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The Art of the Starting position

By on August 11, 2012 11:47:48 AM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
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The most delicate balancing act we perform in Elemental: Fallen Enchantress is the starting position.  How close should monsters be? How powerful should those monsters be? How near should we place more powerful monsters? How many resources should be near? How many goodie huts should be near? What about quests?

The user has considerable control over this based on their start-up settings. However, we all know that most people will go by the default settings – at least at first.  So we spend a lot of time playing around with these values along.

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Here I’ve unhidden the map and turned on the grid in the cloth map view.  As you can see, there are lots of monsters here but they have all been carefully balanced such that a player should be able to defeat them if they are careful and don’t try to mow them all down (i.e. defeat means player is at full health).

Since the maps are randomly generated, including the continents themselves, it can be pretty tricky making sure that the resource placement and map itself remains fair. In a traditional land based 4X, there’s no magic. By adding magic, we significantly increase the challenge. 

However, when successful, the reward is great: unprecedented replay ability. 

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August 11, 2012 12:16:49 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I doubt anybody thinks it is easy, but it is something that needs to be improved, sometimes I've had plenty of resources around, sometimes almost non, or useless ones for early game. When that is the case I almost always felt obliged to start a new map.

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August 11, 2012 1:33:14 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Flexie216,
I doubt anybody thinks it is easy, but it is something that needs to be improved, sometimes I've had plenty of resources around, sometimes almost non, or useless ones for early game. When that is the case I almost always felt obliged to start a new map.

Yep.  We've put a lot of time into this since Beta 3.

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August 11, 2012 1:45:31 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Is this still scheduled to come out next week or will it be delayed?

 

 

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August 11, 2012 2:08:34 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Should be this Thursday.

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August 11, 2012 3:15:41 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

As a heavy cloth map player (especially on my work laptop), I do have to say I LOVE the updated graphics.  Can't wait to try out the beta when I'm traveling the next few weeks.

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August 11, 2012 3:40:30 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The cloth map graphical updates look good.   I like that you are working on starting position.  I will usually play whatever position I get unless I get something absolutely worthless.  Then it is a Ctrl-N fest until I see what I like

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August 11, 2012 4:11:26 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Nice. Big fan of that new cloth map.

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August 11, 2012 4:30:11 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I normally Ctrl-N until I get a couple food resources to help guarantee my one city will eventually be lvl 5.  The new challenge will be can I get enough food to get me my one lvl 5 Fortress (I would spend many starting points to ensure this)

 - perhaps have some kind of  'Isolationist' or 'Hermit' as an option: building outposts & cities cost 2 times normal gildar - grants plus 3 grain in capitol town/fortress/conclave

edit: as I'm turtley enough to be in tha turtle club

(oh, & should buildings show up as placeable units as well? - like monoplie's hotels & houses (I know when I used to make my own board games I always used these so my units didn't 'block' out the cities on tha map

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August 11, 2012 5:12:29 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Cam we delete that starting position that starts me out on a peninsula with no resources then?

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August 11, 2012 6:11:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

We need a changelog.

Anyway back on topic the main problem I have with starting locations is the huge possible difference between food and material levels you can get for your first city. After that the second problem is how sometimes you will start with room for expansions and other times you have absolutely no room to build another city.

As for monsters except for glitchy lair guardians crossing half the map to randomly wipe out one of my cities the only real threats were the wandering Assassin Demons and Umberdroths. All the other are incredibly easy to just farm. If a level 2 magicless sovereign or a group of spearmen can solo a monster then it's simply free fodder. Other then the above I found that by playing smart monsters were never ever a threat to me, I hope they haven't been made weaker.

Quoting seanw3,
Cam we delete that starting position that starts me out on a peninsula with no resources then?

Isn't that a modding specific bug?

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August 11, 2012 6:47:39 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,
Should be this Thursday.

Doh!  Maybe I'll come back from Ontario early.  

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August 11, 2012 8:07:49 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

really like the forest-thing on the cloth map, hope you guys havent given up on upgrading the landscape graphics discussed in an old post, seen alot of nice new stuff around and cant wait to see more

Sincerely
~ Kongdej

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August 11, 2012 8:57:56 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

OMG, the cloth map looks awesome!

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August 11, 2012 9:10:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting seanw3,
Cam we delete that starting position that starts me out on a peninsula with no resources then?

I wonder if starting positions could by default be X by Y number of tiles with Z number of resource tiles, monsters, certain percentage of water tiles, etc...which are then merged with the rest of the continent. Not sure if that's along the lines of their approach or not.

 

Quoting Kongdej,
really like the forest-thing on the cloth map, hope you guys havent given up on upgrading the landscape graphics discussed in an old post, seen alot of nice new stuff around and cant wait to see more

Sincerely
~ Kongdej

Indeed.

 

Overall, I'm really looking forward to this and I really like these little Dev journal updates.

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August 11, 2012 9:33:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Kongdej,
really like the forest-thing on the cloth map, hope you guys havent given up on upgrading the landscape graphics discussed in an old post, seen alot of nice new stuff around and cant wait to see more

Thirded.

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August 12, 2012 1:03:14 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

To summarize my previous suggestions, I think a "tournament" mode that forces an identical starting area for at least a 10x10 or whatever radius you think is appropriate. This might even include a nice spot for a second city, similar to how in Starcraft you have a "natural" expansion.

 

It would also be nice if we got much more info about world generation in the settings. What does changing the climate do? Do they effect the number of wild grain and quarry resources or is that dependent only on the resource frequency. I hope its like Master of Orion 2 where you choose between mineral rich and organic rich. 

 

In addition, a quest & hero slider to either limit their appearance or to fill the world with more would be nice. For example, I would probably prefer fewer heroes and more quests than the current amount. 

 

 

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August 12, 2012 2:34:11 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I like these ideas, UmbralAngel.

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August 12, 2012 9:09:40 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting UmbralAngel,
To summarize my previous suggestions, I think a "tournament" mode that forces an identical starting area for at least a 10x10 or whatever radius you think is appropriate. This might even include a nice spot for a second city, similar to how in Starcraft you have a "natural" expansion.

 

This is probably very easy to do once modding becomes available.

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August 12, 2012 2:13:19 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Not modding related. For those that are not aware, FE maps are made up of stamps of land. These lands are then littered with objects. Starting on a peninsula means you have less chance of getting any expansion resources, one way to get to the mainland, creatures in the way, and a general disadvantage against all players that didn't get put on Anthrax Island. Deleting this starting point is an unavoidable step towards fair games.

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August 12, 2012 6:31:40 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'm not digging those blue trees. The design is fine but tint blurring at the edges is repulsive looking. This is true of the chasms to a lesser extent. The green trees look fine since that's still a greenish meeting a greenish.

Quoting Frogboy,
Should be this Thursday.
Right when I run out of time to play. Oh well, that's life I guess.

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August 13, 2012 7:14:58 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

While the starting position is VERY important, I think that proximal spots to expand are far MORE important in determining if a player can be competitive in the later parts of the game.

 

In Beta 2 and Beta 3, I would often start in positions where my starting city would prevent my expansion (since it took up the last colonizable areas around me. Will this be addressed in this beta by any mechanisms? Such as: (a) making single cities are competitive, ( or adding a spell to make deserts inhabitable at a lower level, or (c) improving land generation algorithms to always include at least one proximal spot to expand?

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August 14, 2012 1:25:24 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting seanw3,
Cam we delete that starting position that starts me out on a peninsula with no resources then?

 

I second that.  I think I've ended up on that same peninsula as Sean has so often that I ought to be able to rent out the thing as oceanfront property.

 

...and let us not get into a discussion of choke points near founding cities occupied by very large reptilian creatures with bad dental plans.

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August 14, 2012 9:13:41 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Glazunov1,
...and let us not get into a discussion of choke points near founding cities occupied by very large reptilian creatures with bad dental plans.

Or just lvl 9 impassable heroes and I decided to not play with natural leader, but have the cruel feature...

Sincerely
~ Kongdej

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August 14, 2012 10:28:22 AM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Quoting Glazunov1,
Quoting seanw3, reply 10Cam we delete that starting position that starts me out on a peninsula with no resources then?

 

I second that.  I think I've ended up on that same peninsula as Sean has so often that I ought to be able to rent out the thing as oceanfront property.

 

...and let us not get into a discussion of choke points near founding cities occupied by very large reptilian creatures with bad dental plans.

 

Even reptiles are afraid of dentists, actually.  Their benefits are without par but you just can't get them in the office, know what I mean?

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August 15, 2012 9:37:45 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

How about just adding a bonus for crappy starting position? Inform the player when he starts that his location will hurt him, and then let him earn some extra points for sticking with it.

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