Tweaking Game Balance

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Mat
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Tweaking Game Balance

Moved topic from here.

 

Hi there,

as hinted previously, and as a response to SandLover's request: we can, and are happy to start worlds on different settings. Actually, we have over a hundred parameters to set for each world, so there are plenty of room for tweaking (and for game balance to.... well, get inbalanced) so we are prepared to do it. For that, all we need is a lot of input from our community.

To have as much of the tweaks as possible going to the right direction, please report:

  • What is looking good at the moment (so we will less likely to  keep changing it)
  • What issue you're facing with (and generally speaking, how would you like us to correct it)

A word of caution:

We can try anything, but we would not like to let players succeed regardless of their strategy - so don't make it too easy or it'll lose all challenges. Part of the exploration is to find the right balance / settings for your game style and short/longer term strategy. Also don't forget that we're running on extremely fast ticks right now. Normally, you'd have 10-100x the time to realize something is wrong. To some extent, take this into account.

Mat
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Mat's picture
Issue (originally reported by

Issue (originally reported by SandLover): Too easy to lose ground at start

I fully support that not being able to find the correct setting at first shouldn't have a devastating effect. It's frustrating and should be more indulgent.

What I would do:

  • put up more info about suggested building strategy / priorities for a first feudum.
  • I'd lower the starting 20% tax to 12% or so.
  • I'd probably set efficiency penalty on Revolting morale state a bit more relaxing (maybe 60%?)

Why? I originally set default tax to 20% as thats slightly on the negative side (morale wise), which would put players under a (relatively low) pressure to do something with their lands - as morale is getting slowly lowered. It could maybe even work on "normal" speed worlds, but here, if you log in but can't play for a few hours, it's enough for your people to revolt, and with it's current efficiency penalty, it's too hard to come back from that position if you don't have reserves.

By changing that to ~12%, players would have a much more relaxed start and would eventually get happy people and some effectiveness bonus, making it easier to survive even on a worse strategy.

What I would not do:

  • increasing starting resources or the efficiency of improvements
  • making morale effects more relaxed

 

Tweaking, however is a community effort - so what do you think?

vanguard
Thraxas's picture
Generally Agree

Agreed on tax - though I would suggest 15-17% which is about neutral.

Starting resources - not sure I would agree - there seems actually too much to me - too much encouragement to have a fast initial expansion into a problem.

Revolting - it is currently too hard and problematic to get out of 0% morale - I'm not sure the right answer is to reduce the penalty but there should be some way to get out. This will only be worse with a 5 min tick rather than 30s - now we can try a few different ways to rectify in a few hours - will players really stick around if its going to take them days to pull themselves out of a problem thats occurred overnight?

vanguard
Thraxas's picture
2 farms with 100 population

2 farms with 100 population working in each when 94% morale should be able to produce enough food to support a population of 300 - instead food keeps bouncing down to zero.
This is I think probably the biggest problem with getting the balance right.

T

vanguard
I did not play a round with

I did not play a round with tax levels. I thought having negative food + negative gold could never be fixed by changing tax levels.

I changed tax level on unbreakable world to 0% but the people keep revolting. Wood also dropped to 0. So I have no food, gold or wood there.

Maybe a small number of people should always stay happy. So you will always produce a little bit of food and coin. Now you can run into a hopeless situation very easy.

Mat
administrator
Mat's picture
So the root cause seems to be

So the root cause seems to be food production on higher levels, right? That ruins morale which then ruins your local ecosystem. 

This is my understanding of the issue, please correct me if I'm wrong on something:

  1. The maximum herd size is limited per farmlands (currently at 60) but crop isn't (that's for sure, just wanted to note so you see what's going in the background) 
  2. a single farmland seems to produce more than enough food for like ~100 people
  3. it seems problems arise when you hit the herd capacity and the herd's production of  extra food coming from milking and slaughtering cannot go with your population.

(needs checking: having more farmlands and splitting workforce between them - so you get more herds - would help?)

 

Side effects:

  1. It's too hard to get back from revolting state once there if combined with starving (which again hits on morale). 

Note: a couple morale modifiers - like ecclesiastical fief's morale granting -  are not yet implemented which makes the system more relying on food rations than it would be intended on the long run.

 

For the first, I'd try to debuff livestock and buff crops, so farms won't rely on herds that much and crops don't have a limit. It would still rely on seasonal phases (so you have to make it sure farmers will sow, weed and harvest crops), but that's an intended feature.

For the side effect, we can narrow down the revolting state. Currently it happens between 0-9% Morale, from 10 to 29% they are disillusioned, from 30 to 40% they are unhappy. This would give a -80%, -33% and -10% efficiency modifier respectively. If we change it something like 0-3%, 4-20%, 21-40%, then the harsher end is much easier to be come back from but it won't make the whole negative morale thing weightless. Alternatively, we can lower the efficiency penalty a bit.

Your opinion?

 

vanguard
After more then 1 year

After more then 1 year suddenly morale started increasing. I let it go up all the way to 100% and now I have increased the tax to 10% and will watch how that will go. My population reached max for my level 3 village.

Things are a bit vague for me right now. But I think I understand now morale is very important. Or let's call it extremely important. I will wait giving my opinion and try to understand the current dynamics of the game a bit more.

While typing this I notice I ran out of food during winter, loosing morale and loosing people. I think when you focus 100% on producing food it should be a bit easier to be able to feed people on normal ration. From mid spring on things get positive again. I will follow this a bit longer on the 10% tax setting.

vanguard
The next winter I was not

The next winter I was not having any food problems at all. I guess it was the increase of people that caused problems in the previous winter. Probably not sowed/harvested enough to deal with the increased number of people. But everything put together it took me several years to get me out of the revolting situation and having a fine running feudum.

I will upgrade my town to level 4 now and see how that will go.

It would be nice to have a new world available so I can have a fresh start with my current knowledge and see how things will work out. I guess if you avoid your people from becoming too unhappy managing/upgrading your feudum will not be very tough. Things are just very punishing when you reach the revolt status of the game.

Mat
administrator
Mat's picture
...and let there be light!

...World #24 is waiting for you.

Let us know if you need any new world. I plan to also start an even slightly faster one later on. We can also try tweaked worlds once you guys played a bit with the current rules and we have a list of what you would prefer checking on different settings.

vanguard
Thraxas's picture
Thanks for that - in there

Thanks for that - in there already and playing - going to keep my population down and see if I can find a sustainable balance.

(Nice that 24 is here as 23 and unbreakable are both broken for me - null food value so my population are perma-starving).

vanguard
Thraxas's picture
World 24

World 24
Keeping population to 75 its fairly easy to set up and maintain a sustainable positive income on all resources. For info my setup is as follows:
Center Hex : Level 2 Settlement Population 75
1 Forest
1 Swamp
1 Water
Mountain: Quarry 12 workers
Barren: Level 1 Fort 16 workers
Hill: Mine 11 workers
Plain: Farm 24 workers

Woodcutting : 12 population

Rations: Normal
Tax: 15%

This is currently giving me a sustainable income of:
Food: variable +1014 over 80 ticks = +13/tick
Wood: +3/tick
Stone: +4/tick
Iron: +2/tick
Coins: +13/tick
Morale: 93% (+0.37%/tick)

Going to Grow Population to 150 and try same

T

vanguard
In world 24 I set tax

In world 24 I set tax immediately to 0% to rush happiness to 100%. Set the tax to 10% ( don't know what is ideal percentage yet). Then I build 2 farms, a level 3 town and a second level 2 town. No problems at all.

The key is to immediately lower tax. If you understand that things get pretty easy. Also you have to be a little bit careful upgrading villages. You cannot rush it all the way in one go.

vanguard
Thraxas's picture
Immediate 0% tax

I think perhaps the issue is more the move beyond a level 3 town or perhaps population over 150 ... I have had (on world 22) population of 225 working ok (150 + 75) demolish the 75 and grow 150 to 300 then the game crashed so ...

vanguard
Population is not a problem.

Population is not a problem. I have 300 folks currently and gaining food like crazy. In the other build I had a level IV city already. Unfortunately I'm gaining -183 food from both farms now, so I will be game over in a few turns. But I have had 3.5K food while levelling my two towns pretty quickly.

vanguard
Yeah, I have null food so

Yeah, I have null food so world 24 is finished for me. My main city was busy levelling to level IV. Did not change other settings.

vanguard
Thraxas's picture
World 24 - Population 150

World 24
Keeping population to 150 again seems fairly easy to set up and maintain a sustainable positive income on all resources. For info my setup is as follows:
Center Hex : Level 3 Settlement Population 150
1 Forest
1 Swamp
1 Water
Mountain: Quarry 25 workers
Barren: Level 2 Fort 22 workers
Hill: Mine 15 workers
Plain: Farm 63 workers

Woodcutting : 25 population

Rations: Normal
Tax: 15%

This is currently giving me a sustainable income of:
Food: variable +200 over 20 ticks = +10/tick
Wood: +6/tick
Stone: +7/tick
Iron: +3/tick
Coins: +23/tick
Morale: 100%

Going to leave running at this a while then grow population to 300 later and try same

Mat
administrator
Mat's picture
Yep, I think it's relatively

Yep, I think it's relatively easy to keep the feudum flourishing once you find out the importance of morale. Perhaps too easy, but that's another point.

Sidenote: The current rulebook is running on relaxed numbers regarding population and worker capacity, the original rules have lower numbers, so you need a bit more tile improvements to achieve the same results (so you can't produce everything so easily, as then you wouldn't have a reason to trade or to set up feudums for different goals). We have made it more relaxed for this build as you don't have trading or multiple feudums yet.

So what's your updated opinion on the basic issue? Shall we try a world with different settings? If so, what would you change (default tax, efficiency modifiers, anything else - why that)?

If you have ideas, feel free to share them and I'll set up a new world for tomorrow.

Mat
administrator
Mat's picture
FYI, I've recently started a

FYI, I've recently started a new world, World 28 (Custom #1).

It's running on a custom rulebook that is closer to the "core rules". It also have some tweaks that we previously discussed here.

Notable changes:

  • Much lower starting resources to make players think twice before building something vs. rushing to build everything as it doesn't seem dangerous (which shortly turns to be false and thus giving players a negative experience to start with).
  • Tax is set to a lower default level so there is no stress on you from the very first tick to deal with a problem.
  • Some terrain types gives slightly better yields - enough to keep your initial people fed but nearly not enough to do much more without building improvements.
  • Revolting state is shorter, disillusioned is longer, but their effects remained the same
  • Assignable workers per Tile Improvements & maximum Settlement population are both reflecting the core rules (meaning: you have less from both). So you can't cover everything with a single farm.
  • In exchange, default labor priorities for each season and season part should now better follow the seasonality of medieval life. In other words, laborers make more effort to work on your farmland(s) whenever there is any crop or livestock phase, but will completely ignore farms in it's idle periods, going to cut some woods or mine instead. So in theory, less people can do more job, as nobody is sitting on an improvement without tasks.
  • You get slightly less food from slaughtering and at the same time, the default livestock slaughtering threshold has been increased to 30 from 20.
  • For testing purposes, the world is faster than the other test worlds: a tick only takes 15 sec.

I invite everyone to take a look at this custom world, and let me know your impressions about both good and bad changes. I plan to start customized worlds on a regular basis, always keeping  changes that you considered good and dropping the bad ones - let's see where we'll sail on this wind together.

 

For the next one, I plan some rebalancing on the food return values from cop and livestock phases. I invite you to share your thoughts on this topic as well!

vanguard
World 28 will play almost

World 28 will play almost exactly the same as world 26. The only changes are you need to put some more time between upgrades at the start of the game. And you need to produce a bit of wood from the beginning instead of purely focussing on food.

At the start I immediately put tax to 0. When morale hit 100% I put tax on 18%. I will never change tax rate again. I will also never change food rations. It's now just a matter of upgrading my city and adding a second farm at the right moment.

vanguard
I upgraded my town to level 2

I upgraded my town to level 2. My city card shows my population is 56/75, but my fuedum card says 56/56. I have 56 people and my town is not growing any more.

I upgraded my town to level 3. My city card shows my population is 120/150, but my fuedum card says 120/120. I have 120 people and my town is not growing any more.

I upgraded my town to level 4. My city card shows my population is 180/300, but my fuedum card says 180/180. I have 180 people and my town is not growing any more.

vanguard
Thraxas's picture
World 28

I like to low resources at the start - it took me a while of playing with people allocations and tax to save resources for each building - it forced me to engage with each of the game settings.
I found wood particularly interesting to save up.

Having now got a farm quarry and mine in place with low but stable positive income across the feudum for wood stone and reached 100% morale and set tax to 18% a very small +ve morale. I'm now sitting back watching the resources build over time and growing my town and castle.

I think the initial micromanagement that I found I needed is probably good at game start but would perhaps have been frustrating over e.g. 5min tick rather than 15s. Always better to reduce the need for micromanagement as the game progresses, your estate increases and so the time that would be required to micromanage increases. I think you've got the basis of what could be a good game model here.

vanguard
World 28 remarks

I have a level 6 city with max amount of people now. That max being only 300 people creates a very tight situation. I put the amount of people in woodcutting, mining and quarrying so that I gain 1 wood,stone,iron per tick. All the rest of my people work in the field. Over the course of 1 whole year I only gained very little food (between 3 and 4 ticks of food consumption). This means the city is just supporting itself. Very much fun in the current build. But there is no room for castles,fiefs,war and other fun stuff to use your people for. Just so you know.

Some small remarks:
- the numbers on the feudum cards about how much resources you will gain/loose are not correct
- Assigning people to do certain jobs does not work very well. Example: you set woodcutting to 5%, but after executing the command it did 3%.

Mat
administrator
Mat's picture
Feudum Card

Could you please report the remarks as independent possible bugs in the Bug Reports section? I'll look into them. Assignments might be working dumb due to the caching issue (conflicting numbers on server-side), unless you were also experiencing this on pre-W28 worlds, in which case it should be a bug. I'll shortly create a new world, could you please attempt to reproduce this there too?

As per the first issue, please also explain your reasons to think the numbers on the feudum cards are not correct. I just want to make it sure it's actually a bug as - like we posted in the release notes - we have a precision loss when truncating decimals (used on the server for precision) to whole numbers (used on the client to make numbers easier to read and calculate with by the players). We're not rounding but truncating here to make it sure what you see you have is actually always at least as much as you really have (so 5.99 will be displayed as 5) - to ensure, that for example, if it seems you can build something, that will be indeed true.

Alternatively, we can also change it on a way that you get the real decimals on the top resource panels (as that's for the more punctual planning, kind of an "accountancy view") but you get the easy-to-read whole numbers on the feudum and tile cards (as that's for quick information). Or we can just revert back to show decimals everywhere.

vanguard
Just did a quick check in

Just did a quick check in world 26. The feudum card told me I would loose 12 food but I only lost 8 food. The other resources seems to be max 1 unit off that is probably caused by the decimal thing which is not a problem for me. Food was also the resource in W28 I noticed was wrong on the feudum card.

vanguard
Thraxas's picture
Population

Level 4 town 300 population - feudum population limit 180 - presumably a bug.

Also hit an issue changing population allocation and left with all population idle - had to take a call for 10 mins i.e. 40 ticks - came back to find no wood no coins and no food population in revolt - trying to scrape my way back.

Mat
administrator
Mat's picture
Settings bug

Hm, thanks for the reports. The different numbers are coming from a server "bug" - there are two versions of the ruleset (lets call revision 1 and 2) and it kept rev1 for labor calculations (as it's been cached) while sending out rev2 to the client as a reference. We'll look into it.

Mat
administrator
Mat's picture
Idle Population (Possible bug)

re: "Also hit an issue changing population allocation and left with all population idle "

Once I started a new world with the same settings (but without the caching bug), could you please try to reproduce this on the new world too? Currently I'm not sure if its related to the server's confusion due to the caching issue or it's a bug on its own.

vanguard
Thraxas's picture
as with spiraling morale up /

as with spiraling morale up / down there is a similar issue with population.
Population is either growing / falling
If rations are normal or better then population grows, on half rations or lower it falls.
It is therefore not possible to maintain a stable population with Half rations or lower (other than the minimum population). It would be better is there was some way to offset this lower ration affect on population by e.g. eccesiastical support (encouragement for fasting) or by lower taxes (allow more disposable income to supplement rations).

T

vanguard
We are running into the same

We are running into the same problems :)

I requested a possibility to choose 3/4 rations. That would make it possible to have positive growth rate and positive tax income. In world 26 I am constantly switching between 18% tax + full rations and 1% tax + half rations. Basicly mimicking 3/4 food ratio with reduced tax rate.

vanguard
Thraxas's picture
Pleased to meet you!

@SandLover

I see your posts on here and get the feeling you're enjoying this testing as much as I am.

I thought it worth therefore posting just to say hello to you and say good to meet you. Very much looking forward to testing future releases and eventually playing the game with you.

Thraxas

vanguard
Hi Thraxas,

Hi Thraxas,

It's always fun following step-by-step development of a game. Looks like this will be a game I will like to play when it's finished. Next month when the diplomacy is released we can all have contact in-game I hope. And when the warfare build is released we can team up and trash the devs :)

Mat
administrator
Mat's picture
Challenge accepted!

Challenge accepted, but I must warn you, accepting a ceasefire once war is going is not my style. ;)

You can pick both the world template and the rules. I'll just pick the survivors. :P

But we'll only be able to do it on a private world. People having any access to code or database are not going to play the game in MMO mode.

vanguard
Thraxas's picture
All your Feudums are belong

All your Feudums are belong to me ... bring it on :)

Mat
administrator
Mat's picture
(originally posted here by

(originally posted here by Thraxas)

"have tried building an ecclesiastical fief on the mountain and putting the 21 pop into this to see if this would give me a morale boost that I could use to allow an increase in tax but it seems to have no impact on morale.
**Is this a bug?**"

No, it's not a bug. Morale modifiers for Castles and Ecclesiastical Fiefs are not yet fully implemented. Everything is there but the server needs to be updated to calculate with it. It'll probably come in one of the server updates in the next few weeks.

"When trying to optimise I am finding that no only does food income vary by season but so does coin income. With no setting changes and maitaining half rations and 100% morale I see reported coin income vary from -1 to +15 over a year cycle with actual coin income being +1 to +17 over the cycle (due to the known reporting income bug)."

Seasons shouldn't affect tax but may affect other yields (like the ones from Mines) due to the different labor allocation presets for different season parts. Do you have income sources other than tax?

"It would be really nice to be able to click on the feudum card and see how each income was generated and predicted income over the next year cycle if current settings are maintained. - perhaps a nice to have though ?"

I was originally thinking on similar predictions but wasn't sure if a season or year projection would be of much use (since there can be a lot of changes in a game year so such projections would never be accurate). We can do it though if more people would find the feature useful. Actually, it can be a good question for a poll.

vanguard
Thraxas's picture
"Do you have income sources

"Do you have income sources other than tax?"
- yes I had 21 population in a mine producing wealth - I guess that production is seasonal

"I was originally thinking on similar predictions but wasn't sure if a season or year projection would be of much use (since there can be a lot of changes in a game year so such projections would never be accurate). We can do it though if more people would find the feature useful. Actually, it can be a good question for a poll."

- Yes a poll would be useful - prediction by season would imo only be useful if I were logging in every season (unlikely for many players) prediction over a year broken down by season perhaps?

Income Prediciton Summary (based on current settings and no 'events')
|----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|................ Spring......Summer......Autumn......Winter...|.Overall.|
|Wood......10..............20................20................10..........|.60..........|
|Stone......30..............30................30................30..........|.120........|
|Iron.........30..............30................30................30..........|.120........|
|Food.......10..............10................10................10..........|.40..........|
|Coin........10..............10................10................10..........|.40..........|
|----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

For interest 99/120 population on half rations produces an average surplus of around 23 food / tick

vanguard
Thraxas's picture
Perhaps of interest the best

Perhaps of interest the best general setup I've found for income across all resources is a level 2 settlement, only 1 farm built on plains. 33 population on food production, 23 population woodcutting. normal rations 20% tax.
This maintains 100% morale and gives a good income on all resources.

average surplus over 1 year:
Wood: +6 / tick
Stone: +3.5 / tick
Iron: +1 / tick
Food: +7 / tick
Coin: +10 / tick

Anyone got a better suggestion?

Mat
administrator
Mat's picture
"Yes a poll would be useful -

"Yes a poll would be useful - prediction by season would imo only be useful if I were logging in every season (unlikely for many players) prediction over a year broken down by season perhaps?"

Just a thought: current game worlds are accelerated for testing purposes. Worlds will be probably slower (and/or the seasons longer) in the final game - at least under some of the default settings. Either way, the prediction should be useful for both slower and very fast games.

Maybe we should just make prediction for the next X RL days (with a note of it's equivalent in game ticks on the specific world)...

 

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