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[RaRE] Health and Disease

Discussion in 'Civ4Col - Creation & Customization' started by agnat86, Sep 1, 2014.

  1. agnat86

    agnat86 Warlord

    Jun 30, 2011
    Hey everyone,

    This is an idea I have had for a while, and I would like to hear what you think of it.:)

    One major factor that facilitated the European conquest of the new world was disease. Tens (maybe hundreds) of millions of natives were killed over the centuries by diseases like smallpox, measles, plague, typhoid fever, etc. In fact, many more natives were killed by disease than by violence.
    Apart from that, there have been some severe epidemics in European colonies as well:

    I've always felt this should be included in the game in some manner. We now have the relatively new feature of Health, and one event about diseases in native villages.

    I have some general ideas how I would like disease to function in the game. I do not know how much programming work these would require, and maybe some of them are technically impossible. This is a kind of brainstorm.


    Spreading diseases:
    Diseases can be spread by all units except for sea animals. A unit can infect other units in the same tile or adjacent tiles, or settlements in these tiles, there is a random chance this will happen. Diseases start in Europe, and are brought to the New World by ships sailing back and forth.

    Infected units:
    When a unit becomes infected, it will take a few turns before the disease becomes apparent, and the unit becomes ill.
    When that happens, the player receives a message, so before that time, the player does not know that a unit is infected. That is very important, otherwise it would be much too easy for the player to fight a disease (it is also more realistic, of course). That unit receives a random amount of damage every turn for a few turns, after which the disease fades, and the unit is healthy again.
    It it also possible that a unit is a carrier. In that case, it never gets ill itself, but it retains the possibility to infect other units or settlements.
    Non-human units (wagon trains, siege weapons, animals) can only be carriers. For infected human units, there simply is a certain probability that they get ill after infection.

    Infected settlements:
    If a settlement becomes infected, an epidemic occurs. The practical effect of this is that a lot of negative Health is added each turn during an epidemic, which causes the Settlement Health to plummet rapidly. In the case of an epidemic, the Settlement Health gets a new, lower minimum, to reflect the complete stagnation of daily life and productivity that happens in such periods.
    If an epidemic is severe enough, colonists may die. The negative health threshold beneath which a particular kind of colonist is in danger can vary.

    The probability that a colony gets hit by an epidemic is also dependent on the initial Health of that colony. It would also be nice to have some kind of visual effect for settlements experiencing an epidemic, comparable to the smoke and flames you see when there is civil unrest. Maybe green smoke or something.

    Differences between natives and Europeans:
    Obviously, natives should be more affected by diseases than Europeans. In colonial history, Europeans could get weakened by epidemics and suffer economic setbacks, but the natives were hit much harder, and lost large parts of their population.

    This could be reflected by giving natives a much higher vulnerability to diseases (a numeric value that could be coded in XML). As a result of this, an epidemic would kill a significant part of the population of a native settlement, or kill off infected braves. In contrast, the death of colonists or units among Europeans should be much rarer, and happen only during the severest epidemics, if the player fails to take proper precautions, or if units are already weakened by battle.

    Also, the native units of human players, (slaves, converts and mercenaries) should be just as vulnerable as other natives. Among these three, slaves should be the most vulnerable, as disease was historically one of the main reasons the colonial powers eventually went to Africa for slaves, and they live in far worse conditions than converts or mercenaries.
    This could be compensated by reducing the chance native slaves run away. That way, the biggest disadvantage of African slaves is that they can run away, while the biggest disadvantage of native slaves is that they often die of diseases.

    Balancing for the negative effects on native tribes:
    Because natives will be harder hit, this would make it too easy to wipe them out early in the game (although that would be realistic). So to compensate for this, natives ought to start much stronger.
    That is something that I would like anyway, as currently, when you arrive in the New World, there are very few natives, and it is clear they are only just starting up as well.

    I don't know if it is possible, but I would like it to let natives grow and develop for a while before Europeans arrive. For example, if, at the beginning of each game, the natives get 50 turns on autoplay to build up and develop themselves, they would be stronger and more populous, and the player would have much more the impression of arriving in societies that are already functioning.
    But I don't know if that is technically possible.:dunno:

    Also, natives will gain the ability to generate Health in their settlements as well. Negative health will only happen to them during an epidemic though.

    The role of Health in diseases:
    There are several ways to fight diseases, and Health is the most important.
    A settlement with positive Health has a lower risk of epidemics. If an epidemic occurs, this would also mean that more Healers need to be employed. I would also really like that, as currently, you seldom need more than one Renowned Medic to keep a large city healthy.
    I've also come across nice building art for a Plague Hospital, but I cannot find it back at the moment. But I would like to include it, either as a building where extra healers can work during an epidemic, as a building without workers that just reduces the negative health generated by the epidemic, or, which I would like best, a building where you can put sick colonists in "quarantine," so they cannot spread the disease further.

    Units that became ill and recovered will be less strongly affected during the next epidemic, or do not become sick of all and can only be carriers.

    Occurrence and duration of epidemics:
    The game should obviously not become a ceaseless string of epidemics. They should occur only once in a while, and just as sick units will recover after a few turns, an epidemic in a settlement should not last too long either. Additionally, units and settlements should be completely immune for a while after recovery, otherwise an epidemic could last indefinitely.
    For example, it would be nice if once in 40 years an epidemic occurs, which lasts four years. That way, 90% of the time your colonies would still function normally.

    Epidemics could also vary in severity. For example, numerous mild epidemics that kill a few natives and mildly affect a few colonies, and a few severe ones that ravage the natives, stifle your economy and kill a few colonists.

    Why I would like this feature:

    Because it would offer the player many really interesting gameplay choices.

    Stagnation of trade and transport:
    If an epidemic occurs, the player has to make harsh choices. Units that constantly travel between settlements are the most likely to spread the disease: transport units and ships. The player can leave his colonies running their normal routine and risk a pandemic, or he can stop transport to and from infected cities, and suffer economic damage.
    Perhaps an easy "quarantine" function would then need to be added to the trading system. Once it is activated by the player, all automated trade to and from that settlement is halted, and automated units will not enter the plot of that city. When the epidemic is over, the quarantine is lifted automatically.

    Biological warfare:
    There are some dubious claims made about colonists in history deliberately infecting natives with infectious diseases. While these are disputable, it certainly would become possible with this feature to use disease to your advantage.

    Maybe the spread of diseases should negatively affect your relationship with affected native tribes as well.

    Employing more healers (more dynamic):
    I like the addition of Healers and Health, but I think it currently functions in a relatively simple and static way that is completely controlled by the player.

    With the disease feature, the player would suddenly need to employ more healers during epidemics, taking workers off the fields to help caring for the sick. Health would also limit the ability of a disease to gain a foothold and spread.

    Tackling a crisis, solving puzzles:
    One thing I already know I would really like is to trace back a disease, and find out where it started.
    Because a unit can infect other units before he becomes ill himself, you have to trace back the movements of a unit the past few turns, and find out what other units or settlements might be infected, and might spread the disease further. That is nice for players who like a bit of puzzling.

    More realism:
    As I mentioned before, disease played a very important role in this part of history.

    I welcome all ideas, suggestions, criticism and other kinds of feedback. Especially on the technical possibility of this feature, as I do not know very much about that myself.:)
  2. Kailric

    Kailric Jack of All Trades

    Mar 25, 2008
    Marooned, Y'isrumgone
    This would be an interesting and real to life game feature, however, I would be concerned about how much fun it adds to the game as it is mostly a negative feature with no positive benefits, other than decimating native villages. This would be a major addition and would effect every decisions you make nearly every turn. Most of what you suggest is all doable, though, from a coding stand point.

    Disease did play a major role of course especially during the middle ages, thus I have considered disease for the M:C mod. I haven't really put much thought into it though so your post is very helpful in that regard. This may could work best as an Event that takes place, rather than a constant game mechanic. I like the idea of "Tackling a crisis, solving puzzles" and it could turn out to be a mini game in itself as you seek to discover the source of the disease. I am studying World Civilizations in school at the moment and I am sure we will get to historical diseases at some point so perhaps I'll be inspired with some new ideas on this.

    I haven't played RaR with the Health mechanics yet so I can't really comment on how this would effect that, but this addition would seem to add to and perhaps balance a Health mechanic. That's all I have for now.
  3. Nightinggale

    Nightinggale Deity

    Feb 2, 2009
    I like the concept as such, but I'm worried that I will not like the gameplay impact of it. In fact the whole health addition seems more annoying than fun to my gameplay. Maybe it needs balancing or maybe it could end up as a game option or both.

    Why limit it when the real world appears not to have restrictions like that?
  4. agnat86

    agnat86 Warlord

    Jun 30, 2011
    I don't worry too much about that. Wild Animals also have a strictly negative impact, or a larger REF, and that can also be fun. That's what makes it a challenge.

    Of course, it should be fun for the player to combat diseases, not annoying. That is why I think it is important that the impact of an epidemic should be dependent for a large part on the way the player reacts to it. If it were just a bad thing that happened that you could not do much about, that it would just be an annoyance.

    Well, that is exactly what it should not do. It should always be a problem that lasts several turns at the most, and large periods in between where it does not occur.

    That is, of course, if a heavy epidemic would occur. Lighter ones would only be a slight, temporary decrease in productivity of a colony (at least, to European players).

    I don't know. Events are extra additions that mostly add some flavor, but do not have a serious impact on gameplay, as they happen only once.:dunno:

    And I want to have diseases play a serious role, like it did in history.


    It definitely will need to be balanced well. As I said, it should not become too dominant and push other features to the background.

    About the gameplay impact, because disease will largely have a negative impact, damaging your economy, this should be balanced out in some way, otherwise the game would become slower.

    I never knew that. Well, in that case all units are able to spread diseases.:lol:
  5. Nightinggale

    Nightinggale Deity

    Feb 2, 2009
    Look at the date. It's a newspaper article, which is around two weeks old and it tells about brand new research. This mean a month ago nobody without inside information to the research knew of sea creatures spreading disease.

    Personally I'm not too sure about the conclusion though. They find TB 500 years before Columbus and then they guess it came from seals. However vikings could have carried the disease. Also there is a theory that prehistoric people travelled from Europe to North America by sailing next to the ice, which they could use to rest on and hunt seals and stuff, kind of like how native in Greenland used to do. This was at the end of the ice age, but when was that? It happens so slowly that one could argue that we aren't past it yet. Iceland still have leftover ice age, which we call glaciers. I saw the other day that the Icelandic university stated that all nuclear bombs in the world combined have enough energy to melt 1% of the ice in Vatnajökull, which is the biggest Icelandic glacier. Who know how long it took to melt the sea ice considering the massive amount of energy it takes to do so.

    Ok, that's a bit off topic, but luckily we don't have to know what and when those events took place for real. What we need to figure out if how we want the game and we can make it just the way we want.
  6. Kailric

    Kailric Jack of All Trades

    Mar 25, 2008
    Marooned, Y'isrumgone
    Its amazing how science can trace those things that far back in history. And it is interesting that the whole world has been populated for a whole lot longer than most of us realize. So much went on before recorded history or most of the earliest recorded histories have been lost, I would love to travel back and watch it all take place:)

    Anyway, one thing about an idea like this it is difficult to determine how it will play on paper. Someone would just need to start coding in the ideas and start play testing. Speaking to agnat86, you seem to be a fairly intelligent fellow, I would encourage you to start looking into modding yourself. There are quite a few people here with great ideas but very few people that can actually begin to implement them.

    Coding really isn't all that difficult. I knew very little when I first started and it was a tutorial by Kael that really got me going. I'll post the link to it here for you.

  7. Commander Bello

    Commander Bello Say No 2 Net Validations

    Sep 3, 2003
    near Koblenz, Germany
    Sorry for replying that late, but I really had to make some thoughts about it, first.

    In total, from the point of view of adding "realistic features" to the game, your proposal surely does this and seems to be well thought. :goodjob:

    Nevertheless, as others have pointed out already, I see some problems.

    1) Negative impact
    Experience tells that players don't like negative things to happen to them.
    If your newly founded colony is struck by an epidemic while your European neighbours are prospering and developing, this may become a very frustrating experience for the player, leading to "rage quit".
    Especially in the early game, the slightest drawback can have severe consequences. Think of getting 1 or 2 Seasoned Scouts at the docks in the early game, and compare that with not getting them - you will have a completely different game.

    2) Impact on the AI
    That is, what concernes me the most.
    Currently, the AI is almost braindead and just lives off its bonuses.
    I don't foresee the AI to be able to cope with such a rather complex game mechanism in the near future.
    The consequence would be to have epidemics only happen to the human player.
    First of all, this wouldn't please the players (see pt. 1) and second, the "benefits" in regards to weakened natives would be available for the AI, too.
    This would lead to a doubled effect: the human player is hit and the AI is given an advantage at the same time by just one feature.
    It might become really hard to balance this.

    3) Conclusion
    We should keep this proposal in mind but postpone the implementation until we have developed some real "thinking" for the AI.
    Things like organization of production and transports which would be directly influenced by this feature come to mind.

    Regarding your question whether the natives should have an "autoplay period" I would say that since they aren't "doing" anything anyway, it would be easier to just give them more units from the start.
    This "autoplay period" would postpone the player's action in the beginning, and most people wouldn't like it to have to "artificially" wait a minute or so before they can start playing.

    I hope I didn't sound negatively, but these are my points. :)
  8. agnat86

    agnat86 Warlord

    Jun 30, 2011
    That would be mostly a balancing issue, I think. If an epidemic is severe enough to seriously slow your development down, then any European rivals in the neighbourhood would be very likely to suffer from it as well. European rivals far away probably wouldn't, but the player wouldn't see that, and as such that would probably be less frustrating.

    I agree with that. That is why I think that improving the AI maybe should be our first priority at the moment, as I get the impression that, over the course of RaR's development, while many new features were added, the AI stayed the same, and cannot cope with the increased complexity.

    And the AI should be able to handle this, because it would be dreadfully unrealistic if they only happened to human players.
    As for the "deliberately infecting natives" thing, I think we don't have to worry about that now. The AI is not nearly smart enough for that.

    Yes, that could also work, of course.

    Don't worry, you didn't. Each of your points concerns implications of this feature that would need to be programmed/balanced delicately, as they could easily throw the game into the wrong direction. These issues need to be worked out first.:goodjob:
  9. Don Senglar

    Don Senglar Chieftain

    Nov 8, 2010
    AI could be able to handle this feature through Events with some periodicity. This is the simpliest for AI solution.

    Don't try to teach AI through SDK! AI was stupid in the original version, AI remains practically the same stupid in TAC and RaR, too. Unfortunately, this is so. :(
  10. Nightinggale

    Nightinggale Deity

    Feb 2, 2009
    The SDK holds the core AI code. This mean there is virtually no limit to what we can teach the AI by modding the SDK. The problem is coding AI is hard. In fact it is much harder than other SDK modding, which is likely part of the reason why it is so bad in vanilla.

    While I agree that random AI SDK modding is bad (it will likely get worse), I'm not sure how adding events would improve the AI. Also the AI has a performance issue (next turn wait can get long) and using python instead of SDK just makes that problem worse. Also we can debug the SDK, but not python, which is a strong argument for not using python more than absolutely needed.
  11. Don Senglar

    Don Senglar Chieftain

    Nov 8, 2010
    Agree with virtually no limit. The main problem with we can teach the AI.

    No, adding events cannot improve the AI, of course.

    My proposal is quite simple. Health and Disease feature could be programmed in SDK only for human player. For AI (natives and Europeans players) we could use random Events, when some negative effects like diseases would happen with some periodicity, probably 1 per 50-100 turns for random AI players. I don't think any dramatic performance problems with such rare Events.

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