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[gameplay] change phase bonuses
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Authored by Nescio on Mon, Jun 29, 7:03 PM.

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Summary

Currently the phase advances not only unlock new units, structures, and technologies, but also increase centre <TerritoryInfluence/Radius>, structure <Capturable/GarrisonRegenRate>, and citizen soldier <Health/Max>. Players who advance quicker are already at an advantage simply because the new things that are unlocked. These stat changes have a snowball effect, strengthening the stronger, and furthering the gap with those players that are slower, which seems rather undesirable.
Moreover, as pointed out in D2792, it results in elite soldiers being able to get more health than their champion counterparts.

This patch therefore:

  • Removes the citizen health increases.
  • Removes the structure capturable increases (previously 5 + 7 + 9 = 21 in city phase). To compensate, the default structure value is doubled (from 5 to 10) and territory decay is halved (from 20 to 10), because one garrisoned unit ought to be enough to prevent structure loss due to territory decay.
  • The centre territory influence increases , which make sense, are changed to +40% each (1.4 × 1.4 = 1.96, 1.3 × 1.5 = 1.95). Because they compound each other, the absolute area gain of the city phase is significantly larger than that of the town phase.

[EDIT] For the record, concerning <Capturable>:
rP10034 introduced territory health decay (of 20);
rP10048 sharply reduced territory health decay (to 5);
rP16550 introduced structure capturing (including <GarrisonRegenRate> of 3, soldier capture strength of 3) and replaced territory health decay with territory capture points decay (still 5);
rP16779 increased <GarrisonRegenRate> (to 5) and capture strength of champions (to 8);
rP16891 lowered capture strength of champions (to 7);
rP17053 increased <GarrisonRegenRate> (to 7.5) and lowered capture strength of citizens (to 2) and champions (to 5)
rP17564 increased capture strength of advanced (+0.4) and elite (+0.4) units;
rP17060 increased territory decay tenfold (to 50);
rP17062 reduced territory decay (to 20);
rP17077 lowered <GarrisonRegenRate> (to 4), but introduced increases in the town (+1.5) and city (+2) phases;
rP18157 increased <GarrisonRegenRate> to current values (5 + 7 + 9).

Test Plan

Check for mistakes and omissions. Agree this is an improvement.

Event Timeline

Nescio created this revision.Mon, Jun 29, 7:03 PM
Owners added a subscriber: Restricted Owners Package.Mon, Jun 29, 7:03 PM
Nescio added inline comments.Mon, Jun 29, 7:04 PM
binaries/data/mods/public/simulation/templates/template_structure.xml
26

5 + 7 + 9

borg- added a comment.EditedMon, Jun 29, 7:21 PM

I think the value 21 for <GarrisonRegenRate> would make capture impossible in the first phase, providing the obsolete rush.

I think the value of 21 for <GarrisonRegenRate> would make capture impossible in the first phase, providing the obsolete rush.

It could be lowered. What do you think is an appropiate value?
No disagreement on the other changes?

Nescio added a comment.EditedMon, Jun 29, 7:46 PM

For comparison the current capture attack values:

basic      2
advanced   2.4
elite      2.8
champion   5
hero      15

[EDIT] The total of 21 was presumably chosen because it's greater than the template_structure.xml territory decay, which is 20.

Lionkanzen added a subscriber: Lionkanzen.

Successful build - Chance fights ever on the side of the prudent.

Link to build: https://jenkins.wildfiregames.com/job/docker-differential/2549/display/redirect

borg- added a comment.EditedTue, Jun 30, 12:32 AM

It could be lowered. What do you think is an appropiate value?

I think that whatever value we choose would not be good. If we choose a low value, then that would be good for the first age and bad for the third age, if we choose a high value, it would be bad in the first age and good in the third. It seems to me that the best way is still to maintain a growing value like the current one.

No disagreement on the other changes?

Decrease the gain of health to 5% be enough to "equate" citizen/champions instead of remove? With D2792, it may be enough.
We can also remove the gain for the town phase and put a value only for the city phase like 5% or keep the 10%, it seems more fair in the city phase than in the town.

I am not against removal, if it proves necessary I can agree. It just seems to me that it is more "fair" to maintain a value, even if low. I think this avoids problems with the design document and the players who are already used to it (Although I didn't find anything mentioned in the design document).

I agree with you that high values of health (or other attributes) gain really generate a giant snowball in late game.

I think that whatever value we choose would not be good. If we choose a low value, then that would be good for the first age and bad for the third age, if we choose a high value, it would be bad in the first age and good in the third. It seems to me that the best way is still to maintain a growing value like the current one.

How about increasing capture attack strength? D2847.

It just seems to me that it is more "fair" to maintain a value, even if low.

Why?

I agree with you that high values of health (or other attributes) gain really generate a giant snowball in late game.

Due to how multiplication works, even small increases can contribute to the snowball effect, and not just in the late game.

For me it makes sense that regeneration rate scales through the game. As a game advances the attacker will be able to output more capture power while the defender will not be able to garrison much more units. The current values seem good now.
For the health change, I don't know. This is an indirect buff to champions, towers and fortresses and it is difficult to see how gameplay will be changed.
I don't consider phasing up to be too strong now. Players can decide to phase up earlier when they expect fights to happen for the HP increase, but that's an investment of a good amount of ressources that could be spent somewhere else. The primary benefit of phasing up is unlocking economic techs in current meta (it is also often motivated by territory increase in 1v1s). This could change a bit depending of how the game changes of course but I think right now it's in a good position.
The changes of territorial increase could decrease just a bit the interest of expanding with another CC in town phase but nothing crazy.

Note that buffing champions is not necessarily good in this context, because champions are already quite strong in their stats compared to citizen soldiers, their problem is cost and train time which is addressed in the other patch.

For me it makes sense that regeneration rate scales through the game. As a game advances the attacker will be able to output more capture power while the defender will not be able to garrison much more units. The current values seem good now.

The problem with this is that it effectively means a severe penalty for everyone who's not advanced to the city phase. Suppose player A rushes to city phase and player B stays in village phase. Then if A attacks B, each garrisoned unit equals one champion; if B attacks A, each garrisoned unit equals ten citizen soldiers.

For me it makes sense that regeneration rate scales through the game. As a game advances the attacker will be able to output more capture power while the defender will not be able to garrison much more units. The current values seem good now.

The problem with this is that it effectively means a severe penalty for everyone who's not advanced to the city phase. Suppose player A rushes to city phase and player B stays in village phase. Then if A attacks B, each garrisoned unit equals one champion; if B attacks A, each garrisoned unit equals ten citizen soldiers.

Yes, but that in itself isn't a problem due how games are played. In the described situations. If A attacks B, since B didn't go to city phase he had a good amount of ressources he could invest in defense if he wanted to. If he loses despite that, that would mean he was outplayed at some point in the game in my opinion. In the case where B attacks A, the goal isn't to take full control of the position but rather to try to disrupt enemy economy and to take good fights, with the hope of getting a significant economic/population advantage. Capturing some isolated buildings is just a bonus

Nescio edited the summary of this revision. (Show Details)Tue, Jun 30, 2:26 PM

Yes, but that in itself isn't a problem due how games are played.

Different players have different play styles. Not everyone is interested in competitive multiplayer. Many people are perfectly happy with single-player vs the Petra AI.
The point is that these phase stat increases strongly favour a particular play style, punishing players wanting to explore different strategies.

The primary benefit of phasing up is unlocking economic techs in current meta (it is also often motivated by territory increase in 1v1s).

If this is already more than enough reason to phase up, then why should phases change anything else at all?

How about lowering both <Capturable/GarrisonRegenRate> and <TerritoryDecay/DecayRate> to 10?

Nescio edited the summary of this revision. (Show Details)Tue, Jun 30, 3:15 PM

Different players have different play styles. Not everyone is interested in competitive multiplayer. Many people are perfectly happy with single-player vs the Petra AI.
The point is that these phase stat increases strongly favour a particular play style, punishing players wanting to explore different strategies.

But isn't that the point of gameplay balancing ? By removing the scaling of RegenRate you will either heavily favour focusing on capturing things in the late game, or you will make trying to capture useless in early game, or maybe both. It will punish players wanting to try different strategies and, if that turns out to be a balance problem, could lead to the usual complaints on the forum, which should also be perfectly valid for single players, and that will be a bit different than "I'm in the Village phase and researched 0 technologies, my opponent is in City phase, and I die, how could this be happening?". Plus I don't think think this prevents players to go with other strategies if they ever wish to. They can stay in the Village phase for a long time if they ever wish to, but first, they should expect it to be inferior, and then, if they don't want to compensate with some other smart ressource spending choices (like training more soldiers), they should reduce the level of the AI. Plus, the AI should be quite bad at exploiting players weaknesses.

If this is already more than enough reason to phase up, then why should phases change anything else at all?

I think tying the RegenRate to phasing up was just a convenient way to make it scale with the general progression of the game.

Units don't get increases in other stats (e.g. armour, attack damage, resource gather rates) automatically from phasing up, separate technologies are for that, so why should phases increase citizen health?

But isn't that the point of gameplay balancing ?

If A focuses on building houses and a large army, and B rushes to city phase to train champions, then when they fight, B has a small number of picked troops and A a large group of inferior units; the outcome depends on the exact numbers and the location; this seems perfectly fine to me.

I think tying the RegenRate to phasing up was just a convenient way to make it scale with the general progression of the game.

When it was introduced (rP17077), the total stayed the same and the increases were rather minor (4 + 1.5 + 2 = 7.5), which explains why it was no big deal then, but subsequently (rP18157) it was trebled (5 + 7 + 9 = 21), without any tweaks to soldier capture strengths.
As a consequence, each garrisoned unit counters:

  • 2.5 citizens (or 1 champion) in village phase;
  • 6 citizens (or 2.4 champions) in town phase;
  • 10.5 citizens (or 5.2 champions) in city phase.

If phases would increase unit capture strength, then increasing structure proportionally is fair. But that is not the case, hence why these increases (of ×2.4 and ×1.75) severely favour players in the city phase at the expense of those in town and especially village phase.

How about lowering both <Capturable/GarrisonRegenRate> and <TerritoryDecay/DecayRate> to 10?

Or 12, if D2847 is committed first? Each garrisoned unit countering two champions is fair, I think.

Units don't get increases in other stats (e.g. armour, attack damage, resource gather rates) automatically from phasing up, separate technologies are for that, so why should phases increase citizen health?

They shouldn't necessarily do that, but all current numbers for balancing depend more or less from that. Removing health increase will nerf citizen soldiers and can lead to unknown consequences

If A focuses on building houses and a large army, and B rushes to city phase to train champions, then when they fight, B has a small number of picked troops and A a large group of inferior units; the outcome depends on the exact numbers and the location; this seems perfectly fine to me.

I don't see the problem. If B phases up too soon he will have a significant economic disadvantage. If the situation is stalematy then B will have the advantage over time due to technologies, which is why A should phase up at some point. That's the situation currently at least.

If phases would increase unit capture strength, then increasing structure proportionally is fair. But that is not the case

No, but that would typically mean that more units are on the field which will increase the overall attacking capturing strength.

hence why these increases (of ×2.4 and ×1.75) severely favour players in the city phase at the expense of those in town and especially village phase.

I guess that just our vision of the game enters in contradiction then. As of now, staying in Village phase all game is just not meant to be a viable strategy (in multiplayer at least), and the question is rather how soon would one want to phase up. And sacrificing economy to phase up sooner is rarely a good idea.

badosu added a subscriber: badosu.Thu, Jul 2, 8:42 AM

Different players have different play styles. Not everyone is interested in competitive multiplayer. Many people are perfectly happy with single-player vs the Petra AI.
The point is that these phase stat increases strongly favour a particular play style, punishing players wanting to explore different strategies.

That's a fair point, one which, in my opinion, does not support this patch. Currently there's a well established dynamic between phasing up vs spamming units that's very noticeable.

It's not rare for a player in the lead to get punished for phasing up too soon, on the other hand timing attacks phasing up are the only possible kind of timing attacks in the early to mid game, which add a healthy mechanic to the game often present in RTSs but rare in 0ad due to the expensive and delayed usage of military upgrades. A player in the lead can cement his position by capturing a lone sentry tower and creeping in territory, at the same time risking not having enough units to defend against a counterpush.

In my opinion, the suggested changes remove some the early to mid-game nuances of gameplay, which are necessary to keep it engaging.

Nescio added a comment.Thu, Jul 2, 4:20 PM

For an idea to have more (non-free) tech progression, see D2854.

Nescio updated this revision to Diff 12527.Thu, Jul 2, 7:14 PM
Nescio edited the summary of this revision. (Show Details)
  • garrison regeneration rate and territory decay to 10
Vulcan added a comment.Thu, Jul 2, 7:18 PM

Successful build - Chance fights ever on the side of the prudent.

Link to build: https://jenkins.wildfiregames.com/job/docker-differential/2570/display/redirect