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Some general thoughts on Cargo and Ship type system

Discussion in 'Civ4Col - We The People' started by historix69, May 25, 2021.

  1. historix69

    historix69 Emperor

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    This post was inspired by the recent thread for a general Overhaul of Cargo and Transport system.
    https://forums.civfanatics.com/threads/major-overhaul-to-cargo-system-xml-based.670387/

    (This is a copy of my original post, so if you already read it there is nothing new in this OP but feel free to comment below.)

    For a general Overhaul of Cargo and Transport system, I would suggest to go through all the basic physical and economical attributes as well.

    Cargo in general has attributes like volume, weight (based on cargo type's individual density) and value (based on current market value).
    - For non-living cargo there are different physical types like (dry) granular bulk cargo, solid and packaged cargo and fluid cargo, but in context of the game this can be ignored since all goods are either solid or can be assumed to be packed into boxes or barrels, e.g. fluids like rum and wine are transported in barrels. Those goods usually can be stacked.
    - Living cargo like livestock, slaves, colonists or soldiers may require more space than calculated from their "density". They can be "stacked" on a ship to some degree by (temporarely) adding additional decks.
    - The game does not really distinguish between low and high density goods but places them all in kind of abstract Intermodal Shipping Container (= Cargo Slot). In real life you could for example combine low and high density goods to optimize the load of a ship based on available capacity (volume and weight).
    - There are all types of value-density combinations like
    + bulky low density low value goods (lumber, grain)
    + low value medium weight cargo (iron ore)
    + high value high density cargo (gold, silver)
    + high value medium weight cargo (gems, tools, weapons)
    + high value low weight cargo (silk, luxury cloth/fur products, spices)
    etc.
    - Older trade simulation games like The Patrician 2/3 distinguished between Last (bulk) and Barrel goods (where 10-12 Barrel equal 1 Last).


    Ships in general have attributes like purchase costs, upkeep (fixed costs + operational costs for crew, reparations, supplies), military value/equipment, speed, enclosed volume, empty weight, cargo capacity (volume, weight).
    - (Purchase) Costs for ships in europe in the game differ since purchase costs are calculated using a function of a base price and the number of purchased units of that type. So in the game a new caravel can be more expensive than a galleon. This permanently shifts the cost-value-rating of ship types with each purchase, making even exotic ship types interesting.
    - Units in the game do not have upkeep costs. They do not cost cash and do not consume supplies (food, ammo). The costs for a fleet of galleons is limited to the purchase / construction costs. In real life using a well armed high upkeep transport ship to carry low value goods usually results in an economic loss. (However in some situations you have to do this because of strategical (military) reasons.) No upkeep has probably the biggest effect on how players use ships in the game.
    - The larger historical war ships (SoL, MoW) could have several hundred up to almost thousand crew members (for a ship with 100+ cannons and ca. 2,000 tons). In the game a colonist / soldier unit represents a group of only ca. 100 persons and uses 1 cargo slot. So very large ships in 18th century could have way more than just a few cargo slots. And on war ships many slots would be filled by crew, equipment and supplies. To be more accurate, the game could feature a sailor profession and larger war ships would require several sailor units as crew to be fully operational.
    - The game uses the concept of an abstract Intermodal Shipping Container (= Cargo Slot). In real life there would be different types of ships for low value less protected bulky cargo, for transport in general and for high value well protected quality goods.
    - Warships usually do not allow much extra cargo due to all the weight and volume used by guns and weapons, military crew, supplies (ammo), armor and extra strengthened ship structure, ballast, etc. However warships to some degree usually could be converted to transport ships by removing much of the armament and crew. On the other side merchant ships could be armed with additional guns, crew, etc., reducing the available cargo space. Ship carpenters were able to convert most civilian ship types into better armed semi-military or pirate ships. (War/Peace Time Conversion of ship types) In real life you could decide how much capacity (based on ship type) is used for military equipment and combat crew (combat strength) and how much for cargo for each individual ship.


    When the number of owned ships is growing from a few to dozens or hundreds, ships are often organized in fleets and convoys to keep a clear organisation and not lose track.
    - In the game it is much clearer, easier and costs less clicks to (manually) manage a couple galleons waiting in a city than to go through 3 times the number of small ships like caravels. (The situation might be different if the player automates most or all ships.)
    - It might be helpful for the (manual) players to be able to group several (smaller) ships to a convoy/fleet with combined cargo capacity. (Similar to Civ6 corps units.) For example 3 caravels as group could form a 6-cargo-slot unit with attributes different to the galleon. Combining some cargo ships with an escort could result in a new unit with increased military value and cargo capacity compared to the original cargo vessels.


    Overall I have the impression that the lack of transportation costs (ship upkeep) in combination with the increasing effort to (micro)manage too many small vessels is responsible for the players to prefer galleons and not use the available ship types as intended by design.
     
    modmod, HobyMorgan, nci and 1 other person like this.
  2. raystuttgart

    raystuttgart Civ4Col Modder

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    Spoiler :



    And how do you want to implement something like that in a way that is:

    1. Easy to understand for Players
    2. Easy to visualize and use in UI (e.g. Drag&Drop)
    3. Reasonable effort to implement and balance
    4. Fun for gameplay and not just tedious
    4. Teachable for AI without ruining performance
    ....

    :dunno:

    ----

    I understand you want to have a realistic system. :thumbsup:
    But there are simply way more aspects to consider than that in game design. :dunno:
    In game design you usually need to make compromises and simplify.

    ----

    Nothing I read in your Cargo System sounds like fun for me - it actually sounds tedious for me. :dunno:
    But I of course accept that your personal taste may be different. :thumbsup:

    ----

    Summary:

    Sorry, but something like this will not make it into WTP. :(
    We would simply not implement it ...

    But of course, every modder is free to implement for himself whatever he likes. :thumbsup:
    You are welcome to use WTP to create your own modmod and also share it if you like.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2021
  3. raystuttgart

    raystuttgart Civ4Col Modder

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    Most of the different Ship Types / Unit Types I currently consider "just flavour". :sad:
    But we needed to build the base first to have many Ship Types / Unit Types to now do more with them.

    There is currently still very little "intended by design" in there considering "specialization" / "roles" / "actual gameplay differences".
    They just vary in boring balancing of Strength, Costs, Yield requirements, Building requirements ... basically.

    The "specialization" concepts considering really defined roles have just started.
    All of these concepts have already fully been specified and agreed - simply not implemented yet.
    • Cargo Overhaul
    • Naval Promotion System
    • Upkeep System
    • Social Progress System aka. "Tech Concept"
    • Combat Overhaul
    • ...
    Give us one more year of modding and then we talk about "intended by design" again. :thumbsup:
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2021
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  4. Nightinggale

    Nightinggale Deity

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    I started wondering about adding weight to cargo, units etc. Different ships could then have a different weight multiplier for each type (cargo, civilian units, military...), making ships optimized for different purposes. I abandoned that idea because it became too complex for the players to understand. It would kind of turn into "I'm loading until the game says stop, but then I don't know why it says stop". AI and coding complexity didn't sound attractive either as I started to consider those as well.


    13:13 Lesson 5: Don't confuse "interesting" with "fun"

    I suspect this is what we have encountered here. A realistic cargo system is certainly interesting, but will it make the gameplay more fun?
     
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  5. raystuttgart

    raystuttgart Civ4Col Modder

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    Fully agree. :thumbsup:

    Most players falsely think they want to have the most realistic and most complex system they could imagine ... :sad:
    But if they would get a game as realistic and complex as that, they would not even like to play it ...

    ------

    But of course it is a free world and every modder may create for his features and his mod whatever he wants. :thumbsup:
    If somebody is interested to implement a system like that in a modmod of WTP he is of course allowed to do so. :)

    ------

    Sorry if this sounds like we WTP team members are "ripping your concept apart". :blush:
    We just want to tell openly that we do not like it and it will thus not become part of WTP.

    We are open to discussion - although this may not sound like it. :(
    But what you suggested here is simply 100% incompatible with:
    • our understanding of game design
    • our personal taste and vision for WTP
    • our already existing other concepts
    ------

    Generally however:
    • There is no "right and wrong" in modding. We all simply have different personal tastes.
    • Everything you want for yourself is valid enough so you can create it if you are motivated.
    • Maybe community still likes it and somebody will use it in a modmod. :)
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2021
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  6. raystuttgart

    raystuttgart Civ4Col Modder

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    @historix69 and community:

    Please continue discussion though because some interesting ideas may arise from this. :)
    WTP team members will also continue to read - but we will give you a chance to discuss now first without further negative feedback. :blush:
    At the moment it is also more of a "general brainstorming" than a real concept yet as it seems. :thumbsup:
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2021
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  7. Ramstormp

    Ramstormp Warlord

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    I definitely like the ideas and don't see how anyone playing an already quite complex game like this one would have a hard time figuring out that 100 sheep could and should possibly take up less space, and weigh less, than 100 cows, and I don't see how it wouldn't be more interesting and fun to have to balance the goods around a bit. Is just piling on all that silver without any forethought needed really that much more fun? As long as the categories stay somewhat few (giving easy numbers like 25,50,75,100) it ought to be simple and clear enough to make anyone understand it, and eventually bring more enjoyment.

    I especially like the convoy idea, since I don't enjoy having to scroll down to look for my favorite ship.
     
  8. Nightinggale

    Nightinggale Deity

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    You are essentially asking for a way to group units. We have that with selection groups, but sadly they break up very easy. Step one would be to lock a selected group and once locked we could start to think about how a collection of units locked together should do.
     
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  9. raystuttgart

    raystuttgart Civ4Col Modder

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    Because it ends up in a Sytem like "DoaNE" had implemented, where you will not balance goods anymore.
    This you will only maybe to the first 30 turns (when you only have very few Yields and few Ships).

    Later - when you have a massive empire with a massive fleet and massive production - you will simply let the game calculate and not care anymore yourself.
    You as the player will simply dump cargo into thes Ships until they are full and then have them set sails - without caring anymore what they actually carry.

    It ends in a system "Just dump until it is full" once you have enough Ships and enough Production.
    (Only before that - when you do not yet have enough Ships you may still think.)

    ----

    Value vs. space gameplay balancing simply does not work anymore if you have abundance.
    And in the massive empires of WTP in mid to lategame you simply have abundance.

    Thus "Cargo Slots" creates a system that works with different mechanics.
    (e.g. Key to the Lock mechanics - but a bit softened up for AI and for casual players.)

    "Key to the Lock" mechanics work in almost every possible game design - they are more generalistic although not always perfect.
    (But the "Keys" and the "Locks" as well need to be well designed for your game play to not become tedious and in the other extreme to not become boring.)

    ----

    Comment:

    Considering feature design such systems are extremely easy to analyse considering "pros" and "cons" for different gamestyles.
    But to do that, you need to very clearly define the "overall game design" you want to match.

    ----

    Summary:

    Early game, well maybe even interesting in WTP.
    From midgame to lategame it is boring not interesting in WTP anymore.

    ----

    But again, that is personal taste. :)
    (I play massive economic empires not tiny fledgling colonies fighting for survival.)

    ----

    @Ramstormp

    If you like that, this is great. :)
    And yes, thinking of it it might match the game design of your WTP modmod. :thumbsup:
    More variation in mods / modmods will benefi the player community.

    ----

    To simplify it:

    Check the design patterns (of an idea / concept) if they that match your game design.
    With some experience you will notice within minutes if a design pattern will work in your game design or not.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2021
  10. Ramstormp

    Ramstormp Warlord

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    Yes, I have very little experience of the mid-late game, since I tend to either get bored, overwhelmed or simply lose the plot of what was happening (haven't finished the Lord of the Rings books either for the same reason. I quit reading for a few days/weeks/years/decades and have to restart to get the magic feeling back).

    Of course isn't dumping until it is full is what happens now anyway, which I don't dislike really. I like dragging and dropping things. I just think dragging and dropping different things could add something positive, perhaps even in later stages.
     
  11. historix69

    historix69 Emperor

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    I thought of a simple system : each cargo type / good has a specific weight and volume. Each ship type has an individual capacity (= max weight and max volume) for cargo. When loading a ship, the game would sum up the weight of all the cargo pieces and the volume of all the cargo pieces. If the sum of weight reaches max weight or the sum of volume reaches max volume, the ship would be considered full. Adding more weight would sink the ship.

    Since most of the ships are sailing the atlantic or pacific ocean, they cannot stack goods on deck if they run out of volume inside the ship and still have weight left, e.g. when transporting "light" bulky cargo like lumber which usually has a smaller density than water.

    This would encourage players to combine light and heavy cargo types to optimally use the available capacity.

    Specialised non-combat cargo ships like the fluyt could provide more transport capacity at a smaller cost compared with other merchant ship types.
    see wikipedia :
    "A fluyt is a Dutch type of sailing vessel originally designed by the shipwrights of Hoorn as a dedicated cargo vessel. Originating in the Dutch Republic in the 16th century, the vessel was designed to facilitate transoceanic delivery with the maximum of space and crew efficiency. Unlike rivals, it was not built for conversion in wartime to a warship, so it was cheaper to build and carried twice the cargo, and could be handled by a smaller crew. Construction by specialized shipyards using new tools made it half the cost of rival ships. These factors combined to sharply lower the cost of transportation for Dutch merchants, giving them a major competitive advantage."
     
  12. CurtnoAnna

    CurtnoAnna Chieftain

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    Interesting question. Realism IS fun to some people, but not all. I prefer realism, accuracy and true to historical. I think you and the mod team need to determine the "route" to go, you're doing all the work. Either way I'll play the mod the way you create it, it's great.
     
  13. ConjurerDragon

    ConjurerDragon Prince Supporter

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    Realism and simplified simulation should be balanced.

    I do not want to envision a game where I have to take care that actual people during nightshifts count each individual bananabunch that is loaded on a ship and stored away to make the most of the available cargo space.



    And speaking of simplified simulation - yes, there have been cases where cargo ships were equipped with more cannons and used as privateers and yes, there have been cases where warships were used to transport goods (Bounty, breadfruitplants) or explore.

    But generally merchant ships transported cargo, large warships fought in wars or rarely left port and smaller ships explored. While I see it as a nice idea to be able to turn a merchant to a privateer and a warship to a merchant, I see no need in the game for it. Simply build or buy another ship if you want one, no need to invent a new mechanic to turn one into another.
     
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  14. raystuttgart

    raystuttgart Civ4Col Modder

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    But the Cargo System is currently pretty boring.

    By adding some softened up Key to the Lock mechanics (e.g. Treasures best in Treasure Slots) I want to make it just a bit more interesting.
    I will however not create a "hardcore system" that is tedious to everyone except "hardcore players". (e.g. doing too much math.)

    That is kind of what we try. :)

    But we do not really want to create a "simulation" in that sense.
    Because the term simulation for me is too narrow focussed.

    We simply want to create "good gameplay" with the little time and effort we can invest.
    For games as WTP you need to make compromises - meaning you need to simplify reality.

    -----

    But again, there does not need to be just "one mod that rules them all". :dunno:

    Go and become modders of yourselves. :thumbsup:
    Start dreaming your own dreams.
    And then do not be afraid to also realize them.

    Use our mod WTP if you want for your modmods.:)
    If we like your ideas, we can also cooperate or later integrate your stuff into the core mod.
     
  15. Ramstormp

    Ramstormp Warlord

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    I -Deeeo- used to work the night shift at FedEx making sure containers were stacked in a balanced way, which was like playing real life Tetris. Packages of different sizes were falling down a slide and you had to choose the right ones -quickly before the slide backed up and everyone point and laugh at you- to build nice stable tables and tiers, hopefully all the way to the top of the container. The tallyman (Ramp Agent) would sometimes come and stop my glorious work before completion because the container had reached a certain weight and his job was to balance the 20 or so different containers that went onto the airplane. I always thought my tetris work seemed more fun than the tallyman work, and that is more of what I am envisioning here. Something more or less instinctive that does not take up too much brain power. I guess I'll try it at some point and find out.
     
  16. modmod

    modmod Warlord

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    @historix69

    I like your ideas about cargo system.

    About ships accurate as well.

    However hardly can imagine that in this game as a mod.
    More like to create a fine realistic simulator about the age of sailing. :thumbsup:

    Would like to play something like that. :love:
     
  17. raystuttgart

    raystuttgart Civ4Col Modder

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    A modder creates whatever sounds interesting enough to him.
    Then he can also create it in the way he likes. :thumbsup:
     

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