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A comprehensive criticism of FFH2

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Fall from Heaven' started by ProkhorZakharov, Jul 1, 2010.

  1. ProkhorZakharov

    ProkhorZakharov Chieftain

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2009
    Messages:
    69
    I'd like to start by saying that I really enjoy playing FFH2, and think it adds some great things to Civilization. I'm going to focus mostly on the negatives, though, because the positives don't need changing and talking about them would take too much time. I've played both vanilla FFH and Wild Mana, but I'll try to focus mostly on vanilla FFH in this thread. Maybe I'll make another one discussing the Wild Mana changes. If I don't mention something, it means I think it's fine. I'll try to keep my criticisms general, but my proposed changes are based on how I'd personally like the game to play, or what I'd put into a modmod if I were to make one. If anyone likes any of the ideas I set forth below, they're free to use them in any way they please.

    Civilizations

    Overall, I think FFH has too many civilizations, add the modmods that add new civs tend to only compound the problem. FFH has a many "unique features" that various civilizations possess, but they're spread too thinly, making some civilizations feel like they're not doing anything special (Elohim, Malakim, Doviello), and others feel too similar (Ljosalfar/Svartalfar). I'll discuss each civilization and its unique features below.


    Amurites

    Arcane Lacuna:: Giving free experience to all your mages is a fine, if uninteresting, worldspell. I don't like the spellcasting prevention part. I often require fireballs or other spells in order to fight an aggressive war, and when the Amurites cast their spell I have to simply sit back and wait for 20 turns. Waiting for 20 turns isn't fun. I think, especially given that this is primarily a single-player game, effects that stop you from doing something should be very carefully regulated.

    Govannon: Govannon is what defines the Amurite civilization. Unfortunately, he comes too late to really be useful. By the time you've got Arcane Lore, you've got very little use for a ton of level 1 spells, except perhaps as a few free Inspirations. The best use for Govannon is to turn Firebows into high-defense Mages.

    Firebow: Frankly, I don't like the ability to mass-produce Fireballing units. I also don't like that the best Amurite unit lies quite far down a completely separate tech path than the magic line the Amurites are supposed to go for.

    Focus on diverse mana: Cave of Ancestors and Govannon both encourage you to have a variety of mana nodes, but the Amurites have no good way of getting this variety. They're exceptionally weak early-game, as they don't get anything special until Bowyers or Arcane Lore, and the fact that they're going to be focusing on one or both of those techs means they don't have a reliable way of expanding their empire to include more mana nodes. A possible solution would be to have them start with more palace mana (mind and enchantment).

    Overall: I don't think the Amurites are unique enough. I also think that they're forced into an extremely passive, defensive playstyle, defending with archers until they can get enough Firebows to do something useful.

    What I'd change: I'd allow them to take advantage of spellcasting more early on, and give them more encouragement to go down the magic line rather than the archery line. To this end I'd let them build Adepts without Mage's Guilds. I like the Wild Mana idea of giving Amurite melee and recon units aptitudes for various mana types, giving them a decent early-game provided they get some mana nodes. I'd make Govannon available at Sorcery (perhaps even Divination?), but give him Channeling III only when Strength of Will is researched. A lot of the Amurites' problems are due to the narrowness of most level one spells, which will be discussed later.
    I'd also merge the Amurite and Sidar civilizations. I'll discuss this in the Sidar section.


    Balseraphs

    Loki: Everything about Loki is annoying. His disrupt ability is almost completely useless except when he's stealing a newly built city. This is an incredibly frustrating thing to have happen, and early on, there's very little you can do about it. When you're doing it to the AI, it almost feels like cheating. I once had the AI waste 4 settlers as Loki kept stealing and then razing the city they were trying to build. His Entertain is annoying to micromanage - why can't it work like Inspiration, and stay in the city? It's even more annoying to try and use puppets to keep 2 cities entertained at the same time.

    Puppets: Unless you're Keelyn, puppets don't really do very much except give you +1 range on all your spells. As either leader, Puppets require an incredible amount of micromanagement. Instead of casting Fireball when you're near a city, you now start by summoning a puppet when you're a few turns away, then moving the puppet closer to the city, then creating another puppet next turn and moving both the puppets, then getting the first puppet to cast Fireball, then moving the fireball next to the city, then getting the fireball to bombard, etc. Basically, what puppets do isn't worth the amount of effort required to get them to do that.

    Freak: I really like how it starts with Mutated, but it's really very expensive. It's kind of odd to have a unit that can be a warrior (25 hammers) or a pseudo-carnival (90 hammers) for 60 hammers. I'd up it to 4 strength, or reduce its cost to 30 and put a gold cost (40?) on using Freak Show. Its inability to use metals should keep it balanced relative to warriors and axemen.

    Mimic: Why does it have to be weaker than a Champion? It'd be fine at 6 strength, it would just mean the Balseraphs have a slightly-stronger-than-average melee line. The same goes for Harlequins.

    Overall: The Balseraphs are a very micromanagement-intensive civilization. Puppets are by far the biggest part of that, but there's also the fact that you have to check your Freaks to see if they're worth keeping, and get your slaves safely back to your civilization. The summoner trait makes it all worse.

    What I'd change: I'd start by getting rid of Loki and Puppets entirely, and also Keelyn, because she's so much less interesting than Perpentach if Puppets are gone. This leaves the Balseraphs without much going for them, and they can't easily be merged with any other civilization, so I'd have to invent a new mechanic for them to use. I think I'd make them the "culture civilization", with a few things to encourage them to build up a lot of culture. This synergizes quite nicely with the culture from Freak Shows. For example, they could have a Theater replacement which gives all units built in the city +1 EXP for each culture level of the city. They could have an Archer UU which can cast a mini-Hope (+2 culture/turn), a Longbowman that can cast Hope, and a Crossbowman that cast super-Hope (+6 culture/turn, +2 :)). They could have a hero that interacts with culture in some way.


    Bannor

    Donal Lugh: It's quite annoying that sometimes Donal can Recruit every turn or two (especially fighting the Sheaim), and sometimes he can only Recruit once, and it's pretty much out of your control. Otherwise a fine hero.

    Crusade: I don't like that the defining feature of the Bannor locks you into going Order, and it prevents you from choosing other civics in the same category, but Wild Mana fixes all of these problems.

    Overall: I'd say that the Bannor are the most well-designed civ in the game after the Wild Mana changes. They're a bit one-dimensional, going for vast hordes of Demagogs and Crusaders supported by Flagbearers, Confessors and Clerics, but what they do they do well but not too well, and they're free of unnecessary complexity.

    What I'd change: I'd make it so Donal Lugh has to accumulate 12 charges to regain the ability to cast Recruit. He gains 1 charge from killing a neutral-aligned unit, 2 for killing an evil-aligned unit, and 4 for killing an undead unit. If that's too complex, just make it so he has to kill any 5 units to regain the ability to Recruit.


    Calabim

    Vampires: I don't like the idea of a mass-produced unit that can spam summons. Vampires are interesting enough on their own without needing the ability to have a dozen Spectres wipe out the enemy's defenses.

    Governor's Mansion: This building just gives way too much production.

    Overall: The Calabim just get way too much bonuses, and they can do it all without having to branch out on the tech tree. Just going for feudalism, they get an insane economy thanks to Financial agristo-farms, insane production thanks to Governor's Mansions, insane melee units thanks to vampires, and three of the most powerful pre-Archmage spells in Haste, Regeneration and Summon Spectre.

    What I'd change: I don't know the best way to nerf Governor's Mansions, but they'd be weakened significantly. I'd take away Vampires' ability to cast spells. I might give them something else in return, as without overpowered Governor's Mansions and Vampire's the Calabim don't really have much to define them. Perhaps something helping them to grow giant cities.


    Clan of Embers

    Goblin: I wish Goblins had more of a role in the Clan strategy than just being early-game Settler escorts and hoping to kill a Wolf.

    For the Horde: The unpredictability of this world spell makes it really ineffective. You're forced to delete the majority of units you get so as not to be crushed by upkeep costs.

    Overall: I think the Clan are a reasonably well-designed civ. Their Warrens give them something unique, and Ogres give them something to do once Axemen don't cut it anymore, though they still do drop off a lot after the early game.

    What I'd change: I'd make Goblins able to upgrade into Warriors and Axemen as well as Wolf Riders. This enables the Clan to run a fairly unique strategy of running 0 science and pumping out 2 Goblins in each city every turn, upgrading them into Axemen. To this end I'd also give Sheelba Ingenuity over Organized. I'd also let Goblins cast a "ride wolf" spell that turned them into a Wolf Rider if they're on the same square as a wolf (say, one captured by a lizardman), destroying the wolf in the process. I'd give them the Doviello's 40% reduction in war weariness to encourage more aggressive play throughout the game.


    Doviello

    The War Machine: This comes way too late for a civ focused on early aggression. By the time The War Machine comes around, you've either won or lost, and the hero isn't strong enough to turn the game around single-handedly.

    Wild Hunt: In FFH a large number of worthless units is still worthless. The mechanics of the spell mean that the Wolves spawned will always be considerably weaker than your existing troops. Forming Wolf Packs alleviates this a little, but they're still not strong enough to do any real damage.

    Overall: Most of what the Doviello has - Lucian, Beastmen, less war weariness, no production building requirements - is aimed at an early Warrior or Axeman rush towards your nearest neighbor. The problem is, they don't have enough power to do this reliably, and they don't have anything to follow up their early rush. Basically, they don't have anything really interesting, they only do one thing well, and the Clan of Embers does that thing better.

    What I'd change: This is simple. I'd get rid of the Doviello entirely.


    Elohim

    Tolerant: This is a really interesting mechanic, but it doesn't suit the Elohim at all. Tolerant requires aggressive wars; the Elohim specialize in defense.

    Sanctuary: See my comments on Arcane Lacuna, above, but worse. Sitting around for 30 turns waiting for Sanctuary to end is really boring.

    Corlindale: An archmage at Fanatacism is powerful, but also kind of out of place.

    Overall: Being able to see all the Unique Features, Corlindale, monks, and stronger defenses are all kind of nice, but they don't let the civilization do anything special. Tolerant does, but mechanically, it would work better on any one of the other civilizations.

    What I'd change: I'd remove the Elohim and give Tolerant to another civ.


    Grigori

    Agnostic: Denying one civilization access to one of the game's major features doesn't add anything to the game. It simply makes playing the Grigori less fun by reducing your options.

    Adventurers: I really like the concept, but the mechanics of getting adventurers mean that you can't really use specialists unless you're going to give up on getting many adventurers. Wild Mana alleviates this a bit by having more sources of Adventurer GPPs.

    Luonnotar: It's weird to have a Druid replacement come at Strength of Will, when Druids require Commune with Nature. Wild Mana makes them come at Religious Law instead, but I think that's worse. If the Grigori are supposed to be agnostic, they should be ignoring the religious tech path.

    Overall: The Grigori are all about restricting your choices - no religions, don't go for specialists, protect these valuable units.

    What I'd change: I'd toss out this civilization, as well. I don't think their should be an agnostic civ, and without that, the Grigori flavor of hating gods isn't really sustainable. I'd give Adventurers to another civ that lacks features (I'll cover this later).


    Hippus

    Mercenaries: The idea of a civilization which uses mercenaries a lot is cool, but mercenaries come too late for the Hippus. You need either the Guild of the Nine, which is quite far off the mounted units tech path, or Warhorses, which comes very late in the game.

    Overall: The Hippus are quite a strong, reliable civ to play, but they are kind of bland. I think a lot of their power comes from their ability to pillage well, and the AI's inability to deal with pillaging units.

    What I'd change: I'd move Magnadine to Stirrups, reducing his power to compensate. I'd like to give the Hippus some interesting non-horse-related ability (probably related to money, to synergize with mercenaries), but I can't think of one off the top of my head.


    Illians

    Agnostic: See the section on Agnostic in the Grigori section, above.

    Wilboman: There are too many generic heroes available at Iron Working.

    Drifa: Comes too late to be really relevant. Also, why is it a ritual that creates Drifa, rather than just building a unit?

    Auric Ascended: Given the insane number of hoops you have to go through to get Auric Ascended, it's not worth it just to get a unit that can die to any random warrior with a Godslayer.

    Samhain/The Deepining/Stasis: These three effects are what most defines the Illians, and they've all got something in common. They're all really annoying. They're all about wasting everyone else's time, by forcing them to build more defensive units and slowing their expansion, by reducing the worthwhile land available for expansion, and by forcing them to sit there and to nothing for 20 turns.

    Priests of Winter: Snowfall is an interesting ability; Slow and Summon Ice Elemental are just variants on existing spells.

    Overall: I've said everything I want to about the Illians above.

    What I'd change: I'd remove the Illians. The ability to have productive cities on snow is worth keeping, Auric Ascended might be too if you got rid of the 50% population loss from The Draw and let Auric know the location of the Godslayer.


    Infernal/Mercurian

    I haven't played enough as either of these civs to judge them. I tend to play with Compact Enforced on because these both affect the game in a wildly unpredictable manner.


    Khazad

    Can't build mages/archmages: This is similar to the Agnostic issue. If you're going to remove part of the game for a civilization, you ought to have either a replacement, or a good reason for why the civ shouldn't be allowed to do whatever it is you're removing. Making the Khazad unable to use advanced magic simply limits their options.

    Overall: The Khazad focus mainly on their gold, with a few random perks (Dwarven Druid, Dwarven Shadow, better siege, Battering Rams). It's a good ability, but I think they could use a bit more to define them.

    What I'd change: After more consideration and reading the feedback of others in this thread, I don't think the Khazad need to be merged with the Luchirup.


    Kuriotates

    Overall: I think the Kuriotates are a very interesting and balanced civ. The fact that their military production is limited by their city restrictions forces them to play defensively, but unlike other defensive civs like the Elohim, their large cities let them do something interesting while playing defensively.

    What I'd change: I'd halve the interval for trait changes using Adaptive. That'd let you do something like switch to Spiritual, build a bunch of temples and disciple units while switching religions around, then go back to your usual civic (i.e. Financial). Currently when you switch your traits, you're stuck with your new choice for a significant part of the game.


    Lanun

    Boarding Party: Losing 1 strength in exchange for an often irrelevant ability seems unduly harsh.

    Guybrush Threepwood: I don't object to the hero concept, but I do object to the name. 99% of the time, FFH is a high-fantasy style game that takes itself and its lore quite seriously. Guybrush and the Stooges kind of wreck this. Most of the best moments in FFH come from the feeling of epicness, say, sending all your forces off to war, only to have Stephanos come in and steal half your empire, before finally being defeated by the level 12 Champion you upgraded from your starting warrior. Having Guybrush Threepwood run in and sing a silly song kind of ruins that.

    Pirate Coves: The placement restrictions on Pirate Coves means you have to meticulously plan out your current and future city locations before building anything to maximize your Cove placement. I know some people like that kind of thing, but I find it extremely tedious.

    Overall: The Lanun really are a bit too tied to the coasts. This makes them insanely powerful in Archipelago, and rather bland on Pangaea. The problem is, the AI is deathly afraid of water, and can't really cope with anything but Pangaea.

    What I'd change: I don't think there's any way of separating the Lanun and their need of water; a Pangaea mapscript that introduces significant amounts of coast via peninsulas and lakes would probably be the best way to balance them (that mapscript probably already exists). I'd simplify the restriction on Coves to "a city can only work 2 Coves at a time", assuming that can be implemented. Finally, I'd rename Guybrush and take away his singing. The Merchant trait from RifE might be interesting for the Lanun.


    Ljosalfar

    March of the Trees: It's a decent panic button in the case of an invasion, but I don't like the fact that it completely destroys your economy through a combination of lost food and production from the forests, upkeep costs on the treants, and the time taken to build enough Priests of Leaves to bloom everything back up again afterwards.

    Overall: The main feature of the Ljosalfar is the Elven ancient forest economy, but the Svartalfar also get that. Having slightly stronger archers is nice, but it's not enough to define a civilization.

    What I'd change: I think the Svartalfar and Ljosalfar are far too similar to have both in the game. Losing the Ljosalfar means losing Dexterous, but I think archery units are already good enough at what they do (a single commando city defense archer on a hilled city can take out a dozen axemen without breaking a sweat). March of the Trees is kind of interesting but in its current state not too valuable. Gilden, Flurries, and Fydwells aren't anything particularly unique.


    Luchirup

    Overall: I haven't gotten around to playing the Luchirup yet, so I can't really comment on them.


    Malakim

    Likes deserts: Even though the civ is supposed to be all about deserts, they still can't use deserts for anything productive. Even worse is the fact that they're often thrown into a desert at the start of a game, though to their credit they can at least get out of it quickly.

    Lightbringer: I like the idea of an early disciple unit that can upgrade to any disciple, but 60 hammers for 2 strength is really harsh.

    Overall: I think the Malakim are another civilization that does some interesting things, but not enough of them.

    What I'd change: I'd start by losing the desert-related features and the Citadel of Light (they'll come up again later), and I'd orient them more towards getting a diversity of religions rather than focusing on one state religion (the Lightbringers already kind of encourage this).



    Sheaim

    Pyre Zombies: Given how much Fall from Heaven revolves around giant Stacks of Doom, Pyre Zombies are really annoying. It's impossible to attack a Pyre Zombie stack unless your units have 3 movement (or 2 and Commando), as by the time you kill 10 of them your entire stack is dead from recoil. Similarly, a stack of over 10 PZs can wipe out almost anything.

    Planar Gate: Planar Gates are awesome, I just wish they were worth their immense cost. It also kind of sucks to have to choose between spawning Chaos Marauders and Tar Demons and avoiding Carnivals (not that big of a deal) and Temples of the Veil (rather annoying).

    Abashi the Black Dragon: Just like all the other dragons, he comes too late to be relevant.

    What I'd change: I'd reduce the cost of Gates to 200 hammers. I'd change the spawn chance from 6/9/12/15% (depending on AC) to 4/6/8/10% (depending on AC) + 2% for each of the relevant buildings you have in the city. This balances the risk of getting crappy units with the higher chance of getting units. I'd change Pyre Zombies so they deal collateral damage on death to up to 4 units. I'd give them an archmage hero at Arcane Lore in addition to Abashi.


    Sidar

    Overall: The two things the Sidar specialize in (sorry), specialists and shades, are really interesting, but they're not enough. Playing the Sidar feels really bland most of the time, especially since your strong specialists and shades do most of their work in the background. Ghosts, Divided Souls and Into the Mist are kind of neat but don't really do all that much, given that the AI doesn't often base their decisions on where your units are anyway.

    What I'd do: I'd give the Sidar specialists and shades to the Amurites. They synergize very well with the Amurite builder playstyle, magic focus, and Caves of the Ancestors. This could well result in the Amurite/Sidar hybrid being way too strong late-game at the cost of a terrible early game, but my proposed changes to the Amurites are mostly based on strengthening their early-game. Anyway, it might be interesting to have a civ that can come back from a poor start to actually challenge you late-game. Rathus Denmora could be given to the Balseraphs to replace or supplement Loki.


    Svartalfar

    Strong recon units: I think it's a good idea to have a civ that focuses on the often-neglected recon line, but I wish there was more here than just +1 strength.

    What I'd change: As mentioned before, I'd combine them with the Ljosalfar. I'll discuss the details later.


    New Civilizations

    Some of my proposed changes would result in creating civilizations that, while not having many features not already present in the game, would be fairly distinct from any existing civilizations. I'll describe them below. They could be given some more unique units taken from the civs I advocate removing, it's kind of arbitrary.


    Ljosalfar

    Leaders: Arendel (Good), Thessa (Neutral), Faeryl Viconia (Neutral). Amelanchier's defender/raiders never made much sense to me. Faeryl's made neutral because the Ljosalfar aren't an evil civ.

    Flavor: I'd keep the Ljosalfar flavor, as the Svartalfar don't make much sense without the Ljosalfar for contrast. I think the Svartalfar mechanics are stronger, though, so the new civ would focus mostly on that.

    Elvish Lore: Gives all recon units a free Combat 1 promotion. Gives all captured animal and beast units the March promotion. Removes maintenance costs on animal and beast units.
    Justification: The most interesting thing recon units can do is capture animals. Unfortunately, animals simply aren't very useful in combat. You have to pay maintenance for them while they go back to your territory and heal up, then you have to bring them back to the front lines (they mostly have 1 movement compared to 2 for recon units), then they're fairly weak in combat and can't pillage. Elvish Lore (there's got to be a better name, but I can't think of one) lets you overrun your enemies with a horde of lions, tigers, and gorillas, and that's pretty epic. Combat 1 instead of +1 strength means you can get Subdue Animal that much faster, gives almost +1 strength on Hunters, and gives more on Rangers and Beastmasters.

    Hero: Alazkan the Assassin: He might need to be reflavored a bit, but he's a much cooler hero than Gilden.

    Nyxkin: Same as the Svartalfar one. It's just cooler than Fyrdwells.

    Flurry: Because they're elves, dammit, and they have to have something special in the archery line.

    Worldspell: Veil of Night: It's a unique effect, and it's a lot more interesting than March of the Trees.

    Can build in forests: Because that's really the whole point of the civ.


    Malakim

    Leaders: Varn Gosam (Spiritual, Creative(Adaptive)), Decius (Organized/Raiders).

    Flavor: The Malakim would still be tribal nomads, but they'd lose their desert focus. They'd gain more of a focus on accepting all the religions as being valuable without needing to believe in one to the exclusion of all others.

    Diverse: The Malakim can tolerate many competing world views. Units do not abandon them due to religious or alignment conflicts, nor require specific religions/alignments to be built (they still need the right religion to be present in the city, and of course the temple). Because of their diversity, the Malakim cannot choose a state religion and thus cannot choose the Theocracy civic (the loss of happiness here makes up for the free Incense).

    Malakim Palace: Provides 1 Life Mana, 1 Sun Mana, 1 Incense.

    Lightbringer: As before, but with 3 strength.

    Religious Fervor: For each city you own, gain a priest (or, for Esus, an assassin) of a random religion present in that city. Each of those priests gains 1 EXP for each city in the world with its religion.
    Justification: It's quite a powerful world spell, but that makes up for the Malakim's other weaknesses. I think it's better than the existing world spell because a diversity of priests is better than having lots of the same kind.

    Hero: None. Diverse gives them them the potential to have a ton of heroes already.

    Ascent to Divinity: Ritual, available at Divine Essence costs 1200 hammers. Requires you to control every Holy City. Causes all civs to declare war on you when you start building it. Wins you the game when you finish. This isn't really a necessary feature of the civ, but it would be kind of neat as a replacement for Auric Ascended.

    Overall: This would allow the Malakim to employ a unique multi-religious strategy, while still giving them a fair bit of power if they stick to one religion via Desert Shrines (rename to Tribal Shrine?) and their World Spell.


    Doviello

    This civilization has very little in common with the Doviello mechanically, but the game really needs a "hardly warriors of the frozen northlands" civ, and this fits quite nicely. Also, it's easier to take the art resources of a removed civ than to find new art.

    Leaders: One Industrious/Aggressive, one Organized/Charismatic.

    Conqueror: Same as the Elohim's 'Tolerant'

    Adventurers: Same as the Grigori's.

    World Spell: Ardor.

    Unique Units: All the Doviello unique units, but without Lucian or the War Machine.

    Survivalism: This civilization is able to thrive in even the coldest environments:
    Tundra gives 1 Food, 1 Hammer.
    Snow gives 2 Food (+1 Gold next to river).

    Overall: Basically, it's a civ that can conquer things reasonably well thanks to Adventurers, make use of their conquests well with Tolerant, and expand even more on their own thanks to Survivalism.

    Continued on page 2 because I've hit the character limit.
     
  2. DaveGold

    DaveGold Emperor

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    To be honest, these are very much your personal views on FFH. You need to be careful posting those sort of things on message boards as someone else might reply with a comprehensive criticism of you.

    I'll just say that there could be more subtlety in some of the features than you might appreciate. A feature might look dull or irrelevant but if it makes you rethink your play style, with it or against it, then it is actually a good feature.
     
  3. Senethro

    Senethro Overlord

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    I wouldn't bother mate. The mod has been feature locked for months now and the balance issues are largely tolerable. Regarding the number/variety/balance of civilizations, Kael has often commented as much himself and if he were starting again it would be different.
     
  4. Kael

    Kael Deity

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    I don't think he has to be careful posting criticism. Thats why we have the forums. It's posted polietly and with suggestions on how to improve, so its the best kind of feedback.

    I enjoyed reading it. But as Senethro said FfH is locked. There is no way I will be going back and cutting or merging Civs or other significant mechanics.

    But for what it's worth ProkhorZakharov's analysis is excellent. There are some advantages to being complex, and given the audience we assumed (people who had played Civ4 to death and were looking for "more") the model works well. Replayability was always the focus and of ProkhorZakharov's suggestions were followed it would limit that some. It would also make it a tighter game, which has its own advantages.

    So there are pros on both sides. Unfortunatly the feedback is 2 years to late. It is interesting for me to read as I work on other design docs though. I certainly learned a lot from FfH2, mostly from reading feedback from you folks here on the forum.
     
  5. JonathanStrange

    JonathanStrange PrinceWithA1000Enemies

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    I agree we should be free to comment on the game freely. It's a shame that too often the threat is to attack the messenger rather than address his comments (mind you, I'm not saying that's happened in this case.)

    I WELCOME reading new perspectives as I know how difficult it is for me personally to have a serious idea or flippant comment (meant only for amusement or ironically) and then realize that if I post to the forum, my post is more likely to be evaluated not on its own merits but whether it's "loyal" to the game or be completely misconstrued as my being unable to disassociate fantasy from reality (which generate PMs to me telling me it's "only a game" and "there's no Erebus". Well, duh...) simply because I wrote the comment "in character".

    IMO, if FFH2 were a failure or minor success, we wouldn't have people bothering to make comments about what they like or dislike; they'd just move on.

    I love FFH2 but it's far from perfect. My biggest issue is with the AI but frankly: who has a good, efficient solution to that yet? Only MP really does justice to the game but I can't or rather don't want to play one game for months. I'd rather fire up dozens of FFH2 games at my leisure.

    The OP's comments though are rather late as the K man points out. [But the OP comments were well-written and interesting to consider.]
     
  6. Jarrema

    Jarrema Master Voter

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    i'm waiting for more from You, ProkhorZakharov :)
    Maybe some modder would make a mod based on this suggestions?
    Base FfH is feature-locked, but mods are not
     
  7. tesb

    tesb Emperor

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    i agree in a sense that i would rather see 5 really unique civilizations then 20 bland ones.
    I disagree however on the solutions, i rather see the bland civilizations more flashed out then removed (which is one project i am working on in wildmana).
     
  8. dyx

    dyx Chieftain

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    I don't like all these merging and cutting suggestions. Especially in a mod which is not suspect do budget restrictions and such.
    I think a game/mod like FFH defines itself a lot throught the background story. Cutting a load of Civs because they are not fleshed out enough would totally be the wrong direction. And it's Civilization after all, 5 unique Civs would be just boring. I'm glad this post comes 2 years too late, because I can't imagine FFH without all these Civs. ;)
    And I think these suggestions don't fit with a single player game. They mostly revolve about making the game more tight and "calculatable", if that's actually a word. I don't think that should be the focus of a single player game. It's not Starcraft, after all.
    But that's just me, I'm sure there a lot of people who think otherwise.

    The criticism itself is mostly right and especially the fact that a lot of civs are quite bland made me try FF and RifE later on, which actually ended up adding too many features for my liking.
    Fleshed out civs and some game concepts, minor leaders for more variety and I'd be happy. I think it's a shame that base FFH is in such rigurous feature lock for so long, because it keeps the blandness of those civs.
    I really like the concept of the Hippus, but apart from early Horsemen aggression they offer nothing. Being a mounted civ, they don't really have more mounted units than other civs and only minor bonusses. I always thought that just changing most units to mounted and reduce their ability to defend cities they would be way more distinctive and that wouldn't require a lot of work.
     
  9. Valkrionn

    Valkrionn The Hamster King

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    Criticism is always good IMO, so long as it is civil (which yours is). For one thing, even if FfH is in feature-lock it may give modmodders ideas. ;)

    I disagree. It has too many bland civilizations, but modmods have been built specifically to fix that. For example, RifE began as just Malakim+. And then Doviello+. And the Elohim were already fixed by FF at the time. So that's all three of your example civs right there. :lol:

    It is my firm belief that civs should be built up, rather than removed or merged. There is always the ability to add new features; The only civ I've cut from RifE is the Kahdi, as their entire feature revolved around stealing from the Sheaim and giving it to the Amurites. That's it.

    Arcane Lacuna - I disagree. The effects of a well-designed worldspell should never be fun for the OTHER players; That is the whole point of a worldspell. Honestly, I'd rather be unable to cast than lose most of my buildings and units (World Break).

    Govannon - I can agree with this. That is why Iceciro allowed Amurite units a chance to be created with a random spellsphere (out of those you own). That change has since been merged into both FF and RifE, possibly WM though I'm not sure.

    Firebow - Changed in RifE, has a separate spell so it does not have channeling.

    Other - Basically, try out RifE or FF. There has been a lot done to the Amurites to make them more cohesively magic-oriented; New melee units on the arcane line, special Adept UU that can upgrade to other unitcombats while maintaining channeling (and able to gain Channeling 2 later on!), units starting with spells, etc.

    Going to keep them short here: Basically, while you may not like the micromanagement, others do. There is no need to design all civs to be liked by all people; In fact, I think that would be BAD design.

    The changes you mention don't originate in Wild Mana, for the most part. The Flagbearers are Iceciro's; The first mod to move Crusade to a new category was RifE.

    In RifE, we also have the Chain of Command promotions, from FF, building on the Commander System that Xienwolf designed. They are also one of two civilizations to have access to the Overflow Production mechanic, so if you have the hammers you can train multiple units a turn. Fits a regimented, military-based society.

    I can agree with the vampires, at least summoning spectres. On the rest, I honestly don't think it's that bad.

    For this one, you probably wouldn't like RifE's changes then. :lol: Goblins are gone from the Clan. Granted, that was to make room for an upcoming Goblin civilization, but that's not in yet.

    For the Horde has been changed; The units it converts are free, but have a chance to go barb again. Additionally (in the next version), they are ported to the unit that cast it, allowing you to assemble an army, and either use it or allow them to go barb and terrorize the area without repercussion.

    We've also removed the Warrens, and given them the Agoge... Increases military production significantly. The main reason for this is they are the second of the two civs to get Overflow Production; Now instead of it always being 2 units, they need the production for it, but can pump out as many as they are able. I've had 5 warriors be produced in a turn, from one city; Quite a strong mechanic, if you build it up. The Agoge assists with that.

    Try RifE. Massive additions for the Doviello, making them much more flavorful; Their cities are able to spawn select animals (chance based on population; Larger cities reduce the chance. FoL increases the odds, as does a unique Membership civic). Their units are able to duel (based on actual combat odds; This one is in WM too, but was designed by myself and in RifE you are able to select both duelers). When successful in combat, their units are able to scavenge metal weapons, and become upkeep free for a few turns. The list goes on. :lol:

    The Elohim were reworked in FF. First off, Tolerant was renamed Conqueror and given to Decius. Second, visiting Unique Features is able to give the Elohim various bonuses, ranging from traits, to a golden age, to happiness in all cities, to a second casting of the world spell.

    And I don't think their worldspell is bad; It's about right, honestly.

    Again, RifE. :p

    We'll be introducing a feature that lessens the impact of Agnosticism; Not able to discuss that atm though, not in yet.

    What I CAN discuss is the adventurers. I had the same issues you did; So I split the mechanic off on it's own. Rather than piggy back onto the GP system, there is an Adventurer Counter, increased by various buildings (and one specialist). This counter is global, so you can only spawn them in the capital; However, it is easier to use, extremely visible, allows you to use specialists as you wish, and is balanced to give more adventurers than in FfH but not extremely so.

    I agree they are bland. However, I think that is intentional. Need to have an easy to understand civ in the game, for new players.

    I disagree completely, but to each their own. Personally, I see the Illians as extremely unique and worth keeping.

    As for the Agnosticism... They are not properly agnostic. At worst, cultists. At best, following the White Hand religion... Which exists in RifE. Auric is limited to that religion, however they have a new leader open to all religions: She is simply unable to ascend. Worthwhile tradeoff, IMO.

    I'll give you that, but I like the unpredictability. :lol:

    I think the Khazad are quite well done, personally. They have a strong mechanic, are interesting to play, and do what they do very well. I wouldn't merge them.

    I agree about them being well designed. I'm planning to change the settlement system a bit, but aside from that they are good. ;)
     
  10. WCH

    WCH Prince

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    Just a point that came to me... not all civs in a game need to be intended to be played. The Doviello, for instance, can make a worthwhile NPC civ, fleshing out the map more, even if they aren't completely balanced.

    In fact, having a few of the AIs in any given game play underpowered civs makes the political geography more interesting, because it allows the more powerful civs to take them over and thus become even more scary. Not everything needs to be perfectly balanced for it to be a good game... there just has to be enough variety of things that aren't frustrating for the player that the player will never feel his options are unnecessarily limited.
     
  11. Tielby

    Tielby Prince

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    I think this point has already been made but...

    ProkhorZakharov, may I humbly suggest you join a team or gather a group of like-minded individuals who are skilled in mod-modding, and make exactly the changes you are proposing? After doing so, you may find that your opinion changes, or you may find yourself eventually creating the NEXT enormously successful mod (for Civ 5, I imagine).

    IMHO, I can agree with many of your specific complaints, but I think your general solution would weaken the immersive story/backstory that so many FfH fans love.
     
  12. Freesmog

    Freesmog Skeptic1938222569

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    Great post btw ;)

    I'm a little confused why the FFH mod is locked, as that's what I thought patches were for. I've tried the modmods, except RiFe but some of them are a bit to extreme for me or cause too many bugs that crash the game. Anyways, I think it is especially pertinent to post constructive criticism to a game anytime, especially when a new version is beginning to develop.

    I don't agree about merging or eliminating civilizations, as they all seem interesting & the more the merrier. They can all be improved or balanced/changed.

    My thoughts on each Civ (keep in mind I"m only a beginner-expert):

    Amurites - I agree they need a buff of some kind. They are never a significant factor in my games. Perhaps more Mana types, or Govannon earlier, but something.

    Balseraphs - I think they are pretty balanced. The Mimics Steal Promotion ability is quite nice, plus all the culture boosts (freak show, slave cages), access to all units, etc. Loki does seem a bit underpowered, but I don't ever use him against population 1 settlements. Puppets are kind of a pain since they require a summons all too often after movement. The Harlequin Taunt ability seems kind of pointless, at least in my games they are always a nonfactor.

    Bannor - Never played them, but have never been a significant factor in any game.

    Calabim - Seem well balanced. Never played them, but usually pretty good AI.

    Clan of Embers - Never played them either, but seems pointless for their world spell to have most units let go because of maintenance. I like having them around in my games, as they are quite effective at conquering cities.

    Doviello - Always pretty weak. Their world spell doesn't seem that effective, and lately the wolf packs stack doesn't move around for some reason.

    Elohim - Not much comment here, but usually a nonfactor in my games. Their world spell is fine IMO.

    Grigori - I agree they deserve a buff as agnosticism IS a limitation. The adventurer instead of great persons is not a fair tradeoff.

    Hippus - I agree there has to be a better mechanic to encourage a more effective Mercenary culture.

    Illians - I don't like them in my games. Their world spell Stasis is extremely annoying, and I can't justify playing them or against em. Stopping anything else other than Production is more acceptable to me.

    Infernal/Mercurians - Just fine, though I disagree if either Hyborem or Basium dies should NOT take away their leader traits. Plus, I think Hyborem should declare war on all Order civs as Basium does on Ashen Veil.

    Khazad/Luchuirp - The dwarves are pretty good. I think the Khazad world spell ought to be changed somehow, maybe a +1 production bonues to mines in addition. They're shouldn't be as much emphasis on Barnaxis lending a strength bonues to all golems, as the AI lets him die too easily.

    Kuriotates - Pretty much a nonfactor in my games, I refuse to include them. I haven't figured out even as a player why my extra cities are as pathetic as normal cities, which seems to explain why they might suck.

    Sheaim - The latest patches have really made them effective with their SoD pyre zombies.

    Lanun - Since I stay away from Sea maps (as I've read FFH doesn't work too well on), I never include them in my games.

    Malakim - OK. I think too much emphasis on desert terrain or some ability to create such terrain like Illians (maybe they already have a way?), as I play on Fantasy map which is a complete mix of terrain.

    Sidar - Much better in the latest patches, except they don't like to trade much (including open borders & world map).

    Ljosalfar/Svartalfar - I haven't had the Svartalfars in my game in recent patches cause they never amounted to much, but the Ljosalfar I like. The Ljosalfar have fast growing cities (showing the AI effective at least to that extent), but the Clan of Embers always seem to kick their arse. Perhaps they need more offensive capability to account for lack of siege weapons?

    Other general comments about FFH:

    I think some civs should have more unique units (like Bannor, Malakim, Hippus, etc.) while others should be more balanced early on instead of later when it's too late (like Clan of Embers War Machine or Amurites Govannon).

    My main concern is better AI, which has definitely improved!
     
  13. ProkhorZakharov

    ProkhorZakharov Chieftain

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    I do appreciate all the discussion my post has been getting, after all, that was its primary purpose.

    As to the feature lock, I think my proposed changes are much more appropriate for a mod-mod than for the base version of FFH. They'd have a huge impact on the lore, which I personally don't especially care about, but which is undoubtedly an important part of the game to many people that shouldn't just be discarded. I might try making it myself if I can find time; I think most of what I want can be done through XML. Fixing the AI to cope with the changes and editing the lore to be consistent would be the two things I'd have trouble with.

    As for removing civs, I knew that'd be the most controversial part of my analysis, and it's something that's very subjective. I quite like Warcraft III's race system. There's only four races, but they're all very distinct. Instead of having a "base race" and then making Orcs, Trolls, Minotaurs and Goblins all be some variant on the "base race", they decided to make one race which included Orcs, Trolls, Minotaurs and Goblins and was completely distinct. I don't think FFH should go quite that far, as it's a far more complex game than Warcraft (and it can afford to be, being turn-based and lasting days rather than real-time and lasting under an hour).

    Complexity has more disadvantages than are immediately apparent. More complexity makes the game much more difficult to balance. More features make it much more likely that some of those features will be incomplete or buggy. For example, in my version of Wild Mana (which may be out of date, but I don't think it is), there are a bunch of missing pages in the Civilopedia (or pages which just contain TXT_KEY_WHATEVER in their description), and the Noble Houses system is full of rather sketchy grammar (No Thanks... we prefere the Support of another Noble House). When you introduce new features as soon as they seem interesting, you lose the time required to refine and balance them all. The single biggest problem with complexity, though, is getting the AI to handle it. A simple game is much easier to program AI for, and spending less time adding new features gives you more time to work on the AI.

    What I'd like to see is one modmod which is simpler, has fewer civilizations, and has an AI which can competently deal with the game. If people feel like they've experienced everything in this mod, they can find mods such as Wild Mana, RifE, and Orbis that add in new things to experience.

    I think there's a very important distinction between being disadvantaged and not having fun. Having another player attack me when I'm not expecting it is fun, it forces me to adapt and re-evaluate my strategy. Seeing River of Blood cast hurts me, but I can still continue playing. Stasis and Sanctuary don't really do that. They're never unexpected (unless it's your first time playing against those civs, I suppose), and all they usually do is make you sit there for 20 turns before you can continue with what you were doing before. Arcane Lacuna isn't as bad, but it's still the same kind of thing.

    That's a really interesting idea I hadn't even considered, but I don't think it's the right way to achieve that goal. If you made AIs have different priorities, so that some AIs decide they want to axeman-rush their neighbors, some AIs decide to play a very defensive builder game, and other AIs decide to expand quickly without focusing too much on defense, you'd achieve the goal in a more balanced and interesting mana. If an aggressive AI decided to attack a weakly-defended AI they'd become powerful, but if the weakly-defended AI doesn't get attacked they'd become powerful through their strong economy.
     
  14. Kalina

    Kalina Just lurking...

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    Sanctuary is a little different thing. Yes, it makes you sit for 20 turns but only if you're one at war with Elohim. I think it's ok to be hurted by World Spell when you're reason why this spell was used.
    Stasis and Arcane Lacuna, on the other hand, hurts everyone. It doesn't matter if you're Illians best friend or worst enemy or even didn't meet them because you're on the other end of the continent, you still have to click those 20 turns. Both spells would be better if they only affected ones at war with caster, maybe with some bonus to balance their lowered power.
     
  15. Nikis-Knight

    Nikis-Knight Deity

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    Haven't had a chance to read everything here, but since I'm having a great game as the Balseraphs, some things caught my eye:
    I've noticed lately that when the Balseraphs are in the game (and I usually play Pangea) they dominate and have a nice ring of cities with other civ's names, without wars being declared. Ai now knows how to use Loki to steal cities, but not how to react. It creates an interesting dynamic, though not one I'm happy to see repeat every time.
    Mimics are an investment, but they pay off really quick. They need a penalty, since they can easily become high strength warrior mage priests with cool capes. It's fun, but they the penalty is well justified when you keep in mind things like sinister, dexterous, etc.
    You make me sad ;)

    I'd hate to see what you'd do to make vanilla civ. ;)
     
  16. DaveGold

    DaveGold Emperor

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    I apologise if my previous post was out of character for these boards. I've seen posters flamed on unrelated messageboards and it's good to see the more positive response here. I'll expand a bit though on one of my points, that some of the abilties look more interesting when used imaginatively or in combination.

    The Amurite world spell becomes interesting if you're planning to conquer your Amurite neighbour with archmages or ritualists, so it makes you change your play style and and think a bit more. Govannon and firebows become better if you use them together with the full range of tier II spells. My one complaint against Govannon, and the magic system in general, is micromanagement.

    Loki is annoying but I see that as part of the game, a part that some people like a lot. Whether playing with him or against him you have to change your play style and make decisions about his non-military threat. I like the freaks and don't see them as replacement warriors but as potential swordsmen, horsemen, or archers. I think Keelyn is fun and would hate to see her go. She offers you ways to use your magic creatively and not just at 1 hex further range. The Balseraphs already are the culture civilisation.

    I also like the Elohim a lot, and I don't play them particularly defensively. I find that hiding behind the world spell usually doesn't work however using it for counter-attacks does work. This is where you have to think creatively, either with or against the world spell. If you can make good use of the Prophecy of Ragnarok, Altar of Luonnatar, or Mercurian Gate then a number of the dull Elohim abilities come to the fore and suddenly seem very interesting. I see tolerant as the icing on the cake as far as the Elohim are concerned.

    I see the Khazad siege units as the replacements for mages. I think it's good that it limits their options and stops you playing them like every other nation. My problem with the Khazad is that they really need the same style of play in every game and they are pretty much tied to RoK. The Luichirp offer quite different play to the Khazad and can be played with more variety too. I wouldn't like to see them merged.

    I find the Bannor fun to play but as with the Khazad there's not that much variation between games.

    I like the Grigori as you have to compete with religious nations without any religious solutions. You need to come up with a new style of play. This is also true of the Illians with the three priests, peculiar rituals, and whiting out the map. I don't think that Samhain or the Deepening offer enough to the Illians however. There's probably also too much power (generally, for everyone) in the mid-game which allows games to be won before the endgame, making dragons and Auric superfluous.

    I find the Doviello to be very underpowered. The simple lack of a starting technology hurts very badly and they just don't get enough strengths/features in the mid or late game. They also have a problem of poor tundra starts on Erebus style maps when they only get peripheral advantages on tundra. As much as I'd like to keep all the nations I'd have to say that the Doviello could be removed without any great loss. I always find myself taking the strategies and units from a religion instead of doing anything uniquely Doviello which suggests to me that there's definitely something missing from the Doviello.
     
  17. Kael

    Kael Deity

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    It is feature locked. All thats being done right now is fixing issues, it is in maintenance mode, complete but still being supported by the developers as all games should be.

    There are a few reasons we can't design forever:

    1. I want to make more than one game in my life and most of my time is consumed working on another game. FfH2 development has to end so new projects can start.

    2. All game development ends. It either ends when the developer gets bored and walks away, leaving the game unfinished. Or when the list of features the developers intended are all implemented and they are happy with the result. We went with the second option. It doesn't mean the game is perfect, but I am very happy and proud of FfH2, and it is a complete design.

    3. Major changes cause issues. We are trying to make the game stable, making significant changes to design makes the game less stable. Part of the reason we say its done is so that people will know that they can expect it to run without errors.

    4. You can't AI code and make significant changes. AI is coded to the exact design. That is why we had to wait to the end to do AI work. If we spends hours/days teaching the AI the right thing to do in a given situation and then change the situation not only have we wasted our time, but we've made the AI worse than it was before our work. You need a stable base to do AI work.
     
  18. Freesmog

    Freesmog Skeptic1938222569

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    Thank you for the reply!

    No confusion here at all, and I'm happy to know this is the case :)

    I am in complete agreement with you, and kudos for creating an exciting Fantasy game (er mod).

    Sadly I don't know enough about coding to know what the limitations are for design changes without messing up the AI. It seems minor changes would be doable without too much AI recoding, but I really have no idea. I'll take your opinion on the matter, and most importantly it's your new game that matters, while knowing the patches are for fixing bugs & improving AI. Again, thank you for the lengthy clarification about "feature lock" and what is happening with FFH.
     
  19. ProkhorZakharov

    ProkhorZakharov Chieftain

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    The thing is, you can play any nation without religion, or without mages, while not suffering a major loss in power. If you're the kind of person who always depends on religion, or on mages, you're just not going to pick the civ that forbids them. I can definitely see the appeal of restricting features in a primarily multiplayer game, where it allows you to balance otherwise overpowered factions, but I don't think these restrictions are necessary to balance either civilization in this game.
     
  20. Valkrionn

    Valkrionn The Hamster King

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    Your argument seems to consist entirely of "If I want religion/magic, I'm not going to play the civ that can't use it."

    That is an invalid argument... Seeing as that is pretty much the intention. As I said earlier on in the thread, there is no need for every player to like all civilizations. Again, that would actually be bad design, because the moment everyone likes every civ they are once again bland and similar.

    If your argument was that they did not receive enough benefit to make up for losing those mechanics (valid in the vanilla Grigori, I feel, but not Khazad), then that is a valid argument. But that hasn't been what you've said, for the most part.

    Honestly, in both cases it enhances the civilization's flavor, at least IMO. And I'm one of the players for whom a civ's flavor is very important (mechanics are moreso, but still). I like both of them. ;)
     

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