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Malakim Desert Mechanics

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Fall from Heaven' started by ophite, Oct 18, 2007.

  1. Tarquelne

    Tarquelne Follower of Tytalus

    Dec 8, 2001
    I like the road idea, but not the extra food from upgradable roads.

    (If the Malakim are going to be anchored in flood plains, btw, some extra skill with boats would be appropriate too. Anyway, back to roads...)

    I can accept the first point of food as Malakim knowledge of how to squeeze some sustenance out of the desert. I think a later hammer bonus would be fine though.... and maybe a special "Desert Farm" improvement (though I'm sure there's a better name) that gives an extra food and gives up one of the trade and any hammers and requires a relatively advanced tech.

    I don't think there's a way to do it with XML, but some sort of commerce and/or food bonus based on desert roads + open borders with other civs would be great, IMO.

    I suppose my position is that - if we're talking historically or realistically - deserts were notable for trade more because there's not much else you can actually do with them than because they're *good* for it. Though I suppose you aren't bothered by other people most of the time. IIRC the famous desert trade was generally from one non-desert region to another non-desert region. Sub-sahara Africa to the Med., for example, or the East-West "Silk Road" that went through the Gobi. The desert itself was rarely a source. Certainly of food, and even of wealth - except for traders. I think a bonus to trade rather than straight commerce would be good for the Malakim, to show that they know what to do with those roads.

    All in all I'd rather see the Malakim as the civ best able to wring something out of the desert, but keep it as very poor terrain even for them - except as a strategic barrier and tactical advantage.
  2. QES

    QES Court Jester

    Jul 18, 2006
    Minnesota USA

    While I agree with everything you said - the fundamental problem is that Civilization the gmae is not designed with the idea of 'resource-mobility' in mind - unlike reality has been.

    Reality has dictated that massive populations can be foisted into small areas because they're supported by a huge network of systems abroad or outside their immediate domain.

    Civilization focuses oppositely on the earliest concepts of city-scape venues of the city-states of Greece - and all Game mechanics have followed this simple paradigm.

    I remember thinking - when playing a "modern" scenario in Civ 2 - that the midwest's cities of the USA were markedly bigger than the coastal ones - because the farms that existed throughout the midwest allowed those cities to grow to exponential means.

    But the Midwest is not nearly so populated as Civ would have us believe - most of the food produced here goes elsewhere, to the coasts and even abroad. This was not and has not been easily represented in this city-state game.

    This should be remedied. And I've no idea how.

    Civ IV or perhaps in the future Civ V should finally come to grips with this and remake the core mechanic. I know we all love it - but it's always grated on me.

    So, there are three possibilities for the Desert-dwellers of the world:
    Deal with being weaker and just give them boons elsewhere to compensate (perhaps science or monies boons)
    Destroy the serenity of 'baren' deserts and make them as cluttered as everything else.
    Fix the core mechanic.

    I truly believe THIS modding community could do it - but i'm not sure they'd want to.

    If such a feat were to be attempted, it'd have to achieve the following answers/goals:

    Answer - "Why do cities get big? And do they get big for the same reason throughout all eras? Or do the reasons change?"

    Answer - "If the reasons change, can that be understood and adapted to the gameplay?"

    Answer - "Is it possible to have a city-state base mechanic be altered in part or in full to represent a more fluid dynamic of resources to couple with why city populations grow or shrink?"

    Answer - "Is it possible to represent dynamic resources (mobile food/hammers/trade) at all?

    Answer - "Would any changes to this mechanic be more fun than the time or effort needed to make them would give? - I.e. is it a net gain?"

    I'll leave it to you to figure that out.



    Since "Crime" was introduced - perhaps a "economic vitality" could also be represented.

    Each city could have an 'economic status'. Based on this status, the city would grow or shrink. Different things could affect the status - food availability, health, crime, trade revenue, etc. With FFH, perhaps even leader traits or civics could have an effect.

    The Statii could be thus:

    Desolate < Dying < Impoverished < Stagnant < Lucrative < Vibrant < Boom

    Each stage/status would give the town a % of the "Total" food generated by the empire. All food would be summed up and totaled, then distributed via this heirarchy.

    Each citizen would still require his normal allotment of foodstuffs - but how the cities were given their food would vary. Various buildings could increase or decrease the status.

    This seems like a good idea to me - but i dont know how the status could allocate food. If for example, all 3 towns were "boom" would they all receive equal foods? I dont know - someone smarter than me would have to figure out the math.

    These are, as always, just ideas to get others thinking.
  3. Skitters

    Skitters Prince

    Aug 14, 2006
    Birmingham, UK
    I'd suggest that rather than get benefits to food/commerce/production the Malakim should get a philosophical bonus from desert tiles.

    Deserts should be seen as something that inspire rather than be something to be exploited by the Malakim
  4. fuzzy_bunnies

    fuzzy_bunnies Prince

    May 28, 2004
    I'm kinda Meh on the roads producing stuff idea. You're just going to end up with a giant network of roads connecting each other plus the bonus just isn't equivalent of an equal plains tile. If you make the bonus grow to exceed a plains tile, then you're going to get Malakim builders going out of their way to build on deserts instead of other terrains. Also, since food production is linked directly to an improvement that you don't need to spread out, you're going to get cities right next to each other just like anywhere else.

    I still heavily favor the oasis + working deserts + no desert destruction idea... but lets step back and look at the big picture.

    Now, if the plan is to refocus the Malakim, then trade is probably the way to go... it makes sense from a real-life counterpart and it makes thematic sense. What does this mean? This means their cities should have low food yields but perhaps increased commerce yields to encourage rush buying vs building as well as the adoption of civics to encourage trade.

    If your going to make them trade barons, then perhaps it should be tied directly to trade routes instead of hinting at it by tying it to roads. What about a building that multiplies trade route income as well as gives food/production/commerce based on your trade routes? This gives players incentive to actually build up foreign trade routes and open borders between neighbors as well as maintain good relations.

    Say for example, +1 gold +0.5 food +0.5 production for every 1 gold worth of trade route value. (I haven't really paid attention to gold yields from trade routes, so those bonuses might need to be increased to make it worthwhile)

    Unfortunately, this would also mean that non-desert cities become super producers. So... maybe another point to consider is to not allow the Malakim to build agricultural improvements. What do you all think about that? It would still make non-desert cities somewhat favorable but desert cities would have less of a penalty since everything is sort of evened out with the trade route bonuses. Granted, this would also prevent them from harvesting agricultural bonuses too... but maybe another structure can be added just for that.
  5. avalonnn

    avalonnn Prince

    May 7, 2008
    This is a very good idea. Malakim UB could add culture to the resources generated by desert tiles.
  6. Witzzard

    Witzzard Chieftain

    Nov 16, 2005
    As said before, i also would like a solution without tons of improvments on the desert tiles...
    But if you need to have 'farm' improvements, it really should be something like deep-wells (like fuzzy mentioned) or underground-cavern/-canal (wich were often built in real deserts to transport and gather water from the rare rains or other water sources).

    What also is missing, are 'desert-mountains' wich could also help (enabling mines and some resources, while not looking too odd).

    What also might be okay, is if it would be able to widen the effect of rivers on desert-tiles in Malakim-borders.
    I think the egypt's used the Nile better than non-desert civs would have.... But that my opinion...

    The problem is, at the moment i don't really have a good idea of what the Malakim are... Trade sounds cool for deserts, but does it really fit Kael's and the other team-members idea of the Malakims?
  7. scaramouche

    scaramouche Chieftain

    Dec 2, 2007
    Maybe instead of summoning sand lions, Malakim casters can make mini-Mirrors of the Sun or other magical desert things. Are we being too mundane here? I mean, there's magic and faith has real power in this game. Maybe they can do some magicy thing!
  8. Jules.lt

    Jules.lt Prince

    Aug 15, 2008
    Cork, Ireland
    @Skitters and avalonnn: check out my post two pages ago for an idea on how to make desert give a philosophical bonus in a flavourful way.

    As for roads, I'm still not convinced with anyt idea that has villagers working in the desert. Poor guys...
    These tiles should be unproductive, except in exceptional circumstances.

    I favour buildings that give a bonus that scales with desert tiles in the BFC, wonders that give a bonus that scales with desert tiles in the empire, and +2food from oases and flood plains (they know how to work the good parts of the desert).
    You just have to make the building bonuses good enough for the Malakims to want some real desert cities.
  9. xienwolf

    xienwolf Deity

    Oct 4, 2007
    Location! Location!
    Personally I have always been struggling to tie the Malakim Mechanic to Glass. You get some phenomenally amazing glass formations when lightning strikes desert sand, which fetch top dollar even in the modern world. In Erebus Glass would probably be a fairly uncommon thing, so I would imagine that the Malakim would have figured out how to create it and then guarded the secret.
  10. Nor'easter

    Nor'easter Emperor

    Feb 25, 2007

    In a post on the first page of the FfH2 thread, the Malakim are described as "Desert nomads and priests," so our suggestions ought to try to fit that idea, I guess.


    Excellent point about the city-centered dynamic of Civ, where each city is almost a self-contained economic unit. Yes, Civ 4 added trade routes, and your empire shares resources, but your cities don't trade food or raw materials. Unfortunately I think modifying that would require a lot of changes that go beyond the scope of this mod, no?

    The special Malakim upgradeable roads is an interesting idea. Earlier in this thread someone suggested having Malakim trade routes provide food for each desert tile in the city's BFC. I think however it's done, there should be a limit on how much food they receive. 3 food per road, for example, seems like a lot -- I don't picture huge metropolises in the desert. Maybe just 1 food, but have the road or trade route also provide 1-2 hammers, representing their trading for raw materials. And commerce also, of course. I agree with Xienwolf that if the terrain becomes non-desert, the road would have to become just a regular road, thereby giving the Malakim an incentive to stay in desert.

    Anyway, a lot of interesting ideas in this thread, hope Kael and the team will find something they can use.
  11. deadliver

    deadliver Loud Mouth Amateur

    Oct 18, 2003
    The ability to spring oasis improvements and a revamped nomad trait are what this civ needs. Give the malakim the same bonuses the elves get in forests on deserts (at least) and perhaps there will be a chance a desert tile may be in the BFC once in a while perhaps even terraformed there. A desert being a desert should not turn it into a magical land where little elves produce bonus hammers and food in their workshops for a jolly fat man(desert=desolation). The idea of a civ specific resource is fun but as the bunny man pointed out earlier what is to stop people from springing it?

    Ditching spring really is not an option.
  12. fuzzy_bunnies

    fuzzy_bunnies Prince

    May 28, 2004
    Also, I'd think that if any building were to provide resources based on desert tiles, it would have to be linked to WORKED desert tiles. Otherwise you could drop a city in the middle of the desert and build that building and have everyone as specialists which is pretty abusable.

    Deadliver is going to stab me but I still think... SPRING NEEDS TO DIE! ;) (at least spring in its current incarnation)

    I mean really, whats the concept? A spring of water is going to irrigate a whole patch of desert? If so, then why don't natural oases change the tile to a plain? What about rivers? They should change all the adjacent tiles to a plain too...
  13. Blackmantle

    Blackmantle King

    Mar 15, 2008
    Berlin, Europe
    @ fuzzy_bunnies: I do like / favor your suggestion of making the civ trade-route-based + unable to improve or greathly profit (second one i whould favor) from normal terrain
    (I don't think though, it whould be the best idea at to flat-out deny Farms / other improvements. I think its better to just make the non-desert-tiles a bit worse for them by default and improve regular deserts a tad bit so that those tiles can compete with at least plains.
    An 1/1/1 tile is still not all that overly hot/unbalanced for a Desert and doesn't allow for huge cities on their own. Desert hills might indeed get interesting that way. Not the worst thing imo.).

    Add special leverage to Oasis + perhaps allow some option to add their own oasis few and far beetween (maybe with at least 4/5 tiles space between existing oasis, so no more than one at best is created for each city.
    Maybe not called oasis but dug well on which adjacent tiles whould could be counted as riverside instead so it doesn't conflict / penalize existing ones and offer some other nice things like breweries and nice resource hook-up options.) on desert-tiles (and only on them which if the terrains are evened out anyways removes an incentive to terraform those oasis with spring or vitalize). and you are set with a mechanically rather unique Civ that does favor Trade routes and many rather small cities (good idea anyways if you wan't to focus on trade routes as the very base of your economy.)
    Adding an additional +1/+1/+1 or even +2/+0/+2 for Oasis / dug wells might be approriate (in addition to the flat bonus to deserts)

    Then as an added boon add a small (and i mean really small) bonus for each desert tile in the fat cross (if easily possible codewise) like +5% GPP or +5% commerce/+10% gold and the Malakim have hell of an incentive to settle in lost deserts / even terraform some! of their terrain to it (since its a huge military / tactical advantage to them in addition to that) with and without Floodplains and not to search for graslands or other food-heavy terrain. Still needed because normal deserts are not improvable.

    And surely Floodplains should still rock for them (especially for them more than anyone else...).
    Because Riversides with Floodplains are! really nice places to settle.
    Testament to that is thats were the first huge 'supercities' in mankinds history have spawned (quite some of them by rather desert-oriented cultures) if im not mistaken (and the historians / archeologists don't assume wrong thigs which is very much possible naturally and they might find out some day soon.)

    So if for example (just numbers to be played around with, not the core of the concept so don't just flame the idea based on them. ;)) for them:

    Grasslands and Plains yield 1/1/0 (with the usual abilities to improve those. So that whould mean -1 Food and +1 Production on Grasslands for them)
    and deserts / burning sands get +1/+1/+1 (regardless of features / improvements there) they don't really stink in deserts (and cities with Floodplains / Oasis / Scrubs / Hills / resources might be highly productive, which doesn't sound all that unthematic for a desert-people) and don't have a reason to go out of their way to find greener pasures without beeing totally gimped if they start in them..

    Some example yields with the numbers stated above:

    normal plains/grassland tile = 1/1/0 + gains from improvements

    normal desert/burning sands tile = 1/1/1 (+ possible improvements in non-floodplains riversides which are possible sadly, or in hills + tiles with resources like incense or marble.) + desert special bonus for each such tile in the fat-cross. (A desert-hill / mine for them whould yield 1/4/1 for example. :))

    normal desert/bs tile (if possible) + scrub = 1/2/1 + desert special bonus for each such tile in the fat-cross (+ possible improvements?).

    normal desert/bs tile (if possible) + oasis/ dug well (if terraformed via spring / vitalize loses one commerce and desert special bonus + malakim special movement + military advantage. So many reasons not to...) = 5/1/5 (if im not mistaken in base yield of a desert Oasis of 3/0/2) + desert special bonus for each such tile in the fat-cross.

    normal desert/bs tile (if possible) + floodplains = 4/1/1 + imrovements + desert special bonus for each such tile in the fat-cross (sounds really neat. And is. But Floodplains are not everywhere usually. And it should be their prime terrain to settle anyways.).

    coastal / ocean give normal yields + possible improvements from fishing / whaling boats
    which together with other thigs (especially the slight leaning to foreign trade / special benefits from lighthouses / greath lighthouse) means they have some (if very small) benefits from going costal (which sounds allright for a trader-folks and is perhaps not the worst thing for the game overall that not just one civ likes to take any tangiable interest in costs.).

    That would allow for a rather normal start if they start the game in deserts with a fairly acceptable early game even if not in deserts (still a small drawback but that seems like a reasonable tradeoff for greather late-game benefits from trade and in terrain you can chose / create in rather early midgame and later via scorch + spring.) with a huge boon if they can get some hold on huge ammounts of floodplains (like it should be imo.)

    The slightly penalized / chancy start thing is furtherly evened out if they have a coast with some seafood / with some food-resources nearby if starting in plains / grasslands (which sounds fine. Stil a small penalty at the very start, before farms / pastures / acess to oceans and the likes be available.).

    Later on the trade-route Bonus whould make the possible yields much better and so benefit from a large territory of rather small cities with perhaps a few super-hubs (which don't need extraordinary benefits for trade routes because they sport terrific trade-route-yields and other yields anyways thanks to their size alone.).
    I don't think that the larger the trade-routes grow the larger the incentives you get from them should be. Because that whould unduely profit huge cities which are quite largely benefiting from many of said traits already (and possibly even set the cap on growth way higher than usually.).

    So a flat 1/1/1 bonus (2/0/1 or 1/0/2 could sound reasonable if production doesn't sound so fine from trade / is proven unbalanced after testing. Which i think is rather unlikely.) for each trade route might be in order... (still very nice enough later on, with the many possibilities to get trade routes in FFH from different sources / techs. Trust me. Anyone who played final frontier official mod/scenario comming with BtS should know exactely what im talking about... 2/2/2 is just to much. By far.)

    That whould offer the following benefits (among possible others? All i can muster from top of my head.):

    No infringement on other civs / mechanics uniqueness (like Ancient Forest mechanics/special terrain or the new pirate coves).

    Unique flavorful mechanics for the civ (desert adaptablity in an economic as well as a military way, trade focus, no improvement-cluttered landscape in deserts, incentive to scatter lots of rather small cities on different places all over the map. Especially later on.
    Rich and diverse cities no matter if big or small (newly founded ones start with a nice bonus later in the game which helps them to get up and running way faster for the first few pop / core buildings + proportionally ebbs off a bit if the city gets bigger if they allready controll lots of cities / large empire / good trade routes).

    Some serious incentive to use a non-agriculture economic civic (since that whould always cost you a hammer no matter which terrain you are in save perhaps ice / tundra?) but not utter diminishing of that civic (if farmable terrain is all over the place that might sound like a good idea still to not make them unplayable.). Thats an "overused" civic for many civs anyways (might be a little bit less since the last tech-change though). (conquest and especially foreign trade sound very neat for them then. :))

    Even stronger ties for the Malakim to the overcouncil than before (also rather thematic for Varn / the Malakim) because of the resolution to get trade routes with all foreign cities (if that resolution works at all. Does it? I have a different impression. Might be wrong on that though.).
    Public healers might also help them since they may need more health in comparison to a normal civ in their desert/floodplain-heavy / low-forest terrain and liberty helps to get culture up in fresh low-production cities (and the free specialist is especially neat in an empire of many rather smaller / new-founded cities in comparison to huge hubs.).

    No need to do much work on new mechancis / code tinkering. Just adding / borrowing some lines (from final frontier red syndicate and the likes), changing some values and improving existing features (adding a real use for large expanses deserts and for oasis.) / perhaps add a small tech akin to lanun sea-fearing named nomadic or desert-dwellers (additional starting-tech for the Malakim) to fill out any gaps still there to simplify coding and make modmodders life easier ;).

    Big one: The AI should be able to grasp it easily / use it allright i reckon. (since it should be able to evaluate overall tile-yields allright and most of the bona are automatic so nothing save perhaps a bit of city-placement routine needs to be improved as far as i can see.)

    no overuse / unthematic incentive for normal terrain, and no incentive to overly terraform (especially via spring / vitalize. But still usable somewhat in city / fat-cross optimation. (Thats one for the math-geeks out there. ;)).
    Spamming deserts everywhere (via scorch) whould still not be strongly beneficial (at least from an economic point of view. For military it is beneficial naturally for Nomads.) because in grassland and plains, cottages / farms whould be buildable which do offer some serious benefits (as well as depicting a desert-people changing their lifestyle to become a bit softer people / city-dwellers in overabundant greener pastures.). Which whould allow for bigger cities or more commerce from improvements (likely the second option beeing more widely used.) at the expense of special desert incentives (military and economic ones.).

    Oh and a clear no-vote from me for removing spring / vitalize (which on opposite are spells which might work very well with above suggestion without unbalancing said civ. So i consider that one simply unnessecary anyways.)
  14. Chip56

    Chip56 King

    Jan 19, 2006
    Give them happiness from desert tiles.
    Also gpp, exp and/ or improved trade from desert in the fat cross sounds good.
  15. Tarquelne

    Tarquelne Follower of Tytalus

    Dec 8, 2001
    Might Bhall's fall have created lots of glass? The Malakim know either where it is or (better) what you need to do to get it.

    I suppose you could associate all sorts of unusual or even magical properties with it and use it to justify any sort of change you want to make.

    I might add a global trade-route or two to the Malakim palace and make Nomad better - (+ to combat and to move in desert?) That'd be as much as I want.
  16. JeffSteel

    JeffSteel Warlord

    Jun 21, 2008
    Another idea that just sprang to mind, let them summon another kind of unit, the "Desert Elemental." Basically a giant sandstorm that can only be summoned and move on desert tiles. They could cause collateral damage, and die after combat. Yes, they have sand lions, but those can already go anywhere if I recall correctly, and are weak unless spammed in large numbers. The desert elemental would be like a last ditch attempt to weaken invaders before reinforcements arrived.
  17. fuzzy_bunnies

    fuzzy_bunnies Prince

    May 28, 2004
    I always kinda figured that the Citadel of Light used glass/mirrors to reflect light anyway...
  18. deadliver

    deadliver Loud Mouth Amateur

    Oct 18, 2003
    *stab stab stab* :deadhorse: Die fuzzy die! :ar15::run:

    Lol j/k.

    How about this fuzzy, desert terrain spawns around the boundaries of malakim cities but not in the BFC. This would give the malakim a defensive buffer of terrain in which they gain an advantage while their foe suffers a penalty.

    The desert terrain is easily terraformable with that wonderful spring spell so expanding into the desert is not an issue.

    I do not think that the desert terrain should do anything other than form a base for getting floodplains, oases and serve as a deathtrap for people dumb enough to attack them without a mobile army. Malakim is the only magical elf running around in the desert, leave Santa and his crew where they belong, with the Doviello.

    edit: Oh yeah I like the idea of Malakim having cool trade routes. Give them what the Red Faction gets in Final Frontier, food and gold per trade route! That would make a cool wonder effect too IMHO. Modders! How hard would it be to port over the war camps from the Ghenghis Khan Warlords scenario?
  19. fuzzy_bunnies

    fuzzy_bunnies Prince

    May 28, 2004
    I think I agree with most of your post... just discussing a little more regarding the quote above... wouldn't the whole point sort of linking it to trade routes actually be to unduly profit large cities? In civilizations that are located in these conditions, you get fewer gigantic cities that become the center of trade and knowledge (usually because of plentiful food).

    Thematically, you'd have your power cities in floodplains with smaller subsistence cities out in the desert that improve more slowly over time. In a way, this infringes on the Kurio but I think the overall mechanics are different enough.

    As an aside, anyone know what the limits on trade routes are? I thought it was relatively minimal like 6 or something? Even if its more, part of the point would be for Malakim players to try and switch to high trade & trade route boosting civics... which also makes them a natural for pursuing the trade techs (instead of magic/priest/metal lines like everyone else).

    The increases to the trade routes beyond the initial 1/1/1 can be balanced based on average play though... so it doesn't go insane (like a 8/8/8 bonus for a single trade route) but I think there should be a bonus for increased trade route values.

    In general, I'd favor trade routes giving production/commerce versus a lot of food though... it just seems thematically interesting to have a desert civ that's food limited but with lots of money from trade (ie see any email forward that shows something from the UAE)
  20. MagisterCultuum

    MagisterCultuum Great Sage

    Feb 14, 2007
    Kael's head
    Malakim specific roads don't seem particularly appealing to me, mostly because they seem too similar to but also inferior to my Unique Roads Idea from when I first joined CFF. (Of course, they would probably be much easier to implement than my old ideas...)

    Realistically, there is nothing particularly profitable about desert roads unless there are richer cultures on either side of the desert which the harsh climate makes into a monopoly for the desert traders.

    While many desert civilizations are known for controlling valuable trade routes trade routes, I'm not really aware of anything in FfH lore that says that the Malakim are such a people. They are more like the Desert Fathers, hermits, ascetics, and monks who first fled to the wilderness to escape persecution but stayed because the hardships helped them learn self disciple and grow closer to god. I don't think that most of the population would still choose to live in such barren places, but you can expect that there are still a few desert shrines where disciples go to grow stronger in their faith.

    That is why I recommended changing the Desert Shrine UB. If you make it give disciple units +1 xp per desert tiles in the BFC, then a (small, unproductive, monastery-like) city surrounded entirely by deserts could train priests starting with 19 free xp--only 1 xp short of what it takes to upgrade to a High Priest, and that could easily be provided though apprenticeship, a command post, Dies Diei, or Altars of the Luonnatar.

    I'm not saying they couldn't have some other new bonuses too, including some related to trade, but overall they are a religious themed civ and should be strongest in that area.

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