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Specialist Unhappiness Cap

Discussion in 'Community Patch Project' started by chicorbeef, Jun 19, 2019.

  1. chicorbeef

    chicorbeef Warlord

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    Hey everyone, so one thing has been bugging me these past few versions, and that is the fact that the amount of specialists in a city is capped by the amount of excess happiness in a city.

    This has caused a few problems for me:

    One thing is that it kills early Specialists in a city and forces you to work tiles instead. Unless you get a bunch of Quarries/Mines, this usually means working tiles that have some :c5food:. This only exacerbates the problem however because more :c5food: means more citizens working more tiles. There is no outlet to put excess population!

    Spoiler Working a Plains Tile :

    20190619190707_1.jpg


    Spoiler Working a Forest :

    20190619190713_1.jpg


    Working a Forest gives me 1 less Distress than otherwise, which would push me to want to work the Forest. However my city is a decent enough size, I am already working 4 forests (I picked Goddess of Renewal, so that's why I want my city to work 4 Forests) and my Spices.

    What I would want to do here, would be to work the Merchant, to slow down Growth naturally for a bit and be able to relieve 1 Poverty. It still wouldn't be a total no-brainer to always work Specialists because the 1 urbanization cancels out the 1 Poverty, so if you do have good tiles, you would prioritize them first for that reason.

    But I can't do this and instead I am likely going to work the Forest and press Avoid Growth. I don't like being forced to work tiles/press Avoid Growth but what am I to do here? Also working the tile with more :c5food: to avoid unhappiness while on Avoid Growth feels wrong.

    This also totally screws over certain strategies. What if I'm playing Celts and I've taken the "+3:c5gold:, :c5science: and :c5culture: from cities working Specialists" pantheon? This pantheon is useless now because your cities will be too unhappy to rush Markets/work Merchants. Babylon's Walls are basically impossible to use early on outside the Capital. Why would anyone want to take Asceticism? :c5food: is heavily nerfed because you more or less need :c5production: to use Specialists now.

    This mechanic is the main reason, to me, why Artistry is currently very powerful, and Fealty kind of meh, because the 2 free Specialists are often a life-saver that allow you to work any Specialists. It's a huge advantage that throws off policy balance-Statecraft/Fealty should also be allowed to work Specialists, it should just come with a cost (Urbanization), while for Artistry it's a constant.

    The main schtick of the +3:c5food:from Monastery to me used to be to allow me to work a Scientist, which combined with the base +3:c5science:, would power my Science. What exactly is the point of that +3:c5food: now? Even growing to work more mines is probably a bad idea, because more unhappiness will weaken your unit :c5production:, and that University is worth less when you can't work the Scientist in it.

    We now have a lot of free Specialists to blunt the impact-if we want less late-game Specialists, why not remove some free specialists from buildings (eg. Workshop, one less free Specialist on Factories, remove the Plant specialists).

    Why bother with :c5food: trade routes if these won't afford you the ability to at least work Specialists? To grow to work a Forest? A :c5production: trade route is infinitely better.

    The last thing is, why? Why exactly does this feature exist? 1 :c5unhappy: per Specialist, combined with high :c5unhappy: from Growth, combined with high Specialist :c5food: cost, does a good enough job at discouraging overpopulation IMO. Happiness is also self-regulating, because :c5unhappy: kills Growth, so you can't really go "Screw :c5unhappy:, I'm just going to grow as much as I can!" anyway.

    This current feature is not self-regulating however, you can end up growing out of control because there is no :c5food: sink because the unhappiness forces you to not work Specialists.

    With the current very high values of Distress, :c5production: > :c5food:, it's already been this way for a long time but now I think :c5food: heavy cities are really really bad and I think we should get rid of the Specialist cap to at least help out a bit on this front.
     
  2. CrazyG

    CrazyG Warlord

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    I've been trying to say this, but you've done a much better job articulating.

    I'd just add that working specialists in most cities regardless of overall strategy has been the meta for a while. Libraries and universities are pretty bad unless you use that specialist, and you basically need artistry's 2 free specialists just to manage a normal wide empire. Specialist heavy tradition capitals are weirdly unaffected, and really appreciate the bonus growth % for excess happiness in the capital.
     
  3. Takagi Hiro

    Takagi Hiro Chieftain

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    Yep, full agreement from me. With the current design, a lot of VP's balance has been thrown out the window. Many buildings have been invalidated and tradition suffers greatly. Further, artistry is a no brainer for just about all situations. Being locked out of using specialists with an unforgiving happiness mechanic just makes for a "no fun allowed" kind of game.
     
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  4. tothePAIN

    tothePAIN Chieftain

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    I agree with @chicorbeef. I go artistry now because otherwise I'll be locked out of specialists, i.e. scientists, and that just won't work to win in the long run.
     
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  5. Stalker0

    Stalker0 Baller Magnus

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    Your thoughts mirror my own, though G really likes the current system, it will probably take a lot of voices to change the current path.
     
  6. crdvis16

    crdvis16 Chieftain

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    I think I agree with the above sentiments. I think it is probably possible to still work specialists in cities other than capitals but you would have to very very carefully micromanage your population to do so. We're in a sort of counter intuitive meta where a city with lower population is probably better able to work specialists.

    If Gazebo really wants to keep the "can only work specialists if locally happy" mechanic then there is probably a large amount of rebalancing needed as outlined by chicorbeef.

    I think it's probably best to just drop that mechanic. If something needs to be done to curb wide specialists then perhaps just increase their food consumption a bit more? That would also help make food a more attractive yield- I think there is some agreement that food is pretty bad as a yield right now other than in a tradition capital maybe.
     
  7. Moi Magnus

    Moi Magnus Warlord

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    What I don't like about current system:
    • Unintuitive (some newcomers even do bug reports about it)
    • When I manually select a specialist, this specialist is locked, and the game should not arbitrarily chose to unselect it without asking for my opinion
    • An unhappy city has (almost) no specialists. It essentially mean that as a tradition player, either you are at 100% happiness, either you lost the game because you don't have specialists. It looks kind of absurd to me: every develloped cities with engineers and researchers HAS to be non-unhappy.
    • Specialists costing extra food AND happiness seems unnecessary
    • Spiral effect: having an happy city allow you to work your artists/scientists/..., which allow you satisfy your needs, which reduce your unhappiness. But conversely, having an unhappy city prevent you from working any specialist, which makes fighting boredom and illiteracy quite hard.
    What I like about current system:
    • It gives reduction of urbanisation a true purpose, different from "+1 happiness".
    • It nerfs spamming cities, as you can't just rely on specialist to make the yields of your underdeveloped and ill-placed cities.
    • One specialist = One unhappiness is simplier than the 1/3, 1/4, 1/5 or any other weird value we tried before.
     
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  8. Bhawb

    Bhawb Chieftain

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    I agree with early specialist problems when you aren't going Tradition, although I've had no issues working them as Tradition (in the capital). I do think it should be loosened a bit to allow for easier non-capital specialist working early on, maybe by giving a free specialist to an earlier building/tech. That said, I do overall agree with G's preference that specialists have to be invested in instead of considered "free" things that everyone uses a ton of. If we need to address some building balance then that is fair, but I don't think the system overall has issues outside of needing some tweaks.

    But I haven't had the same issues you guys are having after the very beginning. I'll post a picture when I get home (assuming I remember) but my current Authority/Fealty/Imperialism/Order Byzantium (religion is all warmongering) has me with 15ish cities, 10-11 are annexed/founded, and all of them can work a decent handful of free specialists and many can work another ~10. I'm on Emperor with very standard settings and map. Korea in my game has also had no issues with its specialists considering they are about 10 techs ahead of me and otherwise a strong competitor in every way despite pretty strong runaway game on my end.

    I also hesitate to immediately agree with calls that specialists and happiness is terrible and needs significant rework when, no offense towards anyone, apparently a large number of posters had absolutely no clue how happiness works just a couple patches ago. If anything it seems like there needs to be a better in-game description of how specialists work.
     
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  9. amateurgamer88

    amateurgamer88 Chieftain

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    I also agree with the unhappiness from specialists being too much.

    What are we trying to achieve here? Make it harder for wider civs to work their specialists? Specialists weren't exactly free in the past since they do require :c5food: Food. Without the "specialists consumes less :c5food: Food" you get from a Tradition policy, your city needs more food to make specialists possible. I have seen suggestions of increasing the food consumption of specialists. I know specialists should be the bread and butter for tall civs but what's our reasoning for greatly limiting specialists in wide civs? Was the yield too high then? Why don't we reduce the overall yields from all specialists and have a Tradition policy and an Artistry policy give those specialists more yields?

    Overall, I feel like the balance was shifted way too much. In addition to the yields from specialists, Tradition and Artistry also speeds up your GP generation. Even if a wide empire can somehow work the same number of specialists, their GP generation will still be lower. Did people complain about specialist being too powerful for wide empires? If there was such a discussion, I have certainly missed it.

    I think this is the issue. If a large number of posters have absolutely no clue how happiness works, then it's too complicated. No amount of description can work if the logic behind how specialists work is too complex. I don't know about you but a huge text as description isn't something I'd like to read. I can't imagine being new to VP and trying to absorb this. VP already adds so many new components that something like this can easily overwhelm a new player.
     
  10. Bhawb

    Bhawb Chieftain

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    I don't think it needs a huge text description, it just needs more clear UI in game. The sum total mechanics of the specialist/unhappiness system is:

    1. Specialists cause 1 Urbanization unhappiness each
    2. Free specialist slots allow 1 specialist each to not cause unhappiness
    3. Specialists cannot cause the city to have negative happiness

    That's really not that complicated, frankly I'd argue it is less complicated than specialists causing fractional unhappiness. And it could easily be explained via UI dropdown elements in the specialist area, which I think already has some text describing unhappiness and specialists.

    The point is to make specialists require investment in excess happiness/free specialist buildings so that they actually cost something (costing food is close to meaningless a lot of the time), while making their contribution to unhappiness more streamlined (just a flat 1, not some ever changing fraction) and also removing the ability for crappy 1 tile islands to be solid cities just because they can spam specialists and food. It helps clarify Tall's niche while allowing Wide to still invest in specialists if they want to, but now they actually have to invest.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2019
  11. tu_79

    tu_79 Warlord

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    That would make specialist only work when choosing those policies, but the idea is that specialist work best for tall playing, not necessarily tied to policies.

    We had no clue on how needs were handled. This does not apply to specialists, since...

    ... urbanization is not hard to understand at all.

    Now, the previous balance was that tall civs could work on plenty of specialists, but missed gold to build/stand a big army and investing in envoys. Being a tall civ, usually meant choosing Tradition/Artistry/Rationalism, but that was reworked last year, and all policies were (or tried to) made appealing to both tall and wide playing. (Except Tradition, which is not very suited for wide, but actually it didn't matter a lot if you missed their bonuses because at the mid game medieval policies matter more).
    As I understand, happiness was made too easy with the recent change, so having specialists consuming happiness is trying to come back to the old balance.
     
  12. amateurgamer88

    amateurgamer88 Chieftain

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    I think you've fallen into a trap where you forget how it feels to learn a game from scratch. You have a lot of knowledge and have played many patches leading up to this so you have better grasp of everything. Many things you see obvious won't be for newer players. The three things you listed confuses people and leaves out some important information. If three points are enough, then it'd be great. However, I don't see it that simple. If I had just read the three points, I look at my unhappiness and see no urbanization unhappiness. Am I playing the game right or not? This system isn't very complicated for those playing it for quite awhile and can win Emperor or above.

    Let's say I'm a new player. I check my unhappiness and see no Urbanization unhappiness after using a specialist slot. I will be puzzled why I'm not getting unhappiness from it. At the very least, we need to talk about hierarchy of the unhappiness and, with Urbanization determined last, I don't think your 1. gives any good information. If anything, it will confuse me as it doesn't relevant until at least mid game or late game. Then, we have 2 which has the same issue as 1. For a new player with little to no knowledge of the mechanics, the free specialist slot makes no sense until much later. Regarding 3, I noticed that specialists rarely cause my city to have negative happiness unless I go tall and have tons of specialists. If we are including this in the description while the yields, not the specialist itself, causes the unhappiness, then that can be a reason why some players are reporting it as a bug.

    From my experience, 1 and 2 aren't even that relevant until much later in the game and they aren't even tied to the biggest issue we are discussing here. The cap of specialist tied to excess happiness is the problem here. For most of the game, our source of unhappiness will come from Distress, Poverty, Illiteracy, etc... with Urbanization coming very last. I don't even know the free specialist slots help you when Urbanization comes so late in the game. If Urbanization was the main priority and take precedent over Distress, then I can see how those free slots help.

    To be honest, I don't mind the unhappiness from specialist if there wasn't this cap tied to excess happiness. I understand it should be an investment and you shouldn't be able to get it relatively easy. However, we suddenly shifted too far to the other direction where specialists are rarer in most wider gameplay. You say you have a good game with little happiness problems and I believe that's possible. Until we see a screenshot, it's difficult for us to figure things out. However, it just doesn't make sense as @chicorbeef stated in the original post. Unhappiness causes specialists to work tiles that grows the city more to create more unhappiness? How is a new player supposed to figure out the way to solve this issue without the knowledge you possess?

    Urbanization might not be hard to understand for us who have been playing a number of patches leading up to this. However, I can only imagine the frustration of new players with the hierarchies, how yields work and other things we added to happiness.
     
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  13. Ziad

    Ziad Warlord

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    TBF that applies to most of VP's systems.
     
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  14. Moi Magnus

    Moi Magnus Warlord

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    But most of them, if you ignore them, they won't bite you trough unexpected means.
    I mean, I remember willingly avoiding founding a religion while starting to play VP (sometimes not even founding a pantheon), to avoid having to read the beliefs. Sure, it had some bad consequences, but not that much out of what I would have expected, and nothing really frustrating. Same for city state diplomacy and corporations, which I simply ignored while playing VP for far longer that I should have, but I was never surprised or even frustrated by the consequences.

    Unhappiness affecting specialists is unexpected. If you chose to mostly ignore happiness during your first few games, not being able to have specialists is not really a consequence you see coming. And it is something quite frustrating as specialists are simple and fun (because great peoples).

    Among the VP systems that come to my mind, the only other system which is both complex and has unexpected consequences is the military, where for example not building units has the unexpected consequences of not being able to make friends. (Which is realistic enough for peoples not to complain too much when you explain them that "they should build an army to play pacifist").
     
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  15. amateurgamer88

    amateurgamer88 Chieftain

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    I do agree with @Moi Magnus and want to add a few more of my thoughts.

    First, let's look at religion. Is finding a religion powerful? Yes, it can have a pretty big impact. If you don't have a religion, then your neighbor can at least spread its religion to you so you won't lose out on some of the benefits. While you won't benefit fully from finding and picking from your beliefs, you don't completely lose out on some benefits. Next, we have CS diplomacy. Even if you never bothered with building diplomatic units, you can still complete CS quests so you can still secure alliances that way. While not optimal, you can certainly play that way if you want spend your production and gold on other stuff. With the relatively recent changes to corporations, franchises can spread to your city so you also get something out of it.

    With specialists, I see a downward spiral that gets out of control. It basically originates from the happiness we have at the moment. I do believe some tweaks can make it a lot better but I have yet to be convinced that the cap on specialist that's tied to unhappiness is a good idea. Imagine you lack experience and get into a game. Happiness is probably one of the hardest things to understand initially. After all, how do you know when to build a Worker to improve your luxury for happiness and tiles for more yields? What if you decided to go Tradition as your policy tree but you can't utilize specialist that's a critical part of your kit? If specialists can't be worked, then citizens are working tiles and default tile assignments will put them on food heavy tiles (and new players are more likely to use default). More food means more growth and then your happiness is so bad that you can't produce military units to defend and might even lose cities to revolts. Not having a religion, any CS allies or corporation don't come close causing this downward death spiral.
     
  16. BiteInTheMark

    BiteInTheMark Chieftain

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    This happens if you didnt discuss first, what do you want to achieve with a mechanic/system.
    Iam asking since some months, whats the purpose of the happiness system? What doe we want to achieve? It seems the system only gets fixed into a direction hopefully working better in the next version. (my view)
    But this throws the question into the room, when do we know that the system has reached its final destination?

    A poll was done, and most people vote for the same thing, the vanilla happiness system was doing. Limit expansion and warmongering.
    Unfortunatly the point "urbanization" for specialist were forgotten and the introduction later on isnt representive.

    I think, the game is already complex enough, at this point of the development, we should look and try to reduce unnecessary complexity.
    For example: The removal of the population needs modifier was long overdue. Growing already has its downsides, you have to invest more and more yields to get same or even smaller benefits, investing too much in growth can push you back in tech/policy, missing wonders or losing wars. If we simply balance the cost of new citizen with its benefits, then its not necessary to use happiness as regulation. The other mechanics are already balancing this.

    The same should be true to specialists. If specialists cost for example 2:c5food:2:c5gold: in the beginning, money could be the limiting factor instead of happiness. Food could rise normally with each era, and the gold cost by another +1 :c5gold: in industrial era, making it very expensive to run those, but at the same time, making them more powerful by more yields. Or stay with the normal food consumption, but give them a general -5% growth penalty, but no unhappiness (at the moment, -1 happiness is the same as -5% growth). I think there are enough options to unlock specialists from happiness (so happiness could concentrate on median and expansion/warmongering tasks).
     
  17. Bhawb

    Bhawb Chieftain

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    Free specialist slots (when available) are very clearly denoted in the specialist tab. When you don't have unhappiness there isn't an issue, if you have unhappiness and check the specialist screen it will tell you that adding specialists increases unhappiness. If you started getting rid of them it'd tell you when you have free slots available and how many.

    I agree VP is very complex and lacks a lot of proper documentation, especially as the wiki gets more and more out of date. But this isn't a case of a system becoming more complex, the problems were reported by veterans who were confused why specialists didn't work the same way anymore. A new player wouldn't have been any more confused now than before, the only new mechanic is the specialist cap, which IIRC is denoted in the game.
     
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  18. CrazyG

    CrazyG Warlord

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    I don't think the UI for specialists is a problem. The display is quite clear, the rules themselves are problematic,

    The problem is the swingyness and snowballing from having happiness compared to not having it. If you can get some efficiency in the early game (say Arabia and stonehenge, for 2 culture/science in capital, which can easily be worth 2 happiness) it has such a profound effect on the entire game. You can work the artist, get a great work, and block boredom more. You can work engineer, get a manufactory and block distress even more. Which means you get to keep working specialists, and keep getting rewards, which gives you more happiness for more specialists, rinse and repeat. Tradition is actually pretty good right now if your early game specialists don't get blocked because your capital can potentially kill all happiness which isn't urbanization, resulting in like a 50% growth modifier.

    Am I being rewarded for "good happiness management"? In the long term, happiness comes down to production/gold and picking artistry. 2 free urbanization is worth more than 2 happiness per city, the scientists you work will often kill a point of illiteracy or boredom, and long term great works or great person tiles fight unhappiness too. You need specialists to be efficient in yield generation, they aren't something optional.
     
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  19. chicorbeef

    chicorbeef Warlord

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    It's actually technically not, it says how many free Specialists you have, it doesn't technically state the cap.

    The main point is though, why? First of all, Specialists are a valuable source of potential :c5gold:, :c5science:, :c5culture: and :c5production:. If you can't utilize them to get yields down, then we're reducing the strategic complexity of the game, just forcing you to get more :c5production:/:c5gold: to reduce the unhappiness of a city, instead of potentially using Specialists to at least balance out the problem (Urbanization cancels out the reduced needs). Like in my example above, working the Merchant would have reduced Poverty by a point.

    Why deny the happiness management capabilities of Specialists, locking them to happiness is more or less going "Only if your game is running well, or you went Artistry, do you get full access to this exclusive benefit!". It just emphasizes infrastructure, and thus :c5production:/:c5gold: more, because you can't really work more Merchants to combat Poverty or more Scientists to combat illiteracy and you can't work Engineers to help with :c5production: in a struggling island city. Why should I have to build a Customs House to use the Specialist slot of my University? It's too much emphasis on having a lot of buildings, and not enough inherent benefit put on population and maximizing the buildings themselves.
     
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  20. Bhawb

    Bhawb Chieftain

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    I think this is a fair point with the current system. Maybe allowing more free specialists early on and reducing some of them later would alleviate this?

    IIRC, G's reasoning was that a city being unhappy was essentially meaningless in a lot of situations. Up until you have issues with empire unhappiness, a city being unhappy just reduces growth and unit production. So as long as you keep a small handful of cities happy to make units in the best cities (I usually produce almost all of my units in 1-3 city most games), the only thing that working a ton of specialists has is reduced growth.
     

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