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Population growth over time

Posted: Wed Oct 16, 2019 6:49 pm
by Nijis
So, starting off I'll state that this is not a demographics simulator, so what follows should in no way be read as "Must fix!" but rather a "Should we take another look at?" comment...

It seems to me that population grows very quickly. Most of my games began in 1.03 or 1.04, so I don't know the longterm impact of the 1.05 bugfixes, but I'm guessing that a player-led state can double or triple its population within a few centuries.

The (admittedly dated) source I am using, McEvedy and Jones Atlas of World Population History (1978) suggests roughly a 50% growth in population between 300 BCE and 200 CE, the approximate span of the game. Now, historical population estimates from the 1970s are probably now considered way off for a lot of regions of the world, especially pre-Columbian America, but I'm guessing they're not too far off for the Roman Empire, which after all did lots of censuses.

Also, my pop counts may have missed or double-counted a region or two...

A few observations, region by region
Egypt: Grew from 3MN to 5MN. Starting pop in FoGE - 145 by my count. (There seems to be too few pops in the Nile Valley compared to the deserts, fwiw - I'd say that Upper Egypt in particular deserves a few more.)
Modern Greece: Shrank slightly from 2.25MN to 2MN. (I'm guessing because Greece in 300 BC, because of its military and political power, extracted a lot of surplus grain from other areas. Roman Greece could not. Plus wars and slave-taking.) FoG at start: 150 pop
Modern Turkey excluding European Turkey - Grew 4.5MN to 7MN. 245 pop in game.
Iberian peninsula - Grew 3.5MN to 5MN. 121 pop in-game at start
Modern France - Grew 3.5MN to 6.5 MN. 127 pop in-game at start

What are other player's experiences after a century or two in 1.05? How big have your provinces grown?

Re: Population growth over time

Posted: Wed Oct 16, 2019 7:21 pm
by sage3
I'm not sure that the pop in the game should be considered "total population" for a province. I think it actually represents, "surplus population that can work cool stuff." E.g. the absolute population may not grow a ton, but surplus food means that some of the population was survival farming / hunting can now instead work on crafts, or serve as a town guard etc...

Re: Population growth over time

Posted: Wed Oct 16, 2019 9:32 pm
by Nijis
Certainly the pop management (assigning people to culture?) is a huge abstraction.

Still, I think the pops actually represent a more-or-less fixed number of people - maybe with a bit of range, say 10k to 30k individuals, but not a range as wide as 5k to 50k. The pops do have other tags (Citizen/Slave, Culture) that more or less correspond to what you'd expect the percentage in the population to be. At start, they are more or less distributed between regions at the rate of 20k individuals per pop unit according to where people lived historically in 300 BCE.

Moreover, I don't think that productivity increased in the pre-modern era that much faster than population. Whether it represents raw population or abstract productivity, I would not expect the median Mediterranean settled province to produce two or three times as much stuff in 200 CE as it did in 300 BCE.

To put it another way, crop yield didn't improve much in classical antiquity. Ultimately, to support your surplus workers, you're going to need a fixed amount of agricultural labor to sow and harvest the land. Canals and drainage can increase the land under cultivation, and mills and animals and roads may make individual farmers slightly more efficient producers of labor. But total population is still a good indicator of how well a particular territory has reached its potential, I think.

Investment and good governance, the freeing up of surplus labor not needed to grow food, is represented in the structure bonus, I would say.

Re: Population growth over time

Posted: Thu Oct 17, 2019 4:36 am
by Hendricus
Growth of population goes so well because there is nothing that eats those piles of food.

I think that a percentage loss of the food stockpiles each turn could slow down this effect. That percentage being equal to the current number of people in the region makes bigger population centers suffer more of food loss.

Re: Population growth over time

Posted: Thu Oct 17, 2019 7:10 am
by loki100
we need mice ... and cats ... and then we have the basis for modelling lost food stocks? More seriously, 1.05 tries to slow growth in poor regions so it maybe expected that the larger regions in turn do grow faster?

Re: Population growth over time

Posted: Thu Oct 17, 2019 11:20 am
by Morbio
I'm not saying this shouldn't be looked at, but I'd caution making the game too historical (in all aspects), otherwise the playability will suffer. You need to be able to increase population, and do it rapidly in some regions, to make them viable to evolve and expand. The risk is that the minor countries, and maybe some of the larger ones, become stagnant and there's no fun in watching a country achieve nothing over 10s or 100s of years!

Re: Population growth over time

Posted: Thu Oct 17, 2019 5:07 pm
by chb75
I share the concern about the high pop grow, since the beta i pointed and seems to be improved btw...
My mayor concern is that even the most inhospitable regions can have huge population : eastern europe forest, swaps, north africa inner deserts can grow as the sweetest place on earth.

Re: Population growth over time

Posted: Fri Oct 18, 2019 9:39 am
by Pocus
Only games started in 1.05 should be used here, as the population curbing should be bug-free.

Mainly, the most important criteria about pop growth is: "is it balanced, return on investment wise, compared to buildings". If you tone down too much pop growth, players will stop investing in agriculture and will find others ways (although the buildings slots are limited to pop, so you can't avoid growing your region ... except if you go full-slaves).

That said, I'm always willing to alter the formula, if this don't botch the game balance (as above) if things go too fast. I don't want too to see huge metropolis everywhere, rest assured.

Everything can't be slowed to a crawl too ("lets increase buildings costs and reduce pop growth across the board"), because players must not feel like playing civ at marathon speed.

The mice & rats things, yes, it should be more severe.

Re: Population growth over time

Posted: Wed Oct 23, 2019 9:43 pm
by lostangelonline
I completely agree with Nijis that the more realistic a history simulation is, the better (it is the main reason i bought and play this game, and not IR). I also struggled to find a realistic explanation for the population "boom", so thanks to sage3 for the "surplus population, not total population" explanation, seems more realistic.

BUT i want to point out that a history simulation should have realistic/historic mechanics, not historic outcome. It is a big difference. I want to play alternative history with real mechanics, not a repeat of history with unreal mechanics . For example, i did not buy IR because they kept the "ahead of time" unrealistic penalty to force history imitation, even though it was possible in reality for nations to advance tech quicker than they did, if they invested more in it. They force the experienced players to have historic inexperienced rulers outcome, when they should have Alexander the Great/Napoleon outcome (and yes, a multiplayer game will always simulate multiple Alexanders-led nations alternative history, there is no way to dumb-down an experienced player to make unwise decisions like most rulers did in history, who "played" the life "game" only once, just like beginner players). Also if it was possible in history to grow the region population 10 times, then "total population" should be realistic also. Also IF "metropolis everywhere" would have theoretically been possible in reality if all rulers were wise and invested in advancements, then must be possible in a simulation as well :) . Please do not force tech outcome to be a repeat of history, regions should imitate history just in the start year (just like you do not want conquests/country-borders outcome to be the same, like Rome player always beats Carthage player). I hope you guys understand my point of view (let me know if not, or do not agree).

Related: why there is no difficulty option to have same mechanics for all nations?? Right now, in all options, either players or AIs gets unrealistic penalties/bonuses, even in Balanced! Also, while I understand this was a quick way to make the game easy/hard, ideally AI difficulty should simulate beginner/experienced player without unrealistic bonuses/penalties.

Related: why all nations start with a penalty ("low military expertise"), like they had better (average) military in the past and somehow all regressed? This is unrealistic. More realistic to have no penalty at start and advance to "average military expertise" (make it a bonus).

PS: thanks a lot to the devs for making this game, I always wanted to tech-advance my nation and could not do it in any other history game before (just please do not ruin it like PDX did with EU4 when they added unrealistic huge penalties and forced most nation unable to tech advance, like Renaissance restricted to magic-region Italy)