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How to model and make sure there is multiple paths to achieve goal

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larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008

It's for a civilization like game, think Civ 5. I am trying to design the list of building. I did not want the construction of a building to be automatic mindless work, I wanted players to make a choice. So far I have used the following strategy:

  • The first important element is that buildings will be conditional to something else making them not always efficient. For example, you could have a building that gives you 1 production per forest, but if you have little forest in your surrounding area, the building is not advantageous to build. Still, the analysis of such building can be somewhat automated. It's just analyzing cost and rewards.

  • Second, I wanted to give each building 2 purpose, so that you could have different reasons to make a building. That has the effect of making buildings more attractive increasing the chance to build everything. The advantage is that it does not make any building left behind, since the dual function will make all of them eventually useful.

Both elements above does not seem to increase the strategy behind the selection of buildings.

Now the last one is the notion of path to victory, which should be the element that should require more thinking from the player. The best example is in Civ 5, where the player has the option of making a single city civ or a large empire. Both give access to different victory condition and are viable to win the game.

So when I was designing buildings, I was wondering if I could chose to ignore building a "market place" that produces more gold and enables land trade routes. The impact of producing less gold would be:

Less building to maintain Less unit to maintain No spending of money to accelerate production No spending of money on purchasable stuff. etc.

Now let say, I want that to be a viable strategic path. How can I make sure it will be a valid path?

I thought that I need a way to compensate for example that losses units. Maybe, I have a small empire, so I don need many units. Maybe I am stronger in influence and diplomacy, and have little chance of being attacked.

How can I map those strategic path?

In the example above, how can I know that sacrificing gold really have an alternative path to compensate for that lose.

Is there a way I could organize or schematize the information?

Maybe having 2 way of obtaining something is a way to do it. For example, I can acquire military unit by production, or by hiring. Here there is 2 path, if I have a poor production, I will focus on making gold to buy units.

Can simply duplicating the method of obtaining the same result be the solution to such kind of design?

Joined: 02/11/2015
It sounds like you just need an alternate resource

In Civ5 there are complimentary and opposing resources. Then the resources are split along maintenance resources and growth resources (some overlap).

Complimentary resources are the ones that you often see buildings and land tiles couple. For instance, in the Gods and Kings expansion, Piety and Culture were often coupled (though it was mostly decoupled in the Brave New World Expansion where they coupled Culture with Tourism). Another example is Luxury resources produced happiness and typically gold. Piety, depending on the beliefs you choose (and somewhat on the policies), can become complimentary to nearly any other resource. Land tiles usually paired food and gold or food and production. It usually took an improvement, tech advancement or a building to get both production and gold out of a tile.

Science and Culture are opposing resources in that focusing in one often limits the other and there is very limited crossover. (I can think of specialist buffs that you can get to, but that's about it.) So this is an opposing that encourages you to focus on one or the other. City count often was a big influencer in which route I took, often going the science route with lots of cities or the culture route with fewer.
Brave New world sort of changed this with tourism, in that the Culture victory is still doable with lots of cities and Science is more critical to being among the first to select an ideology. But they also made it really hard to expand extra fast early game, like you could in earlier versions. (Really threw me for a loop the first couple plays on Brave New World.)

Happiness and Food are also opposing. The more food you have, the faster the population grows and the faster your Civ becomes unhappy. And on the flip side, when unhappy, it reduces your growth rate. Unlike the science and culture, you are forced to balance these two resources.

But before you model your complimentary and opposing you probably should define if they are maintenance or growth oriented and what they maintain and/or grow. In Civ, all the Strategic resources and happiness are maintenance. Food (population growth), Culture (territory growth and policy purchasing), Piety (religious growth and purchasing), Production (city growth) and Science (technological growth) are your growth resources.

Gold is the hybrid in that it is needed for maintenance, but can also be used for purchases. Luxury resources I guess could be considered hybrid in that each new luxury provides a happiness boost, but it ultimately becomes a maintenance. Luxury resources also typically provide gold which is the other hybrid.

So in determining your end goals, I think you should figure out what sets of complimentary and opposing resources favor each end goal, then work with different pairings. Is it easier to model when thinking in these terms?

Hopefully this wasn't just mindless rambling for you.

let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Joined: 02/07/2011
Opportunity Cost

AdamRobinGames-ARG wrote:
So in determining your end goals, I think you should figure out what sets of complimentary and opposing resources favor each end goal, then work with different pairings.
The key concepts I took from what ARG mentioned above are:

  • Depending on the availability of resources at the outset, you may choose certain types of buildings over the others. This is because...
  • There are some natural pairings of resource generation. There are also some pairings that -never- occur.
  • There are also buildings that provide a second or more resource in the event the player needs to "change horses in mid-stream" or otherwise start acquiring different resources than those called for by their main strategy.
  • To aid in transition, or to provide some buffer in refining strategies, the "wild" resource (gold) is available.
  • A player trying to be the "best in everything" in a single game will likely fail, since their are engineered synergies they're not exploiting for benefit, and relying on the buffer/wild resource is not an optimal strategy. Also...
  • Being the biggest collector of everything is not a viable path to victory. A player will need to make an informed choice about which path to victory suits their situation best for each game.
larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
Quote:Hopefully this wasn't

Hopefully this wasn't just mindless rambling for you.

No it is interesting, you make me see things in another that could be helpful

About binding 2 resources together, it's the idea of producing 2 things from a single source?

One possible application is that I could make specialist produce 2 resources. Example:

Merchants: produces 3 gold and 2 influence Worker: produces 3 Food and 2 production Bard: produces 3 happiness and 2 influence etc.

In the example above, if I have no merchants, I still have other ways to gain influence with bards

While opposing resources, would simply never be paired together.

As for maintenance vs growth, I thought that all resources where used both as maintenance and growth, but it does not seem the case. I should try to balance that too.

  • Food is used as both maintenance and growth
  • Gold is used as maintenance and occasionally growth ( buy stuff)
  • Production is only used as growth, but I could change this by making building maintenance cost production. So more building you have, the lower is your production. That could be much more interesting than limiting by gold or population. Building too much will mean not enough production.

Also civ 5 have various path, like I can build worker, or gain a civic that will give me a worker as a bonus. Or make the pyramid that will give me extra worker. So sometimes you can get certain rewards from a different source.

So it seems the center of the modeling is the resources produced. So maybe I should list my resources and then define:

What is the income source?

What can you maintain with them?

What can you purchase with them?

What would happen if resource X is starved?

What would happen if resource X is focused?

It would be interesting if the choices where first influenced by the position of the city and other situational factor. Second, by the player's goals which could not always match the situation.

Joined: 02/11/2015
As an engineer...

... I try to break things down into the simplest concept or components and see how they interact. I'm glad it helped.

lewpuls's picture
Joined: 04/04/2009
Paths to Victory - puzzles

Paths to Victory" are puzzle solutions. If you're making a game, rather than what amounts to a puzzle, there will be no Paths to Victory. There will be lots of choices that may or may not work, depending on circumstances.

If you're consciously putting paths to victory into your game, you're designing a puzzle much more than a game.

Puzzles have always-correct solutions, games do not.

Sorry I can't specifically address what's happening with your project.

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
I am trying to see path to

I am trying to see path to victory as a backup plan.

If a player is forced or choses to block himself a path. I want to know if he can find an alternative way.

For example, if a player cannot maintain army units, he can summon creatures instead to defend his city. That is a backup plan.

I could secure the top and/or the bottom of the chain:

TOP: Each game element can be acquired in 2 different ways. Like my unit vs creature above. In civ 5, you can build a worker, or get a policy or wonder that will give you workers too. The only drawback is that it could be harder to determine the resource flow of the game since everything could give everything.

BOTTOM: Each resource can be produced in 2 different ways.For example: Merchant produces gold + influence, bards produce happiness + influence. If I have no bard, I still get influence. Or I can have bard, but not necessarily the buildings that boost their efficiency.

In the end, all this discussion was to determine how to design buildings, if player could have good reasons to avoid making certain buildings and what are the consequences.

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