Age of Empires


Mad Scientist
Sep 21, 2005
Los Angeles, CA
Age of Empires
formerly known as the Crazy Spatz Balance Mod, more or less.

NOTE: Unlike the other Content mods, most of the features in the Empires mod's design require the full DLL SDK, or will involve new systems added in the expansion. In the interim, it acts as a general balance mod that is compatible with the Ascension and Mythology mods, and is still highly recommended for players of those other mods. Therefore, unlike the other two threads, the information posts for this mod will include both what has been implemented currently as well as what is intended in the long term. Some of the listed features might turn out to be possible without the DLL, in which case I'll include them as quickly as possible, but this mod will remain the least improved section of the Ages of Man set for the forseeable future.

The middle Content mod (and last to be completed), this mod is somewhat inspired by the series of Real-Time Strategy games of the same name, but is based less on its namesake/primary inspiration than the other two content mods. The Empire mod focuses on general balance and depth of the gameplay experience in all eras, although its primary impact will be felt in the Renaissance, Industrial, and Nuclear Eras. Most of the previous Balance mod will be placed here, including all of the base Happiness and growth changes. Additionally, any parts of the old Content mod that take place before the Space Race are placed in the Empire mod as well; this includes the six National Wonders added in the pre-spaceflight eras (Magna Carta, KGB, Wall Street, Red Cross, Three Gorges Dam, and Hollywood) as well as many of the technology-based yield changes, Policy adjustments, and so on.

Basically, if it's not explicitly fantasy/mythology or science fiction content, it'll be in this mod. Suggestions are welcome, but realize that it'll be quite a while before anything beyond the existing content is in here due to the DLL slowdown.

The Empire mod, unlike the other Content mods, is not built around a specific theme. It is designed to change and enhance a wide variety of aspects of the current game, deepening the Civ5 experience during the eras that are already the most significant parts of the core game. As a result, instead of grouping the content into separate Technologies, Buildings, Units, etc. posts, each post will discuss a different aspect of the game modified by the Empire mod. These can generally be grouped into a small number of specific goals:
1> Balance. Make the game more balanced by altering the statistics of certain Buildings and Policies, and in general aiming to prolong the game's competitive phase (i.e., before the point where you realize that it's all over but the mopping up). This also hinges on making cities more specialized, with more clearly-defined Wonder, Military, Science, Gold-producing, etc. cities. This will also include changing many of the existing assets, especially Units, to be less generic and more interesting.
2> Espionage. Adding both a unit-based Spy system as well as a building-based system will allow for weaker empires to keep better pace with the tech leaders, and reduce the impact of being the clear tech leader.
3> Diplomacy. Deepen the complexity of the existing diplomacy system, to encourage more realistic behaviors. This means having weak empires ally themselves with stronger "superpowers" for protection, forming voting blocs that become more defined as the game progresses. This will also include a unit-based diplomacy system with Diplomat units capable of altering relations between major empires. Additionally, I intend to add more ways for empires to affect each other negatively without going to war, such as Pirate or Privateer units.
4> Events. This would include both instantaneous as well as persistent effects. Instantaeous events would be simple one-shot events, such as a marriage between nobles that improves relations between two empires, while Persistent events could include a "Dark Age" where scientific output is decreased for all empires, or a global change in weather patterns that makes all farms more efficient for several turns.
5> AI improvements. Any general AI changes not related to one of the above topics would go into this category, but these would clearly require the DLL.

The Age of Empires mod, like the other two Content mods, requires the Base mod to function. Additionally, the Empire mod serves as the "Balance" mod for this set of mods, and so is intended to be used if either of the other two Content mods are used; however, this is not absolutely necessary, and users should be able to use other modders' balance mods in its place. Because of the many balance changes, it is not recommended to use this mod at the same time as any other balance mods.
Of the goals, this one is by far the closest to completion. All of the things in this post are already in the mod.

The balance aspects of this mod focus on a wide variety of areas, but in general they're designed around a single theme: encouraging the player to develop in the same manner the AI already does.

The most obvious change is in how Happiness is handled. In the core game, Unhappiness for cities is 3, plus 1 per population (5 and 1.333 for conquered cities). This mod increases that to 4 plus 1.2 per population (6 and 1.6 for conquered cities). This increase is offset through a series of growth-promoting buildings and the addition of small amounts of Happiness to a variety of other buildings.

Base city growth is slowed significantly, but instead of two buildings providing large amounts of food storage when cities grow, the effect is spread over a half-dozen buildings to encourage a more uniform growth rate. The practical effect on growth should be a slight slowdown in city growth rates, comparable to the slowdown in research rates mentioned below, but the progression should be much smoother than before.

Research is slowed substantially compared to the core game; the cumulative effects of the changes to buildings result in a research rate roughly half that of the core game in later eras. The effects on the early research buildings (Library and University) are relatively minor, comparable to the general decrease in city growth rates, but the effects of the Public School and Research Lab were basically halved to eliminate the late-game explosion of research output.
Additionally, I've also drastically increased the gold costs of Research Agreements. These effectively cost about twice as much as in the vanilla game; now, you'll have to gain more techs the old-fashioned way. (Or use various espionage buildings to steal them.)

Maintenance costs for later buildings were increased significantly, while the effects of gold-producing buildings were generally decreased. This results in far less profit in the late game, especially once you reach the Nuclear Era. One of the counterbalances for this is that certain buildings (Research Lab, Stadium, Broadcast Tower) now add +10% to Gold output but have maintenance costs of 5 gpt; except in the largest cities, this gold production will only effectively offset a fraction of the building's costs. For instance, if you generate 40gpt of BASE gold output, i.e. before the multipliers from Markets, Banks, etc. come into play, then a Stadium is effectively +2 Happiness and +2 culture for a cost of only 1gpt. These buildings, therefore, are very cost-effective for larger cities but are untenable for small ones.

In general, any building or unit unlocking in the Industrial or Nuclear Eras was modified, as the core game had a steep increase in power for the "final" tier of items to promote a quicker endgame. I've attempted to remove that effect, or at least mitigate it somewhat, as the game is no longer intended to end in these eras. The practical effect will be a burst of productivity, happiness (and therefore golden ages), and research in the early Nuclear, just as you're beginning the space race, but this'll begin to stall out in the late Nuclear until you begin unlocking key Digital Era technologies.

The specific changes:
Palace: +2 Culture instead of +1, and gives every unit the Home Field Advantage promotion (+10% when fighting in friendly territory, doubled when attacking)
Magna Carta (NEW): National Wonder, at Civil Service; adds +1 Food per unemployed Citizen, and gives every unit the Defensive Advantage promotion (+10% on defense, doubled against ranged attacks)

Hollywood (NEW): +25% Culture, all Artists generate +1 Gold, and creates three units of Hit Movies, a tradeable luxury worth +2 Happiness.
Three Gorges Dam (NEW): +25% Production, all Engineers generate +1 Research, and units trained in this city get the Teamwork promotion (+20% when adjacent to an ally)
Wall Street (NEW): +25% Gold, all Merchants generate +1 Production, and gain one unit of every strategic resource except Neutronium. Note that you still have to unlock these resources by researching their techs, if you want to use them, although they can be traded before that point.
Red Cross (NEW): +25% Research, all Scientists generate +1 Food, and units trained in this city get the Medic promotion.
The above four National Wonders are mutually exclusive; no city can have more than one. The Specialist effects are empire-wide, but the yield-boosting multipliers only apply to the city they are built in. As each of these requires buildings from two separate chains, such as the Armory and Factory for the Three Gorges Dam, this has the practical effect of specializing four of your largest cities into distinct roles.

Temple: +1 Happiness, +1 Culture (was just 3 culture), and is no longer part of the Culture chain Monuments now unlock Opera Houses directly, which will have a significant effect for late-era starts if you take the Tradition policy branch. Temples are now immediately available once you have the technology required for them.
The Mud Pyramid Mosque was changed similarly, to +1 Happiness and +3 Culture instead of its previous +5 Culture. The Burial Tomb (2 Happiness, 2 Culture), however, remains unchanged.

Library: +1 Research per three population (instead of per 2), and +1 Culture. This includes the Paper Maker.
University: +30% Research (increasing to 40% with a certain Rationalism Policy, was +33% => +50%) and +1 Culture. This change includes the Wat.
Public School: +30% Research and +3 Research (was +1 per population). Note that this increases to +40% with the same Policy that boosts Universities.
Research Lab: +40% Research (was +100%), and +10% Gold, but costs 5 gpt in maintenance.

Colosseum: +3 Happiness (was only +2)
Theater: +3 Happiness, +1 Culture, +1 Culture per Dyes or Silk, for 4 gpt (was +5 happy for 3)
Stadium: +2 Happiness, +2 Culture, +10% Gold for 5 gpt (was +5 happy for 3)

Granary: +10% Food Storage, +1 Food.
Aqueduct: +10% Food Storage, +1 Happiness. Completely replaces its old effect.
Hospital: +20% Food Storage, all units in this city heal +2 per turn.
Sewer System (NEW): +10% Food Storage, +2 Food, +1 Happiness
Medical Lab: +10% Food Storage, +2 Food, +10% Research
Recycling Center (NEW): +10% Food Storage, +2 Production, +2 Gold, +1 Happiness
While these are not evenly distributed throughout the tech tree, the practical effect is still a relatively smooth progression of food storage, to counteract the increased exponent used in the city growth equation.

Water Mill: +10% Food (was +2 Food) and +1 Production. The UB variant of this was unchanged, as it was +2 Food and +15% Food.
Courthouse: Costs 8 gpt instead of 5. Necessary because of the change in Unhappiness generation.
Garden: +1 Happiness, +25% Great People points (was 0 happiness)
Monastery: +1 Happiness, +2 Culture per Wine/Incense (was no happiness and +2 culture base)
Mint: +1 Happiness, +2 Gold per Gold, Silver, or Neutronium (was no happy and +3 per)

Market: +20% Gold, +1 Gold per Cow, Fish, Sugar, or Spices (instead of +25% and a flat +2)
Bank: +20% Gold, +1 Gold per Gold, Silver, or Gems (was just +25%)
Stock Exchange: +20% Gold, and produces one unit of Iron and one of Horses (was +33% and no resources)
Normally you'd have little need for Iron or Horses by the time you reached the Stock Exchange, with only Cavalry still using Horses. However, one of the changes to this mod was to have the Tank and the Battleship require both Oil and Iron, so the Iron resource will continue to be valuable until those units are replaced in the Nuclear and Fusion Eras, respectively.

Opera House: +2 Culture, +1 Culture per Cotton or Furs, +10% Great People for 4 gpt (was +5 culture for 3)
Museum: +4 Culture, +1 Research, and +1 Research per Gems or Ivory for 5 gpt (was +5 culture for 3).
Broadcast Tower: +50% Culture (was +100%), +10% Gold, for 5 gpt.

Arsenal: +5 XP for land units, 1gpt maintenance (in addition to the Defense benefit)
Military Base: -20% nuke damage, +5 XP for land units, 2 gpt maintenance (in addition to the Defense benefit)
Barracks: +15 XP for land units, +5 XP for sea units, +5 XP for air units
Armory: +10% unit production, +5 XP to all units
Military Academy: +10 XP for Air units, all units start with the Elite promotion (+1 visibility, cheaper upgrade costs, +25% XP gains)
Harbor: +10 XP for Sea units, +1 Gold per sea resource (instead of production), connects trade routes
Seaport: +10 XP for Sea units, +15% Production for naval units, +1 Production per sea resource

This list will get much longer as I develop the mod. The intention is to have units be far more ability-laden, like in some earlier Civ games, with clear attack/defense roles. Additionally, I'll be adding several new unit lines to the game to fill roles like "Skirmisher", "Militia", and so on, although these will truncate down into the existing units by the end of the Industrial, similar to how many specialized units funnel into hybrid units within the Ascension mod.
Pikeman: Upgrades to the Musketman instead of the Rifleman. While this shortens the window in which Pikemen are useful, this brings Musketmen into the normal upgrade chain, a significant advantage for civilizations with UU variants of it. Once I add Skirmisher or Militia units, I might undo this change as those units can upgrade to Musketmen instead.
Lancer and Knight: require both Iron and Horses. Includes all UU variants.
Rifleman: Strength reduced from 25 to 24.
Ironclad: Added the "Damage Reduction" promotion, reducing all damage taken by 1.
Infantry: Strength reduced from 36 to 32. This includes the Foreign Legion.
Battleship: Added the "Damage Reduction" promotion, reducing all damage taken by 1. Requires both Oil and Iron.
Tank: Requires both Oil and Iron. This includes the Panzer.
Mechanized Infantry: Strength reduced from 50 to 42.
Modern Armor: Strength reduced from 80 to 70.

Many Policies were adjusted for balance reasons, or in a couple cases because I really didn't think a particular effect was appropriate for the theme of that branch. These changes are not nearly as extensive as those in mods such as the VEM, and I have no intention of a major overhaul to policies beyond what is listed here.
These are organized by Branch:

Republic: +1 Production in each city, and all trade routes produce 10% more Gold. (i.e., replaces the +5% Building production boost with a gold boost)

Professional Army: same as before, except that only Castles and Military Bases add Happiness; Walls and Arsenals do not.

Piety(opener): In addition to the culture cost reduction, unlocking Piety adds 2 Happiness. Note that the Temple is no longer a cultural building, and so isn't affected any more.
Theocracy: +1 Happiness per Colosseum or Stadium, and adds a free Great Artist.

Commerce(opener): In addition to the Capital gold boost, taking Commerce reduces the production cost of all financial buildings (Markets, Banks, and Stock Exchanges) by 25%.
Naval Tradition: In addition to the boost to naval units, Naval Tradition also reduces the production cost of Harbors and Seaports by 50%.
Merchant Navy: +2 Production in all cities, and trade routes generate 10% more Gold.

Secularism: Only gives +1 Science per specialist, instead of +2.
Free Thought: +1 Science from every Trading Post and both Universities and Public Schools add +10% to a city's science output.

Free Speech: Adds +1 Culture per University, Theater, or Observatory, in addition to the previous effect where 8 units are maintenance-free.

Planned Economy: Now gives +1% to Gold production for every building that either adds Production (everything from the Water Mill and Windmill on up to Nuclear Plants) or adds Food Storage (which, as noted above, now includes a much larger number of buildings). In practice, by the time you get this Policy it'll be like adding 10% to the gold output of every city, and the amount will only increase over time.

One of the significant changes of this mod is the timing of tech-based yield changes for various Improvements. Most improvements boost their outputs twice during the course of a game; for the "common" Improvements (Farm, Trading Post, Mine) there are two half-time improvements, where yield near freshwater sources increases at one tech and non-freshwater tiles at a different one (or vice versa). For resource-specific Improvements, each increase adds +1, although the two increases for an Improvement never add to the same yield.
Rifling: Fort: +1 gold
Chemistry: The +1 production boost to Mines only applies to Mines NOT near fresh water.
Flight: Customs House: +2 gold
Plastics: Manufactory: +2 production
Electronics: Citadel: +2 science
Mass Media: Landmark: +2 gold
Atomic Theory: Academy: +2 research
Lasers: (I) Well: +1 gold
Nuclear Fusion: Mine: +1 production if fresh water
Globalization: City Ruins: +1 production
Stealth: Offshore Platform: +1 production.

And non-yield changes:
Penicillin: Combat Engineers can Plant Jungles
Ecology: Combat Engineers can Plant Forests
Stealth: Gives all naval units better visibility across land.
Advanced Ballistics: Embarked units get +1 movement.

For now, this consists of a single National Wonder:

KGB (NEW): Each turn you have up to a 3% chance to learn a tech, depending on how many other civilizations already know it (3% is if everyone other than you has it, including City-States), and you gain a free tech when this is built.
This building would keep you ~10-15 techs behind the leader even if you research nothing for yourself. It's designed to allow the remaining fragment of a mostly conquered empire to still field forces that can put up a fight.

Eventually, this National Wonder (and its offspring in the other mods) will be partially replaced with a unit-based espionage system similar to that in earlier Civ games, but doing so will require some significant changes to AI behavior, meaning we need the DLL. The goal is to make a system that allows weaker civs to still gain enough technologies to stay competitive; not enough to make research obsolete, but enough to prevent the tank-on-spearmen fights seen in earlier games.

Nothing is implemented in this category yet, but the primary idea will be to enhance second-order relations. That is, AIs will care more about the friends of your friends. This'll make it harder to remain friends with both combatants in a long war, because each side will become more insistent that you break off relations with their enemies or even join them in the war directly. Even in the absence of a war, the AIs would become more and more unhappy if you maintain good relationships with their rivals, with the most powerful nations automatically becoming less and less friendly due to their goals of supremacy.
This sort of behavior would eventually result in discrete, well-defined voting blocs, generally centered around the most powerful "superpower" empires. But, these relationships would cut both ways, with world-spanning wars often triggered by conflicts between the small, aggressive members of each faction. It'd be possible, but not easy, for an empire to shift from one group to another; Events can make this a more accessible option, but only the weaker empires would have this as an option.

An obvious consequence of this would be World Wars; the intent is that after a certain point, defense treaties should be the norm, whereas in vanilla Civ5 they're nearly worthless to enter into. So, there need to be several types of high-level treaty, analogous to Research Agreements (or even including RAs), that can only be entered into once a Defensive Pact is in place; anyone who refused to commit themselves to defense of their allies, then, would be placed at a substantial disadvantage by not having access to these lucrative treaties. You would have Free Trade Agreements, providing trade income from foreign nations, as well as similar agreements boosting production and food, to where an empire maintaining a network of mutual defense allies/trading partners would be at a significant advantage.
The downside is that this'd create situations where you're pulled into a major war against your will, based solely on the actions of your allies; it should be difficult to remain peaceful without sacrificing advancement in these other areas.

At least, that's the idea for now.

This section does not explicitly require the DLL; the idea is that the game would benefit from random events designed to make the game a little less predictable for a human player. This would be accomplished through two basic type of events:

Instantaneous Events would be simple one-shot effects. Relations between two empires get a one-time boost or penalty, everyone gets a small amount of gold, that sort of thing. Most of these would only affect a single empire or a small number of them, but these would happen often enough that everyone will benefit eventually.

Persistent Events would last for a longer period, at least 10 turns. These effects would always be worldwide: a Dark Age that slows down research, a brief period when Farms are more productive, and so on. No more than one of these would be in effect at any given time, and every player would be affected equally, barring any Wonders I create that allow the player to ignore or mitigate the negative events.

The key element to the AI changes will be an overhaul of the concept of Flavors. Currently, the AI lacks any concept of "build queues"; each decision is made purely on the basis of the current environment. This results in a variety of suboptimal behaviors, including:
> An AI will build units in any city, regardless of which cities have the most XP-producing buildings or which have buildings that bestow additional promotions.
> An AI will build a desirable building/unit before building the production-boosting structures that would greatly reduce the time needed to field that unit. This is most notable with the spaceship parts, and the Spaceship Factory.
> An AI lacks combined-arms tactics: using ranged units (especially Skirmishers) to wound defenders before sending in your melee units, focusing fire on single units instead of having each unit pick the nearest foe to attack, and shifting air units closer to your front lines but NOT so close that their base city is in danger of being captured or nuked. The AI will only rarely attempt to determine whether it needs more units of a specific type, instead relying mostly on Flavor values which would result in the creation of large numbers of specialized units (SAMs) when a more general unit (infantry) would work better.
> Nukes. Using multiple nukes against a single target, using every nuke on turn 1 of a war, rebasing nukes into cities that can easily be nuked by the opponent.
> Never "beelining" for key technologies needed by the current situation. While I've limited this process through other means, the AI still has no ability to look more than 1 tech ahead.
> The AI cannot assess the desirability of a technology or unit based on current situations, beyond just simple Flavor. Preferring the techs that boost improvements or resources you actually have over ones that boost a resource you lack is a key advantage for the human, and AIs cannot even notice when the Wonder at the tech they're considering has already been constructed by another player.

Adding the ability to follow well-defined long-term strategies will make the AI much more dangerous, and adding the ability to better assess the desirability of units and technologies will definitely improve things.
Alright, question: How much can you do with the AI without the DLL?
Some ideas I was thinking of is making trading with an enemy of a civ hav a negative diplomatic effect, making defence pacts have posative diplomatic effects, the AI is much more likely to make them and declaring a war does not remove it, but gives you a negative diplomatic effec with your allies (to keep players from just making defence pacts and then making half the world go to war or go on a conquest spree without taking some diplomatic reprocussions)
Alright, question: How much can you do with the AI without the DLL?

Almost nothing, if we're talking about the whole diplomacy thing. There are no Lua functions available to adjust one empire's relations with another. You can force a war, or force peace, or lock an empire into a permanent war, but that's all; you can't make an empire unfriendly or friendly. You CAN adjust relations with city-states, but that's not the important part here.

The vast majority of this mod's real content will not be possible at all until we get the DLL. So while the Ascension thread is obviously a discussion of a mod that's already playable, and the Mythology thread is a mod that's almost working and that people will be able to play soon, this one's more of an Idea thread, because the current Empire mod is just the old Balance mod and parts of the Content mod. So suggestions and discussion of ideas are welcome here, but there won't be any real changes made until well after the DLL is out.
The concept of having a large variety of events sounds great, I've tried another mod that aimed to provide this but there seemed to be little variety and they all seemed so negative (famine, tsunami etc.) that I ended up just turning them off.

Can such events change the terrain?

For espionage, how about a weaker version of the survey pod? A spyplane or observation balloon, depending on the tech level.
The concept of having a large variety of events sounds great, I've tried another mod that aimed to provide this but there seemed to be little variety and they all seemed so negative (famine, tsunami etc.) that I ended up just turning them off.

Most of the events I'm considering will be neutral, or at least have minor enough downsides to not be that sort of disaster. If you look at the two categories I mentioned above, you see the basic separation: persistent events would apply to all players equally, and would take the form of simple yield bonuses and penalties. And the instantaneous events might occasionally be negative, but usually I'd find some way to balance the negative with a positive. So if the event caused relations with one empire to sour, it might boost relations with everyone else by a small amount to compensate.

Can such events change the terrain?

Anything CAN change the terrain, but as you can tell from the Terraforming setup in the later mod, it won't adjust the graphics to the new terrain type unless you reload your game.

For espionage, how about a weaker version of the survey pod? A spyplane or observation balloon, depending on the tech level.

Any use of unit-based espionage will require an AI change, which we can't do without the DLL. But yes, I'd want it to be more than just a single Spy unit; in early eras you'll only have spies, but in later eras there'd also be spy planes, and yes, the survey pod would probably be adjusted towards this as well. (I'd also want to make the Doppelganger into a hybrid spy/combat unit.)

The question is whether spies should be mission-based, like the Probe Teams in SMAC, or persistent. That is, Probe Teams would travel to an enemy's city, "attack" it, and would steal a single tech (with their chance of success and chance of survival depending on their experience level). But an alternate way would be to move the unit into enemy territory, and as long as the unit stays alive in their territory, you automatically "steal" a small number of beakers per turn depending on relative tech levels.

There are other possibilities for how to implement spies, so I'm not saying that those are the only two options. And I'd want to add more options than just stealing technologies; you should be able to monitor a city's production, see areas within the enemy territory, cause riots, and so on.
I play with balance mod 1.08, in my experience, version 1.08 is very good, playing on marathon, continents or continents plus, for the first 5k years(4000BC-~1000+AD) I fill like I'm chewing pebbles and rusty nails, each and every penny spent is carefully considered, popping one city to many too soon and I'm crippled for quite some time.

Barbarians are kind of anemic, they try to snatch an unprotected worker or destroy an improvement, never attack a city or one of my units unless it's a scout.
Will raging barbarians change their behavior or just increase their numbers and occurrences?
Barbarians are kind of anemic, they try to snatch an unprotected worker or destroy an improvement, never attack a city or one of my units unless it's a scout.
Will raging barbarians change their behavior or just increase their numbers and occurrences?

Just numbers and occurrences, from what I can tell. The only thing I did to boost early-Era Barbarians was give them some basic self-healing (since barbs in vanilla never heal). It makes them a bit more dangerous, but since I also boosted defense in other ways it balances.

And yes, the Barbarians in the vanilla game are pretty pathetic. The devs stacked the deck against them too much, IMO:
> They can't use resource-consuming units. They have a few alternate versions of some ancient units to get around this, but it really becomes crippling by the late game as they can only field infantry-type units.
> They lag behind the player technologically
> Their units don't start with any experience, and likely will never get enough for a free promotion
> The player and AIs get large inherent bonuses against the Barbarians, which get even stronger if someone takes Honor.
> They can only spawn in Barbarian Camps, which can't spawn anywhere seen by a unit or player, so they very quickly get relegated to a few small islands or something. Most of your empire is never threatened.

It's one of the things I had to be careful of with the Psi units in the Breakout; the wild mindworms and such are quite a bit more dangerous than the earlier-Era Barbarians for a number of reasons, and even with that they're STILL not too tough to clean out. But at least the Spore Towers can spawn in places that aren't convenient for you.
Would you be opposed to having the 'no barbarians option' also turn off the spawning of towers etc later on? I find myself spending a disproportionate amount of time killing spore towers and their spawn in the digital/fusion era. A large airforce seems to be mandatory for this, eating up a lot of strategic resources. The AI (Emperor) also seems to really struggle with the worms on very small maps. This might just be a balance thing as it seems to get worse the smaller the map gets. It may also be a side effect of starting in the Nuclear Era.

More of a request than a complaint here, I'd just like to be able to play with OR without the spawning depending on the type of game I'm after :)
Would you be opposed to having the 'no barbarians option' also turn off the spawning of towers etc later on?

This should really go in the Ascension mod thread, since that's where that whole bit is; the Empires mod's content will basically stop at the start of the space race. But anyway, the No Barbarians option already cuts the tower/Psi unit spawn rates in half. I don't want to remove their spawning entirely; without them, it's just far too easy for the player, because he'll no longer have any reason to hold part of his military back from the front lines. The AI will continue to do so, though, and that'd put the AI at a major disadvantage.

Also, stealth bombers really aren't the right unit for that task; they've got great range, of course, but they're lousy for damage. There's quite a bit of randomness involved, but Spore Towers tend to be VERY strong versus ranged attacks (due to the Cover promotions and their inherent healing abilities), so you won't make much progress whittling them down with dinky attacks. What you can do to them with ten bombers can usually be done with one or two Mechanized Infantry, so try leaving a few land units scattered around as garrisons. After all, that's what the AI will leave in his back cities; the player is usually the only one with a massive air force, so I had to balance it around the AI's strategy.

If you're still completely opposed to the idea of having any Psi unit spawns, then at the top of SpatzWonders.lua there's a point where it sets "barbmult" to 0.5, 1.0, or 2.0. Change it to 0.0 and it should stop the spawning altogether. But I'm not going to do that in the mod, because it'd remove one of the main balance points from the future eras and skew things much more heavily in the human's favor.

Now, if you can think up a way to make the spore tower mechanism more interesting, so that it feels less like a chore, while preserving the balance they provide, then I'm open to suggestions.
I'll keep discussion of the Ascension content to the correct thread, sorry.

Some questions/ideas that mostly concern Empires content:

Is it possible to change the title of the barbarian units? So that they might be referred to as, say, rebels during the industrial era or insurgents during the nuclear era? This would be lead to something like "Rebel Riflemen" or "Revolutionary Infantry" rather than the Barbarian references that seem very out of place in later eras.

One idea from an older Civ game, I remember this from Civ 2 but it may have been in 3/4. Have units spawn around a city after it's captured, it was Partisans in Civ 2 but could vary depending on your chosen policies or era/techs, Freedom Fighters, Insurgents etc. These would slow down the pace of any invasion, they could be very weak vs cities or on the attack but be good on the defensive, get better terrain bonus from hills etc or pillage for free.

I'd also suggest, if possible, giving the aircraft carrier far less 'priority' for the AI, I'm not sure how the AI chooses its units but they seem to vastly overbuild on the carrier front. Even when they have no aircraft.
I'll keep discussion of the Ascension content to the correct thread, sorry.

It's not a big deal, it's just that the main reason I asked for a forum was that the conversations were getting crossed too often in the one thread.

Is it possible to change the title of the barbarian units? So that they might be referred to as, say, rebels during the industrial era or insurgents during the nuclear era?

The problem is that it's not giving the unit a title of "Barbarian Infantry"; Barbarian is the civ's adjective, like "Persian Tank" or "Egyptian Battleship". It's easy enough to change that in XML, but that'd apply to all eras.

So to fix it, you'd need to either override the UI Lua that displays that name and have it change the barbarians' adjective based on era, or overwrite the database variable at various points throughout the game. Neither of those is really appealing to me.

There's a third option, though: create multiple Barbarian civilizations. So the Mythological-era barbarian civ would say Barbarian, the Empire-age barb civ would be named Rebels, and the Ascension-age barb civ would be the Wild psi units. This SHOULD work, although it'd break quite a few parts of my own code.

Have units spawn around a city after it's captured, it was Partisans in Civ 2 but could vary depending on your chosen policies or era/techs, Freedom Fighters, Insurgents etc.

I've thought of that, but I never really liked those. They were never powerful enough to do any real good; they just ended up being a little free XP for the invaders. That's why I've been adding things like the Home Field Advantage promotion instead; the invaded civ gets some significant advantages for its existing units. But what's really needed, I think, are things like the Laser Infantry: dirt-cheap units with decent combat ratings, but without all the bells and whistles of the frontline units. Something an attacked city can crank out quickly; when an Infantry-type unit costs nearly as much as a Tank, it doesn't really do any good in this area.

I'd also suggest, if possible, giving the aircraft carrier far less 'priority' for the AI, I'm not sure how the AI chooses its units but they seem to vastly overbuild on the carrier front. Even when they have no aircraft.

I've noticed this. Part of it, I think, is that they're a resourceless unit now; I've changed it back to using Oil in my most recent version of the Balance mod, but even so it's strange; the Carrier's total Flavors are well below the other naval units, and yet the AI builds so many of them. It might be overvaluing the Air flavor.
A couple more ideas for Empires content that came to me during the Industrial/Nuclear period of my last epic game...

Are visible sea trade routes a possibility? It would obviously only be worth it if they could be interacted with in some way. For example they could be blockaded or pirated (piracy in general would make an interesting gameplay addition). It would necessitate a decent navy to protect your shipping routes. Could possibly be made obsolete by jump gates in cities later on.

How do you feel about the way embarked units are handled at the moment? Should they at some point gain the ability to defend themselves? Having them instantly killed starts to seem a bit unreal later on, I think.

Depending on the above a few more niches open up in the navy, a cheap coastal-only patrol boat, separate attack and missile nuclear subs perhaps.

Are you explicitly trying to avoid just adding a bunch of new units with the Empires portion of the mod?
Bumping this thread to the top, since I'll be releasing the first version of the mods tonight or tomorrow. The Empires mod will be a very stripped-down version of its final form, basically consisting of the Balance mod's changes and the few pre-spaceflight components of the Content mod.

But, if my design holds it'll eventually be the largest part of the whole set; once the Mythology content are tested that mod won't change much, and the Ascension mod is pretty much at that point right now. The Empires mod is pretty much going to be the only piece with heavy DLL modification, although I can put in a few new bits (like the Event system) before then.

Now, my long-overdue responses to some questions:

Are visible sea trade routes a possibility?

Not without the DLL, but changing the whole trade mechanism is an important part of the whole diplomacy overhaul I'm intending. It probably would be in the form of a "Trade Pact" between two nations, comparable to a Research Agreement, but I'd have it where that pact is only possible between two nations that either share a common land border OR have a visible (to BOTH sides) sea trade route. (If there's any unclaimed land between you and your target, bandits WILL control the area, even if there are no actual Barbarian units. Sea routes are a bit easier for that.)

How do you feel about the way embarked units are handled at the moment? Should they at some point gain the ability to defend themselves?

I've never liked the embarked insta-kill. Despite the fact that I think the embarkation mechanic is a great improvement over Civ4, it's still horribly unrealistic; no nation would EVER send military transports without an escort, but Civ5's movement mechanic makes that nearly impossible to do. It'd be bad enough if transports could stack with combat vessels, but they can't, so all it takes is one destroyer in a port near the landing site to gut an amphibious operation, no matter how many escorts you send.
IMO, the Embarked units should be treated as a combat vessel, representing the basic escorts suitable for that era. Any extra escorts you want to bring along are your own business, but in the industrial era a transport should have a destroyer-ish combat rating on defense (but no attack ability).

This'd probably take DLL access, but I might be able to work up something in Lua. Like "if a combat starts, and the defending unit is embarked, spawn a temporary combat unit in the same hex and remove it, win or lose, at the end of the turn". This might not work, but it's something to try; alternately, I could simply tie it to a unit's movement (with each embarked unit getting a "ghost" escort unit that moves along with it).

Depending on the above a few more niches open up in the navy, a cheap coastal-only patrol boat, separate attack and missile nuclear subs perhaps.

Patrol boats would be great, except for one thing: the unit maintenance equation doesn't care how powerful the unit is when it increases your costs. Now, I could give them a NEGATIVE maintenance modifier (comparable to how I made Titans cost extra gold in the Ascension mod), but failing that, I'd probably have to boost the unit enough to make it a viable combat unit.

Now, I've said before that one of the things I think is needed are cheap "rush" units, the kinds of things you can churn out in a hurry if you're attacked but that are weak on the attack. In the Ascension mod, the Laser Infantry fills this niche on land, so maybe a patrol boat CAN work; if it's cheap enough, then it becomes a viable choice for relatively small port cities, but you won't bother bringing one to a foreign war. (Really, I could do that just by giving it a low movement and the "ocean impassable" promotion.) On land, I might change the Musketman to fill this cheap-but-decent defense niche.

What the game really needs, for this, is a better Zone of Control system though. A Destroyer with 9-10 movement doesn't care that it costs 2MP instead of 1 to move past a screening ship and kill a transport, so just adding more defenders doesn't really fix the core problem. Honestly, what I'd like to see is a D&D-style "Attack of Opportunity" system where attempting to move past an enemy unit gives it a free shot at you. As always, the AI would have a real problem figuring this out, but since the AI doesn't seem to use this tactic in the first place, that's not much of a downside.

As for Boomers (missile subs), I think they just aren't practical in this game. It's like carriers with their planes; it's a great idea in theory, but unless you find some way to make them superior to basing out of cities, why would you bother? That's why I boosted Carriers (giving them Medic), but it's still a major problem. Now, subs are immune to the usual first-strike nuke bloodbath, but nuclear subs can already carry missiles, so adding these would require taking that ability away from an already-overspecialized unit.

And adding a larger variety of units just hurts the AI even worse; one of the reasons my future-era units merge roles so often (with Stealth Ships combining subs with destroyers, Leviathans for Battleship+Carrier, Needlejet for Fighter+Bomber, Plasma Artillery for SAM+Artillery...) is that it really helps the AI when there are fewer "wrong" choices in a given situation.

Are you explicitly trying to avoid just adding a bunch of new units with the Empires portion of the mod?

No. I fully intend to add whatever units are necessary, using my usual loose definition of "necessary". I'm obviously adding a number of spy or diplomat-type units, but I'm open to any other ideas. For instance:
> At least one, or more likely two or three, explorer-type units to fill the gap between the Scout and the Paratrooper. Think about the Caravel for naval units: great explorer, lousy combat unit. There should be land units filling that same niche, even if "Land" in this case ends up including one or more Air units (Balloons, Zeppelins).

> Pirates/Privateers, especially if I can get a workable "Hidden Nationality" system.

> More "hybrid" units, or at least more ways to cover a deficiency with your existing units. Let's use mounted units as an example: the Knight and Lancer were the culminations of two separate unit chains, and then the two combined into the Cavalry. But the Knight and Lancer were very distinct in their bonuses; they're both mounted units, but clearly built for different roles. Contrast that with the very boring Rifleman/Infantry, which have zero bonuses/penalties, just a simple strength rating. So just adding a few small extra bonuses to the existing units (possibly at the expense of a little raw strength) would go a long way in making them more interesting, and it'd also allow each to bias towards a new niche.

I'd also like to extend that pattern a bit earlier; add a Maceman-style unit to complement the Swordsman, with the mace getting an anti-melee bonus and the sword getting a cover bonus or something, but then having them both lead to the longswordman. (I'm looking at doing this in the Mythology mod anyway.)

> More Specialization. For instance, you've seen the four mutually-exclusive National Wonders (each boosting a Specialist type) I've placed at the Industrial/Nuclear boundary. Now imagine a similar set of buildings at earlier techs, with each providing a custom promotion to all units within your empire of a given combat class.
For instance, maybe building A gives all Mounted units the Commando promotion (can move on enemy's roads), building B gives all infantry units a doubled fortification bonus, building C gives all siege weapons the ability to set up with no movement cost, and building D gives all naval units +2 visibility. If you could only have one of these, ever, then it'd significantly change things even if I added no new units. But if each of these buildings ALSO allowed you to build a cheap unit of that class, something analogous to the Laser Infantry...

Anyway, a lot of this is still very rough. But I intend to start adding quite a bit as soon as the Mythology mod is out for testing, which should be tomorrow.
I know this will be a long way off, but once you are able to start on your Empires mod, I think you should put the "big 3" policy trees in the Rennesaice era (freedom/order/autocracy). Autocracy has been around alot longer than the industrial age (Catherine the Great was an autocrat by title) And the idea of a socialist state had been around before Marx ever wrote the Communist Manifesto, infact, after the French Revolution, the workers of Paris were trying to get a socialist state installed.

Also putting all 3 in Rennesaice also would help it mix better with the Mythology mod, so that after you hit the enlightenment you can spend some of the extra culture from it on one of these policy branches (sort of like the Enlightenment isn't just and end to the Mythology mod, its the begining to the Empires mod)
I know this will be a long way off, but once you are able to start on your Empires mod, I think you should put the "big 3" policy trees in the Rennesaice era (freedom/order/autocracy).

Generally speaking I don't want to change the policy structure TOO much. I'm trying to keep this close enough to vanilla that someone picking up the mod for the first time will still have a pretty good idea of what he's doing. While I've admittedly changed quite a few policies' effects, they were all intended to be minor shifts that reinforced the general theme of the branches in question. It's not that I'm completely opposed to a change like that, and the Enlightenment argument is a good one. But if I were to use that logic then I'd put the change in the Mythology mod and not this one, since it'd directly relate to the effects of the Enlightenment process.

Basically, I'm trying to avoid the path that mods like NiGHTS go down, where the balance is built up from scratch and has little to do with that of the core game. Not that that's always a bad thing, but I'm trying to keep things fairly close to the baseline for reasons of accessibility and AI.

(sort of like the Enlightenment isn't just and end to the Mythology mod, its the begining to the Empires mod)

To be clear, the Empires mod isn't supposed to purely fall between the other two; this mod is less about straight content (units and buildings) for their own sake, and more about adding underlying mechanics (like diplomacy and espionage), then adding whatever units/buildings are needed to enable those mechanichs. Basically, I intend it to bleed over in both directions, it's just that many of the systems in it would be designed to climax in the Industrial-ish era.

For instance, I'm looking at adding a variety of Processes (like Wealth or Research, which turn extra production into gold or science). Nothing in that explicitly depends on this middle period, but you just won't have the production to spare in earlier eras and the effects will be pretty weak by the later eras, when compared to what you get from other sources. So this middle period will be the time when those new additions actually MATTER, but they could easily extend into the earlier or later periods.

Or the diplomacy bit I've mentioned before. Imagine a system where you get a small penalty to relations with a civ for each enemy of its that you're friendly with. In the earliest eras, this effect just won't change much, since most of the civs won't even have been met yet. Add in a back-to-zero sort of normalization (like what city-states have), and the effects might not have any effect at all in the early eras; you could switch alliances on a whim, and it wouldn't be a problem.
But fast-forward a couple eras, to where everyone's met everyone else, and it starts adding up faster than the game can compensate. Even if you picked your friends at random, chances are that there would be ONE civ that disliked all of the civs you were friendly with. Then, everyone who's friends with him would start hating you more, and vice versa, and you'd start disliking them as well. The next thing you know you have a small number of blocks of implacable enemies whose mutual hatred easily overwhelms whatever restorative function I use. It'd be a natural progression, just one designed to come to fruition in the Renaissance/Industrial/Nuclear period; in the earlier eras you just can't build up enough hate, and in later eras there are too few players involved.

In the meantime, the Empires mod is going to act as my Balance mod. It'll have every mechanical thing that I want to apply to all eras (like the base Happiness change or the non-interactive Events). So even without the DLL, there WILL be new things added here. For instance, I've been planning on adding some "skirmisher"-type units to the tech tree, some militia units, and some scout units. (Most likely, I'd merge two of those categories into one.) These'd stretch all the way from the start of the game through the future eras; for instance, the scout units I'd mentioned would bridge the gap between the Scout and the Paratrooper, which then upgrades to the Scout Powersuit. Likewise, the "militia" units (designed to be cheap defensive units that can be rushed in threatened cities) would culminate in the Laser Infantry.

Of course, with my computer currently nonfunctional, this is all being planned out on paper, but that's how I designed the AC mod in the first place.
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