Meter Values vs. Resource Production

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Bigjoe5
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Meter Values vs. Resource Production

#1 Post by Bigjoe5 » Sun Jul 04, 2010 2:51 am

So now, it seems that resource production values are equal to meter values, which in turn, are increased by the planet's population, and can be modified directly by racial modifiers. This seems extremely limiting to me.

What I'd like to see by the end of the game is the average player's meters approaching 100 on worlds that are ideal for production of that resource if they've researched all the appropriate techs and have the right leaders. This seems logical and natural. However, if that is the case, then there is no room for racial bonuses for resource production, which are currently given by multiplying the bonus to the target meter by a certain amount.

Then, there's the population problem. Species with high max population, by the end of the game, with appropriate techs and leaders on a huge Gaian planet, should probably also be able to approach a population of 100. If this is the case, there are two emergent problems: First, since resource meters are tied to the population meter, large bonuses to resource production would become useless. Even if the population reached only 70, the player would find a bonus of x1.5 to be partially wasted, since the resource meter cannot exceed 100. This is without even taking into account buildings such as "Cultural Archives" which give bonuses directly to resource meters. Secondly, planets with such high populations will require a great deal of food, and since so much of their food production would be wasted due to the limitation of being able to produce only 100 food per turn, maintaining a highly populous empire would actually get more difficult as the game went on, which is really quite silly and imbalanced.

Instead of giving racial bonuses directly to resource meters, IMO, they should simply modify the resource production calculation, multiplying the result of the calculation by some specific modifier for that species. This way, resource meter values can progress evenly for all species, which eliminates a lot of annoying balancing issues related to species bonuses to resource production, since they can be considered separately from technological bonuses/other bonuses that affect meter values.

This implies of course, that the resource production formula should be put back in, rather than making resource production equal to the meter values, since this is what will allow species to be given racial bonuses without directly modifying the meter.

Basically, what I'm saying is that if resource production is limited to 100 per planet, all numbers for resource production, and in particular, population, will have to be really silly and low if we want them all to be balanced properly, which leads to an uninteresting sense of scale.

PS: I do like the fact that different species can have different focus settings available, and that techs can unlock focus settings. That seems like a really good addition.
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Re: Meter Values vs. Resource Production

#2 Post by Geoff the Medio » Sun Jul 04, 2010 8:32 am

There are advantages to having the resource meter directly determine planet resource output. To players, it makes the meaning much clearer. For content creators, it makes things much more flexible, to allow things like a building that gives a fixed boost to resource output - independent of population - while still allowing the output to depend on population if that is desired. We could also do more complicated things, like having a bonus that depends on population up to a certain ceiling at which the bonus is capped.

As such, I'm reluctant to change back to the old system with a hard-coded formula based on population. If this means we don't limit planets to 100 of a particular resource each turn, then that's how it will need to be. We'll perhaps need to adjust the UI to accomodate this, but I don't think that's a sufficient reason to change back.

Part of the solution might be to avoid having lots of resource output bonuses depend on population. Is there a fundamental reason things need to work that way for most bonuses to resource output? There can be various other benefits (or detriments?) to having large populations on planets.

Also, why is it necessarily bad to make maintaining a high-population difficult in the later stages of the game?

To me, it was more important to get focus settings defined outside of code so as to be moddable. The tech-dependence isn't just limited to techs, though... It can be anything you can write a condition for, such as specials, planet types, buildings, etc.

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Re: Meter Values vs. Resource Production

#3 Post by Bigjoe5 » Sun Jul 04, 2010 12:59 pm

Geoff the Medio wrote:There are advantages to having the resource meter directly determine planet resource output. To players, it makes the meaning much clearer.
That's a bit of a stretch... I would expect the meaning to become quite clear after the first short period of time spent playing the game, after which point, either method would be just as clear.
Geoff the Medio wrote:For content creators, it makes things much more flexible, to allow things like a building that gives a fixed boost to resource output - independent of population - while still allowing the output to depend on population if that is desired.
SetOwnerFood/Mineral/TradeStockpile can accomplish that just as easily, and it probably wouldn't be too difficult to add similar effects for increasing an empire's research or industry production by a fixed amount per turn. Such effects will most likely need to be added later on anyway.
Geoff the Medio wrote:We could also do more complicated things, like having a bonus that depends on population up to a certain ceiling at which the bonus is capped.
I'm not really sure what you mean here - couldn't we have done that before?
Geoff the Medio wrote:As such, I'm reluctant to change back to the old system with a hard-coded formula based on population. If this means we don't limit planets to 100 of a particular resource each turn, then that's how it will need to be. We'll perhaps need to adjust the UI to accomodate this, but I don't think that's a sufficient reason to change back.
Resource production should be based on population - that's what population is for. There should be ways to add directly to the empire's resource production, certainly, but there's no need to place such a restrictive limit on resource production in order to do so.
Geoff the Medio wrote:Part of the solution might be to avoid having lots of resource output bonuses depend on population. Is there a fundamental reason things need to work that way for most bonuses to resource output?
Yes. The population is what actually produces resources. Otherwise, racial bonuses for resource production - and arguably, population itself - cease to be meaningful.
Geoff the Medio wrote:There can be various other benefits (or detriments?) to having large populations on planets.
Since the game has basically been designed from the ground up under the assumption that the primary purpose of population is the production of resources, I can't see how departing from that premise could possibly go well.
Geoff the Medio wrote:Also, why is it necessarily bad to make maintaining a high-population difficult in the later stages of the game?
It's not. But we should make that decision on its own terms, not because the meters only go up to 100. And if we do decide it's was a good idea to do so, I highly doubt the preferred method of implementation would be a hard-cap on resource production, particularly since such a cap would affect species with resource production bonuses vastly differently than it would species without resource production bonuses, and end up being extremely difficult/awkward to balance. Basically, arbitrary hard-caps are bad, always.

Sure, it's possible to make everything balance perfectly the way it is, by simply finding good numbers and dividing them all until absolutely everything fits within the 100-point meter, but I'm pretty sure that we wouldn't end up with whole numbers, and even more sure that the numbers we would end up with would be particularly small and unimpressive, especially for population. Capping resource production per planet just leads to a balancing nightmare, where all the numbers become really tiny, and a population difference of 0.5 is huge and game-altering.
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Re: Meter Values vs. Resource Production

#4 Post by RonaldX » Tue Jul 06, 2010 1:12 am

Bigjoe5 wrote:Even if the population reached only 70, the player would find a bonus of x1.5 to be partially wasted, since the resource meter cannot exceed 100.

Instead of giving racial bonuses directly to resource meters, IMO, they should simply modify the resource production calculation, multiplying the result of the calculation by some specific modifier for that species. This way, resource meter values can progress evenly for all species, which eliminates a lot of annoying balancing issues related to species bonuses to resource production, since they can be considered separately from technological bonuses/other bonuses that affect meter values.
While I fail to grasp a lot of what you're talking about in this topic, I understand the gist of it. I like this idea. The resource production meter itself could reasonably be tied directly to population, but with a racial modifier or tech/building bonus added on afterwards. Having a hard cap on production is straight up silly, as with enough techs and a high enough producing race, you could concievably hit 100 on the meter with only a tiny population. It might be possible to balance that out, but why bother when the alternative is elegant and flexible?
Also, why is it necessarily bad to make maintaining a high-population difficult in the later stages of the game?
The limitation here is that only the food created through bonus farming ever actually gets distributed to other planets, and as the planet approaches it's hard cap, less and less food gets distributed, until there is no food coming out of that world at all, unless you purposely stop them from breeding or bomb your own planets or whatever to keep them from growing above the balance point.. This is the kind of rediculous situation I *think* BigJoe is referring to, and if so, I concur. Fertile worlds should be able to produce enough excess food to feed multiple barren/mining/military/research planets. This gives even a boring old backwater farm planet interesting strategic value.

Population already has a check and balance against unchecked and reckless growth: the unrest factor that you'll have to juggle which is going to presumably shift around somewhat depending on the growth rates of individual species in your empire.. If you have great favor with your "master" race, but the rapidly-multiplying "slave" race starts making up a majority of your empire's population, you could have some serious work to do.

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Re: Meter Values vs. Resource Production

#5 Post by Geoff the Medio » Tue Jul 06, 2010 8:47 pm

Bigjoe5 wrote:
Geoff the Medio wrote:There are advantages to having the resource meter directly determine planet resource output. To players, it makes the meaning much clearer.
That's a bit of a stretch... I would expect the meaning to become quite clear after the first short period of time spent playing the game, after which point, either method would be just as clear.
I don't think it's a stretch at all to say that a displayed bar indicating the actual output of a planet is clearer and easier to understand than the bar indicating a scaling factor related to output by the population in a non-trivial way. Being able to tell which planet produces a lot of resources and which doesn't at a glance is useful, as opposed to needing to mentally multiply by a population number, or look at the resource output number. Seeing the actual change in target resource output is also useful, and not currently indicated in the non-tooltip displayed numbers.
Geoff the Medio wrote:For content creators, it makes things much more flexible, to allow things like a building that gives a fixed boost to resource output - independent of population - while still allowing the output to depend on population if that is desired.
SetOwnerFood/Mineral/TradeStockpile can accomplish that just as easily...
Setting stockpile values directly means that any resources would be available at the homeworld, not on the planet where the resources are generated. It also breaks the accounting that shows how much of a resource a planet generates, and makes it a lot harder to reliably predict the changes in resource stockpiles from turn to turn.
and it probably wouldn't be too difficult to add similar effects for increasing an empire's research or industry production by a fixed amount per turn. Such effects will most likely need to be added later on anyway.
We could add such effects, but they have the issues above. I think of these effects as being more useful for one time changes in stockpiles, such as an event that suddenly destroys an empire's stockpile.
Geoff the Medio wrote:We could also do more complicated things, like having a bonus that depends on population up to a certain ceiling at which the bonus is capped.
I'm not really sure what you mean here - couldn't we have done that before?
Kind of, but somewhat awkwardly. What we can do now is have a condition that gives a population-dependent bonus if the population is below some threshold, and give a fixed bonus above that. Before, we could accomplish almost the same thing by giving a fixed bonus (to the meter that's multiplied by population to determine output) unless the population was above some level, and then give a bonus that is a fixed amount divided by the population, so that when it's later multiplied by the population, the two population factors cancel out. It's a lot clearer / intuitive with the current system.
Geoff the Medio wrote:Is there a fundamental reason things need to work that way for most bonuses to resource output?
Yes. The population is what actually produces resources. Otherwise, racial bonuses for resource production - and arguably, population itself - cease to be meaningful.
Resource production should be based on population - that's what population is for.
That's a circular argument.

There's no reason we can't have some bits of content generate resources independent of population, and other generate dependent on population. The availability of the two varieties might vary depending on which resource you want to make a lot of... Maybe industry and trade are population dependent, but research and minerals don't have many population-dependent ways to boost their output. This could make small-population empires a more viable strategy, etc.

There are or can also be other things besides producing more resources that make having large population useful. Ground troops are a likely candidate for this.

That all said, we can still have everything be population dependent if we decide that's best. The new system is more flexible.
There should be ways to add directly to the empire's resource production, certainly, but there's no need to place such a restrictive limit on resource production in order to do so.
My point is to NOT place restrictive limits on how resource production is determined. With the current system, we can easily and clearly do population-dependent or population-independent resource output changes.
Geoff the Medio wrote:There can be various other benefits (or detriments?) to having large populations on planets.
Since the game has basically been designed from the ground up under the assumption that the primary purpose of population is the production of resources, I can't see how departing from that premise could possibly go well.
I don't see why resource generation being proportional to population should be considered a fundamental principle of the game. Some games use it, and others don't. Both can work. We don't have anything balanced yet, so it's like it throws off the whole accumulated set of carefully designed content.
Geoff the Medio wrote:Also, why is it necessarily bad to make maintaining a high-population difficult in the later stages of the game?
It's not. But we should make that decision on its own terms, not because the meters only go up to 100.
That's fine; I wasn't suggesting that high-population be made difficult to maintain due to an arbitrary resource output limit.
Capping resource production per planet just leads to a balancing nightmare, where all the numbers become really tiny, and a population difference of 0.5 is huge and game-altering.
Hence my comment:
Geoff the Medio wrote:If this means we don't limit planets to 100 of a particular resource each turn, then that's how it will need to be. We'll perhaps need to adjust the UI to accomodate this...

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Re: Meter Values vs. Resource Production

#6 Post by Crissa » Tue Jul 06, 2010 9:40 pm

Is it possible we could get away from the raw numbers?

You could instead display things as a number relative to the universe (total), with a bar relative to the planet (capacity), and a bar relative to the population (efficiency) which would still look like it is now.

(It would be nice to have some mouseovers so I'd know the totals as well, because the bars seem to be on different scales per planet)

Outputs, like in the game:

Code: Select all

[population * planet = capacity] [Efficiency 1.3] <-mouseovers
x.xx x.xx 6.50 x.xx x.xx
>-|-|-|-|-|------------<
[Resource name]   [Utilization = 5]  [Capacity = 11] <-mouseovers
Worker productivity (benefits) and demand (costs) should be something we can see and do something about via technology and buildings. They do demand food, living space, and even should require a portion of the productivity (standard of living). The standard of living they're willing to live at should change whether your people want to emigrate, immigrate, die, or rebel. It would cost more to have the same standard of living on a lower quality planet - to the point to being really expensive (of production) to live on a hostile world.

The player needs to be informed of these things, and we need numbers, but strangely people de better with icons than numbers when faced with them at first.

Undiscussed are icons we really need but don't have: Is this planet paying for itself? What is its trade deficit? How efficient is it to make food on this world rather than that one? Are their workers left over for empire products, after all the other work has been alloted?

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Re: Meter Values vs. Resource Production

#7 Post by Geoff the Medio » Tue Jul 06, 2010 9:50 pm

Crissa wrote:Is it possible we could get away from the raw numbers?
Yes, but the raw numbers of resources being produced are what matters, what buildings or techs or other things modify, and what is consistent in meaning from game-to-game.
(It would be nice to have some mouseovers so I'd know the totals as well, because the bars seem to be on different scales per planet)
In v0.3.14 there are mouseover tooltips that give more information about planet resource output.
Undiscussed are icons we really need but don't have: Is this planet paying for itself? What is its trade deficit? How efficient is it to make food on this world rather than that one? Are their workers left over for empire products, after all the other work has been alloted?
Some of the net import / export of resources is available at the system level (see top of the sidepanel, hover for tooltips) and some of it doesn't make sense to discuss at the planet or system level, such as whether there is any surplus production capacity, since that capacity is pooled between planets. This information is or should be given on the production screen, for example. The meaning of "trade defecit" is unclear.

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Re: Meter Values vs. Resource Production

#8 Post by Bigjoe5 » Wed Jul 07, 2010 4:13 pm

Geoff the Medio wrote:I don't think it's a stretch at all to say that a displayed bar indicating the actual output of a planet is clearer and easier to understand than the bar indicating a scaling factor related to output by the population in a non-trivial way. Being able to tell which planet produces a lot of resources and which doesn't at a glance is useful, as opposed to needing to mentally multiply by a population number, or look at the resource output number.
Looking at the resource output number is essentially "at a glance", and not obviously inferior to looking at the resource meter as a method of figuring out what the resource output of the planet is. Moreover, I find that it's not at all clumsy or particularly unintuitive to look at the resource meter as an abstract representation of the planet's potential for resource output, which is realized by the presence of population, and in fact often makes more sense from a gameplay perspective; for example, one might expect biological weapons to be able to destroy population, but leave resource meters intact. In this context, it makes a lot more sense for both population and resource meter values to be directly related to resource production, but remain independent of one another.
Geoff the Medio wrote:
and it probably wouldn't be too difficult to add similar effects for increasing an empire's research or industry production by a fixed amount per turn. Such effects will most likely need to be added later on anyway.
We could add such effects, but they have the issues above. I think of these effects as being more useful for one time changes in stockpiles, such as an event that suddenly destroys an empire's stockpile.
It might also be possible to add a SetPlanetResourceProduction effect, which could be added on to the basic resource meter calculation after the fact, and accordingly displayed in the tooltip. If resource meters represent potential that must be realized by population, it seems reasonable to make bonuses that are independent of population independent of the resource meters as well.
Geoff the Medio wrote:Kind of, but somewhat awkwardly. What we can do now is have a condition that gives a population-dependent bonus if the population is below some threshold, and give a fixed bonus above that. Before, we could accomplish almost the same thing by giving a fixed bonus (to the meter that's multiplied by population to determine output) unless the population was above some level, and then give a bonus that is a fixed amount divided by the population, so that when it's later multiplied by the population, the two population factors cancel out. It's a lot clearer / intuitive with the current system.
Given that caps of that sort are generally bad, the usefulness of this feature is dubious.
Geoff the Medio wrote:There's no reason we can't have some bits of content generate resources independent of population, and other generate dependent on population. The availability of the two varieties might vary depending on which resource you want to make a lot of... Maybe industry and trade are population dependent, but research and minerals don't have many population-dependent ways to boost their output. This could make small-population empires a more viable strategy, etc.

There are or can also be other things besides producing more resources that make having large population useful. Ground troops are a likely candidate for this.

That all said, we can still have everything be population dependent if we decide that's best. The new system is more flexible.
Likewise, there are ways to make certain things population independent without having the effect of population on resource output be via a direct bonus to the resource meter. It seems like the main thing that you wanted to accomplish - permitting population-independent bonuses to resource production - could have been accomplished just by adding some SetPlanetResourceProduction effects to tack on some extra calculations to the end of the resource production formula, with the big advantages that the resource meters themselves would have remained independent of population, which as I pointed out, is desirable for certain gameplay scenarios, and that resource production on a planet could still easily exceed 100, which is very desirable for content creation and balance.
My point is to NOT place restrictive limits on how resource production is determined. With the current system, we can easily and clearly do population-dependent or population-independent resource output changes.
But in doing so, you're placing a restrictive limit on what production can actually be, and moreover, on what happens to the meter when the population is no longer present.
I don't see why resource generation being proportional to population should be considered a fundamental principle of the game. Some games use it, and others don't. Both can work. We don't have anything balanced yet, so it's like it throws off the whole accumulated set of carefully designed content.
It has to do with the resource production bonuses of various species. How can resource production bonuses be intuitively linked to a species if the population of that species isn't actually producing the resources?
Geoff the Medio wrote:
Capping resource production per planet just leads to a balancing nightmare, where all the numbers become really tiny, and a population difference of 0.5 is huge and game-altering.
Hence my comment:
Geoff the Medio wrote:If this means we don't limit planets to 100 of a particular resource each turn, then that's how it will need to be. We'll perhaps need to adjust the UI to accomodate this...
I had thought that the "don't" was a typo, actually. Are you saying that you want to make the resource meters of a planet able to exceed 100?
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Re: Meter Values vs. Resource Production

#9 Post by Geoff the Medio » Wed Jul 07, 2010 5:12 pm

Bigjoe5 wrote:Looking at the resource output number is essentially "at a glance", and not obviously inferior to looking at the resource meter as a method of figuring out what the resource output of the planet is.
I assert that comparing the length of two bars is easier to do at a glance than comparing two numbers (which in this case are shown with fixed precision and variable power of 10 postfixes, eg. k, M). We can agree to disagree on this, as I doubt either of us will be convinced by additional discussion.
Moreover, I find that it's not at all clumsy or particularly unintuitive to look at the resource meter as an abstract representation of the planet's potential for resource output which is realized by the presence of population...
The resource meters could be used to represent abstract / potential resource output that requires and interacts with population to be realized, but I don't think this is as useful or meaningful as showing the actual resource output actual and target amounts.
...and in fact often makes more sense from a gameplay perspective; for example, one might expect biological weapons to be able to destroy population, but leave resource meters intact.
This is arguably another circular argument; the logic of this scenario depends on the meaning of the resource meters (scaling factor used with population to determine output, or actual output). It's just as reasonable to have any new population require a few turns to ramp up their production, which would be seem as the increased population boosting the target meter immediately, and the actual meter taking some time to reach the target.

That said, we can also have fixed bonuses to resource output independent of population, which would result in output not depending on population, and thus the resource output meter (or the population-independent portion of it) not changing when population changes.
It might also be possible to add a SetPlanetResourceProduction effect, which could be added on to the basic resource meter calculation after the fact, and accordingly displayed in the tooltip.
That's possible, however the current system already provides both fixed and population-dependent resource meter bonuses, making changing to a forced-population-dependent system with effect-based workarounds unnecessary.
Geoff the Medio wrote:What we can do now is have a condition that gives a population-dependent bonus if the population is below some threshold, and give a fixed bonus above that.
Given that caps of that sort are generally bad, the usefulness of this feature is dubious.
I don't think it's been established that caps of that sort are generally bad, but this isn't really an important point.
My point is to NOT place restrictive limits on how resource production is determined. With the current system, we can easily and clearly do population-dependent or population-independent resource output changes.
But in doing so, you're placing a restrictive limit on what production can actually be...
??? No, I'm not...?
...and moreover, on what happens to the meter when the population is no longer present.
I don't see why meters behaving a particular way is a problem, or why it's more of a problem that something else. And the current system is not actually any more restrictive than a system where resource meters don't depend on population, as in that system there would be a restriction (or as close to a restrition) that the meters not depend on population changes. And the current system also does allow fixed population-independent bonuses to the resource output meters.
I don't see why resource generation being proportional to population should be considered a fundamental principle of the game.
It has to do with the resource production bonuses of various species. How can resource production bonuses be intuitively linked to a species if the population of that species isn't actually producing the resources?
Species can still produce resources in the current system, and can be given bonuses to doing so. Give +5 * population to farming to species A. After unlocking tech B, give additional +5 * population to farming for species A, etc. Or, given species A access to focus type D earlier than other species.

Species bonuses to resource production do not need to be a multiplication factor after all meter alterations are added up, as you seem to be assuming.
Are you saying that you want to make the resource meters of a planet able to exceed 100?
If necessary, yes.

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Re: Meter Values vs. Resource Production

#10 Post by Bigjoe5 » Sun Jul 11, 2010 1:52 am

Geoff the Medio wrote:
Are you saying that you want to make the resource meters of a planet able to exceed 100?
If necessary, yes.
OK. Sounds good.
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Re: Meter Values vs. Resource Production

#11 Post by marhawkman » Tue Jul 27, 2010 9:31 pm

Honestly I like both methods of display. Meters are good for comparison.
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