I do have one question, though. Part of the issue with the bizarre balance of cities in Beta 3 and earlier came from many buildings not having any upkeep at all and money being generally sparse. This led to many city features literally being placeholders for production simply because there was no downside to building them if you weren't doing anything else with your queue for the next 15 turns.
Is the economy in Beta 4 going to be similar to that, or are you going to scale the gold in such a way that pretty much all buildings have some manner of upkeep (and therefore a downside to building them)?
I don't like maintenance. It is a nessesary evil sometimes, but if you can design systems that don't use it, that's even better. I don't like there being a downside to work the player has done. I don't like the most effective strategy being to to go wipe improvements you aren't using (growth buildings when you hit your pop limit, trianing buildings if you aren't going to be training units there for a while, etc).
Instead I want to make the queue so central that you are making hard decisions about what to put it in. There are lots of things you would love to do, and that is your constraint, not a punishment for having built things. The other control is the improvements that give additional bonuses when the city is idle. So if you do want to not have to manage that cities queue there is a strategic advantage to doing that. We do need to balance those so they are worthwhile (they are generally more beneficial than they were in Beta3).
I don't see myself ever having a city that is vulnerable to an opponents overland magic (I'm deathly affraid of volcanoes & such), if there's an enchant to protect them I will be using that, if not then I will be using the city improvement options everytime - I can say this with a certainty
There are improvements that do that now though they are very rare. I wouldn't be against an enchantment for it (especially since the tech is already there), except that it cuts off such a big part of the game, still it may be okay, I'll have to think about it.
Or you could just stick a logarithm in the function.
Effectively that's what switching it to city levels has done. Since population determines your city level it allows us to control where the increases are. It also makes the city leveling up a bigger experience since your city just got better at everything rather than having an early level 3 city basically the same as a late level 2 city. So we build on mechanics we already have (rather that hitting players with another scale to learn).
Thanks much, almost all of this looks very promising! Two questions, if I may?
1. Since the economy is no longer based off the population, what is population mainly good for now?
2. A possible idea in addition to your other ideas regarding constraint #3 (economy based off population) in your original OP post: Instead of making bonuses based off population size, you could always make bonuses based off population tiers, e.g. <10, <50, <200, <500, <1000 and >1000 as groups to base population bonuses off.
Population is what controls a cities level just as it does in Beta3. You need 60 population to get to level 2 (and pick if you want it to be a Town, Fort or Conclave). So the heart is still population, we have just simplified the feed into resources.
Well thought out, Derek. A few points:
If you design something you enjoy, it isn't necessary stupid. If you design something you enjoy where that enjoyment derives only from that element, and not from the way it relates to the rest of the game, then that might be stupid. That "citizen-using" subgame sounded a lot like some of the joyless elements in WoM.
Artwork: consider offering different versions of it, hi-fi to low-fi, that will affect memory use. This will allow players who are on 32-bit systems without the ability to employ the /3GB switch to perhaps handle larger maps, in exchange for simpler graphics.
There are close to 7,500 graphic files (png's and dds's) in FE. They aren't simply made by an artist and checked in. They are created, reviewed, inspected, placed in game, adjusted, etc. Every new piece of art gets reviewed by the art directors and me. Depending on what they are they may have to be looked at to see how work with the in game lighting and specular maps. We will have to make sure they match the games palette and convey what they need to convey. And the game design may change and require them to be remade anyway. It is a huge task involving a very busy art director and a talented team of artists.
Making a lower res version of those graphics of those graphics and making sure they still meet our artistic standard (ie: we want to be proud of anything we produce) would still require a lot of review and tinkering to get right. Run through a macro to automatically export at a lower size and we won't get the quality we want. It would alos dramatically increase download sizes to have multiple versions of all that stuff. And that requires a lot of art time that could be spent making the normal resolution look better.
So we aim for one target and try to nail that target. We aren't a huge studio, so for us that makes the most sense.
I may be mistaken, but I don't think I saw a mention of the merchants' 10% cartel. It seems a bit excessive to sell for 9 gildars what you would buy back at 90. Unless different buildings affect the amount merchants can charge, and the amounts you receive.
The shopkeepers of Elemental are the true bad guys of the game, this is true. The gap has been decreased in Beta4, shop prices have been halved but sell prices are the same. Also anywhere you see an items value it is it's sell value (it was confusing to see "Value 200" and only be able to sell it for 20).
But that gap will continue to exist. Its a nessesary evil if we want the player out grabbing lots of crazy stuff in the wilderness (and we do) without completely upsetting the economy.
If outposts will be upgradable, something I'm very glad to see, could you make them also occupyable? Placing a unit on one, only to see it continue to appear on the left side of the screen as though it were a freestanding unit, is confusing. And that confusion only multiples if you leave more units in your outposts, currently.
We are working on the fortify command in general. Meaning if you fortify a unit it doesn't show up in your empire tree anymore. That way whenever you just want to park a unit somewhere (no matter where it is) you won't clutter up your empire tree.