Update Demand and Wall Mechanics

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Joined: Sun Jun 08, 2008 9:33 am

Update Demand and Wall Mechanics

Postby 007bistromath » Sun Jun 08, 2008 10:44 am

Demands from Rome and walls have been basically unchanged since the beginning of the series. This is problematic, since geographic and economic complexity have both risen from one installment to the next, making each of these progressively harder to deal with in their traditional form. It's obviously way beyond too late to make changes this deep now, but hopefully Sierra is planning a Caesar V, and hopefully Tilted Mill will still be the guys on the job when it's announced. Long shot, but where else am I gonna say this stuff, right?

How to Fix Demands

Demands in their current form are highly disruptive. Usually it is for a staggering amount of your main trade resource, which can completely destroy your income if you're not running an extreme surplus. Ultimately, it doesn't even make sense anyway; if you're sending a steady stream of sand back to Rome, why are they so desperate for more of it? Other times, the demand is for some resource you don't have much of, or have little or no ability to trade, meaning that fulfilling the demand on time requires an infrastructure much larger than is necessary or reasonable.

Traditional demands should be done away with entirely and replaced with changes to Rome's role in the trade system. Firstly, the route to Latium should always be open. Latium imports everything to varying degrees, and exports little or nothing. Those resources which are meant to form the basis of your assignment will have trade quotas: if you don't export (that means sell) at least a certain amount of a resource to Latium per year, your favor will gradually degrade in proportion with the deficit. Conversely, if you export more than a somewhat higher amount, favor will rise. This would alleviate the loss of income, without totally eliminating the economic challenge; Rome can trade with every city in the empire, so they pay less. Furthermore, sending part of the quota and maintaining otherwise solid trade would soften the impact of demands for things that are tough to get in your province.

How to Fix Walls

Walls have become much more difficult to build since Caesar II, yet they remain of identical importance to your housing development and thus prosperity. Shrinking map sizes and increased geographical annoyances mean that walling in what needs to be requires a borderline obsessive amount of planning which, as the several requests on this forum for a modernized planning overlay or utility indicate, is not easy or efficient to exercise with the Caesar IV UI. For many players, this part of the game is simply inaccessible without just copying how some expert on the internet did it.

There are two possible approaches to solving this problem. The first is to decrease the importance of walls, making them a bonus rather than a necessity to progress beyond the mid-point of prosperity. While this would basically be fair considering the new complexities, it seems a little sloppy and would likely result in far fewer players bothering with walls at all. The other is significantly more complex for the programmers, but would make the system intuitive and draws interestingly from Roman history.

On the frontiers of the empire, the legions, who spent a great deal of time standing around with nothing to do, were assigned to build walls. So, let them do it here. Walls should only be necessary in military missions anyway, so rather than being something you lay yourself, any legion not currently fighting or training should do it automatically as long as they're getting paid. Unlike the player, the game engine already knows where a wall can and cannot be built, and it knows which geographical features serve as natural defense. Structures would be marked as "city" (housing, markets, amenities) or "provincial," (farms, camps, factories) with zones being determined by how many of each type of structure are in a given area. (It may even be possible to just use the desirability calculation, since a concentration of amenities tends to outweigh whatever undesirable structures are in a housing block.) The algorithm which determines where the legionaries build the walls would be constructed such that each wall automatically connects a pair of natural borders, walling the city in, and where possible, the province out, while encompassing a maximum frontier and crossing a minimum of roads. If it is desired that walls still present some challenge to the user, they should require a raw material and/or the importance of training should be increased so that managing the legion's time well becomes an issue.

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