Author Topic: Population growth model and terrain rebalance/nerfs  (Read 458 times)

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Offline dino

Population growth model and terrain rebalance/nerfs
« on: March 03, 2020, 01:51:15 PM »
I was thinking about tech costs and it occured to me that the real root cause of related issues are extreme spikes in development speed.
These spikes also make technologies that allow them absolute must have, coupled with exponential growth of tech cost, leave very little room for variety in viable order of research.
Why not nerf completely unbalanced features, that create these spikes in development speed first ? Exe mods required marked with *

New population growth model idea:

1) *Make rows of nutrients required to grow a pop constant, may be adjustable in the ini, I'd suggest 3 rows.
2) *Disable popboom mechanic, make clonning vats just give ++GROWTH ( the game can go as low as 3 nutrient per row ).
3) Basic colony pod cost 5 mineral rows

Terrain nerfs:

Forest: 1,1,2, *hybrid forest +1,1,0
*make rolling+mine+road produce 3 minerals, to make it more competitive with hybrid forest.
Condenser: count as soil enricher, but disable +50% bonus ( *already implemented in Ytzi's Patch )
Borehole: 0,4,4

Improved Sea: 2,1,2 ( additional +1,1,1 still possible from expansion facilities )
*Give Aquatic factions Adv Eco mining platform mineral bonus from the start instead of their default bonus, disable AdvEco bonus for other factions.

*Satellites nerf:
Max resources: 25% of base size, 50% with aerospace complex

***
Positive results:

Population growth speed would be proportional to nutrients production and indirectly to population size, NOT to the number of bases.
This coupled with increased colony cost makes ICS strategy no longer always superior to growing bases tall.
It would also make nutrients more valuable and a choice between nutrient and mineral harversting would be a significant one.

Growing base up to size 4 would take as much time as in vanilla, but after that it'd be slower then popbooming, AI would also handle it better.
Morgan and Yang no longer would have a heavy disadvantage in pop growth.

Advanced terraforming would be used more sparringly, leading to more varied and less tedious terraforming.

Slower development speed in mid and late game with no drastic spikes due to lack of completely game changing techs.
With accordingly matched tech cost curve, there would be more viable tech research order strategies, allowing for more diverse playstyles.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2020, 03:33:53 PM by dino »

Offline bvanevery

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Re: Population growth model and terrain rebalance/nerfs
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2020, 06:59:03 PM »
I've now spent almost 2 years modding the game heavily.  I can firmly say, based on that experience, that any substantial change needs to be tested for its impact.  All these game features are interrelated, and changes stack on each other.  The whole Art of game balancing IMO, is making a change, playtesting it, seeing what happened, and revising accordingly.  It takes a long time to iterate on this stuff to reach perfection.

There are also multiple paths to "perfection".  For instance, I don't do binary modding, only *.txt modding.  I've addressed most problems with the game by this means.  Not all, but most.  There are many ways to skin a cat.

Growth, for instance.  I seriously limited GROWTH bonuses in the early to mid game.  You can do Socialist for +1 GROWTH, that's it.  I made pop booming difficult for almost all factions.  You would need a Children's Creche for +2 GROWTH, Eudaimonia to get +2 GROWTH, and a Golden Age for +2 GROWTH, to get the +6 GROWTH necessary for a pop boom.  Basically you the human player are not going to pop boom in the early to mid game.  At least, I don't think so.  Maybe I have a play style bias where it is indeed possible and I'm not seeing it.  But I've certainly made it harder to do.

Only our beloved Chairman Yang has a +1 GROWTH bonus.  He could pick Socialist to get another +1 GROWTH.  Then he could forego Eudaimonia or forego a Golden Age and still pop boom.  That's it, only faction that can do it.

If you have all of those grossly fat GROWTH bonuses from the stock SE table, I really don't see the point in bothering with other growth / nutrient adjustments.  The low hanging fruit is to change the SE table.  For reference, here's mine.  Stable for 6 months now.

social engineering choices in versions 1.34 through 1.40
social engineering choices in versions 1.34 through 1.40

Offline dino

Re: Population growth model and terrain rebalance/nerfs
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2020, 11:11:31 PM »
I really liked constant pop rows in CivEvo, but every civ there is guaranteed to have early access to some grassland, or food resource tiles.
In SMAC the faction that would start close to a lot of rainy terrain would dominate the game, so increasing cost of pop growth limits this runaway effect, I didn't think about it.
So not so sure about it anymore, but I'd still be curious about testing it in smac, at worst it would work fine on maps with dense cloud at least.

As for your SE table, I actually like some of it, I'll definitely borrow few ideas for my SE table.
I'd remove Yang's GROWTH bonus, he was disadvantaged in popboom and being on equal footing is already an upgrade, while being the only faction that can popboom is a huge boost.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2020, 11:59:00 AM by dino »

Offline vonbach

Re: Population growth model and terrain rebalance/nerfs
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2020, 11:56:09 PM »
Why do people have a problem with pop booming? Just curious.

Offline bvanevery

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Re: Population growth model and terrain rebalance/nerfs
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2020, 03:54:59 AM »
It's a lot of free minerals much sooner in the game.  It's hard to keep the game balanced if the minerals economy is injected with so much surplus.  I've done all sorts of other things to eliminate fat minerals.  Factories, supply crawlers, and thermal boreholes all come late.  Some of this was very specifically developed in reaction to Thinker Mod, realizing the degree to which an AI or a player could abuse such things.  In my mod they still can, but since it's delayed, you might get a few boatfuls of Marines in their face, or a Hovertank invasion, before they really get rolling with it.

My Yang was not given +1 GROWTH in isolation.  I've had several versions of Yang in my mod.  What I've got now, IMO is balanced WRT other factions in my mod.  Until playtesters prove otherwise.  It's definitely balanced in terms of real world AI performance with a stock binary.

Offline vonbach

Re: Population growth model and terrain rebalance/nerfs
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2020, 05:02:30 AM »
I just try make things as easy as possible for the AI. I've seen too many bases that just languish. But then I never play multi-player.

Offline bvanevery

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Re: Population growth model and terrain rebalance/nerfs
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2020, 05:50:13 AM »
Clean Reactors available from the beginning of the game, seems to have helped the AI cause.  Helps the AI more than it helps the human player.  This is yet another one of those "stacked settings" issues.  Change this, and you've changed a fundamental constant about how production works.


Offline vonbach

Re: Population growth model and terrain rebalance/nerfs
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2020, 06:44:26 AM »
One thing i have noticed is the way the AI terraforms. It seems to not fully exploit the tile. Like it will just put a farm and no collectors or roads.
things like this. Its one of the reasons I like to add + growth bonuses. Adding the clean reactor t my games is a thought.

Offline bvanevery

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Re: Population growth model and terrain rebalance/nerfs
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2020, 11:39:37 PM »
I've never observed "farm only" from the AI.  I have observed a supply pod being popped, and farms covering squares without anything else getting put on them.  I've observed mindworms and enemy units pillaging terrain improvements, which could leave just a farm if the unit gets killed afterwards.  It is also possible for Formers to be killed after they've finished a farm, but before they could complete other improvements.

I've observed the AI building mines on farms.  The stock game penalizes the farm production for that.  I've removed the penalty in my mod.  It makes life easier for the AI, and it keeps me from having to reformat the terrain when I take over a region, fixing all the things the AI did "wrong".

Offline vonbach

Re: Population growth model and terrain rebalance/nerfs
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2020, 12:13:31 AM »
When I automate the formers it requently does this type of thing. Sometimes i will let the former auto improve just to see what it does and it frequently does things like this.

Offline bvanevery

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Re: Population growth model and terrain rebalance/nerfs
« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2020, 05:26:24 AM »
Ah, that would explain the discrepancy.  I never automate formers.

Offline EmpathCrawler

Re: Population growth model and terrain rebalance/nerfs
« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2020, 07:38:34 PM »
Terrain nerfs:

Forest: 1,1,2,


Funny because I've been experimenting with 1,2,0 forests myself. I find I produce way too much energy in the middle to late game after seeding my territory early on. Then I shoot ahead the AI by channeling all my energy into rush building economy and lab facilities. My goal is to make forests only worth it in the early game on truly barren terrain or on low altitude flat river tiles. I've run a few games with interesting results, but I'm still not satisfied. On Reddit somebody suggested fiddling with the terraforming times which is another interesting avenue.


It would be nice if the forest growth rate was modable.


Caveat: I've been playing casually after a very long break and only with Scient/Thinker so I don't know if my glut of energy is typical or due to changes made by those mods.

Offline bvanevery

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Re: Population growth model and terrain rebalance/nerfs
« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2020, 08:01:21 PM »
I think in these discussions, it's hard to calibrate what's appropriate, without knowing the typical length of someone's game.  Like, just how fast or easy do you think something is?  It takes me probably 12 hours to win a game using my own mod.  I think that's a damn long game and if someone can find a way to win it, I'm not worried about it.

Another sanity check is, do you play on Transcend?  I'm always surprised when veteran players don't.  Of course, I am using a stock binary.

Online Nexii

Re: Population growth model and terrain rebalance/nerfs
« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2020, 07:16:40 PM »
Suppose it comes down to what you think the problem is. I didn't see pop-booming so much an early game problem before you get efficient drone control. The problem as I saw it was that you get very powerful terraforming technologies too early in the game.

I think my next rework would be something like:
early - farm, forest, solar, mine
mid - enrichers, tree farm
late - condensers, hybrid farm, echelons, boreholes
very late game - satellites

Means a lot of tech switching around, and Weather Paradigm obviously can't be an early project. I guess it means some other fun techs can come a bit earlier. This is about the best you can do since a lot of terraforming techs have limited modification possible. I think even if they were through patches, you'd have the same problem.

Offline bvanevery

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Re: Population growth model and terrain rebalance/nerfs
« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2020, 07:25:32 PM »
The problem as I saw it was that you get very powerful terraforming technologies too early in the game.

Well of course if you can throw Condensers on everything and get huge piles of food, pop booming is a big problem.  In my mod, you can't have them until Advanced Ecological Engineering.  You don't even get Thermal Boreholes then, you have to wait until Industrial Automation which is the next tier up in my mod.  There's all kinds of "lard" in this game.  I seriously put the whole damn thing on a diet.  You can't have anything easily now.  Not even a weapon.  Want Particle Impactors?  You'd better work for them, and don't expect them to just blow the doors off of everything.

Nobody can start Secret Projects until Tier 3.  All SPs cost 300 minerals minimum.  Weather Paradigm costs 400 minerals because it's more powerful than other early SPs.

Quote
very late game - satellites

I tried to do that.  It wasn't as possible as I wanted.  Sky Hydroponics Labs has to come before other satellites or there's a UI bug, you can't see the satellites.  I ended up going back to them being with Orbital Spaceflight, which is earlier than I wanted.  That's because I want to have Orbital Defense Pods coming reasonably soon after nukes are available, but I still have to make room for the SHLs.

 

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