Author Topic: Biggest Concerns for AtG?  (Read 26576 times)

Jon Shafer

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Biggest Concerns for AtG?
« on: March 26, 2013, 06:47:03 PM »
Now that I've heard from you guys what you're excited about, I'd like to hear what aspects of AtG give you pause. This could be game design stuff, art, our ability to get [X] done, etc. Don't hold back now - I want to hear your honest feedback, as that's the only way you can make sure you're on the right track. :)

- Jon
If you have any questions, please send me a private message here on the forums or an email at [Contact@ConiferGames.com]. Thanks for your support!

Re: Biggest Concerns for AtG?
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2013, 07:10:44 PM »
My concerns:

1: It's a thin line between a 4X game and a turn-based wargame. It's not just diplomacy. Lots of wargames have teams and trades. It's not just building. Many wargames have a variety of buildings, even a few non-military ones. It's really a difference in focus and emphasis. I think that AtG could turn out to be a great wargame (strategy beats stacks), and could still be a disappointment for those of us who wanted more of that 4X feeling.

2: The game timeline seems a little tricky. I'm not one of those guys who is obsessed with realism in games. But a typical 400 turn 4X game divided by 12 months gives us 33-34 years of gameplay. That's enough time to tell the story of 2-3 good wars. But is that enough time to tell the story of tribes becoming warlords and finally kingdoms? Wanderers settling down in a city, and eventually becoming the new Rome? Again, it's another way ATG might end up losing that 4X feeling of progress, and end up being more of a wargame.

3: I'm concerned about my kickstarter donation funding strippers and pizza. One or the other maybe. But both? It could put the project severely at risk.
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Re: Biggest Concerns for AtG?
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2013, 07:51:10 PM »
My biggest concerns are (in no particular order):

1) The End Game and Victory Conditions: Will you be able to make the end-game and victory conditions satisfying for the player? I have the feeling this will be very tricky (but not impossible) to pull off with increasing scarcity and the possible need for contraction of the player's "empire." In the end, I really want to feel like I've accomplished something in a 4X game... not

  • A) Merely survive
  • B) Beat a dead horse (I won, but the Romans were pushovers in the end)
  • C) Win because I pull off a cheesy move (such as sacking Rome without a thought to having to "hold" it or do something with that victory).

Fun and rewarding play is what I want from a game, especially one that requires a massive time investment to finish.

2) Having Clarity of Purpose: As Dan posted, I do worry about the line between turn-based 4X game and wargame. I feel like you're solid on explore, exploit, and exterminate, but expand is going to be a tricky one. As I mentioned in another post, I get the feeling that expanding is more of adapting in what you've shown us to date. This is actually okay for me because I see adaptation as a key feature to expansion, but there are some who see expansion as being more territory, units, etc.

3) Timeline: I'm glad Dan brought this up because this was another concern I had with the game. From my understanding the games time period is 375 to 475/493 AD, which is a hundred years... that means about 1200-1416 turns of play, nearly Marathon length for a Civ V game. That's a lot of time.  Of course, maybe I'm off on my timeline and instead of the Fall of the Western Empire as your goal, you are actually targeting the sack of Rome in 410. If that's the case, then you're timeline works for a 400 turn game (technically 420 turns, but who's counting?). This would also change my perception of the goals of the game.

Best Wishes,
Joseph

PS: Actually, after thinking about the timeline, it might be interesting to build in two (or three) different game lengths. A "Quick" game where you're main focus is on sacking Rome (and who cares what else you do!) and a "Marathon" game where you focus on actually building a kingdom to replace Rome. I'm not certain if there is room for a third "normal" game... maybe something to represent Attila's empire and campaign against Rome would be nice (maybe with victory conditions somewhere between Quick and Marathon).
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Re: Biggest Concerns for AtG?
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2013, 08:07:56 PM »
My main concern is Unit Morale and how it has different impact on attack / defense.. I wonder why not stick to attack / defense values and an Experience Bonus as the only additional combat strength for a unit.. If Starving already diminishes Hitpoints, why have Morale? ..but of course, far too early to tell.

Re: Biggest Concerns for AtG?
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2013, 10:39:48 AM »
Exhaustible resources have never been something I have enjoyed in games before.  That and how the end game play out are my main concerns. 

Re: Biggest Concerns for AtG?
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2013, 10:43:27 AM »
I think the timing will be fine since you could always just skip a year and a month (January, 400 -> February, 401 -> March, 402...) and then switch to a monthly basis to get the right time frame. Ultimately so long as its fun and fits the game mechanics I doubt anyone will be too concerned with the actual date.

As for my concerns, I'm a bit worried about:

1. Will you be able to capture the epic nature of Rome and really make them feel different enough from the player. Like will Rome be on another level of development and power, rather than just a larger static version of the player.

2. Scale and migration. Obviously since the tribes will be migratory they will need more territory than in a typical 4x game. So making room for 10 migratory tribes and a powerful/enormous Western and Eastern Roman Empire will be difficult. Not to mention that you don't want too feel isolated or crowded while playing as a tribe so I think finding the right balance will be tricky. Maybe something with resources can incentive certain regions but you also probably don't want to leave large tracts of pointless territory idk.

3. How will you incorporate permanent Roman cities you capture into your empire? If your tribe just decides to migrate on can you keep the city or would you just abandon it? Is there any particular incentive to hold a Roman city rather than just using your settlements etc?

Re: Biggest Concerns for AtG?
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2013, 12:32:12 PM »
regarding some warfare:

1.Let me become too attached to my more experienced units. Making me do cheesy things to never put them at risk. A risk reward option that only more veteran units can capture cities or something, so i have to put them at risk, i guess could alleviate this. Force me to put them in harms way.

2.ai spamming units, just one at a time with no clear formation or purpose. I want to feel an ai targeting specific units (like it trying to take out my ranged units when it sees a gap in my line), doing organized coherent moves, securing a foothold, and fortifying it before moving on.

Regarding engame aspect:
some civ5 endgame on higher difficulties made me aware that pressing next turn just became a chore, nothing really exciting was happening anymore, it was just me killing off 5-10 enemy ai spammed units for every 1-2 of my units, and just playing catchup and building any building the moment is researched it, leaving me feeling bored as no real choice was presented to me, i just was a victim of the flow, powerless over my destiny besides perhaps a sneaky move on the enemies capital.  so i guess more choice and options to get me out of a mess but also how the ai can force me into a mess.

thinking more about that, it id love to feel like im king leonidis from 300 of sparta, fending of xerces hordes, boy would it be cool if my fierce stand against rome would inspire my befriended tribes to also take up arms and help me out more after each victory against rome :D


Re: Biggest Concerns for AtG?
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2013, 10:05:54 AM »
My biggest concern is about the distribution of the game for Alpha and Beta builds.  Let us all admit that the world is filled with evil people.  It is not a stretch to think one of them could take an early build of the game and release it online, it happens all the time.  So the first part of my concern is said release giving the game to downloaders all over the world thus affecting sales.  My second concern is people who did the alpha or beta donation to get the game early thinking this is the full game and its ready to go; they see it and think this game is filled with bugs and graphics are shoddy and they run around the net bad mouthing a game that isn't ready for final release because it's still in beta or alpha.  Too many people join betas thinking they are getting the final taste of the game when its still months or more away from completion.

To combat the first concern you could always put in a set of code into the build that makes it connect to your server to see if it's an ok computer/IP/user login whatever before opening the game.  You could have the game hosted and run off your servers so people would have to login to play, but that sounds costly for a small company compared to the first one.  The second concern could always be addressed by getting everyone to sign an NDA, it won't stop everyone but it works like a lock which keeps honest people honest.

If you could hide unique codes in the background of the graphics that would help track builds or images and videos being released.  Something where you take the screenshot that was leaked, apply a filter to it and see the unique code hidden below thus allowing you to track down who started it.
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Re: Biggest Concerns for AtG?
« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2013, 10:09:58 AM »
My greatest concern for AtG is its replayability. 

I think that this may be of particular concern here because of a combination of two things which make the game more like a campaign than a sandbox.  Firstly it has a pretty definite final scene - capturing a Roman capital.  Secondly it is driven by a resources 'bubble'.  So given these limitations, enough depletable resources to win but not enough to squander, and an end point which determines a bracket of time to win the game, how is it to be kept variable and interesting enough that I am going to want to play it over and over again?

Two other, more minor, concerns I have are:
a) Will the innovative features be truly integrated into the game?  For example seasonal variations sound great (and are certainly better than nothing  ;)) but if I know, or quickly figure out that the river freezes over every year, or that it does say 85% of the time does this really change the game significantly for me?  I'm tending to think not...  Migrating settlements, fun feature or somehow essential to the game?
b) AI.  Will anyone ever get this right.  LOL.  Seriously, and briefly, though, I worry about this.  While player fun (a la Soren) is definitely important perhaps even more important for strategy games is giving the player something to play with/against interactively.  This is why AI's which play by different rules than the player cop so much flak.  To play with/against them the player needs to figure out what rules they are playing by, and then how to interact with (manipulate) those differences.  If this is not done then although the cpu players may be obstacles they are not opponents.  On the other hand setting AI's up to play the same game as the player without intelligent situational/strategic awareness seems doomed to failure.
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Re: Biggest Concerns for AtG?
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2013, 08:25:01 AM »
Exhaustible resources have never been something I have enjoyed in games before.  That and how the end game play out are my main concerns.

Yes I hope that's turn on and offable.

Or at least, create the option for resources to regenerate over time...

Re: Biggest Concerns for AtG?
« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2013, 11:34:07 AM »
jagged alliance 2 had depleting mines that forced you to move out of your comfort zone to keep your economy alive, its not a bad thing. Its a good thing to have to move out and get new territory, otherwize the risk of just turtling and getting comfy is to great. The game needs more random stuff to keep you to try and make moves and explore and make decisions.

Re: Biggest Concerns for AtG?
« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2013, 11:49:58 AM »
It would be nice if you could learn ways to spawn new resources.  For iron, maybe early on you are only able to obtain easily mined and processed ore, but as you develop through romanization you learn new mining and processing techniques that allows you to obtain resources you could not either obtain before or process effectively?

Re: Biggest Concerns for AtG?
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2013, 12:44:20 PM »
One thing which would be nice is to make scouts valuable in the late game by allowing them to "search" for resources on tiles as an action. There should only be a small chance, but this would keep "exploration" prominent even in the end game.

I've always found Civ V to be lacking in late game exploration options. This would be a nice one to have.
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Re: Biggest Concerns for AtG?
« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2013, 06:48:35 PM »
Agreed. Here is one that combines the last two suggestions:   

- By Earning a Romanization Perk your Scouts are able to spot resources that were previously hidden (let's say when acquiring "Early Geology Methods").


Only it doesn't affect Obtaining or Processing - instead this perk rather adresses Identifying the resources in the first place. Reason: It would spare the player the frustration not to be able to obtain resources visible on the land he already pocesses. Instead the player would now be rewarded by the ability to re-explore the map - that is to scout for reources on tiles he already pocesses or on tiles that seem within reach.

So if the player gets the perk, certain areas of the map will suddenly become more attractive, he'll value these areas differently than other factions value these areas of the map. Makes diplomacy more interesting.. You as a player may have a competetive advantage or not.. You wonder during a negotiation: "Does Attila know about these veins of gold at his border? Can I make him trade away this land against a couple of horses?"


During the Renaisance the Venetians sent "metal scouts" to the areas north of the alps to scout the landscape for specific characteristics, which were believed to indicate the occurance of certain kinds of metal. These scouting parties wandered hundeds of miles in search of gold, silver, iron, copper.. whatever kind of metal was of value in Venice..

They were equipped and trained to mine underground. If they found promising evidence, they organized mining brigades to mine and refine in "enemy territory". Later when the mine was exploited, they disappeared again leaving behind empty caverns and all remainders of their work to the clueless locals. According to what I read, this is wasn't a matter of some single cases.. Because these guys were traditionally of small figure, some historians even argued the legend of mysterious "Dwarves" from medieval fairy tales can be traced back to these guys. - I am not sure about the Romans, but I don't see a reason why they didn't practice this kind of organized "Resource Scouting".


Jon Shafer

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Re: Biggest Concerns for AtG?
« Reply #14 on: April 10, 2013, 10:53:08 PM »
Great, great thoughts all. Definitely a thread I'll be revisiting throughout development to ensure we're on the right path.


3) Timeline: I'm glad Dan brought this up because this was another concern I had with the game. From my understanding the games time period is 375 to 475/493 AD, which is a hundred years... that means about 1200-1416 turns of play, nearly Marathon length for a Civ V game. That's a lot of time.  Of course, maybe I'm off on my timeline and instead of the Fall of the Western Empire as your goal, you are actually targeting the sack of Rome in 410. If that's the case, then you're timeline works for a 400 turn game (technically 420 turns, but who's counting?). This would also change my perception of the goals of the game.

While the game starts in 375 AD, the end date is completely open. That having been said, the total number of turns for a game using the default pace is very unlikely to exceed 300. I just can't see the game's mechanics working for longer than that.


My biggest concern is about the distribution of the game for Alpha and Beta builds.

The distribution method I'm looking into is pretty secure, so if things pan out there it shouldn't be a concern.

Even so, it's not something I'm going to stress out about. Yes, there are some naughty folks out there. But there are also thousands upon thousands who are willing to pay for something that provides them with entertainment. Were that not the case, then you could count the number of people who purchase software with your fingers. After all, once something is released you can pretty much always find ways to get it for "free."

If the game leaks out early it's a bummer, but there's no way I'm going to bend over backwards and inconvenience everyone (especially those who contributed extra to be part of the testing group!). Companies are better served by rewarding honest users of their products, rather than trying to bend the dishonest ones to their will.


It would be nice if you could learn ways to spawn new resources.  For iron, maybe early on you are only able to obtain easily mined and processed ore, but as you develop through romanization you learn new mining and processing techniques that allows you to obtain resources you could not either obtain before or process effectively?

I haven't worked out the details yet, but new Resource Deposits will definitely spawn over time, and there will be ways for players to affect this. They're a major factor in motivating players to migrate to different regions - over time some areas become exhausted, while others grow to become attractive. It'll take some finesse to get right, but I believe the general concept is sound.


One thing which would be nice is to make scouts valuable in the late game by allowing them to "search" for resources on tiles as an action. There should only be a small chance, but this would keep "exploration" prominent even in the end game.

I've always found Civ V to be lacking in late game exploration options. This would be a nice one to have.

Late-game exploration is a tough one. I agree, this is something that would be a big improvement, but there are no obvious answers. You suggest giving units the ability to search for something new on already-explored tiles, which is something other games have done (e.g. SSI's Imperialism). The problem is... it's not really fun! Or strategic for that matter. You just scrub across the map and occasionally get lucky with where you place your units. It occupies units and your time, but doesn't really add anything.

It's unlikely we'll tackle this in AtG (a lot of other stuff going on!), but it's very much something I'm thinking about for my next game.

- Jon
If you have any questions, please send me a private message here on the forums or an email at [Contact@ConiferGames.com]. Thanks for your support!