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District cost mechanics. A very questionable design choice?

Discussion in 'Civ - Ideas & Suggestions' started by RealHuhn, Nov 2, 2016.

  1. CaiusDrewart

    CaiusDrewart King

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    Germany could be really easily nerfed by getting rid of the silly rules that unique districts don't count against the population cap and/or that unique districts build in half time. It's kind of dumb that right now, the best part about every "unique" district is not what's actually unique about it...
     
    Kingreaper and skyclad like this.
  2. Big J Money

    Big J Money Emperor

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    I agree that would be a balanced solution, but I don't like it.

    I much prefer to raise bars and buff less appealing features than to nerf the fun ones.
     
  3. mnf

    mnf King

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    I think some kind of cost scaling is required to avoid making food the best tile yield (the way production is the best tile yield now because of the scaling). The key is in the balancing. I like the idea of scaling it within each city individually. So the first district will always be up rather quickly. For cities planted in the middle of nowhere you'd want the first district to be the Aqueduct or in the later game Neighborhoods. For cities with fresh water you'd be able to delve in quickly into Encampments for a frontier city, a Campus for a nice mountain city, a Holy Site if you've found just the right National Park spot, etc.

    Population scaling is there to make the choice and order of districts matter. Cost scaling is there to create the need for a relatively more balanced city planning.

    How about:
    • District cost scales only by the number of districts already placed in the current city.
    • Keep the 25% discount based on world-wide count of the same type to help out the less developed civilizations.
    • Placing a district while another is in production will clear the land (and invested production) of the previously placed district. This removes the cost-lock micro that never really made sense anyway, and creates a remedy for mis-clicks or those Blankreka Moments.
     
  4. orasis

    orasis Prince

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    You wanted less 'stream-lined' you get less 'stream-lined' and you then still complain about it. :lol: There is no pleasing fans.
     
  5. orasis

    orasis Prince

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    1. No because then we're back to 'tall is better' game-play. Right now the way things are both tall and wide are viable options - depending on what civics/techs/land you have.

    2. Less developed civilizations are nice for war-mongers and people who want to play peacefully. No need to alter that imo.
     
  6. mnf

    mnf King

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    How is districts scaling only within individual cities unfavorable to wide play? Doesn't it actually favor wide play? Your Nth city will be building its districts under the same cost as when you built your districts in your capital in the ancient and classical era. How is that making tall play better?

    And the 25% discount is existing, i.e. already in-game, so you mean they should change it because you don't want that discount so less developed civs stay less developed? Or you mean you don't want to change it, so keep the discount, but then it means it would help less developed nations? I'm not sure I understand your second point.
     
  7. orasis

    orasis Prince

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    I would take out the discount.
     
  8. Roxlimn

    Roxlimn Deity

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    I've thought about this some, and I've considered the opposite. WHY is it bad that you could lock down costs as soon as your population allows it? Population is the gate to districts anyhow, so locking down your city structure as soon as you have the break population sounds smart, but not broken. This means that Germany's Free Imperial Cities actually means something - because otherwise you get so many free districts that you generally won't be able to build them all. Locking them down early sounds like a good and powerful Civ benefit (and no, the half-cost Hansa isn't enough - it's good, but not that good).

    Likewise, locking down "free" unique districts as soon as you found or take over any city sounds like the sort of thing unique districts were meant to portray.

    As for the science question, is it bad that there's now a trade off to actually researching techs you don't need? You aren't a Maritime power. You're not going to be building ships. Why do you need Celestial Navigation? Just because it only takes a turn now? Well, now there's a trade off. It's an added incentive to focus on the techs you really want rather than just getting them all. Why is this bad? Because it's different?
     
  9. RealHuhn

    RealHuhn Emperor

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    I agree with your general statement that we should think about the positive effects as well.
    As already mentioned, I'm sure the devs had the idea of increasing district costs per district but they decided to go for a very different approach. They liked the idea that a fast science and culture rate would increase production costs.
    In CIV6, you actually have an opportunity cost for going 100% science/culture and I kinda like it.

    I still think that it should be based on total amount of science/culture researched instead of number of techs/civics to get rid of the annoying micro management. And the lock-down mechanic is way too hidden to have such a major effect on the game. I don't think it's intended to be in the game. It'll be interesting to see how the devs react to this though :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2016
  10. Roxlimn

    Roxlimn Deity

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    It might be beneficial to have a "auto-lockdown" effect in order to automate the process. By this, I mean it might be possible for the game to "remember" the cost for the districts when you achieve a certain pop size, and then lock down your next districts up to the maximum possible for that size at that cost. So if you zoom up to 10 size early, you get locked down district costs for that city up to the 4th district.

    I think the lockdown effect is unintentional, definitely. It's one of those little niggly bits that we vets like to leverage to push ourselves up. But it doesn't hurt to automate stuff like that.
     
  11. van der Knivet

    van der Knivet Chieftain

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    As a Game Designer (not from Civ development, but still...) I may say... they have a team of probably 10-20 game designers working on it by like 40h a week, 50 weeks a year, for 3 years. That makes 60-120k manhours to develop de game, all the game with all the details, and already lay out the plan for the DLCs and Expansions (as the vanilla game have to have the room for those things to fit on, it's all planned from week one). Civ is a HUGE game, there are lots and lots of things to test and tune and refine. Then the game is launched, sells 700.000 units on its first week. If every player played only 1 hour on that week that already trumped by ~5x the times the devs had to think out the game. And most of we put a lot of more hours than that. And we focus only on the things that bothers us.

    So, you see, this "we after a week or so of playing the game came to realize this weird design choice and quickly put some alternatives that seem like they would satisfy more people" is exactly what is expected on a game on that scale.


    :::

    Now, about the district progression... well, it does mantain itself regular on time-cost - same 20-30 turns to build on average cities on any age - which is what I think the designers aimed for.

    I'm playing my second run as the Romans, and I am on 1640 AD finishing the building of the spaceport, way ahead on science, have more than 20 cities (demographics, PLISS), and all of them have 3+ disctricts, always building one as soon as the pop cap permits. If I didn't found this thread I wouldn't even notice that it was a problem.
     
  12. van der Knivet

    van der Knivet Chieftain

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    Just one random thought.

    Maybe the lockdown bug thing is the main motive that we don't have queue on building orders??
     
  13. skyclad

    skyclad Prince

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    Cost lockdown is not a "bug", its a deliberate design choice.
    No ques probably is because it took too many hours of programming to implement and yes districts in general makes the que more complicated to handle. Definitely not impossible though just they probably decided to spend those programming hours doing other things.
     
  14. van der Knivet

    van der Knivet Chieftain

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    Now, as I actually thought about the whole thing on the bus as I came to my work, I'll throw my two cents on the matter.

    On cost progression on buildings and units
    - Production scales up with tech and civics, as those two things unlocks buildings, improvements and policies which rise your empire's general production.
    - As such, the cost of almost everything rises alike. Look at military units: the cost of a warrior may remain the same, but as soon as you unlock the swordsman (via tech) the warrior is replaced by the swordsman, whose production cost is higher, on the building list.
    - The unit cost-progression is, thus, equally defined by tech. The exceptions being settlers, builders and religious, only because they are not replaceable by newer units (tough builders surely could be, and maybe settlers too).
    - The major motive for that is to mantain the flow of the game. As your empire grows and gains production power, the costs of things grow along. If not, by mid-to-late, every newborn city would be capable of spamming units and districts.

    On production progression
    - When you reach industrialization every well-designed older city can easily be producing 30-50 hammers per turn. With the wise planning of trade routes even newborn cities can produce 20+ hammers per turn. (And I've not even played with Gear-Happy Barbarossa yet... it's my next choice. I've played only with Brazil and Rome so far).
    - Even on cities with poor locations hammer-wise, on mid-to-late game, you can boost it quickly enough with trade routes. On my actual run with the Romans a caravan for Rome gives +4 food and +5 hammers for the city, and the other 4 bigger cities give +4 and +4. So, five trade routes getting out from that city means a boost of +20 food and +21 hammers each turn. You leave them there for 15-20 turns and the city will be ready to take on all alone from then on.
    - So, a newborn city having 20+ hammers each turn, without cost scaling, would mean that it could easily build districts within 3 turns! And I'm not even taking policies and wonders in count. THAT would be game-breaking.

    -
    So, my conclusion there is that it really needs to be a scaling up on costs of districts, or they would be really messed up by post-mid-game.
    -

    On how to scale
    - Scaling by techs and civics have it's own reason to be. It's them which unlocks the things that boost production, both directly (like industrial district and some policies) and indirectly (things that boost the growth of the cities, for example). So scaling the costs by the same thing that makes the hammers grow looks like a fine tradeoff. Also, it gives some strategic decisions and flavours on how to play the game - like lagging behind in tech to focus in district production, as the op proposed. Or boosting science to increase production to have a fine edge on Tech AND Production, as I do. Superior edge on Tech + Production win wars before the war weariness starts to creep.
    - Scaling by time is punishing for those who lags behind in science - as they lag behind they lack the means to increase production, but the costs keep on rising, making it even harder for them to catch up - and makes for a "run for the districts" madness. Just imagine the AI having to deal with that. It really looks like a terrible idea.
    - Scaling by districts on same city means that it will be cheaper to have a lot of bad cities with just one district on it, vulgo ICS. No, thanks, I pass that.
    - Scaling by districts of the same type already built. Now, that'd be interesting to see, as it punishes ICS., but it also punishes guys like me, who always build districts on the following order: Industrial, The one relative to the victory I'm trying to achieve, Comercial. Nah, thanks.
    - Scaling not in production, but in maintenance. That made a lot of sense on civs 1-4, because of the sheer quantity of buildings there was. As you progressed to the modern era there were dozens and dozens of things to build, and every tech unlocked some more. I rarely achieved a point in which there weren't more things to build anymore. And then it make a lot of sense not pushing the costs up, leaving them to be built on 3-5 turns, and then pushing up on maintenance. But, seriously, look at the quantity of buildings we have now. And the way districts are locked by pop cap. If you could build them on 3-5 turns, what would be you doing when there were nothing more to build? Carpets of Doom???

    -
    I guess that's it. My conclusion is: we need that cost scaling, if we want districts (and sure I want, I loved them). And on the options presented, doing it by tech is the best way to balance things. Maybe that scaling by districts of the same tipe could be something to be tested on a mod, to see what actually happens. But hey, dropping Tech to produce more districts is not THE way to go, just ONE way to go. It is one strategy... maybe something I would even use as I beeline to Apprenticeship, but surely not on a whole game. Unlocking things by tech still beats producing districts a little bit quicker, for me. And I'm glad that Civ VI puts those tradeoff choices in front of us.
     
  15. Cymsdale

    Cymsdale Prince

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    It would certainly be game breaking, if the number of districts in a city were not capped by its population. It's not like you can plop down 3 awesome districts in 9 turns.

    It's also why I suggest bumping up the population needs so you have to delay your first district in a fresh city.
     
  16. RealHuhn

    RealHuhn Emperor

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    Yes, it would be. Everybody who wants to get rid of scaling altogether should really think things through again.

    I agree. As I said many times now, I do like the connection between science, culture and production. When you focus on only one of them, you will often run into problems with the other two. This adds complexity to the game.
    It only works when districts are connected to science and culture. I feel like tweaking the formula is still very necessary though.

    This is where I disagree with you. As you also said later, your strategy is always the same. Expand, beeline commercial hubs and industrial zones, lock their costs down whenever you reach the next population limit and go from there.
    The way the formula currently works kinda forces you to go with this strategy. It's imbalanced. It has to be tweaked in order to make other choices not as punishing anymore.
    Even small things like building an early wonder instead of expanding immediately can make you lose the race against increasing district costs. I'm specifically talking about the time before trade routes and factories really start to have an impact.
    Late game works completely fine, in my opinion, mainly because of the flexibility of trade routes.


    I agree, I will add this to the OP.

    Interesting to see? Yes. Practical? I don't think so. The Devs won't change such a core element of gameplay. My guess would be that it would make science king again anyway because the connection between science, culture and production would be gone and I really like that new design element. It can potentially ruin expansion as well. I'm certainly against it but I see why people like it.
    Your second argument is kinda funny because it sounds like you are only against it because it hurts your own strategy (which everybody else uses as well because it's the only damn thing that really works -_-). This is not how balancing should work ;)

    You miss a core reason why I don't like the current implementation of this mechanic. Maybe because you haven't played around with it? I simply quote Cymsdale from another topic who described the issue of micro managing techs quite well. And I have to agree. It's infuriating because it it's extremely annoying and counter-intuitive. Avoiding the completion of techs whenever possible is a major flaw of the design right now. It's the whole reason why I suggested scaling per total amount of science/culture researched (which introduces other problems like rising costs every other turn or so but I'm sure the game devs can find a solution to this).

    As a final note, I understand the decision to move this to the Ideas & Suggestions thread but on the other hand, I specifically added this little guide about how district scaling works to the OP because I would have been glad to find something like this earlier. Today, I've already seen multiple posts in General Discussions asking about this mechanic again. It seems like nobody visits these forums to find answers. And why would they? Three replies today instead of three pages yesterday. A little sad. :p
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2016
  17. Roxlimn

    Roxlimn Deity

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    Hm. I wouldn't quite say that.

    The current first-wave limit is about 4 cities - 5-7 if you spot multiple unique Luxuries or can trade for more, but currently, 4 is about sensible for a first wave expansion because you also need the develop the military to defend that large of a kingdom. If you ignore that too much, you get swamped. But this isn't always practicable. In my current Russia game, I only had expansion sites for 2 other cities. I made military then because Gorgo was my neighbor and she was getting ansty about my income, so I made an army and jumped the gun. But since I had to stop after two, making Pyramids was an option.

    In any case, the problem isn't that you can't chase Wonders. The problem is that you shouldn't simultaneously chase Wonders and also tech up or culture up. In my earlier China game, I spawned next to a massive mountain range. That gave me space problems, but in the short term, it allowed me to make two Campuses early, each with +4 Adjacency bonuses. I only realized after I'd made them that they forced me to expand extremely quick to lock down district costs before my massive tech made them prohibitive. To a lesser extent, Brazil can also have this problem, as their Campuses can get massive adjacencies from Rainforests and they have a Rainforest bias.

    So you can Wonder up but intentionally scale back teching up and culture, or tech up and expand at the same time.

    The window we're talking about IS fairly small - before you can really rack up Trade Route bonuses and Trade Route Capacity. After those come online, the costs become manageable, even before factories. After factories, they're very very mangable. So we're really talking about a very small set of Wonders here - Pyramids, Hanging Gardens, Great Library, Great Lighthouse, Colossus?

    The Pyramids are fine. I get them even if it costs some. The Builder charge bonus and the extra Builder is definitely worth the time, long term, though that's probably because I'm exploiting Builder disbanding. Hanging Gardens, Great Libary, and Great Lighthouse are all very questionable in value in the first place, so they have to be reworked just as a whole, even outside district considerations. Great Library is particularly awful.
     
  18. UWHabs

    UWHabs Deity

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    Of course, I also think a lot of the problems we're complaining about happen due to the super fast science. So since science runs too quick, districts scale in price too much, which means you can't keep up building with teching. Which means that districts take even longer to get up, which slows down how fast you can get trade routes/industrial zones up to get the bonus production, etc...

    I've found that I kind of go in spurts. So I tech ahead a lot, and then at some point, my civ semi-crashes, while my production catches up. Then once I get those buildings up, the tech can move forward again. Although in some ways thinking about it, maybe it's not that big a problem, since it kind of simulates reality where things go in spurts and waves. I do wish the first district at least in a city was cheaper, or at least if there were a few more cheap city-centre buildings that you could build to at least get started in infrastructure. It's just really annoying to pop a city down and see that it's 25 turns to build a district - makes it feel like the city will forever be useless.
     
  19. Kahnugo

    Kahnugo Chieftain

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    From a strictly flavour point of view I really don't like the way it works now. It's making me constantly feeling I'm losing out by progressing in certain areas, it's making me feel forced into gaming to system, to have to micromanage and do stuff in a way that's unrelated to my gameplan, but necessary to work around gameplay restrictions. The flow of the game seems wrong to me, being fine early, but slowly progressing into a drag because costs seems to progress faster than your ability to produce, until you unlock the ability to accelerate your production again.
    I get sucked into this playstyle in all the games of civ6 I've played so far, even quitting some because it started to feel like I'd missed the train, probably would have still won, but felt bad.

    I can see why you'd want to have some scaling on districts, the way it's introduced now is way to intrusive for me, having a too strong effect too soon. I don't want to feel rushed into thinking in industrial farms constantly because I feel forced to use it as it seems like cities by themselves have a tough time keeping up with the scaling. Spreading out the scaling would be way preferable to me, for example having only half the current progression scaling and introducing further scaling, for example a scaling from number of districts in the city, 20% per district making the 6'th district cost 10x the base cost in the late game. If you still need to limit wide play (not kill, limit) you might have to introduce some kind of per district of type scaling as well.

    In essence I want the scaling to be there, but not intrusive and outright punishing you hard for playing various strategies. For example I'm really happy about the lack of heavy tax on expanding, opting for more subtle limitations. Likewise I'd like for districts to not be subject to any brutal scaling due to your focus in other areas. If you choose to make large cities making some theater districts spacing out cities, it feels like a double penalty to end up having to pay four times as much in terms of opportunity cost once you start building more industrial infrastructure.
    You'd get punished production wise for spacing out, for waiting to put down the districts essential for keeping up with increasing costs and because you've focused progressing in other areas than infrastructure you get punished again by getting an even larger penalty for waiting. That's very unrewarding for the things you've actually done, you might have screwed up your layouts, neglected certain parts of your empire, but you really shouldn't get that harshly punished for doing well in other areas.

    It has to be said that I'm definitely not an elite player, quite the sore loser playing mostly concept games on lower difficulties where I choose to play around various gimmicks or abilities, usually failing to do it optimally because I'd rather want it to work this way.


    Edit: About the unique districts not counting, I can't believe that's intended behaviour. It's not mentioned anywhere as a benefit (and it's a quite large one at that) and it seems counter intuative.
    It also leads to Germany having the benefit of creating cities with 4 districts at size 4, which means you litterally don't have to support their cities as amenities can be covered with a single policy slot while still having fully functionally cities that practically do not need any land. Even non "bugged" 3 districts still leaves open a slot for some extra benefits making the German ability very good on it's own, but only to the extend of making a size 4 city size 7 equivalent more or less, rather than size 10 as it is now.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2016
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  20. Roxlimn

    Roxlimn Deity

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    The scaling honestly isn't so bad as all that - it's just the same as it was in Civ 5 when people were complaining about Musketmen taking 20 turns to build because they intentionally neglected their +hammer buildings because "they weren't worth it."

    But here it might be just a transparency issue. I've never had that much of a problem with it because I love my cogs and I always prioritize techs that give me cogs. One of the very first techs I get in Medieval is Machinery, because that gets me Lumber Mills, and that boosts my production. Besides which I like the Districts that boost domestic Cogs, so once I get the trade network up, it's really not that much of a problem.

    FWIW, these add to internal routes: Commercial Hub (+1), Harbor (+2), Encampment (+1), Industrial Zone (+2). So once I got a Commercial and Encampment up, I'm up + 3 hammers per domestic, and once the IZ is up, the target Industrial City is up to +5 hammers. That solves most issues, really.
     

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