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unit progression

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Dune Wars' started by davidlallen, Jun 24, 2009.

  1. davidlallen

    davidlallen Chieftain

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    One thing that could use some thought/redesign is the unit progression. In version 1.0-1.2, the feel of multiple generations of units seems missing.

    At this link is a post from deliverator with some unit progression ideas. At this post is a playtest result I wrote which discusses about the generations of units in vanilla to give some idea of what I mean. At this link is another message I wrote where I proposed a new unit progression, followed by several replies showing this was not such a good idea.

    No solutions yet, any suggestions?
     
  2. Deliverator

    Deliverator Graphical Hackificator

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    Koma said he was going to give the tech tree some thought. I got the impression this included reviewing the units. I'm interested to see what he comes up with.
     
  3. koma13

    koma13 Chieftain

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    Focus is on early units. I want to have more divergence that we don't end up building always hovers and maula mortars. But I need another day or two before I can upload my changes... still want to do some testing and tweaking. :)

    The basic idea is replacing hover units by thopters and adding a new combat type called melee. This allowed me to create following structure:


    Here some more detailed infos for new/edited units:

    As you can see I kept units very close to bts structure but also tried to fit in already existing dune units. The thopter names are only placeholders, maybe someone has a good idea. I still have to decide which techs a needed for infantry units. When this is done I can upload my changes and we can see whether it's an improvement over current model, or not. :king:
     

    Attached Files:

  4. Deliverator

    Deliverator Graphical Hackificator

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    This sounds good. Perhaps we could name the different grades of Thopter after different birds of prey: Falcon Thopter, Hawk Thopter, Eagle Thopter, etc.

    To spur you on, here is an in-game test of my very much unfinished Thopter.
     
  5. davidlallen

    davidlallen Chieftain

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    I was playing a few games of vanilla recently, and it occurred to me that some of the units have knife animations. Not many. But the archer uses a knife in hand to hand combat. Are there some units "we" could easily modify to look dunish, and recycle these animations?

    I was also thinking about the tech tree progression of units. The problem is that in the Dune novels, as far as I can tell, there *is no* tech progression. The Fremen came to Dune with space technology, and towards the end of the books, Fremen still use knives and ride worms. So the key Civ idea of several generations of units, obsoleted by technology, has no basis in the books.

    There are several mods which make extensive use of experienced units. Obviously FFH heroes are like this; they gain some XP every turn even sitting still, and get promotions. I'm not sure how well the AI chooses the promotions; possibly in FFH they have added special code in the sdk. There aren't any python hooks I could find easily, but perhaps it could be hidden in the basic python unit AI routine.

    We could think about a promotion tree which allows units to develop in various directions; the tree might branch at the beginning so it would be difficult for one unit to be good at everything. Units might specialize in double movement in terrains ("horse"), city defense ("archers"), ambush ("spearmen"), etc.

    Some games (Fury Road, possibly FFH) have also increased the bonus due to promotions. Instead of +10%, City Attack may give +20%. In order to get a decent effect of "obsoleting", we might need to go further like +50% on base strength.

    The Alexander the Great scenario in Warlords also spreads out the key promotions into the tech tree. So you would need certain technologies before units with experience could choose certain promotions. There is some of this in vanilla, like Blitz, but in this scenario it goes much further.

    This idea may be worth considering if we still run into low unit variety in the early to mid game.
     
  6. Deliverator

    Deliverator Graphical Hackificator

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    Human units are what I have most experience in and I have a pretty good handle on the available animations. I'm sure there are a few that would look good for knife fighting units. I am just starting a Fremen Fedaykin crysknife wielding unit...

    Some assorted ideas on and around unit progression/tech tree

    1. In terms of tech progression, you are right there is little in the Dune book, but the Dune saga taken as whole does covers many thousands of years. Arrakis is transformed from a desert planet to a paradise in that time (Terraforming Victory anyone?) and there is progress in other ways than the purely technological. There are even examples of invention in the original Dune book, for example Piter de Vries invents the residual poison.

    2. I think the Dune universe as a feat of the imagination is probably second only to Tolkein's Middle Earth. So there is plenty of inspiration and ideas to draw on there, BUT we should be too constrained by theme. This guide by Kael is great and vital reading. Especially note the Danger of Flavor section. The Westwood Dune games took plenty of liberties and it didn't hurt their popularity. I am confident that we can create the Dune atmosphere graphically, so we need to make sure any new mechanics are fun to play and work well. We don't need to include everything from the books and we don't need to be afraid of inventing stuff if needs be. Perhaps when Keldath is less busy, we could come up with some rough design or roadmap for the mod.

    3. Think about FfH2 - the lower half of the tech tree is not really tech, but magic. The Dune universe effectively features magic too, using the term wierding. Although, there is not much progress in terms of technology in the Dune story - there is a lot of development in terms of wierding. Paul and Jessica teach massive numbers of Fremen the wierding way, drastically improving their combat effectiveness. We could have the tech unlocked promotions you suggest representing different wierding abilities.

    4. I think there is no reason not to have better tanks, better thopters, better artillery, through time a la Westwood, but having expanded unit promotions unlockable with technology is a great idea too.

    5. With regards to heroes/super units, this post and this post. It seems Keldath has plans for some sort of super units which I would definitely welcome. I really like that slight role-playing aspect of FfH2, it makes you care about your experienced units and they become real assets to be protected and deployed carefully.

    6. A bit specific perhaps, but I would like the Fremen to be able to ride worms early on, but only be able to use them as sand sea transport units. This would give them an advantage in terms of being able to settle more widely. They would only be able to create attack worms later on in the game.

    Side note: I think the FfH2 team have a rule of minimal-Python mostly-SDK implementation for performance reasons - that is probably why you can't find any Python code.
     
  7. davidlallen

    davidlallen Chieftain

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    The hover spam is also caused by the AI seeing storms and worms as dangerous. I hope that my current project of making these map-only effects will solve this. Of course so far today I have spent 3 hours reading/writing posts on the forum and about 20 minutes working on the map-only effect :-(
     
  8. Ahriman

    Ahriman Tyrant

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    In the movie. Regarded as heresy by many book fans.
    I'd really keep away from too much magicky.... type stuff, at least as far as impact on combat.

    Which reminds me: why are Honored Matres in this mod as a civic? They're a few thousand years too soon, and totally out of the setting flavor.
    Plus, those books sucked; I'd really really suggest keeping this mod focused around the first couple of Dune Books, they have the cool setting that the prequels also mined (they're also good sources), the later stuff just gets bizarre and somewhat offtrack.

    Sorry :)
     
  9. davidlallen

    davidlallen Chieftain

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    In the books, Jessica and Paul teach the Fremen some combat maneuvers also. I kind of like the idea of RM's who can teach things like ambush and combat effectiveness. We'll just leave out the part about shouting the right word and causing an explosion. That *is* heresy.
     
  10. Deliverator

    Deliverator Graphical Hackificator

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    Completely right. The thing I don't like is that they replaced wierding with the wierding modules. If anything, with that, they took the mysticism of the books and tried to make it into something more scientific. Look up 'wierding' in the appendix of Dune - it is very much Frank Herbert. Personally, my priority is be faithful to the books first. If we use imagery from the films, TV and games it is only because they are the main sources of imagery available.

    I'm not sure all the last three Frank Herbert books sucked. People say that Heretics of Dune is pretty good - I need to get around to reading it. The reason why it is handy to have material over thousands of years of the Dune universe is, as david pointed out earlier in the thread, there is not much tech progression if you base everything on the first book. That said, from what I've read about Heretics and the last three books, technology effectively regresses after Leto II...
     
  11. Ahriman

    Ahriman Tyrant

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    I think technology basically regresses *during* Leto II. Enforced stagnation, little travel between worlds, etc.
    Its been a while since I read them, but I don't remember seeing anythnig I liked in Heretics or the others.

    Reverend Mothers having weirding is one thing; being able to teach it en masse to combat troops is another.

    But I think the original Dune (and sequel) and then the House Atreides/Harkonnen/Corrino books are probably the best and most accessible places to mine usable stuff for this kind of setting/timeframe.

    Somethnig else that could be intersting to see; the Conclave of Lords (I forget if thats the right name) as something a la UN. A Conclave ban on atomics is incredibly canon.....

    Part of what I love about the setting is that there are all these different power groups who all think they're in charge; and they're both right, and wrong. The Guild, the Conclave, the Emperor, the Bene Gesserit.... all have a piece of the pie, but are reliant on the others.

    Also:
    Yes, true, but: it works. Its a good gameplay mechanic that is fun to use. A tech tree with new stuff and multiple generations of units is pretty hard to avoid using the civ engine.
    The AI understands it and uses it well; a system based on promotions and unit preservation may not get used well by the AI.
    I'd leave it alone.

    Infantry/melee/thoptor sounds good, but still a little shallow; I think you need to add in some more types.

    The basic unit roles from civ work pretty well;
    City defender (archer)
    City attacker (swordsmen)
    Anti-city attacker and anti-anti-mobile unit (axemen, crossbow)
    Mobile unit (horsemen, later splits into armor and aircraft)
    Anti-mobile unit (spearman, SAM/AT infantry)
    Artillery (catapult)

    Why are melee units 2 moves but ranged infantry aren't? Doesn't quite make sense.

    So I'd consider:

    1 move:
    Infantry (city defense)
    Grenadiers, Bursegs/Saudakar (city attack shock troops)
    Thoptor (aircraft, anti-bladesmen)
    Sand rover/quad/scorpion (mobile, anti-artillery)
    Bladesmen (anti city attack, anti-missile use)
    Missile trooper (anti-mobile, anti-air)
    Artillery.
     
  12. keldath

    keldath LivE LonG AnD PrOsPeR

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    hey guys,

    i was thinking of adding some hero units - like special squads, that has extra power and as unique world units.

    any suggestions on names/tech positions ?

    also - how about some more techs?
     
  13. davidlallen

    davidlallen Chieftain

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    On some other thread today we were discussing about airlift and carryalls, and whether they should be present in the early game. That is more about unit progression so I am following up here.

    Koma has pointed out that early game attacks are hard without roads. One obvious approach for faster movement is waiting until hover tech. Another approach is to add airlift and carryalls to the early game.

    But, there is a canonical example in the books of early game fast transport. Sandworms. If we assume that there was some apocalypse and bunch of people got stranded on the planet without much tech, there is some stuff they would be unable to build until they rediscovered it. However, maker hooks are what, basically curved metal poles. Not very complicated.

    We have been thinking that the two Fremen civs should be the only ones that should have access to worm travel. But, maybe that is getting in the way of good gameplay.

    What do you think about a unit which is very similar to a galley, and carries two foot units such as settler, warrior, worker. Maybe the Fremen can be the only civ with *advanced* units that can travel by worm. Obviously tanks cannot, and I could argue that heavy infantry cannot either.

    It is possible to borrow the mechanic of hunters, or slaves, where a unit would attack an animal and enslave it if the attack succeeds. But I do not think that is needed. Worms are huge. I don't think we should give scouts a +10,000% bonus vs animals just so they can do this attack.

    Right now there is a thumper promotion which works; it summons a worm. (Possibly this broke during the Patch Frenzy of this week, but it works in 1.2.3.) Perhaps we can make a special case where if the worm attacks a plot with a thumper and a unit with the thumper promotion, a galley unit appears. We would have to move the thumper enabling tech much earlier.

    Also, we might want a unit art for Worm Rider which shows a worm traveling above ground. The existing wormsign would still work for wild worms, but "galley worms" would be above ground.
     
  14. Ahriman

    Ahriman Tyrant

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    I'd vote strongly against letting non-Fremen ride sand worms. Horribly unfluffy.
    If I had a vote :)

    I think its better to leave the back-story vague, and just go for a general Dune-themed civ experience, rather than creating some non-canon apocalypse which is going to have lots of plot-holes anyway.

    I don't think early-early game combat is a high priority, but if it is, then:
    a) Overstuff the map with civs, so that starting places are much closer.
    b) Create some 2-move skimmer or buggy transports if needed, or just some early game sand buggy units that can cross coastal desert tiles.
    c) Realize that its ok for some civs to be better in the early game; I'd argue that Fremen should be powerful in the early game and as infantry raiders, but weaker in the late game with less mechanical stuff.
     
  15. Deliverator

    Deliverator Graphical Hackificator

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    I agree with Ahriman here. Allowing non-Fremen civs to ride worms would just be wrong and counter to most newcomers expectations if they know the books/film.

    I also think the backstory should be left vague, but that doesn't prevent us from working on the basis that somehow these Houses find themselves on Arrakis with zero tech. Having them arise naturally makes a lot of things not make sense, in particular, the role of the Spacing Guild. And I think we gain a lot if the homeworlds can feature in the game.

    I think we should just invent something to plug the hole. This is one instance where we might have to go outside the books. So, a low tech way to get around when you have desert and lots of wind... Kite Buggies!



    We can create a more primitive Dunish version, or perhaps a bigger one like a dhow with wheels.



    Maybe Sand Dhow would a good name. This could be your galley replacement. What do you guys think?
     
  16. davidlallen

    davidlallen Chieftain

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    I could see that for fast scouts. But moving whole armies that way?

    So far the best bet seems like making it a Fremen UU and accepting that other civs will have a hard time with early game attacks.

    I will add the "attack thumper => worm rider" code in python, it should be an easy change.
     
  17. Deliverator

    Deliverator Graphical Hackificator

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    Ahh, where's your sense of fun...

    Will it be possible to upgrade these Transport Worms to some sort of Attack Worms later.
     
  18. Ahriman

    Ahriman Tyrant

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    I would suggest that with higher techs, Fremen get better and better at worm capture and so can ride successively larger Worms. So a low level low strength low movement transport worm can uprgade to high movement med strength transport worms and then to huge attack worms in the late game.
     
  19. koma13

    koma13 Chieftain

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    David, can the AI handle the thumpter? Else it's a bit pointless to extend that concept.

    Considering your apocalyptic talk: you guys are aware of the fact that I plan to introduce the first thopter with desert exploration (it's the chariot). :p

    Infantry/melee/thopter are unit combat types not unit classes.

    In general I want to increase movement points to compensate the lack of roads. Infantry units have much more armaments than melee units (only a sword and a desert suit). Also infantry units are mainly intended for defense where melee units will be involved in attacks and therefore have a larger distance to cover.

    No, no. Again, my problem is that it's very hard to efficiently manage an empire without roads (eg. workers, defense). I have a worker in one corner of my empire and want to build an improvement in another corner 20 tiles away. What I am supposed to do? Waiting 10-15 turns until worker arrives? That is pretty lame. An additional transporter won't help. To much micromanagement and AI will never use it. Airlift is a solution to that problem but it comes way to late. :sad:
     
  20. davidlallen

    davidlallen Chieftain

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    Part of this is unavoidable with archipelago maps. You have to get a galley over to that worker to move him to a different island. Granted it is a little worse without roads. At the time I removed roads, we were using an all-land map, and I strongly object to permanent roads through deep desert. But now that we are using an ocean map, putting back roads on "land" but not coast/ocean seems OK.

    It is a small xml change; I think all you need to do is add back the BUILD_ROAD worker action, and choose an appropriate prereq tech. If you do that you may as well remove the TerrainTrades for the land terrains in techinfos. I recommend to leave the TerrainTrades on coast and ocean or else civs will never be able to trade.

    If we add roads on land, but not ocean, you will still need some way to get workers across desert. Will that be enough of an improvement?
     

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