Let's get rid of workers . . .

Discussion in 'Civ5 - General Discussions' started by CGG1066, Oct 30, 2010.

  1. Camikaze

    Camikaze Administrator Administrator

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    That could be an interesting concept. Care to elaborate?
     
  2. Hail

    Hail Satan's minion

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    great idea! :goodjob:

    that's exactly the solution i had in mind:

    key points:
    • improving tiles must have a trade off (choices! civ should all be about choices!)
    • therefore either a citizen is working an unimproved tile or improving the said tile(the city receives no tile yield from the tile in question)
    • furthermore let's suppose that every tile improvement has a base cost
    • "base cost" may be modified by tile terrain difficulty(e.g. it is more difficult to construct something in the mountains, then on grassland)
    • "rate of tile improvement" linearly depends on city's production
    • therefore turns_to_complete = (base_cost * modifiers) / rate_of_improvement
    • maybe allow cities to transfer production to each other (and quadruple wonders' costs and effects to make them more epic :mischief:)?
     
  3. CGG1066

    CGG1066 Minister of Finance

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    Personally, I think the biggest cost of all is enough - and that is of opportunity cost (by working a tile you cannot work another tile/specialist slot), so I'd prefer a system where you automatically build an improvement while working a tile for free, and receive the un-improved yield those turns. A good part of this feeling, however, is my feeling that the beginning of the game moves too slow.

    I would impose another cost, however: that unworked improvements go fallow/abandoned after a few turns and will return to the unimproved yield until the tile is worked for a few more turns (say half the number it took to build the improvement to begin with). This means you'll have to plan your activities in advanced.

    Also - Luxury/strategic resources must be worked in order for them to be harvested.
     
  4. sucksforyou112

    sucksforyou112 Superman

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    Here's my thoughts:

    Howabout each time a city gains a pop, a worker is produced/stacked in that city. That unit can be moved to go make a resource, such as a farm. For free. Then, if you decide to change the improvement there, you pay for the improvement to be changed, and it changes the next turn.

    Also, you can take a pop from the city to make a worker, and then send it out to work a tile (any tile with an improvement would always be worked). This way, the cities would not be uber city states, and it would be more like a society with big cities, and people also live in suburbs/rural areas.

    Since you can take pop out of cities, you could choose between high pop/high production cities and small pop/high food cities (So each pop would make an amount of production/research, with bonuses when in cities. So a pop in a grassland farm is +3 food +1 Research, a pop in a city is +2 production +2 research, lets say). This would work best if food was global, so the agrarian cities/nations could compete.

    Food could even be a tradeable resource like gold, as a lump sum from your stack of food to help a starving nation or over time, as an amount per turn.

    There could be a way to cut off food or regulate which cities get food so as to make it so if one city starves they all do not as a result.

    If a tile is pillaged, it is turned into a worker, and if recaptured could be put back to work.

    Roads would be built by the city screen or something, and tiles would be individually selected, then an amount of gold would be payed to make it, with the road arriving the next turn. If a worked tile is selected, then that tile does not produce its normal output, instead making the road. If an unworked tile(s) is selected, then the nearest worked tile(s) will work on them, for the same result.

    Workers could be added to cities as well as taken from them.

    Whew, that was a lot! :lol:
     
  5. R0GERSHRUBBER

    R0GERSHRUBBER Shrubber

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    Not sure if this has been noted, but the new Civilization Board Game has a different approach; buildings built by a city show up as improvements in the city radius, adjusting the yield. It works really well for a board game because it's comparatively stream-lined.

    Another note: in some Civ IV scenarios, players could buy units, buildings, cities, technologies, border expansions, and improvements on the first turn. It seemed to work well, although it was hard to know whether it was better to buy one thing or another with your gold.

    In any case, I think making improvements buildable or buyable from the city screen would be great. I am opposed to going back to only one type of improvement in each square (e.g. only farms on plains, ala Civ 2), though.
     
  6. ezzlar

    ezzlar Emperor

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  7. pileofnuts

    pileofnuts Chieftain

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    Removing worker micromanagement would free up time that the player could spend on more engaging gameplay mechanics. If you would like to add new systems (e.g. religion, espionage etc.), the player would have to spend time on these. If no existing system is simplified in terms of the time it requires of the player, turns would likely take longer than desired.

    First I think it's useful to list the benefits of the current system:
    1. A sizable initial production investment (building a worker) allows for improving tile yield from there on without further production costs. Creates a need to think ahead and plan out a strategy.
    2. Provides and allows for an intuitive way of constructing different types of improvements on the same type of terrain (hill can either have a farm or a mine). This in turn makes it possible to customize and specialize cities more, providing more strategic options.
    3. Workers can be captured/enslaved by enemy units. Raiding enemy territory is somewhat more beneficial. Raiding and capturing cities are therefor two different reasons for the player to start a war.
    4. Increasing tile yield does not have to be uniform over all cities. Workers can focus on improving tiles for some cities before others. Again, more options.

    I have probably forgot something. Feel free to add points to the list.

    First I was think of buildings, improvements, and units as three distinct categories for investing production in. But then I realised buildings and improvements generally serve the same function. They both increase the output for the city they are built in/around. Thinking of improvements this way there is no real reason why tile improvements couldn't be reworked as buildings. Instead of constructing a farm on each grassland tile, a single building could be constructed in the city that increases the tile yield for every grassland with +1 food. The "mines" building could give +1 production from every hill etc.

    This system require little player time, but clutters the building list. It also have the drawbacks that improving both food and production yield require double the investment compared to only improving one of the two. Further, individual tiles can't be customized. You get a uniform tile upgrade which makes it a little harder to specialize cities.

    CGG1066's original idea would greatly reduce the player time spent on tile improvements. Advanced players already manually assign citizens to tiles, so weaving improvement construction into this system seems like a good idea.

    However, there's no decision for the player between improving tile yield and spending production on other things, there's no way of customizing tile yield for different cities, and no way of focusing on increasing tile yield for some cities before others.

    Changing the system so that improvements that provide access to strategic and happiness resources need to be constructed as buildings would perhaps insert a strategic decision. But it might be a non-decision in that there's always one choice that is clearly better.

    Another option would be to add a building that needs to be constructed before tile improvements start building. More than likely another non-decision.

    A public works system is more time consuming. But might still be better as it have all the benefits as workers except for the capture worker part. As someone suggested, a new specialist could be added that produce public works points that in turn can be invested in tile improvements. To replace worker capturing, pillaging can give a number of public works point. This system is more abstract, but maybe a small improvement over the current system.
     
  8. CGG1066

    CGG1066 Minister of Finance

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    First off - thanks to all for the feed back, all! I'm pleasantly surprised to see this thread is still alive. Unfortunately, I don't have time to respond to all the comments, so I'll just pick it up where it left off.

    1 & 3. I decided to roll my response to both these points into one because they're essentially the same - the original idea decreases the number of trade-offs with regards to build order or order improvements are constructed.

    From a game design perspective, I don't think trade-offs are always better. There are good interesting trade-offs, and there are bad ones that just slow down the game. I view worker-related decisions to mostly fall into the latter category. Most often, it's a "non-decision" (wonderful term, btw). The goal is to develop everything anyway, and the optimal strategy is to develop the higher yielding tiles first.

    The availably of resources can distort this choice (for example, marble may not increase your yield but - if you're working on a wonder, be worth the cost). But I really don't think the minor adjustment to these strategies are worth saving in face of the over-all benefits.

    2. Based on the way this thread has gone, I think one refinement I'd make to the original idea is that players can select which improvement to build on a tile. This could be easily accomplished through the city-screen interface. When you assign a citizen, it simply asks you which improvement to build. You can always click on a citizen and change it later. This will cause an immediate tear down of the current improvement, receiving the base-tile yield for a few turns while the new one is building, and ultimately the new improvement being completed and worked. (For those of you familiar with Civ IV Colonization, a lot like how you selected with occupation the colonist was when working a tile).

    I think this will allow the customization that many here desire.

    Agreed, and I'm against the idea of buildings for just that reasons. I understand the desire to put in a mechanism to create a strategic choice because it's something that is being lost.

    However, I would argue that you need to think in terms of alternatives. Removing workers changes the improvement/building/military choice to a building/military choice. This has it's own interesting trade-offs as well, which are more interesting than improvement-related considerations because they are directly related to the victory conditions. More time spent on these areas would enhance gameplay.
     
  9. pileofnuts

    pileofnuts Chieftain

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    After some more thought I think your system is the best one I have read so far. The refinement you suggest solves perhaps the biggest issue.

    I did a simple sketch of how the interface could look, and adding the tile improvement icons in the assign citizen screen doesn't complicate the interface much at all. You could event design it in such a way that there are three levels of management. The two current levels where you can either let the AI assign citizens or do it yourself. If you assign a citizen yourself the AI pick what it believes to be the most suitable improvement (using the algorithm used by workers right now). If the you would like to change the default choice you click on the improvement icon on the tile and select another.

    In the city interface, above the "Avoid Growth" checkbox another checkbox can be added to stop the improvements AI from tearing down improvements. Another button like the "Buy a Tile" button can also be added for buying improvements. This might need to be tested since you will almost always buy the improvement for strategic and luxury resources if you have the money. It might make it too easy to acquire resources.

    I would also try to remove workers altogether and not keep them for clearing forests, constructing roads etc. I'm not sure how to integrate it into the interface though. Anyway, the player can start clearing forest/jungle from any tile in or bordering your territory. Road construction can be started in a tile you have vision of which is next to a city or an finished road. As long as the road is being constructed the player have vision of that single tile even if the unit that originally spotted the tile moves away.

    I'm not sure what the best rules are for forts. Perhaps the same rules as for clearing forest/jungle to stop players from constructing forts far away right next to enemy borders. Legionaries and/or other units could be given the ability to construct forts anywhere.

    This system is obviously much less intuitive than simply having the rule "if you have a worker on the tile, you can build the road or clear the forest." There's also no existing activity you can start directly from the main game view. All functions are assigned to units, the city interface or various windows. It would be easy to add a row of buttons to the screen for starting these tasks. But there's got to be a more eloquent solution.
     
  10. Camikaze

    Camikaze Administrator Administrator

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    It's most likely been brought back from the dead because it was featured for discussion in the latest episode of Polycast (you can find it in the 'News Updates' section).
     
  11. Schetter

    Schetter Chieftain

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  12. Trias

    Trias Donkey with three behinds

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    I was thinking along similar lines. A player can decide to build an improvement (or preform another "worker action") on a tile, by clicking on a tile an selecting the improvement. (Right click context menu seems most natural way to do this, but the selection buttons could sit elsewhere on the interface.)
    The improvement is then build by having a citizen work the tile. While the improvement is being constructed the tile has a zero yield (or maybe simply a reduced yield). This is the trade-off, and force the player to think about when to build the improvement.

    Without player further player involvement the city governor decides if and when to assign a citizen to construct the improvement. It should probably be programmed to more or less default to constructing X improvements at a time depending on population. This lets the player choose multiple improvements for a city at a time, which will be finished in due time. Of course, the player can also manually assign citizens to work the tile to construct the improvement.

    Cities should also have an automate improvements button, that lets the city governor pick improvements at its own discretion. This avoids MM for players that don't feel like it, while leaving the option to fine tune terrain improvement.

    Note that the same system also works for roads and chopping forests. Doing these actions outside of a city radius still would require a special unit. This unit would however not need to be available at the start of the game.

    I'm note sure that it needs to be that complicated. Simply letting have improvements have fixed build time (maybe modified by terrain, techs, wonders and policies) would already work well.

    I'm particularly skeptical about have the "rate of tile improvement" depend on the cities production. This would make it incredibly hard to improve low production cities (although I guess that is why you included the next suggestion).

    That would be a wholly different discussion with its own pros and cons.

    Some interesting aspects:
    *System allows full customization of improvements, while also allowing the player to have it automated. (Presumably with a suboptimal, but decent result.)
    *Players can decide on improvements on their own time, instead of whenever a worker becomes available.
    *Should lower redundancy in AI tile improvement decision making. (Although, that could also be achieved by better routines for the AI worker decision making, which now seem to loop through all possible actions for each worker.)

    Some possible issues:
    *Like others have noted, removes the option of worker stealing, although I'm not sure how big that issue is, since worker stealing seems mostly a way of farming the AIs incompetence. (Does worker stealing play any role in MP games? Anybody know, because I never play MP games.)
    *The option to rush improvements around a newly settled city is no longer available, reducing strategic options. This could partially by offset by allowing tile improvements to be rush bought with gold. But that might introduce other issues.
     
  13. CGG1066

    CGG1066 Minister of Finance

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    I'm a bit quizzical about why some many commentators are so instant on this point. First off, I don't view it as a major issue. This could be a better way to implement the idea, although I doubt it for the following reasons:

    First off, there is a fine line between creating a "trade off" and punishing the player for an action that is in his interest to do anyway. It seems that, in the vast majority of circumstances, earlier improvement is always better, because it maximizes tile yields over time. I understand that if a player is playing a tiny map with a lot of other civs and attempting a warrior rush, then this choice could be interesting. Otherwise, it seems to be a trade off that is quickly "solved"; but you just slow down production/growth - which is more of a punishment for playing the game correctly.

    Secondly - to the extent that the decisions DO matter - it creates another opportunity for the AI to screw up. As players - we have to accept that the AI is limited, and I can just imagine a tirade of posts complaining that the AI (for both competing civs and governor-controlled player civs) isn't improving tiles fast enough, etc. Maybe it's something that can be implemented with a good algorithm - I don't know. But even that solution could extend turn times . . .

    At any rate - these are things to think about.
     
  14. CGG1066

    CGG1066 Minister of Finance

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    Really? Cool!
     
  15. KrikkitTwo

    KrikkitTwo Immortal

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    I definitely think "tile improvements" should not have anything to do with units, instead it should be done "by the tile"

    The only possible exception is Roads/Railroads + Forts... and you could have Settlers build those. (no reason chopping Forests should be allowed outside of city radius)
     
  16. Trias

    Trias Donkey with three behinds

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    If it were a completely empty choice (one that always has the same best answer) then I would concur. But I don't that it necessarily is. If a tile being improved does not have a yield, this means that for most new cities this turns into a choice between improving the first tile or growing the city. Both choices improve the total yield of the city. Depending on the balancing of city growth speed, yields, and improvement rate this can be highly situational of the cities surroundings. Other considerations like: improving will make resources available earlier, but while growing the city produces more hammers and/or gold, and also increases science output.

    Typically what I'd expect to happen is that early game for the first cities it is most advantageous to first grow the city. As grow slows as the city gets bigger, improving becomes more advantageous.

    An interesting aspect is, that this choice probably is mostly important in the early game, when there is not that much going on and thus giving the player something to think about. As the game progresses and there is lots going on this choice becomes less relevant.

    1) This is actually not that hard to get a good heuristic for.
    2) Moreover since these decisions are most relevant in the early game, your can actually have early game specific AI routines which are more expensive CPU wise, because the AI is not doing much else yet. (This is one of the things what (I think) was done in the Better AI mod for BtS to improve early game decision making (like when to prioritize workers, which is a similar dilemma.)
    3) At worst better decision making by the player is going the give an early game advantage to the player, which is easily offset by giving the AI something extra at the start of the game.
     
  17. CGG1066

    CGG1066 Minister of Finance

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    I think we'll both be served well by looking at the numbers. And, in doing so, my previous statement that " earlier improvement is always better, because it maximizes tile yields over time" is not true (it IS true for any one tile, but not for the overall city). However, your contention that it's better to grow they city first and wait until growth slows down to improve tiles also needs significant refinement.

    The real picture is actually a bit crazy, and breaks down to three cases: (1) improving a tile to boost food yield, (2) improving a non-food producing tile to increase a non-food resource and (3) improving a food-producing tile to increase a non-food resource).

    (1) Tiles improved to increase food: For tiles are improved to increase food, there are many inflection points - i.e., a tile can be worth working initially, not worth working a few turns later, and worth working again a few turns after that.

    Let me illustrate with a simple example: say you are working a grassland, which produces 2 :c5food:. The next tile you plan to work is also a grassland. Once improved, the grassland will produce 3 :c5food:. Also - at standard speed, it takes 6 turns to build a farm.

    With those conditions, it makes sense to improve the grassland if you are 12 or greater turns away from the next population point.* (The last think you want to do is delay a population point, because the additional yield from the next tile is greater than the additional yield from the improvement). So if growth is 14 turns away, you want to improve the tile. If growth is 11 turns away, you're better off waiting until you obtain the next population level.

    *(Because by not working the grassland, you are forgoing 12 food [2:c5food: per turn * 6 turns]. The improvement provides 1:c5food: per turn, so it takes 12 turns to "make up" for this deficit).​

    Of course, this assumes that your goal is to maximize food for growth - but what about production? What if the next tile you plan to work is not a grassland, but a hill? Well - to maximize food, you would want to construct a farm as soon as possible.

    2. Non-food tiles improved to increase a non-food resource: The answer is much more straightforward because more production of this resource does not "unlock" other tiles. In these cases, earlier improvement IS always better.

    Of course, if you're concerned about building anything while the tile is being improved, you may wish to hold off (once again, depending on the same calculation - the farther away you are to completion, the more it pays off). But this is a fairly narrow consideration (and what I was getting at when discussing warrior rushes earlier. Early wonders may fall into this category too. - otherwise there are very few I NEED THIS NOW considerations).

    3. Food tiles improving non-food resources: The question here is what variable do you want to maximize? You will never gain the lost food back one way or the other. But if you want to maximize the other resource (and you presumably do, as you're choosing to build a non-food improvement), it makes sense to improve right away, unless it creates starvation.

    So, given this more complicated picture, I can see where your seeing the opportunity for situational decisions adding to the game. But, here, I think the question becomes is this (a) real strategy or (b) just another incidence of the "no-tech overflow" problem? (and if so - is it a bad thing?)

    My feeling is that it falls under (b). Two out of the three cases it's mostly better to improve right away. And the third case has this strange pattern to it that requires a bit of brainless micro once you realize how it works.

    Another consideration to throw into the mix is how developed do you want the early game to be? I generally believe that the early game already has build times which are too slow and would like more to do. Do you want to slow it down even more? (I realize this could be tweaked by other methods not discussed here - but why force the issue?)

    I realize that these are subjective calls on both questions, so I welcome disagreement. However, at least this outline will help people think through the consequences of their chosen alternative. I'm, unfortunately, not a modder or a designer - so it will be up to who ever implements this, if anybody chooses to do so, to decide which way to go.

    So:
    - (1) given the complications above, is there really a good heuristic?
    - (2) how would you handle AI improvements of cities built or acquired during the later part of the game? That does happen fairly often, especially on larger maps.
    - (3) AI is dumb so give it more bonuses? I view this as a necessary evil best avoided, where it can be.
     
  18. Trias

    Trias Donkey with three behinds

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    That approximately translates to grow to size 3 and then improve, which was I intuitively guessed. After that improve after each growth seems quite near to optimal.

    The big difference is the cost of not microing optimally. De cost of not microing techoverflow tends to become bigger as the game progresses. Here the cost of doing it quick and dirty and just slapping down improvements as you build the city and letting the governor improve as the city grows, (which is not quite optimal) is not that big.

    Note that:
    1) This doesn't slow down development more than building workers does.
    2) Having to think about this in the early game, actually gives you something extra to do in the early game.

    It should not be too hard to find a relatively decent one. If you put in some thought you can probably get the AI to do better than 90% of the human players.

    Later in the game the cost of not doing it optimally is not that big, and the AI can do a fairly decent job with a cheaper heuristic algoritme.

    Well, it is better than removing decisions from the game, because those give the player to do better than the AI. If you think about it, that is actually the reason to choices in the first place.
     
  19. Harvestmoon

    Harvestmoon Chieftain

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    /signed

    I dig it.

    I've wondered why we still have to deal with workers for some time, honestly, at least as far back as IV.

    The way we buy tiles now, we should be able to enter the city screen and plop farms down for gold. Done and dusted.
     
  20. CGG1066

    CGG1066 Minister of Finance

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    Well that would be true assuming that you want to (a) maximize food and (b) that you have grasslands. Tweaking which resources are worked and what your goals are really change the math behind it.

    It does have some other counter-intuitive (though not really irrational) implications: it becomes more valuable to improve lower yielding tiles. I actually think this helps your argument - it makes the process of development more interesting, because flexibility becomes part of it (in terms of changing assigned tiles, you want all the higher yield tiles to be improved, so you have better options - but the forgone resources are greater on higher yielding tiles and improvements grant a flat bonus no matter which tile they are put on).

    The ultimate question is would this be fun? That's really a subjective call at this point. Personally early on the game, I'd prefer to focus on building military/wonders (depending what victory condition I'm going for). So even if it wouldn't slow down the game as much as with workers, it would still be slower than not having workers build improvements and you don't lose the tile yield. With higher yields there are more units and building decisions, so what you lose from the whole "timing improvement game" you make up in other areas, by sooner real military conflict and faster expansion (two things which are the core of the game and directly relate to victory conditions).

    (There are also other methods to force decisions on a macro-level that avoids the chore of tile-by-tile choices. For example, if, like in Civ IV, agriculture had to be researched, then tech choices will have a profound effect on improvements.)

    Like I said - I never dismissed the idea of improving tiles having no yield out-of-hand. I just doubt that the net benefits outweigh the net costs - and I think our discussion has done a good job at outlining those.
     

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