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Re: Prestige and Fruit (was Re: [glob2-devel] Gameplay guidelines)

From: Andrew Sayers
Subject: Re: Prestige and Fruit (was Re: [glob2-devel] Gameplay guidelines)
Date: Wed, 14 Sep 2005 06:18:22 +0100
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.10i

> In light of our recent game in which we discovered trade was completely 
> useless  in all situations, ( :P )

To fill out on this, Eli and I tried a game to see what markets could be
used for.  It quickly became apparent that if your workers have to walk
over to another team's market to pick up fruit, it would be just as easy
for them to walk to the nearby fruit trees and get them.  In other
words, markets don't add any value to the trade system as currently
implemented.  Of course, they're still useful for storage.

I think we're all agreed that trade is, in principle, a good thing.  It
encourages co-operation between teams and (done right) can encourage
strategies that are interesting and fun.

Eli, Leo and talked about trade on IRC tonight, and I'll try to write up
the gist of what we discussed here.  Except where I've specifically
given my opinion, these ideas come equally from all three of us.  I
apologise in advance if the things I agree with find themselves being
asserted more forcefully than those that I don't :)

The proposals we've come up with to tackle the problem of markets are:
a) When each player builds a market, resources put into their market can
   be transported as if by magic to any other market visible to that
b) As (a), but resources are physically carried by explorers.
c) Maps have one central market, controlled by no-one, placed in the map
   (or not) by the map creator.

The benefit of (a) is its simplicity - it's easy to implement and easy
to understand.  Personally, I favour (a) as a short-term fix to make
markets at least good enough to start experimenting with.

The benefits of (b) are that it gives explorers something to do during
the middle of the game, and that it gives the player another plate to
keep spinning to run the game right - you need to have enough explorers
running enough routes to keep your trade flowing at the pace you want.

The benefits of (c) is that it gives the map-maker another way of
differentiating his map from others, and that it imposes certain
politics on the players (e.g. to do with building towers near the

We also talked about whether we should allow resources other than fruit
to be traded.  This would allow us to create maps where trade is vital
to survival (e.g. if one player has a market and lots of wheat, the
other a market and lots of wood).  It would also mean that a player with
two towns and two markets could easily move resources between the two,
which might be good or bad.  I don't remember any objection to allowing
all resources to be traded.

Finally, we discussed how the exchange rate between different resources
should work.  For example, teams tend to need more wheat than wood, but
when they need wood, they need it just as badly.  It seems unfair that
they should only be allowed to trade it 1:1.  We thought of three
solutions to this problem:

a) An exchange rate is calculated automatically based on the amount of
   each resource available at any given time.  If there is 100 wheat and
   50 wood available on the market, then each log of wood is worth two
   ears of wheat.
b) Manually set how much you want each type of resource, much as you set
   how much you want to get hold of each type of glob from a swarm at
   the moment.
c) We have some special resource to be used as currency (i.e. gold).
   Each resource can be traded for gold, then gold for resources.

The benefit of (a) is again simplicity.  In principle, (b) can be a
fairer system, but the trade-off in extra complexity might not be worth
it.  On the other hand, what one person might see as complexity, another
can see as a way of controlling his globs in a better way.

We all agreed that gold is a bad idea in Glob2.  Although it does
provide a neat way of smoothing out the different values of different
commodities over time (e.g. wood being more valuable after a fight, wheat
being more valuable when expanding into a new area), it's just not a
idea that fits well with the feel of the game.

Personally, my opinion is that it's too early to be discussing exchange
rates.  We don't even really know whether and how markets will be useful
in the game yet, let alone details of how to best implement the system.
Once we've got a system where resources can usefully be traded, we can
start looking at this sort of detail.

> For example, there might be three kinds of food: One that makes you 
> tougher, one that makes you faster, and one that makes you eat less. I 
> don't like the penalties because then if you had more kind of food, 
> they'd just counteract and make you have no benefits either (removing 
> any usefulness in variety.) On the other hand, if globs eat one of each 
> food, and one increases their armor, one their speed, and one their 
> stamina[1], then you'll be a lot more powerful than an opponent whose 
> globs eat only the food that makes them faster.

I knew I should have put numbers to my example...

For the system I proposed, the idea would be that, say, oranges give you 
+10 speed and -5 armour, while salmon gives you -5 speed and +10 armour.
So eating both gives you +5 both.  An alternative would be that if you
eat opposing food types you only get the benefit, so eating orange and
salmon gives you +10 speed and +10 armour.

The benefit of this system is that combinations of foods actually
interact with each other in useful ways, so it's not just about who
captures the most types of food - collaborating teams can actually
out-match other teams if they have the right combination of foods.

That works the other way round as well.  If your team has a salmon
breeding near its town and mine has an orange grove nearby, you might
choose to just conquer my town and keep both resources for yourself.

> Hmm, after all that, the idea is less complex than I thought: Ditch 
> fruit, split wheat in three, and make the kinds of food/materials given 
> to globs/buildings effect those things' performance.

Replacing wheat entirely with types of food is an interesting idea.  I'm
not sure what I think of it yet - I'll need to sleep on it first :)

While I'm thinking, what are the gameplay benefits of this way of doing

> [1] We need a way to refer to it other than "Makes them eat less" all 
> over the place. Besides, "stamina" is a good word for the amount of 
> time you can go in one stretch.

"Stamina" has connotations of fighting for me.  Like the amount of
damage you can soak up.  How about "food capacity"?

        - Andrew

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