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tleilaxu mechanics

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Dune Wars' started by davidlallen, Jul 15, 2009.

  1. Deliverator

    Deliverator Graphical Hackificator

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    I would still like some elemental of cloning units for the fun factor. There must be some way to identify 'human' units via unit class or the special unit type that lets units be transported by thopter.
     
  2. davidlallen

    davidlallen Deity

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    Part of the problem is separating "human" units from "equipment" units like scorpions and thopters; but also part of the problem is separating "single" units like a GP or swordmaster, from "army" units like guardsman. I like the idea of cloning the commander to get all the promotions, but maybe it is too complicated. There is some active discussion around now in the heroes thread; clearly if we do a lot with heroes, then cloning of the heroes may be interesting too.
     
  3. davidlallen

    davidlallen Deity

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    I have implemented this locally in 1.4.7 (not released yet). I did not create any specific UU; any Tleilaxu unit can start the plague, but spy units are the most likely. Also, an enemy unit which defeats a Tleilaxu unit may contract the plague. (If a Tleilaxu unit defeats an enemy unit, the enemy unit has bigger problems than plague, since it is ... dead.)

    I did not implement any negative effect on cities. Perhaps any city containing a unit with plague should have this unhealth.

    We can think about UU/UB which make the plague stronger, harder to resist, longer lasting, etc. I suspect Ahriman may not care for the mechanic since the player does not have to "do" anything, but as before, this means the AI does not have to be "taught" anything either. If there are any specific suggestions for how both the player and the AI can be forced to do something, we can certainly discuss.

    I still like the idea of applying a set of promotions to a unit produced in a city with an Axlotl Tank. The promotions would be equal to the promotions of your strongest existing unit of the same type, based on cloning that commander. I will try that out next.
     
  4. Ahriman

    Ahriman Tyrant

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    What exactly do you have the plague doing? The -25% strength sounds pretty devastating.
    What means would you have of *curing* the plague?

    You're right that I'm leery about mechanics that require no intervention, including this, but I definitely wouldn't rule this out immediately.
    This sounds way too strong. The effect would rapidly spiral out of control. Imagine you're making some unit type, and you have a barracks. The first one you build gets +3xp and so gains second level, and selects the combat 1 promotion. The second one starts with combat 1 free and then gets +3 xp and gains second level and selects combat 2. The third one you build starts with combat 1 and combat 2, gets +3xp and gains second level and selects combat 3, etc.

    By the time you have 10 units or so, every unit you produce is like a level 10 unit, which normally takes like 50 experience points. So its like you're getting +50 free experience points on units produced in that city.

    And this is all without any xp gain from combat at all.
     
  5. davidlallen

    davidlallen Deity

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    It gives the unit -25% strength. There is no cure, except, making peace with the Tleilaxu. Perhaps we could add something like units in a city with a hospital, or certain other buildings, automatically get rid of the plague.

    Good point. I guess it should be, "a set of free promotions or what you get out of your buildings, whichever is more". So if your best unit is Combat I but you have a bunch of buildings and civics which give new units 5 XP, you would get the 5 XP instead of the one level. But if you get the cloned promotions, then you don't get any starting XP. Does that solve the spiral?
     
  6. Ahriman

    Ahriman Tyrant

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    The plague sounds interesting, its hard to tell whether imba without playtesting.

    It solves the spiral, but it might still be pretty overpowered. All you have to do is get one decent unit, and then rest of your army (of that type) are combat monsters for free.
    And it becomes easier and easier to get super units, because even if you lose your best unit, all the other ones are nearly as good.

    This might be feasible if and only if the Bene Tl aren't able to uprgade their units frmo one tier to the next. So if you work on getting an awesome bladesman, that doesn't give you awesome elite bladesmen or awesome melee units for the rest of the game.

    Alternatively, a flat free xp or free promotions is likely to offer fewer avenues for crazy exploitation.
     
  7. Ahriman

    Ahriman Tyrant

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    Also: I'm not sure that big mass military bonuses are really in-theme for the Bene Tls.

    Creating an army of super-soldiers never really seemed like their thing; its very expensive for them to grow gholas, they can only make a handful, not outfit entire regiments.
     
  8. davidlallen

    davidlallen Deity

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    The idea here is that the promotions are due to the expertise of the commander. So it is not a whole army of clones, just the one clone. It would also make sense for the copies to be "less than perfect" so a promotion may be down one level or missing altogether. If you clone the clone, you may lose another promotion, etc.

    I'd still like to clone GP, but we haven't been able to agree on a mechanic. Just giving +50% GPP doesn't sound very "clonish".
     
  9. Ahriman

    Ahriman Tyrant

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    This sounds promising. But how do you tell the difference between a unit that is a "clone" and one that is not? Does every new unit produced in the axolotl tank city also get a "Ghola commander" promotion?
     
  10. davidlallen

    davidlallen Deity

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    I have an idea! Perhaps every clone unit should also get a promotion to mark it. We could call it "Ghola commander". :)
     
  11. Anathema

    Anathema Chieftain

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    I have an idea that would fit both the lore and the gameplay, although it'd be a nightmare to teach the AI to use it. First, some background:

    The Tleilaxu weren't exactly known for creating armies of clones, but they did keep cloned backups of certain important people on hand to replace them should they die. So if you send an important Tleilaxu out to Dune and he manages to get himself killed (Scytale in Dune Messiah) - no problem, you've got a clone of him just waiting to be activated in Bandalong. In fact as it becomes apparent in Heretics of Dune (book 5), they're doing this over and over whenever a Tleilaxu leader dies, so that they became effectively immortal.

    What does this suggest, in Civ4 terms? Why, the immortal units in FFH2, which get a promotion such that they respawn in your capital (low on health, and only up to once per turn) if they die. Of course you don't want to give every Tleilaxu unit immortality, that'd be both overpowered and untrue to the source material - gholas were expensive, they didn't make them for just anyone. The problem is then how you choose which units get the immortal promotion - mainly I'm thinking it has to be tied to gold somehow, since making a ghola is, after all, an expensive process. FFH2 has a solution for this, too - specifically Fall Further has the master smith/outfitter/etc buildings, which give units standing in the city the ability to pay gold for a promotion.

    So, as the Tleilaxu you would build your "Axlotl Tank" building, move certain units to the city it's in - probably your most experienced, most valuable units - and pay a hefty gold fee to "have a ghola backup made of them", i.e. add the immortality promotion to them. Come to think of it, you'd want it to function less like an immortal in FFH2 and more like the "blood of the phoenix" project in FFH2, which adds a single use immortal promotion to units - so when the unit dies, it respawns at your capital but loses the promotion, so you'll have to pay again to "make another ghola copy", i.e. regain the promotion if you so desire. Of course you wouldn't call it "immortal", you'd name the promotion "Ghola Clone" or somesuch.

    Ideally, if at all possible from a coding perspective, you'd want the cost to scale depending on the value of the unit, i.e. it should be more expensive to buy the promotion for a Heavy Trooper than for an Infantry. In fact the cost could be exactly the hammer cost of the unit converted into gold, which makes sense - you're basically paying to make a second copy of said unit. And there's no reason I can see why it shouldn't be available for every unit - sure you can't clone a Scorpion, but if your Scorpion is level 10 and that much better than any other Scorpion, it's because the crew is experienced, there's nothing special about the machine itself. So you could explain the immortal promotion on a Scorpion as having gholas made of the crew.

    The only big problem I see is teaching the AI to make intelligent use of this - the AI certainly can't figure out master buildings in FF. Then again the AI's inability to use a mechanic doesn't mean it shouldn't be introduced, I think - FFH2 and FF are full of awesome and fun mechanics for players to use that the AI still hasn't figured out yet, if you took out everything the AI doesn't know how to use (spells, etc) it'd be a boring game indeed. Still it would be nice if the AI could single out more experienced units, send them back to a major city and buy a ghola promotion for them.
     
  12. Ahriman

    Ahriman Tyrant

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    I definitely think that linking this to Immortality somehow is an *excellent* idea. The immortality mechanic captures most of what we'd really want: extra promotions must still be earned through battle and so there is a logical cap on what promotions can be attained, but death is impermanent because they can cook up another clone.

    A simpler way that the AI could use would be to have a handful of B Tl UUs that had the permanent immortality promotion - though maybe the immortality code could be tweaked to also subtract 50 gold when the unit was regrown.

    Alternatively, you could get a measure of the flavor by giving the 1-shot immortality promotion to any unit produced in a city with Axolotl tanks. And make Axolotl tanks a national wonder with limit 1 or 2.

    Or these ideas could be combined.
     
  13. Anathema

    Anathema Chieftain

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    I thought about adding an immortal UU for the Tleilaxu, the problem is it'd only be good at a specific point in tech progression, before that you don't have it and afterwards it'd become obsolete. To make immortals a continuous part of the Tleilaxu gameplay, you'd have to have a bunch of UUs spread through the tech tree - it seems simpler to just add the immortal promotion onto regular units, and fits the lore too. They could make gholas of anyone - Duncan Idaho, Paul Atreides, Scytale, Miles Teg - hell, in book 6 Darwi even made a ghola copy of her personal thopter pilot, an experienced professional with valuable skills, which is exactly what you'd be doing if you tack the ghola promotion onto a Thopter or Scorpion.

    Edit: I like the idea of a building adding a oneshot immortal promotion to everything. It doesn't fit the books quite as well as paying gold to promote certain units - the Tleilaxu didn't make one ghola of everyone, they made many, many gholas of certain important people - but it has the advantage of being much simpler and something you don't need to teach the AI to use. Perhaps both is best - a building that gives a oneshot immortal promotion for everyone built in a certain city, and the ability to pay gold to regain the promotion for certain important units. If the AI couldn't figure out the latter ability, at least it would benefit from the former.
     
  14. davidlallen

    davidlallen Deity

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    Keldath suggested a while ago that perhaps when a unit is killed, you can get a popup which asks, "Do you want to spend N hundred gold to activate a ghola of that?"

    Now that we have a homeworld screen and the AI to use it, we could actually do this. A unit which is killed wouldn't necessarily show up in the homeworld *screen*, but the AI to decide whether to buy the unit could pick the killed one also. Inside the homeworld screen somewhere, there is logic to decide the list of available units. So the killed unit could appear on the list for a little while.

    To make the AI implementation simpler, could we abstract out the need for an experienced unit to return to the city for "recording"? Maybe all units could just be required to mail back a skin sample every once in a while. If the AI doesn't have to decide to have a unit trek back to the city every time it gets a couple promotions, it will be much simpler.

    However, one key point about the immortal approach is that you can only have one copy at a time. If I had ghola technology, I wouldn't limit myself like that. If I have a recording of a veteran tank commander, and I need more tank commanders, wouldn't I make copies now? The fact that the first guy isn't dead yet should not stop me.

    I have done a test implementation of the system I described, where a new unit built in the city with an axlotl tank gets the promotions of the best living unit of the same type. I haven't tried it out yet. I have added some code which gives a significant chance that one random promotion will be missing; the copy isn't perfect. Also, based on the "ghola commander" promotion we discussed, it would be possible to have ghola commanders lose promotions over time representing the "disintegration" of the ghola itself. Or, if we want, we could even add negative promotions similar to insanity.

    What do you think, one copy at a time or multiple?
     
  15. Ahriman

    Ahriman Tyrant

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    I don't see this as a problem. Other factions UUs are only valuable at specific points in the tech tree (Sardaukar, Fedaykin, Worm Riders, etc.)

    Plus you can easily have 2 levels of the same UU; a medium and a high, both with permanent immortality, and one can upgrade to the other.
    I'd just do it without the popup; you don't want to be procing popups during the enemy turns, and just make it cheap enough so that you (and the AI) would always want to pay the cost.

    Merging it with the offworld screen is an interesting idea, if you could get the AI to distinguish the experienced unit from the other ones.
    Absolutely, never intended for a unit to have to return, needless micromanagement requirement.
    I don't see this as a problem; in the books there is never any mention that I recall of multiple copies of the same person existing at the same time. It may seem logical to use, but they never seemed to do it.
    Maybe this is against the Bene Tl's religious beliefs, or maybe if 2 copies exist they have an irresistable urge to hunt each other down, Highlander style ("there can be only one!").

    I'd vote one copy at a time, and I think immortality provides an excellent means of doing this.
     
  16. Anathema

    Anathema Chieftain

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    Logically, if I had gholas, hell yes I'd make clone armies of my best soldier - exactly like they did in the newer Star Wars. But Dune isn't always logical and that's not what the Tleilaxu did, they only ever have one copy of say Duncan Idaho active at a time. So he dies, they have another clone on hand to send out to replace him, and when that one dies they have another, etc - they made dozens and dozens of him, but for whatever unexplained reason only one was ever active at a given time. So personally I'd limit it to one copy at a time, if only because that's the way it actually happened in Dune.

    Also I like your idea about removing the need to return a unit to the city - you're right, all they need is a DNA sample, there's no need for the guy to actually visit the Axlotl tank. In fact they made copies of Paul without him even knowing it, presumably by stealing skin scrapings or hair or whatever. So you could just add a button to any Tleilaxu unit, anywhere, to pay x gold to add the "ghola clone" promotion? That does make things simpler for the AI and the player both. You'd just have to program it in such a way that the button is only available after the Tleilaxu research the appropriate technology and build their Axlotl tank building somewhere, and teach the AI to figure out which units are worth paying the gold to clone.

    Edit: Ahriman, I guess you're right, making several UUs just like the Fremen have wouldn't be a practical problem. I guess I just dislike it because it'd be such a departure from the source - gholas are, by definition, made to be a copy of a real person, not something different altogether like Face Dancers. It seems to fit the Dune theme better to "copy" an existing normal unit than to create a whole new kind of unit and call it a ghola.
     
  17. davidlallen

    davidlallen Deity

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    Let's consider the "one copy at a time" path. I have a veteran scorpion unit off somewhere, faithfully mailing back skin samples. It gets killed. Using the homeworld screen, I could buy a new, novice scorpion for say 100 gold, which represents the hardware cost. To use a ghola, I have to have a city with the tank, and I have to pay a premium above the 100, say 150 total.

    Why do I need to pay money in advance to mark this unit as available for cloning? If it dies, I can decide then whether to clone it. So there would be no actual "immortal promotion". Does that sound reasonable?
     
  18. Anathema

    Anathema Chieftain

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    Also a great idea, the only thing that stopped me from suggesting it was my lack of any understanding of the programming itself - is such a thing possible? I know it's possible to give a unit a promotion so that it respawns once killed like in FFH2, but can you instead have an identical unit with the same promotions appear on this homeworld screen? If yes then by all means, that works better than bothering with a promotion.

    Edit: Of course you still need a way to choose which Tleilaxu units appear on this homeworld screen, you don't want to spam it with every single unit that dies. If the game can choose units based on their experience, i.e. only recycle level 4+ units, or recycle all units but replace the lower level ones with higher level ones if the pool hits its maximum, then it'd work.
     
  19. Ahriman

    Ahriman Tyrant

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    As long as you can work out a way for the AI to sensibly purchase units from the offworld screen, and for them to sensibly evaluate clones relative to new units (harder than it might seem; which is better?; a level 3 bladesman for 150 gold that can upgrade to an elite bladesman for another 50 gold, or a level 1 elite bladesman for 100 gold) then it seems reasonable to do it that way.

    The advantage of the immortal promotion is for ease of AI use, micromanagement minimization, and a more direct linkage between the old unit and the new one; will it really feel like cloning if the B Tl's just have an opportunity to buy veteran units in their offworold screen?
    This is a good point. Maybe the Bank holds the 10 "best" units at any given time? Or hold them all but displays only the 10 "best"? For some definition of best (same as the definition used for AI evaluation, as above?).
     
  20. Anathema

    Anathema Chieftain

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    Yeah, the advantage of a promotion is you don't have to have extra code to determine which units get sent to the homeworld screen, how many it decides to display, which units in a full pool it decides to replace if a new high level unit dies, etc., you can cut out the homeworld screen and simply respawn anything that has the promotion. The disadvantage is you have to teach the AI to intelligently choose in advance which units are worth giving the promotion. I'd be happy with whichever alternative is simpler from a programming perspective, both would have the right effect in the end.
     

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