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 Post subject: Loose Cannon on Banks
 Post Posted: Sat Aug 25, 2018 8:56 pm 
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Somebody, it seems it was Rob himself, added so called "loose cannon" to the bank article on the wiki. In addition to being one of the more clever puns I've ever seen, I am super fascinated by the content of the article itself. It suggests that the bank building in cities actually acts like a micro treasury if your side doesn't have a capital city. In addition, the building can be further upgraded. I really liked that article, and thought it would be interesting to discuss the subject of buildings in turn based strategy games more broadly. I'll start with my own thoughts below.

So, this was really interesting to me since I think about the game Civilization a lot. One of the things I hate about Civ is buildings. They are basically non interactive in the game, and once built can mostly be ignored. There is no way for instance, once you hit the industrial revolution, to detach your grinding stone from your water mill and replace it with a power loom to create a cotton mill. This always really annoyed me. It just doesn't feel very interactive. I really like that this bank article would make the bank building actually interactive, almost like you're building your own custom RPG town. I actually thought it would be better if it had even more upgrade options to allow you to customize your town even more. In this case, I was thinking of in addition to Dirtamancers giving it a bigger vault size, that other casters could give it other functions. Signamancers could add another room for financial records and ledger sheets, using schmuckers to print off reports, allowing a barbarian side to replace the treasury sense after a fashion and also removing the need for caster to be there constantly telling how much money is inside. I also thought it be interesting if it could have a mint made by a Moneymancer, allowing the building to use money in place of juice to create gems and precocious metals.

What actions do you wish buildings could do in a Turn Based Strategy Game? And what additions/functions would you add to different buildings in Erfworld if you were designing it?

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     Post Posted: Sun Aug 26, 2018 9:53 pm 
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    The pseudo-treasury effect seems like a liability to me. The capital is surely a side's best-fortified city and the side is probably going to be wiped out if it falls, so if you build a bank, it's likelier to be pillaged some day than to ever pay out to you. It's particularly bad in the case of the GK bank, because that was the capital, so it could only ever have been useful if Stanley had changed the capital to some other site and then lost the new site. Even if that doesn't happen, losing access to part of the treasury is bad in most strategy games, where it's better to invest cash than to sit on it; all the worse if you can't even plan for it because you don't know how much is saved there. (The income bonus sounds nice though.)

    In Civ, higher-tier buildings act like upgrades. Mechanically speaking, a university acts like an upgrade for the library. If I wanted an interactive building minigame,
    Market: this produces some resources each turn, like the wood and nails from GK. If you bring it resources that it doesn't produce, it can depop them for a cash payout. Sides could then set up trade routes to move resources around for money. Upgrades could pop more res or give more cash; and the demanded res could randomly change every so often.

    There's a lot of scope for military buildings, which sort of count as interactive because player-controlled units interact with them. Fortifications are canon, but also,
    Stables: mounts that begin turn in the city get +2 move
    Lighthouse: ships that begin turn in the dock get +2 move
    Archery range: archers that begin turn in the city get double their quiver capacity and can return here for a top-up
    Training grounds: +bonus to XP for units that train here
    Siege workshop: can cheaply build/repair/maintain siege towers and defensive catapults
    Hospital: a mortally incapacitated unit that ends turn here has a chance to recover instead of croaking. Also, a bonus for Healomancy cast here

    I also like the idea of a soft diplomatic building.
    Amphitheatre: when a unit from another side spends a turn here, there is a Date-a-mancy bonus. You might invite other sides to send courtiers to your capital as ambassadors, then butter them up with this. Also, a bonus for Stagemancy cast here

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     Post Posted: Tue Aug 28, 2018 1:45 pm 
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    Twofer wrote:
    The pseudo-treasury effect seems like a liability to me. The capital is surely a side's best-fortified city and the side is probably going to be wiped out if it falls, so if you build a bank, it's likelier to be pillaged some day than to ever pay out to you. It's particularly bad in the case of the GK bank, because that was the capital, so it could only ever have been useful if Stanley had changed the capital to some other site and then lost the new site. Even if that doesn't happen, losing access to part of the treasury is bad in most strategy games, where it's better to invest cash than to sit on it; all the worse if you can't even plan for it because you don't know how much is saved there. (The income bonus sounds nice though.)


    Yeah, which is why I recommended further upgrades to make it more useful.

    Twofer wrote:
    In Civ, higher-tier buildings act like upgrades. Mechanically speaking, a university acts like an upgrade for the library.


    Yeah, which is a thing I hate in video games. I really hate straight passive stat bonuses in games. It's like, why even bother? Why not just auto give me the bonuses instead of making me do a bunch of busy work constantly clicking the upgrade button. Video games are a series of choices, and deciding which stat I want to increase this turn isn't a very interesting one. Thus the reason I wanted the bonuses gained by the city upgrades to actually produce unique effects instead of increasing some number.

    Twofer wrote:
    There's a lot of scope for military buildings, which sort of count as interactive because player-controlled units interact with them. Fortifications are canon, but also,
    Stables: mounts that begin turn in the city get +2 move
    Lighthouse: ships that begin turn in the dock get +2 move
    Archery range: archers that begin turn in the city get double their quiver capacity and can return here for a top-up
    Training grounds: +bonus to XP for units that train here
    Siege workshop: can cheaply build/repair/maintain siege towers and defensive catapults


    Most of these are just stat boosts, which just isn't very interesting to me. I've seen games that do this, and it doesn't really give you new choices to make, it just boosts the same choices you were going to make anyway, at least in my opinion.

    Twofer wrote:
    Hospital: a mortally incapacitated unit that ends turn here has a chance to recover instead of croaking. Also, a bonus for Healomancy cast here


    This is an exception to the above though, since this would actually change how you play the game, cycling wounded units to the rear, setting up ambulances, stationing doctors/nurses in the back, etc. It could have a various upgrades that would change it's functionality further too, like a quarantine ward for instance. Or a morgue. Or an apothecary/pharmacy.

    Twofer wrote:
    I also like the idea of a soft diplomatic building.
    Amphitheatre: when a unit from another side spends a turn here, there is a Date-a-mancy bonus. You might invite other sides to send courtiers to your capital as ambassadors, then butter them up with this. Also, a bonus for Stagemancy cast here


    Yes, but I'm not even sure it would need a passive stat bonus. Just having a specialized location for this kind of activity might be enough in and of itself.

    I was also thinking about Mills, and thought they might be interesting as an upgrade to a building rather than a unique building in and of themselves. Like a smithy might get trip hammers and stamp mills, a lumber yard might get saws and lathes, a granary might get a grinding stone, and a weavers shop might get power looms and spinning mules. Sort of like the mill upgrade adds a powers source to the mechanisms inside that shop, so they don't have to be hand or animal operated, or powered by schmuckers.

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     Post Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2018 2:37 pm 
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    In a certain management game with kittens, there is a point in the tech tree where you can replace all your pasture land with solar panels. This is a choice on whether you need food or electricity more, though. You can also replace all your amphitheaters with radio stations. While those have the same effects on the populous, radio stations are much more effective, but require much more expensive components, until you are high enough on the tech tree that it's best to sell the amphitheaters for the wallpaper anyways.

    There are also decisions of how many refining buildings you own are activated at once, or how many draw power for more efficient conversion rates.

    But most of the choices in Kittens Game are the sort Shai Hulad doesn't like, where you just add more stuff, though. Unless the late game is much longer and more complex than I can see, in which case the game just suffers from a too long tutorial oh gawd why can't I stop playing I want to see the numbers go up.

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     Post Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2018 5:39 pm 
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    spriteless wrote:
    oh gawd why can't I stop playing I want to see the numbers go up.

    Yeah, to be fair I also like to see big numbers sometimes in MMOs even though it's not as useful as DOTs. https://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/moneybattle

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     Post Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2018 7:38 pm 
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    Quote:
    Why not just auto give me the bonuses instead of making me do a bunch of busy work constantly clicking the upgrade button.

    IMO, this is a problem only if the game is poorly balanced or the opponent is too weak. I sometimes watch strategy e-sports, and one thing that pros do very differently to noobs is aggressively optimise upgrade timing, rather than attack without any or not attack until they have everything. If they can steal a march on a useful tech, or bluff an opponent into building anti-air while they rush ground, they can parlay that into a game-winning advantage. I only know up to Civ 2, but that was imba and had a feeble AI, and it needed better micro-reducing features. Fix all of that, and the upgrades would become much more interesting.

    I don't get why you like the mill idea. If it just gives a constant bonus to an existing building, doesn't that behave the same as a second building that gives the bonus with the first building as a prereq, like library->university? And if it does add some new mechanic, isn't that a perfectly viable standalone building?

    That being said, if you want new mechanics,
    Clock tower: this allows you to pay now, at a discount, to promote a unit in the future. Upgrades offer bigger discounts for longer lead times.

    But the easiest way is to not give away all the old mechanics for free.
    Production buildings: these are necessary to get units beyond basic infantry. Stables for mounts, shipyards for (bigger?) ships, knight school to pop/promote kts. The new strategic option is targeting enemy cities with certain buildings, so as to deprive them of a key unit class. Upgrades allow additional unit classes, viz you need a stables for a gwiffon and a stables 2 for a megalo.
    Training grounds: necessary to train, which costs money and grants XP, boosted if a WL supervises. Upgrades allow more units at once, or allow different unit classes beyond just basic inf.

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     Post Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2018 9:21 pm 
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    Twofer wrote:
    Quote:
    Why not just auto give me the bonuses instead of making me do a bunch of busy work constantly clicking the upgrade button.

    IMO, this is a problem only if the game is poorly balanced or the opponent is too weak. I sometimes watch strategy e-sports, and one thing that pros do very differently to noobs is aggressively optimise upgrade timing, rather than attack without any or not attack until they have everything. If they can steal a march on a useful tech, or bluff an opponent into building anti-air while they rush ground, they can parlay that into a game-winning advantage. I only know up to Civ 2, but that was imba and had a feeble AI, and it needed better micro-reducing features. Fix all of that, and the upgrades would become much more interesting.
    That's only in games where the point of the game is to "win," but we've seen people in Erfworld actually have personalities and goals beyond immediate military victory, even Stanley. It seems like things that are more RPG/"social gaming" oriented might be included.

    Twofer wrote:
    I don't get why you like the mill idea. If it just gives a constant bonus to an existing building, doesn't that behave the same as a second building that gives the bonus with the first building as a prereq, like library->university? And if it does add some new mechanic, isn't that a perfectly viable standalone building?

    Yeah, I was thinking about the things Turnamancers could cast/build to help out. Then, at least to me, it's less about the buildings in a vacuum, and instead a choice of four things you can do with that caster. Time control, vehicle construction, mind manipulation, and industrial machinery. That creates a choice about what you use them for, what they specialize in etc. An opportunity cost between different skills that lets you customize the character.

    Twofer wrote:
    That being said, if you want new mechanics,
    Clock tower: this allows you to pay now, at a discount, to promote a unit in the future. Upgrades offer bigger discounts for longer lead times

    Sure. But I also was interested in buildings having upgrades that increase it's functionality? So like this time manipulation thing would be just one upgrade to the building, along with other things. Like the Bank has a straight up upgrade in storage capacity. But what I was suggesting were addons that changed how you used it, such as it giving you accounting print offs (which would be useful even in your capitol), or allowing it to conjur unique materials.

    Twofer wrote:
    But the easiest way is to not give away all the old mechanics for free.
    Production buildings: these are necessary to get units beyond basic infantry. Stables for mounts, shipyards for (bigger?) ships, knight school to pop/promote kts. The new strategic option is targeting enemy cities with certain buildings, so as to deprive them of a key unit class. Upgrades allow additional unit classes, viz you need a stables for a gwiffon and a stables 2 for a megalo.
    Training grounds: necessary to train, which costs money and grants XP, boosted if a WL supervises. Upgrades allow more units at once, or allow different unit classes beyond just basic inf.

    Yeah, that's some of what I'm talking about.

    Part of what is making me think of these things is the game Alpha Centauri. In that game the power bank functioned as an economic building (energy credits are the money in the game) but it also had a very non game like element. When you suffered a power surge (a random game event) you would lose a bunch of energy credits and also risk losing a building. But when you had a power bank, instead of losing money and risking damage to infrastructure, the power surge would be absorbed causing you to gain money instead. It's a little thing, that doesn't make a whole lot of game balance sense, but it makes a lot of sense in the fictional world the game takes place in. And I always loved little things like that. Things that made the world of the game feel like an abstracted simulation of a real place. Things that made it feel like it was a real world, not just a game.

    This is kind of fundamental to an argument me and some other people had about how Digdoug Moles lightning trap worked. Was him talking about designing a new trap just narrative license to represent what was actually a generic research+object placement gameplay action? Or did the trap really work as an emergent property of in game rules. Something that actually had to be figured out and then implemented by a clever player? Like how people build redstone computers in Minecraft, even though there is no "computer" object. Or the falling rock traps in the King Arthur's Gold beta.

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     Post Posted: Thu Aug 30, 2018 1:14 am 
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    Quote:
    That's only in games where the point of the game is to "win," but we've seen people in Erfworld actually have personalities and goals beyond immediate military victory, even Stanley. It seems like things that are more RPG/"social gaming" oriented might be included.

    I've had the idea of luxury buildings that are just for flavour, except for maybe some underpowered Loyalty bonus or to act as a warning, like "We're so rich can sink $25k into a bathhouse on a whim; you don't want to give us a reason to go full military". These are popular among royal sides.
    Luxury district: itself does nothing, but has multiple independent upgrades.
    Teahouse upgrade: can pop tea and cakes for cash. These are tasty. Similarly, booze, perfume, and fancy dress shops (the latter intrudes on fabricators' turf, so maybe not that one).
    Bathhouse upgrade: you can bathe here. This is fun. Similarly, a dance hall (could give a bonus to learning to dance fight) and ice skating rink.
    Gallery upgrade: houses art. You can pay $1--10k to pop artwork to hang in here. Art is pretty. Signamancers can do things with art (nothing mechanical), like paint it for juice instead of money or interpret it.

    Bazaar: can pop exotic materials for cash, which can be used as raw materials in spells cast by fabricator casters. Possibly part of the luxury district.
    Morgue: can keep corpses fresh for longer, benefiting Croakamancers. Can possibly create new corpses, either slowly by itself or quickly for cash. At high level, can create WL corpses.
    Unspeakable kitchen: whenever you croak a non-humanoid unit in or near the city, the garrison gets a discount to upkeep next turn. When upgraded, cross out the non-humanoid part.

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     Post Posted: Thu Aug 30, 2018 12:08 pm 
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    Twofer wrote:
    Quote:
    That's only in games where the point of the game is to "win," but we've seen people in Erfworld actually have personalities and goals beyond immediate military victory, even Stanley. It seems like things that are more RPG/"social gaming" oriented might be included.

    I've had the idea of luxury buildings that are just for flavour, except for maybe some underpowered Loyalty bonus or to act as a warning, like "We're so rich can sink $25k into a bathhouse on a whim; you don't want to give us a reason to go full military". These are popular among royal sides.
    Luxury district: itself does nothing, but has multiple independent upgrades.
    Teahouse upgrade: can pop tea and cakes for cash. These are tasty. Similarly, booze, perfume, and fancy dress shops (the latter intrudes on fabricators' turf, so maybe not that one).
    Bathhouse upgrade: you can bathe here. This is fun. Similarly, a dance hall (could give a bonus to learning to dance fight) and ice skating rink.
    Gallery upgrade: houses art. You can pay $1--10k to pop artwork to hang in here. Art is pretty. Signamancers can do things with art (nothing mechanical), like paint it for juice instead of money or interpret it.

    Bazaar: can pop exotic materials for cash, which can be used as raw materials in spells cast by fabricator casters. Possibly part of the luxury district.
    Morgue: can keep corpses fresh for longer, benefiting Croakamancers. Can possibly create new corpses, either slowly by itself or quickly for cash. At high level, can create WL corpses.
    Unspeakable kitchen: whenever you croak a non-humanoid unit in or near the city, the garrison gets a discount to upkeep next turn. When upgraded, cross out the non-humanoid part.


    Those sound fun. The Morgue could maybe do something funky with unit depopping. Say that instead of having a side's unclaimed* casualties (or their enemies') depop after a battle, a % of them appears on slabs in the building. Useful if you want to keep a croakamancer out of the action and/or preserve corpses for longer prior to uncroaking.

    * "unclaimed" so as to avoid whisking away a field Croakamancer's raw materials.

    Omnimancer's Blast From The Past has a side with a casino. iirc he says in the comments it would give the side a loyalty boost and earn it some shmuckers if units gamble there. Possibly having some kind of Luckamancy "harvesting" effect against the gamblers.

    Going back to banks, I don't really think they're liabilities given they are essentially a complete black box unless their own side has specialized casters. And an enemy coming to conquer it would either empty it out automagically or raze the whole city and (maybe?) get the contents. Really, it's kind of like an autonomous Barbarian Purse tied to a physical structure.

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     Post Posted: Thu Aug 30, 2018 12:39 pm 
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    I really like the Bathhouse, Dancehall, morgue, and Casino ones!
    Bathhouse: I imagine the bathhouse also reduces upkeep for units via replacing the natural dirtamancy of cleansing.
    Dance Hall: The fanfiction Dance Across the Hungry Jungle had dancehalls too.
    Morgue: If the Morgue isn't part of a Hospital, I would think it should be called a Mortuary. But that's maybe an Americanism? I think maybe if it got upgraded, one of the upgrades would be printing Obituaries for units that die near the city.
    Casino: The game Dungeon Keeper 2 had a casino building that had a giant lever on it you could use to switch between boosting happiness at a money cost, or boosting income at a happiness cost. We've seen Ace can make cards and coins, could a Turnamancer make slot machine and roulette wheels?
    Drapers Hall: I also think having a Drapers hall for clothiers/seamstresses/taylors might be neat too. Though it might be it's own building?
    Slaughter House:Was thinking that the slaughterhouse could have different upgrades depending on how the meat is being prepared. Like the smokehouse is for smoking meat, but salting/spicing could be done in a salt house/spice hall. In the game Stronghold Crusader having more varieties of food boosted the happiness of your citizens.

    Also this is all making me think of Guild Ball. :?

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     Post Posted: Sat Sep 01, 2018 11:08 am 
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    Shai hulud wrote:
    Dance Hall: The fanfiction Dance Across the Hungry Jungle had dancehalls too.


    Oh wow, I completely forgot I did that. :oops: :lol:

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