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Passive versus Active resources

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X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013

I never liked having 2 or more resources in a game.
But did I know exactly what I didn't like about it?

It seems that after all these years, I slowly come to realize. That there can be multiple resources in a game without realizing. And I can accept that.

But what do I mean?

For starters. Multiple resources that are needed to build something. There is always a resource that is abundant. Starcraft has minerals and gas. I never had a problem with both. Only with 1 at a time. This because one of the 2 was always ahead on the other. It simply meant that the distribution amongst units was different. And thus way to shallow for my taste.

With Settlers of Catan, I discovered that the same issue would only occur, once you had build up your country. But you could trade. Although, at that point, the game was almost over.
Trading is something I also did in AoE2. Getting that market asap. And simply mass trade my wood for anything else. The thing I got in return when actually gathering the resource that I need directly, was time.

But what if... You only need 1 resource for something?
I discovered that I designed my own game in such a way.
Players gather 1 resource for producing anything.
Facilities are a resource for that they can trade the one and only passive resource, into units or other facilities.
And then there is activity. Which costs Action Points instead of resources.

So, my resources are:
- Money, which is passive and a 1 time for each entity.
- Facilities, which are semi-passive/semi-active.
- Action Points, which are active because they are needed constantly for each entity.

How do you guys feel about this?
Are my assumptions correct?

Joined: 11/27/2019
Simplicity vs Balance

I prefer a single resource for materials, which I am pursuing in my game. However, I believe having multiple resources for items makes it easier to balance ‘facilities’ and actions. A single resource makes it inherently challenging to balance an action or facility to be different enough so as to not be the same and ‘boring’ or overpowered.

In example, A summons two 2/2 knights costs player a 2 gold. The cost to summon two knights for B is 3 gold. The variance is large enough so as to be a challenge. Then if that player B gets foot soldiers for 1 and A pays 2... the incremental difference between the value of units is a whole number, which makes it challenging to balance without significant effects that change the units attack or defense and or abilities.

Whereas multiple resources can more evenly balance the knights and be thematic.

I have not yet come up with a good resolution to having a single resource and making the game easier to balance. The most significant issue goes even further in that when you introduce additional units with single resources the scale of power shifts all units attached to that scale tremendously. In example if I had a 5/5 dragon that cost 4 resources, now the balance of power for al other units is affected. Whereas with multiple resources you can more easily balance the game. With a single resource I feel one has to continually shift the cost of units and also that whole number balance may not be feasible.

So for me it comes down to an issue of simplicity vs ease of balance. (Or is it even possible to balance).

When a single resource is used for actions, facilities, victory points, resources, (such as my current effort is pursuing) it becomes a monumental task to balance and make fun.

Thanks for the question, it’s making me reconsider my approach.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
2 sides of the same coin

Wow, never did I expect to see someone to be an advocate of having multiple resources.

I was always one of the single resource to balance.

I tried multiple resources in the past.
Lowest armor costs resource A
Medium costs A and B
Highest costs B

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