Aggressors Dev Diary #9 - Infrastructure

A mix of deep gameplay and rich historical flavor, Aggressors: Ancient Rome lets you relive history as the ruler of one of the mighty civilizations of the ancient Mediterranean. Choose one of twenty available factions and conquer the world.
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Daniele
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Aggressors Dev Diary #9 - Infrastructure

Post by Daniele » Fri Aug 17, 2018 9:13 am

We have already covered most of the main game mechanics and features yet there is still one big question we want to discuss today. How to build up your empire and what to do in time of peace in Aggressors?
It might seem that antiquity was all about wars and conflicts, but people of those times mostly wanted to live in peace and prosperity like anyone else. Emperors might have had great ambitions and pushed the boundaries of their empires still further but at the same time they had to maintain and improve the state infrastructure to keep ahead of other nations.

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I would like to say that I don’t really like micromanagement in most strategy games. I find it either too "micro" or too boring – it just requires me to stay focused on many minor details while I’d rather look at he bigger picture. Another thing worth mentioning is that I feel micromanagement in ancient times needs to be different compared to how it would feel in modern times or in a sci-fi setup for example.
In ancient times most of the time urban centers managed their own things; the natural life of cities was regulated by local situations and needed not to be managed through frequent orders from the capital. Cities, their population and resources were mobilized only during perilous times when necessary war preparations had to be made.
We followed this line of logic as well. The main function of cities is to generate wealth and to build and maintain units which deplete city capacities and resources. Leaving cities “idle” allows them to follow their natural growth and use their resources where needed. When you task the city with work, being either the constructions of improvements or the recruitment of new units, the resource production of the city is decreased. This principle reduced micromanagement from "this is what I have to do" to "this is what I can do" and it seems that beta testers appreciate it.

So you might ask: what to do in time of peace?

Let me first explain the concept of a city. Cities are the backbone of the state infrastructure concentrating large bodies of population and power in one place. Their size and position greatly affect its defense capabilities and its ability to harvest on the neighboring tiles.
Every city has a so called "range" which is basically a set of nearby tiles adjacent to it. This range expands with the size and the number of citizens living there (we covered population growth in one of our previous diaries). Food and wood are harvested on tiles lying within the city range which means that larger cities work larger areas and so produce more food and wood.

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A city itself consumes resources while producing some others but production and usage of resources by the city depends on its size - the bigger the city, the higher the production and also consumption. For instance, a very small city produces very little knowledge because all its people are busy farming, mining, etc. As the city grows and with it its population, more and more people can have other occupations (philosophers and scholars) and so the output of knowledge in the city increases.
City size is nonlinear, meaning that having many small cities is not the same as having a few very large ones. E.g. two cities with a size 2 have together a smaller population (and therefore also production and consumption rates) than one city with a size 4.
However, city size also has a very important side effect. The larger the city, the stronger its defense, and it’ll be more difficult to conquer it for anyone. On the other hand, bigger cities give bigger loot once conquered.
As mentioned above, tiles within a city range are important for harvesting food and wood. Arable lands around cities can be cultivated by building fields and farms to multiply food yields from each tile depending on the technological development of the country. Sea tiles also provide food in abundance. Terrain which is not suitable for agriculture such as forest, swamp and jungle can be “transformed” by cutting down the woods or draining them. However, one has to be careful not to deplete precious sources. Clearing a forest means that you immediately gain relatively large quantities of timber and make more space for fields but you will not be able to harvest wood on that tile ever again. Romans cut down many of their forests and then had to import wood from far away provinces.

As with any centre, maintenance and upkeep are necessary. The concept of city improvements is similar to units improvements as discussed in a previous diary.
Cities can improve their infrastructure by building military (stockade, palisade, city walls), economic (trading centre, economical city), political (amphitheater, obedience, civil service), cultural (academy or schools) or urban improvements (hospital, sewers system) that can have a major effect on the defensive function, resource production, cultural and social life of the city. For example, improving cities with Sewage system protects them from the spreading of infections and diseases, while building Civil service reduces the risk of local revolts.
There are currently 16 city improvements and I am sure you don’t want me to spoil all the fun by revealing them all here.
Many 4X games treat cities as the "absolute centers" where all power and activity is concentrated. However, facilities outside of city walls often were of great strategic importance so we introduced the concept of "buildings" into the game. These are standalone facilities such as blacksmith, temple, shipyard, fort, defensive walls, patrol tower etc. that greatly affect the economic life as well as the military capacities of the state.

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Another very important aspect of state management are good communication lines connecting all parts of the empire. There are two types of roads – dirt and paved roads and they have a great impact on the economic and military development of the country. Just like with anything else in the game, you will have to research them through technology.
Mines connected to cities and blacksmiths by roads significantly increase their resource production. Roads allow units to move faster over all types of terrains and their use also reduces the overhead costs of trade exchanges (you can find more about trade in the previous diary). Roads also allow you to provide constant flow of supplies to your armies. Units left in foreign lands without food, armaments and other necessities rebel and can cause trouble so you should plan your road network in advance to support future territorial expansion. Behind your advancing units should always come road builders to ensure sufficient flow of supplies.
When it comes to roads I should not forget to mention bridges. Rivers aren’t just a map feature but they have an important military dimension. They create a barrier which is not easy to traverse. Some unit types cannot cross rivers at all if the other bank is not already in their hands. Others can cross them but with a significant movement and defense penalty. That's why rivers have a great defensive potential.
You can mitigate all river penalties simply by building a bridge. Should you be forced to retreat, you can always destroy the structure and leave the hard choice to the opponent – either accepting the river as a new border between your states or crossing the wild stream without a bridge and risking a slaughter in an attempt to reach the opposite bank.

These are the most important parts of a micromanagement in Aggressors. I believe that gamers who like the “building” part of 4X games will enjoy the given options to improve their empire without being overwhelmed by repetitive tedious clicking and enjoying the game itself.

Initially this dev diary was planned to be the last one but we decided to give you a bonus one. I already look forward to it because next time I will show you our map generator and its possibilities.
Last but not least, tune in this evening at 8 pm CEST on our Twitch channel for a preview stream of Aggressors: the strategy master DasTactic himself is going to play!

GeneralKostas
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Re: Aggressors Dev Diary #9 - Infrastructure

Post by GeneralKostas » Sat Aug 18, 2018 10:15 pm

It seems an interesting game. But i have noticed a mistake about the Greek city AGRINION on the map. The position of the city is wrong. The right place is northwest of Delphi.

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Re: Aggressors Dev Diary #9 - Infrastructure

Post by pavelk » Sat Aug 18, 2018 10:26 pm

GeneralKostas wrote:
Sat Aug 18, 2018 10:15 pm
But i have noticed a mistake about the Greek city AGRINION on the map. The position of the city is wrong. The right place is northwest of Delphi.
Hi GeneralKostas,
you are right indeed but this is not the initial map setup. As you can see this is already 90 years in the game. When player builds a new city, he gets a prompt to choose the name to his liking. There are suggested names (per each faction and also per location) but he can choose to change it to whatever he likes (like in this case).

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Re: Aggressors Dev Diary #9 - Infrastructure

Post by Flash Jack » Sun Aug 19, 2018 6:56 am

Hi,

I've been watching DasTactics's youtubes, which are good. I've noticed him spamming out cities and units and his resources seem to be growing in line. There hasn't been any mention of maintenance.

Do cities or units require resources to maintain, once built?

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Re: Aggressors Dev Diary #9 - Infrastructure

Post by pavelk » Sun Aug 19, 2018 7:28 am

Flash Jack wrote:
Sun Aug 19, 2018 6:56 am
Do cities or units require resources to maintain, once built?
Yes, pretty much all the map items (building, cities, units) require maintenance/upkeep costs. Units require food and gold, cities require food, coal, stones and iron. The maintenance costs of building very much depend on the type of the building.

The generated map setup is usually a bit more generous to the player so he has enough to start building his state however DasTactic's production of resources was rather low and he was slowly spending his stockpile.

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Re: Aggressors Dev Diary #9 - Infrastructure

Post by Flash Jack » Sun Aug 19, 2018 8:59 am

Hi Pavel,

O.K, sounds good. You appear to have thought the design through very thoroughly.

Is there any information in-game that shows how much you are spending on maintenance and upkeep as I don't recall DasTactic mentioning this?

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Re: Aggressors Dev Diary #9 - Infrastructure

Post by pavelk » Sun Aug 19, 2018 9:16 am

Flash Jack wrote:
Sun Aug 19, 2018 8:59 am
Is there any information in-game that shows how much you are spending on maintenance and upkeep as I don't recall DasTactic mentioning this?
There are three ways how to get these information (depends on what exactly you are looking for).

There is "Map item detail window" (in this case you dont see it, but there is production and consumption at the bottom of this window)
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There is "resource usage window" (in this case it is happiness, but the same is for all the other resources)
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There is tooltip for each map item:
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Re: Aggressors Dev Diary #9 - Infrastructure

Post by Flash Jack » Sun Aug 19, 2018 10:09 am

Hi Pavel,

Yep, that middle screen is the one that DasTactic hasn't shown, or that I've seen. It does the job nicely.

You should give yourself a pat on the back for your tooltips. You and Mr. Ogre (?) have nailed it.

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Re: Aggressors Dev Diary #9 - Infrastructure

Post by Beorn » Sun Aug 19, 2018 10:33 am

From the DasTactic video and looking at the middle screen, I see a bit of a problem with the happiness screen: If anything less than 100% indicates trouble, and if a city down around 50% is in danger of revolting and flipping, then the label of "average attitude" is very misleading. And the colors reinforce the confusion. You'd think, looking at this that blue indicates okay, red indicates trouble. But much of the bluish scale actually indicates a threatening situation.

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Re: Aggressors Dev Diary #9 - Infrastructure

Post by pavelk » Sun Aug 19, 2018 11:44 am

Beorn wrote:
Sun Aug 19, 2018 10:33 am
If anything less than 100% indicates trouble, and if a city down around 50% is in danger of revolting and flipping, then the label of "average attitude" is very misleading.
Usually when you have a bigger state, most of its central parts have the same or higher happines than the average. It is actually not average but "base" happiness. From this base happiness the local factors are either deducted or added. You usually have lower than base happiness only in areas with some revolts or close to the borders and/or enemies. DasTactic's state was rather small so it wasn't clear from that.
Beorn wrote:
Sun Aug 19, 2018 10:33 am
You'd think, looking at this that blue indicates okay, red indicates trouble. But much of the bluish scale actually indicates a threatening situation.
Red is extremely threatening situation. Whereever the color is "lower" than pure green, it indicates lower than 100% local happiness.

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Re: Aggressors Dev Diary #9 - Infrastructure

Post by Beorn » Sun Aug 19, 2018 1:12 pm

My concern was that the labels there might be misleading to players.

I would add that the fear -3.1% sounds like crucial information, but I'm not sure how a player is to put this into perspective. The message this seems to communicate is that in the larger scheme of things (a 100 scale) this is just a glimmer of fear, having a very small effect. But is this really the case?

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Re: Aggressors Dev Diary #9 - Infrastructure

Post by pavelk » Sun Aug 19, 2018 1:21 pm

Beorn wrote:
Sun Aug 19, 2018 1:12 pm
But is this really the case?
Usually once you have the base happiness over 100% you are safe in most of your territories. You always watch out for your borders (that is pretty usual) but for the rest you really dont have to worry about it (as long as the base happiness is over 100% )

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Re: Aggressors Dev Diary #9 - Infrastructure

Post by gwgardner » Sun Aug 19, 2018 2:26 pm

What I've seen playtesting is that anything less than 100% is a level of warning, that something may not be optimal in that city. Perhaps it could use a garrison force, or a project that affects happincess and well-being, or the border needs to be expanded beyond the proximity of the city, and so forth. Not necessarily a time for panic, when it drops below 100%, just a wake-up call that things can't go on as they are, or the situation could get worse and lead to unrest, influence by the neighboring country, reduced production (I think). City unrest even short of defection could lead to costs to repair damage done by riots. It could lead to worse problems if there happens to be a rare natural disaster, such as an earthquake.

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Re: Aggressors Dev Diary #9 - Infrastructure

Post by Beorn » Sun Aug 19, 2018 5:34 pm

gwgardner wrote:
Sun Aug 19, 2018 2:26 pm
What I've seen playtesting is that anything less than 100% is a level of warning, that something may not be optimal in that city.
Yes, that is what I gleaned from DasTactic's game and Pavel's comments during that game... which is why I thought the word "average" around the 50% mark is misleading.

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Re: Aggressors Dev Diary #9 - Infrastructure

Post by pavelk » Sun Aug 19, 2018 5:36 pm

Beorn wrote:
Sun Aug 19, 2018 5:34 pm
which is why I thought the word "average" around the 50% mark is misleading.
"Average" is right below 100% in the scale. Anything on the right is is more than 100% which basically mean that they are not just ok, but really happy and proud.

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Re: Aggressors Dev Diary #9 - Infrastructure

Post by Beorn » Sun Aug 19, 2018 6:59 pm

Ah, that clarifies it. Thanks!

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