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2017 2:22 pm 
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Dyson Forest

Joined: Tue Sep 30, 2014 10:01 am
Posts: 226
Vezzra wrote:
Ophiuchus wrote:
I hope you could rephrase that a bit so I understand better.
Ok, I'll try. :D

Thanks, it worked quite well :)

Vezzra wrote:
How and where you distribute your resources (like you planetary garrison troops) in a strategy game is a very different matter. That is a very strategic decision, which a strategy game like FO is all about, and automating such a decision isn't what we want. There are basically two ways to design game mechanics which involve decisions that might get too detailed for the player to handle manually all the time: either go the simulation way and automate things like you proposed (which makes sense for games that are designed to be simulations), or design the mechanic in a way that such detailed decision making gets abstracted, so no automated decision making is necessary.

For FO's design philosophy the second option has been chosen (eons ago by the ancient founding fathers of this legendary project, which we, their descendants, still respectfully bow to ;)). FO is deliberatly not a simulation, but more oriented toward how board games work.

That was what I was looking for :), thank you.

Vezzra wrote:
Ophiuchus wrote:
The other thing is what Mat already mentioned. The current combat mechanics are a stop-gap solution and definitely will be replaced by something that gives the player more control. One of the many things in the queue...

I like the current mechanic. I probably will miss it when its gone :(

If I find time I will look for the troop discussions you mentioned, I have the feeling that the 'troop transfer'/'troop pods consume troops' makes troops another kind of resource which freeorion tried to move away from in the past (because it is not interesting AFAIU).

For the moment I will be content that somewhen in the future we will have the possibility to boost defences.

If peaceful expansion (~stealthy empire) is possible I will certainly revisit the topic.

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