Macromanaging micromanagement

For what's not in 'Top Priority Game Design'. Post your ideas, visions, suggestions for the game, rules, modifications, etc.

Moderator: Oberlus

Message
Author
efortin
Krill Swarm
Posts: 14
Joined: Sat Oct 18, 2003 5:16 am

Macromanaging micromanagement

#1 Post by efortin »

I was thinking about the respective advantages and usefullness of a game based on macromanagement or micromanagement and then it hit me... Why not having the two together?

Why do people like micromanagement? Not really because you have to set 1.544e9 settings per turn to make sure your empire is in good shape. In fact, I guess that any person that would die for micromanagement would gladly give part of the job to a good AI, even more if this AI is represented in some kind of worker of the empire and not just a dialog box... Is there other reasons? I love micromanagement because it gives me a sense of being close to my empire, to really feel what it is made of, how it works, how it evolves... It's more feeling the empire and all it's part than really wanting to influence everything in every way. In fact, if we want to be a little realistic, emperor can't control everything in their emprire. It's just too big.

Anyway, so why not having the two I was saying? Well, we have a perfect example of a game that gives both: SimCity! In my opinion, this is a perfect example of a game that is somewhat at a macromanagement level but gives all the joy of micromanagement. IE you can look at every aspect of your city, from high-level zoning to the guy coming out of a grocery store on Rosemont square... This is why so many people like SimCity, because its fun to look at all the small details. You do something at a high-level, macromanaging, and you get the close and warm feel of micromanagement at the same time! Two for the price of one!

Ok, you're not really micromanaging, but it gives, in my opinion, the same feeling because there's the effect, the buzz, micromanager are looking for: getting deep into the "empire", "city", or whatever.

I know that some person likes the idea of controlling everything and that they don't like micromanagement for the same reasons that I like it. But I think that having somewhat a SimCity "micro joy and pleasure/macro manage" model would be very very very interesting.

User avatar
utilae
Cosmic Dragon
Posts: 2175
Joined: Fri Jun 27, 2003 12:37 am
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

#2 Post by utilae »

Micromanagement and Macromanagement.

Here is an analogy: Windows copying files.
Micromanagement
-You could copy each file one by one.
Macromanagement
-You could select all files and copy them all at the same time.

In this way we could do similar things for FreeOrion.
eg
Managing planets/systems
Micromanagement
-You select each planet one by one and make it an industry world.
Macromanagement
-You could select all planets (all systems) and set them all to industry worlds.

Daveybaby
Small Juggernaut
Posts: 724
Joined: Mon Sep 01, 2003 11:07 am
Location: Hastings, UK

#3 Post by Daveybaby »

Moo3 gave macromanagement a bad name, which is kinda odd considering there was no macromanagement in the game whatsoever (just automation, which is a different thing entirely).

There is no reason whatsoever that you cant have both micro and macro in there. The key is that the macro tools should be straightforward enough that its obvious to the user what theyre going to be doing at any time, so that they can choose if/when to micro.

In an ideal world they should also be powerful and configurable enough so that the player should *never* need to micro if they dont want to. But IMHO that should be more of an ideal to aim for than a design requirement.

User avatar
skdiw
Creative Contributor
Posts: 643
Joined: Mon Sep 01, 2003 2:17 am

#4 Post by skdiw »

It will be fanatistic if the player can both micro and macro. My problem is, how do we to do that?
:mrgreen:

luckless666
Pupating Mass
Posts: 90
Joined: Thu Nov 06, 2003 3:16 am
Location: West Sussex, United Kingdom

#5 Post by luckless666 »

It will be fanatistic if the player can both micro and macro. My problem is, how do we to do that?
AI.

Say, you can decide to micromanage what each planet builds, and when they finish, you choose what they build next,

-OR-

You just goto the 'colonies list' (or whatever) and select 'industrial' for that world, 'agricultural' for that world, 'ship building' for that world etc. etc. and the AI selects and builds the bare minimum to reach maximum efficency for each world. You can even get the AI to recommend what the planet should be depending on avaliable resources, planet size, planet bonuses, etc.

However, as you can guess, this is ENTIRELY reliant on how well the AI is coded and scripted in the first place!!!
LOTS of 'If planet size = W, planet type = X, planet resources = Y, then planet= type Z' and thats just for this planetary example. You gotta do it for ship design, logistics, spying, diplomacy, etc. etc.
Chris Walker
| c.walker (at) mgt.hull.ac.uk |

WorldForge.org

User avatar
utilae
Cosmic Dragon
Posts: 2175
Joined: Fri Jun 27, 2003 12:37 am
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

#6 Post by utilae »

You just goto the 'colonies list' (or whatever) and select 'industrial' for that world, 'agricultural' for that world, 'ship building' for that world etc.
You could have the ai do that
or
You could do it on multiple levels. So you might change selected worlds from agricultural to industry. You could do that by selecting each planet seperately and doing it or selecting a group of planets and changing them all to industry from whatever they were previously.

You may choose a large group of planets to change at once (macromanagement) and then do a few detailed changes (micromanagement).

noelte
Juggernaut
Posts: 872
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2003 12:42 pm
Location: Germany, Berlin

#7 Post by noelte »

utilae wrote:You may choose a large group of planets to change at once (macromanagement) and then do a few detailed changes (micromanagement).
I have a different view on macro-/micromanagement. I would call both things you mention micromanagement. To me macromanagement is if you can focus on things you want and leave the rest to the ai by telling it what your goals are(build fleet, colonize planets). This it maybe not really macro it's more likely ai managed mirco.

Ronald.

Daveybaby
Small Juggernaut
Posts: 724
Joined: Mon Sep 01, 2003 11:07 am
Location: Hastings, UK

#8 Post by Daveybaby »

luckless666 wrote:
It will be fanatistic if the player can both micro and macro. My problem is, how do we to do that?
AI.

Say, you can decide to micromanage what each planet builds, and when they finish, you choose what they build next,

-OR-

You just goto the 'colonies list' (or whatever) and select 'industrial' for that world, 'agricultural' for that world, 'ship building' for that world etc. etc. and the AI selects and builds the bare minimum to reach maximum efficency for each world. You can even get the AI to recommend what the planet should be depending on avaliable resources, planet size, planet bonuses, etc.

However, as you can guess, this is ENTIRELY reliant on how well the AI is coded and scripted in the first place!!!
LOTS of 'If planet size = W, planet type = X, planet resources = Y, then planet= type Z' and thats just for this planetary example. You gotta do it for ship design, logistics, spying, diplomacy, etc. etc.
No, No, No. - AI is what Moo3 did. AI is NOT macromanagement, its automation. Handing control of your colonies to an AI can certainly be an option, but its not a macromanagement solution.

An example of macromanagement is, for example, in Moo1 - when you research a new colony tech (e.g. a new planetary shield) the game asks you if you want all of your colonies to start building it, and what percentage of their spending to devote to it. The player clicked yes/no and set a spending level. Not particularly sophisticated or flexible, but compare this to Moo2, where you had to manually open every colony and insert the tech into its build queue.

There are hundreds of ways of streamlining the players control over colonies, without necessarily making that control any less refined. Its just a matter of giving the player ways to make changes to multiple planets at once. NOT just giving up and letting an AI play the game for you.
utilae wrote:You may choose a large group of planets to change at once (macromanagement) and then do a few detailed changes (micromanagement).
Exactly. In fact, if your macro tools are sophisticated and flexible enough, the player might never need to go in and micro, since they can set the macro tools up so that theyre doing exactly what they would have wanted anyway. However, as long as you cut out 90% of the repetetive donkey work youre headng in the right direction.
noelte wrote:I have a different view on macro-/micromanagement. I would call both things you mention micromanagement. To me macromanagement is if you can focus on things you want and leave the rest to the ai by telling it what your goals are(build fleet, colonize planets). This it maybe not really macro it's more likely ai managed mirco
Thats exactly what it is. Its not macromanagement, its giving up with management altogether and letting someone else play the game for you. I have nothing against AI control per se, but if the player wants the colony to do something in a different way to how the AI does it then theyre just going to go in and micro anyway - Moo3 showed that pretty effectively.

If you get your macro tools right, you not only make it easier for the player, you also make it easier for the enemy empire AIs to be developed, because the macro tools are designed to make playing the game easier. Moo3 almost got this right, but they went at it from the wrong direction - the AI was given priority over the player.

Ablaze
Creative Contributor
Posts: 314
Joined: Tue Aug 26, 2003 6:10 pm
Location: Amidst the Inferno.

#9 Post by Ablaze »

Here is an older thread which also covers that topic.

It's easy to throw around the idea that the AI can handle everything, but much harder to actually implement it. In my opinion nothing should rely on the AI, since I haven’t even seen one reasonably complex strategy game with an AI that can compete with a human player (without cheating.)
Time flies like the wind, fruit flies like bananas.

User avatar
Krikkitone
Creative Contributor
Posts: 1540
Joined: Sat Sep 13, 2003 6:52 pm

#10 Post by Krikkitone »

I see a few down sides of micromanagement that need two different solutions.

Repetitiveness of actions
examples:
MOO2 insert building on every planet queue (spatial repetitiveness)
MOO3 insert spies into spy queue as it ran out (temporal repetitiveness)

Repetitiveness of getting information
examples:
MOO2 checking each planet to see if it Had the right buildings (spatial repetitiveness)
MOO3 checking the spy queue to see if it was empty (temporal repetitiveness)

Those are both things that can be automated easily...in the sens of the player gives One order, and it is perpetuated either
1. Throughout their empire ie MOO1's method of handling new technology buildings
2. Continuously ie ship building with repeat on for MOO2

This is repetition reduction macromanagement: getting the orders you would give (because you told the computer you would give those orders) and handling them. This is mandatory for a good empire game. (it all depends on how well the tool actually gets its orders from you..ie the MOO2 autobuild, BAD Civ:CTP with savable queues, GOOD)

Another problem with micromanagement has to do with data crunching, ie similar to a tutorial function.
I haven't met an empire game where the basic mathematics of your your economy or ship design
1. couldn't be handled by a simple Excell program
2. didn't exceed the mathematical abilities of some people to analyze, particularly for a game that they didn't want to have to work on

To solve this slightly more complex problem, some degree of the game mechanics need to be able to be handed off to the AI.. with the player's ability to go as deep into those mechanics as they like retained.

So at the Extreme end, I should have a macroscreen where I could just say 'Win game' and the AI will attempt to do the best it can at that (and probably fail except on a tutorial level)..
as I begin to understand the game more, I can instead adjust the balance between military spending and expansion and research, and determine who I want to attack...
as I begin to understand more, I design specific ships to be built, determine how planets will develop economically, which ones to colonize, what techs I want, and what tactics I'm going to use in attacking people.

This is basically a tutorial portion of the macromanagement, and the game MUST be made so it can be totally ignored. (unlike the repetition reduction macromanagement tools where a large sweeping game will require them to be used) The idea is that this allows a Beginner to actually play on beginner level and and enjoy it because

1. They feel they are doing something (depending on what thing they fiddle with) to move the game to its win.

2. They need less understanding of the game's mechanics to accomplish a basic task. (the more advanced and complex the task... and the more advantage it therefore gives if it is worthwhile, requires knowledge of the game mechanics so you know when those highly specialized exceptions to the rules appear.)

So what distinguishes a novice from a master is how many times they ignore the "tutorial macromanagement tools" not because they like doing something (ie some beginners may be terrible at combat but like doing it) but because they Know that this is an exception to the rules the AI knows.

The "repetition reduction macromanagement tools" on the other hand would be used by all players with the same frequency. (essentially a means of generating 'New rules' for your empire to run by) Although if they are limited in what 'new rules' they can generate..which they will be to some extent, then more exceptions may be made by master players. but who should still use the tools for their overall empire management.

DemoMonkey
Krill Swarm
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2004 8:44 pm

#11 Post by DemoMonkey »

First post for a lurker. Be gentle.

The problem with micromanagement in macro-scale games is that it ramps up as the game progresses. To go one step further, the problem is actually that people assume that it SHOULD ramp up as the game progresses. Lets challenge that.

What if planets were simply big balls of resources that the player neither had to, nor COULD, do anything to alter directly. They would be rated by resource/food/trade/science production/population capacity and "Development level". NONE of these can be adjusted at the individual level. All your adjustments/modifications/advances happened at the level of Imperial Infrastructure.

The development level of a new colony is what it's production is multiplied by. It starts low (10%?), and rises by a fixed % per turn. The rate of increase could be a racial quality, modified by an empire wide "investment setting". Again, no input on an individual planetary level.

How do you improve things?

Need more food? Build the "Advanced Hydroponics Network". All your planets produce +10 percent food.

People unhappy? Build the "VR Gestalt" and improve empire happiness 5%

Too many toxic or irradiated planets? Launch the "Terraform Initiative". It takes a huge number of turns, but it improves all your hosytile planets 1 grade.

Of course, all the adjustments would have several levels (+5 percent, +10 percent, +15, etc.), and could be restricted to planets of a certain development level or up. For example, "Advanced Hydroponics" adds +10 to all planets food output, but "Megacloning Ranches" would add +20 to any planet with a development rating of 50 or higher.

NOTE: These improvements are built ONCE, at the empire level, not the planet level.

Improvements would have a large cost, a fairly long build time, and a maintenance cost. No civilization coulsd support all of them, and you'll have to choose the ones you want carefully.

Why do I think this is a good idea? Simple. Except for fleets (and everyone enjoys tinkering with fleets) your administrative load at the end of a game, when you control 100 planets, should be very close to what it is at the start of the game, when you have 1.

The ONLY planet specific structure in this idea should be shipyards. These should be HUGELY expensive, so much so that even a large wealthy empire should only be able to afford a handful. Every turn, the player is shown a list of his available resources and asked to commission ships. They are paid for immediately, the shipyard where they are going to be constructed is chosen (up to a maximum capacity), and x turns later, they are done. If a shipyard is not building it's full capacity, more ships can be added without changing the completion date of the ones already underway. When a ship is first commissioned the player can choose "rush" construction for triple cost, triple capacity, and 1/2 time, but other than that, ya just gotta wait.

The point of this? Again, you are managing 2 or 3 shipyards - not 50 or 60 build queues.

Now is any of this useful to the project? I hope so. To me it seems like a simplification that could make the programmers lives easier, and provide a more enjoyable game. However, even if it doesn't fit with what's gone before, it might be simple enough to do in parallel. "Free Orion-Empires" has a nice ring to it.

Glad to help.

Daveybaby
Small Juggernaut
Posts: 724
Joined: Mon Sep 01, 2003 11:07 am
Location: Hastings, UK

#12 Post by Daveybaby »

I'm implementing the shipyards thing in my own project. You build a shipyard at key locations (VERY expensive to build and maintain, so you wont want one at every system) and the surrounding systems industrial output contributes to shipbuilding at that shipyard.

However, the industrial output from surrounding systems is reduced by a small factor proportional to distance between the system and the shipyard, so the further away you get, the more of your industrial output is wasted. This means that you wont just want to have one shipyard in your empire, but several spread evenly throughout it.

I havent tweaked the maths yet, but what i'm aiming for is a balance where the costs of transport and the costs of building and maintaining the shipyards reach an optimum value at something like the square root of the number of systems in your empire.

More detail is here.

DemoMonkey
Krill Swarm
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2004 8:44 pm

#13 Post by DemoMonkey »

That seems like an excellent refinement. I'm sure there are lots more that could be made. The whole point is to be managing a (very) few build queues, instead of one per planet.

I think a square root system might be difficult though. Why not aim for a simple linear projection, like 1/10 sytems? KISS, and all that.

Daveybaby
Small Juggernaut
Posts: 724
Joined: Mon Sep 01, 2003 11:07 am
Location: Hastings, UK

#14 Post by Daveybaby »

I want a system that scales well with galaxy/empire size. My aim for COW is to have a playable game with as few as 50 systems, and as many as 1000 (or even more - there is no hard coded limit on the number of systems, the only limit is available memory and turn processing speed - as a test i've run 5000 system galaxies)

Having sqrt as goal means that a player with a small empire in a small galaxy still gets a few construction centres to play with, while in a huge galaxy you wont end up with 500 or so to micromanage.

It may not work out that way though, as i said its an ideal to aim for, and i may end up with something more straightforward. Just in case i'm going to be adding another layer of macromanagement on top of this anyway, to allow the same set of build orders to be farmed out to multiple shipyards.

Satyagraha
Space Kraken
Posts: 195
Joined: Fri Mar 19, 2004 4:11 pm
Location: Austria

#15 Post by Satyagraha »

brainstorming result:

if a character is assigned to a planet, that character will not only give the planet special pros & cons, but also automaticly manage micro-stuff for you. different characters will also manage differntly. if a planet doesn´t do well, reassign/kick the character that manages it and micro it yourself for a while, then assign someone more competent.

there´s both micro & macro here, it´s more realistic, and the system grows with the size of your empire.

Post Reply