Limited Build Slots or No?

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drek
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#16 Post by drek » Mon Jul 12, 2004 3:44 pm

IMHO it's a wrong approach.
It's better to declare what you want and how it should work, and then tweak formulas to get what you want. You're trying to make a roof before a foundation by inventing random formulas before you have a full picture.
I'm proactively declaring that one average planet with full pop/infra, no focus in money, and mid-level tech should be able to support one planet. 5 units of money per population point, 20 population points, and building maintaince fees of 100 satisfies this requirement.

I chose"100" specifically because it's 10x10: it'll be easier for the human player to mentally perform the math. ( "With 400 credits per turn, I can support 4 buildings.")

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#17 Post by emrys » Mon Jul 12, 2004 4:35 pm

Clearly the 'best' solution to the problem is to have buildings have 1) no slot limit per planet and 2) no maintenance fee.

Why? 1) because developing a maintenance fee (or even a fee formula) isthat 'balances' a building throughout the game is, forgive me from saying it, extremely difficult if not actually impossible, and 2) a slot limit per planet is basically, us as designers admitting we are going to balls up the balancing or design of the game, such that we expect that at least one person is going to attempt to put loads of buildings on a planet and gain some kind of advatage we hadn't explicitly thought of from their exact combination of sixteen outof the twenty buildings.

So, anyone care to take up the challenge of designing an unexploitable set of buildings with no maintenance fees or slot limits.

If on the other hand you happen to prefer designing to hitting you head on a million brick walls, perhaps takign the sensible precaution of limiting the complexity we need to deal with, and taking advantage of the probable situation that the relative values of buildings is likely to be more consistant and predictable than their value relative to the empires total output would be a good idea. Thus I suggest we use both a per planet building slot limit, and have use a variety of forms of maintenance cost (i.e. a penalty associated with a building) when they are suitable.

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Geoff the Medio
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#18 Post by Geoff the Medio » Mon Jul 12, 2004 6:12 pm

... This discussion is very hard to me to follow for some reason ...

Anyway: drek, emrys, Powercrazy, how about:

(# building "slots") = (population)

Different buildings require different numbers of slots to build, typically between 1 and 5, but perhaps a few at 0 or 10 or even 20 or 30 for superduper ones.

This system seems to solve a lot of the problems with slots, and isn't too complicated or difficult to understand (imo).

drek: if the current proposed resources formulas go through for v0.3, then balanced/balanced planets would have +6 in all resource meters, meaning 0.6 units of money per population point, meaning 12 money / turn for a 20 pop planet. If you had 4 buildings, that would be 3 money / turn per building average. This is closer to the civ-scale than 100's of money / turn for a building you were discussing... which I think is better. There's no sense in measuring things in 100s or 10s if you're only using the first digit anyway.

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#19 Post by drek » Mon Jul 12, 2004 7:08 pm

Geoff the Medio wrote: (# building "slots") = (population)
In my very first post regarding build slots, I proposed just this.

In retrospect it's a bad idea, because population might go down. What happens to excess buildings? Can the player choose which building is excess? I think it better to avoid the question.

drek: if the current proposed resources formulas go through for v0.3, then balanced/balanced planets would have +6 in all resource meters, meaning 0.6 units of money per population point, meaning 12 money / turn for a 20 pop planet.
Plus mid-level tech bonuses, +4.4. Maybe.

The point is to balance things out so that we have a baseline. Choose the amount a mid-tech planet of 20 should produce (wether it be 1, 10, or 100) and make that the average maintaince fee for buildings.

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#20 Post by Geoff the Medio » Mon Jul 12, 2004 8:38 pm

drek wrote:
Geoff the Medio wrote: (# building "slots") = (population)
In my very first post regarding build slots, I proposed just this.

In retrospect it's a bad idea, because population might go down. What happens to excess buildings? Can the player choose which building is excess?
Enabling a building takes up Pop points, and you can only enable a building if you have extra pop points not already used on a building. Disabling the building frees up pop points to be used on another building.

To keep the micro to a minimum, you can only build more buildings if the total population point cost to enable all existing buildings is less than the current population of the planet. The player could scrap/recycle a building to free up capcity to build more, as with normal slots.

Buildings could have maintainance fees only when active... so if you want to turn on your planet shield or area of effect slow-down field, then it'll cost you (or cost you more).

The micro wouldn't be too bad, since you can only build so many buildings... Turning things on and off wouldn't be any worse than moving fleets around, and could be done at a system-view level without much trouble.

For an interface, there could be a list of buildings, just like the current fleets window. The player can click to "enable" or "disable" a building (indicated by highlighting or not). Alternatively, right clicking on a star when not giving fleets move orders would pop up a menu with options to enable or disable or scrap buildings in the system. Something like:

Enable Sirius IV Planetary Shield (-4 GC / turn)
Enable Sirius II WonderFarm (-2 GC / turn)
Disable Sirius II Retro Disco Club (+5 GC / turn)

If a building is bombed, or plagued or famined, it loses pop points. No buildings are destroyed, but the player can't enable all the ones they have and can't build any more until they scrap some to get below the current pop limit or grow more population.

Which building to disable due to lost pop points? Either allow the player to order the buildings by priority in the list described earlier, and/or pick one and post a sitrep, allowing the player to change it if s/he so desires. The building would still function in a given turn that population is lost, but would stop functioning in the next turn (and between the turns, the player could adjust which are enabled)
I think it better to avoid the question.
We might as well give it a try...

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#21 Post by PowerCrazy » Mon Jul 12, 2004 10:40 pm

The slots per Pop thing I could deal with. At least there is something I can do to "get more slots". Increase the planet size. Also an additional way of tweaking the reaces would be nice too.

I am still against slots of course, but if it is based on population I can support it a little more.

P.S. Why do we need slots at all? What is the end goal of the slot system? Balance I guess?

Before introducing any other restriction mechanics shouldn't we try our other tools first? Maintenance fees, planet size, focus, race specific, Infrastructure level? Why create a new game dynamic just becuase some other game did it?
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#22 Post by Geoff the Medio » Mon Jul 12, 2004 11:15 pm

PowerCrazy wrote:Why do we need slots at all? What is the end goal of the slot system? Balance I guess?
drek wrote:constraining via maintenance fees might become difficult to balance over the entire game.
[...]
With unlimited build slots, there is the potential a build decision on every planet every few turns—essentially like moo2.
Satyagraha wrote:pro: it´s easier to understand for newbies, it makes sure the player´s choices have impact, that buildings are spread out, that every planet is unique, and it improves UI.
[...]
heros in warcraft have 6 slots for items, and nobody ever complained about it. imo, slots are common sense in games.
guiguibaah wrote:the player has to deal with the 'opportunity cost' of placing building X but not building Y on the slot.
[...]
I think it could add some 'specialty' to those far-off mining or farming worlds that get build, then nobody thinks twice about them.
Extremepumpkin wrote:Its also adds a depth of strategy, as not every planet can be the best at everything.
emrys wrote: [We should take] the sensible precaution of limiting the complexity we need to deal with, and taking advantage of the probable situation that the relative values of buildings is likely to be more consistant and predictable than their value relative to the empires total output would be a good idea. Thus I suggest we use both a per planet building slot limit, and have use a variety of forms of maintenance cost
Not necessarily all reasons we "need" them, but reasons to support them...

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#23 Post by _Robbob_ » Mon Jul 12, 2004 11:35 pm

How about representing things as real estate prices? Whenever a new building is built, you must first pay the real estate price ( for the land ), which will obviously go up depending on a few factors ( eg. population, number of buildings already there etc. )

In practice, this would be a lot like having 'soft' slots, ie. making it possible, but unlikely to build new buildings. This has the advantage over the maintainance costs of being easier to understand - its a number that you can print on the planet information screen, and that is how much you will have to pay extra for the next building. In other words, kind of a one-shot maintainance cost.

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#24 Post by PowerCrazy » Tue Jul 13, 2004 5:16 am

Geoff the Medio wrote: Stuff
Many of those "reasons" are unqualified.

Increase Strategy? Limiting a player doesn't increase strategy it only increases the illusion of strategy. Going back to Chess. The only restriction on the player is the rules of each piece and the rules of the game. There is nothing artificial added in. The slot system to me would be akin to you can only move one of your bishops and must put it back in its original place before you can move the other one. Why? How does that increase strategy? In FO we already have a set of rules defined, slots just seem like sometihng tacked on at the end, with little thought to it.

Drek: With slots there is still the potential build decision every few turns, the only difference is that in mid game I have to start thinking about which buildings I have to scrap so I can build my new buildings. Slots do nothing to decrease total building decisions, only make the decisions harder to make, and force the player to go back and revise his old decisions (when he gets a new building), in essence increasing the amount of time he spends on each decision. And come on no one siad it was going to be easy ;).

Catering to newbies by imposing artificial limits isn't a compelling reason to have those limits.
I fail to see how it improves the UI. You have to ADD a place for the slots for each planet, rather than just taking those buildings that are built off of the build menu and putting a neat little icon on the planetary view. However UI clutter shouldn't be a consideration as a plethora of information can be displayed to the player in a manageble way if the UI is designed efficently.
Also an RPG is vastly different (and less strategic) than a 4X game. The 6 slot hero system only makes sense, especially considering that many of those items are disposable. Buildings in FO are around for basically the whole game barring hostile action. Comparing the majority of the items a War3 hero carries to buildings is misleading. The only items you can compare are the ones that stat boost when you where them and even then there is a LOT more to your "empire" in War3 than just your hero. Also there is no limit to the number of actual buildings you can build in War3.

The cost (oppurtunity and otherwise) will be built in to the building, both in terms of the amount of time it takes to build the building, the amount of maintenance, and primarilly which focus you choose for the planet.
Speciality worlds are just as viable with or without build slots.

Strategic depth is already attained by the focus choice the player makes, and certainly no planet will be best at everything (excpet maybe orion...). We are forgetting that the Buildings augment the planet, not define the planet (the focus of the planet does that).

Emrys: I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that english is not your first language. I read the original post and it makes slightly more sense then geoffs quote, but i'm not sure exactly what you are getting at.

Anyway, I'm not seeing why we need an additional restriction whose scope extends outside the current boundries we have set. What if we set a hard limit to the number of techs you could research, or the total population of the empire, or the number of ships you could build? Surely you couldn't justify that could you?

(besides the obvious exorbitant programming/memory upper limits)
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#25 Post by Geoff the Medio » Tue Jul 13, 2004 6:04 am

PowerCrazy wrote:Many of those "reasons" are unqualified.
Do you mean unjustified? Unqualified in that context would mean without qualifications, as in "no buts", completely true without any problems. Unjustified means without supporting reasons / evidence / due cause.
Going back to Chess. [...] The only restriction on the player is the rules of each piece and the rules of the game. There is nothing artificial added in. The slot system to me would be akin to you can only move one of your bishops and must put it back in its original place before you can move the other one.
[...]
In FO we already have a set of rules defined, slots just seem like sometihng tacked on at the end, with little thought to it.
Were there a rule in chess about only having one bishop away from its start position at a time, then that would be a rule of the game as well. Why would that rule be so much more artificial than castling or en passant or promoting pawns, which also seem tacked on, to me? Such a rule would lead to tactics like blocking the out bishop from getting back in so that the other bishop can't move.
Why? How does that increase strategy?
I'm not sure what you mean by "increase strategy". Various strategies arise from the rules of the game. Depending on the exact nature of slots and other game systems and their interactions, different strategies will be possible, viable or not. I don't really think Extremepumpkin's reason was valid / supported... but I can't declare that it's definitely false, either.
Slots do nothing to decrease total building decisions, only make the decisions harder to make, and force the player to go back and revise his old decisions
Sounds reasonable.
I fail to see how it improves the UI. You have to ADD a place for the slots for each planet, rather than just taking those buildings that are built off of the build menu and putting a neat little icon on the planetary view.
I think the idea is that you only need a set amount of space on the planetary view for those icons now. Before, you could have any number. If you only have a set small space, you can add functionality to the icons, like scrapping or enabling much more easily than if you have to deal with a widely varying number, which probly necessitates a list or something, which is not condusive to varied functionality, I expect.
Comparing the majority of the items a War3 hero carries to buildings is misleading.
I think it's a valid comparison in some respects... At least in single player, your supply of items is sufficient to necessitate often chosing between keeping an item or replacing it with a new one. In multiplayer this isn't often the case, but only because the supply of items is reduced. What the items actually do (consumable or stat boost) isn't so relevant, imo.
there is a LOT more to your "empire" in War3 than just your hero. Also there is no limit to the number of actual buildings you can build in War3.
FO has ships, so there's a lot more to your empire than planets. Warcraft also does have limits on building... by money, time and to a small degree space, and indirectly through the food cap and the resulting number of workers you can support.
The cost (oppurtunity and otherwise) will be built in to the building, both in terms of the amount of time it takes to build the building, the amount of maintenance, and primarilly which focus you choose for the planet.
That's what I said. drek seems to prefer a semi-permanent consequence of the choice to build something instead of something else, at a given time.
Strategic depth is already attained by the focus choice the player makes, and certainly no planet will be best at everything (excpet maybe orion...).
As mentioned above, I'm not sure what you mean by strategy... could you explain?
Anyway, I'm not seeing why we need an additional restriction whose scope extends outside the current boundries we have set.
What's so special about "the current boundries" ? That they're current, or that what's been written is exactly the right amount of boundary and no more can be added without spoiling them? Why?
What if we set a hard limit to the number of techs you could research, or the total population of the empire, or the number of ships you could build? Surely you couldn't justify that could you?
Empire population limit or max # ships could be justified by saying you'd need to decide where to put them, lest you lose them. There'd be a greater risk to putting pop on the front lines, lest they got killed... but maybe there's a good planet there. Ships away from your main armada could be caught by the opposing armada, and destroyed easily when outnumbered. There is a population limit in chess, if you think about it... and it's quite relevant to the strategies of the game.

Limiting the number of techs to research would certainly force the player to decide which ones to get...

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#26 Post by Daveybaby » Tue Jul 13, 2004 8:18 am

You definitely need some way of limiting what can be built on a planet. If another method was used (e.g. based on infrastructure, or population, or local maintenance fees) then i dont think slots are needed as well.

But slots are better than nothing IMO.
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#27 Post by emrys » Tue Jul 13, 2004 9:15 am

PowerCrazy wrote:Emrys: I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that english is not your first language.
Unfortunately the problem is that English is my first language... I just have a tendancy to be bloody long winded and convoluted :wink:

I'm not wedded to the slot system.

The two main drawbacks I see with a slotless system are

1) That maintenance costs are unlikely to be a viable way of making a building suitably expensive throughout the course of the game, so any building which could conceivably be built in multiple locations probably will be, a slippery slope which leads quickly back to the moo2/civ style of the same twenty buidlings everywhere. The opportunity cost of using a scarce resource (a slot) seems likely to scale across the game better, since the cost is intrinsically relative to the value of the best alternatives without explicit design work needed... (this is obviously not an issue if NO or VERY VERY FEW buildings can be built in multiple copies).

2) I personally don't like the idea of a player choosing to place all his buidlings on one or two key planets, and defending them to the hilt. I like the fact that a limited slot system forces you to spread them out a bit. This is purely a personal preference, and I fully understand the reposne of many people "why can't I if I want to...".

Since reason 2 is essentially a choice rather than a reason, if someone who prefers no slots could suggest something to alleviate my worries on point 1 (beyond - "we will be the first people in history to develop a simple, transparent formula to express maintenance costs that balances the complex multi-order differential equation that is the cost-benefit level of a building in a game like this") I'd be perfectly happy not to have slots.

To be honest I'd be perfectly happy not to have slots in the first cut, but to reatin the option to stick them in if we find we need them to make the game work nicely.

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#28 Post by Daveybaby » Tue Jul 13, 2004 12:56 pm

Both good points, emrys.

A potential fix:

Instead of having a fixed maintenance cost for buildings (e.g. Farming Complex costs 20 maintenance) have the maintenance cost as a percentage of the planet's maintenance capacity (i.e. Farming Complex costs 20% of the planet's money, and adds (say) 30% to food production).

This also makes it very easy to work out what you can fit on a planet. Building X requires 20% and Building Y requires 50%, thus i have 30% left to play with for building Z.

This would, however, make it too easy for new/nascent colonies to maintain buildings, since their initial maintenance capacity is very low. Possibly this could be countered by giving each building a fixed minimum maintenance cost in addition to the percentage cost.

e.g. Mining Complex costs 40% of planets maintenance, with a minimum cost of 20 maintenance. Thus a new planet cannot afford to maintain it. At some stage in the future it will be able to afford it, as its maintenance capacity reaches 20, but it will not be able to afford much else at that point. The maintenance cost for the mining complex will not rise until the planet's maintance exceeeds 50 (40% of 50 = 20) at which point it will grow linearly (costing 40 maintenance at 100, and 80 maintenance at 200).

Note that, what a building is effectively doing in this situation is - its buying (say) food with maintenance. This is what would be happening anyway with a fixed maintenance cost, but here the relationship is a little more directly linked. So the trick will be to balance the maintenance costs so that you are getting good value for money, while still placing some limits on what can be built at a planet.
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#29 Post by Geoff the Medio » Tue Jul 13, 2004 6:21 pm

Daveybaby wrote:have the maintenance cost as a percentage of the planet's maintenance capacity
Is this basically the same as saying that there is a staffing requirement for a building, and any pop points staffing buildings don't produce resources? (Difference in what proportion/amount of what resources is used, but essentially the same idea of paying maintaince by losing some of local production)
This also makes it very easy to work out what you can fit on a planet. Building X requires 20% and Building Y requires 50%, thus i have 30% left to play with for building Z.
I think "one builder per slot, 5 slots / planet" is a bit easier ... :P The difference is neglidible though.
Possibly this could be countered by giving each building a fixed minimum maintenance cost in addition to the percentage cost.
enhh... disliking this. Perhaps the -20% of a certain resource production could be a drawback to having a certain building ... a negative to counter the bonus of the building, but not the "standard" maintainance requirement that all buildings have a version of.

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#30 Post by Daveybaby » Tue Jul 13, 2004 10:39 pm

Geoff the Medio wrote:Is this basically the same as saying that there is a staffing requirement for a building, and any pop points staffing buildings don't produce resources? (Difference in what proportion/amount of what resources is used, but essentially the same idea of paying maintaince by losing some of local production)
Kinda... i'm basically saying that each planet can fund a certain amount of maintenance per turn - how that is done is irrelevant, all that matters is that the maintenance capacity increases in some way as the planet develops. Employed population is a pretty good fit though.
I think "one builder per slot, 5 slots / planet" is a bit easier ... :P The difference is neglidible though.
Quite possibly, but there is a fair bit of opposition to the idea of limited slots (though not from me particularly) so i was trying to come up with an alternative which still provides the benefits of a slot system.

(1) Limits what can be built on new planets
(2) Limits what can be built on even well developed planets
(3) Keeps buildings to a fairly sensible number per planet as economies develop (i.e. costs scale with economic growth)
(4) Avoids excessive micromanagement

... and also allows a certain level of flexibility, i.e. no artificial limits.
enhh... disliking this. Perhaps the -20% of a certain resource production could be a drawback to having a certain building ... a negative to counter the bonus of the building, but not the "standard" maintainance requirement that all buildings have a version of.
Dunno where you get the idea of a -20% of resource production - all i'm trying to establish is a fixed base cost for any building so that its not effectively free for undeveloped planets. i.e. a planet has to reach a certain level of development before it can support any buildings. A by-product of this is that some buildings on some planets might not be particularly efficient, i.e. if you build mining complexes on a mineral poor planet, youre not getting much return on your investment (but then that also applies if you make mining your primary focus on that planet).
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