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Topic: Resource discovery and mine place-holders

Forums » Player Forums » Game Suggestions » Resource discovery and mine place-holders



simplypeachy
Joined: 2009-04-23, 14:42
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Posted at: 2012-03-26, 15:55

Nasenbaer wrote: Hi ,

The problems are: 1: Players must send out many geologists as they're slow or, as SirVir said, "lazy"

I don't - of course that way I might have to wait 1 more minute until I found, what I was searching for, but that's no problem for me, as I normally first begin to build up the other economy stuff like farms, smelting works, etc. while the geologist gets time for searching. Further I do not care whether one coal field is sourrounded by more coal fields or not - in most cases it is and if not (e.g. random generated map) it will be hard to find a more suitable place anyway.

I prefer to have the area mapped quite thoroughly before I being building mines, so this is where different play styles matter. A lot of the time when I send out geologists I stay at the area because I forgot them otherwise!

What if the game automatically opened the spy window once a geologist arrives at a flag for the first time in x minutes? The player could then use this window as a reminder and wouldn't have to wait for the geologist to arrive, and mark enough resources to begin construction.

2: Players have to use un-built mines as place-holders Mines are not designed to provide a permanent record of where resources are.

Seriously, it's a game ... Widelands is not the only game where you can use constructionsites or similiar as placeholder to mark something.

So we keep the player behaviour of using a construction site to mark the resources - if mines used a special graphic which showed the type of mine it would make these place-holders more useful. That way the construction site is meant to be used as a place-holder, and has features to make this work better for the player.

3: Place-holder mines interfering with roads

I face that problem only once every two or three games ... that does not invalidate the problems of other players, however it proofs, that there are road placement strategies, that can live without that problem.

This definitely depends on the map, and where resources are. Long mountainous stretches or mountains near where a player builds, for example, a farm plot, can require roads. I think this point compounds the "mines are not currently designed to be place-holders", rather than standing out by itself.

4: Inefficient placement of mines: they can be too tightly packed, or do not cover all resource points in an area

See point 1. As always that's a personal view, but I don't see a reason to change the current behaviour. Further the "hut change" you suggest makes it more complicated from my point of view and is even making things worse, as you will have to wait even longer for resources to be found (build up a hut, wait for the worker to arrive, maybe even for food, than it begins to work slowly....)

Maybe geologists could be tied to a flag until they're released, instead of being tied to a hut. I find a mountain and wish to discover it, so I put a flag down in the middle, click the flag and go to the geologist tab. Instead of a button that sends one geologist and then closes, it could be changed to a military attack-style UI: I can change the number of geologists assigned to this flag. If it's a small area then I only want one. I click the number on the right-hand side once (which has the number of geologists in stock displayed), and the HQ sends one geologist. He stays here until I reduce the geologist slot to zero or the flag is removed. During idle time he returns to the flag and sits beside it so that the player can see which flag he is tied to.

I no longer have to return to the discovery site before the marks disappear, as the geologist stays as long as I want him to. I can have larger areas discovered more quickly by sending more geologists. I don't have to wait for a hut to be built, and wares to arrive.

1: Lazy geologist is solved. It's much easier for me to click three times on a button and send three geologists than click the flag and click the geologist icon twice for each geologist.

2: Place-holder mines are no longer required.

3: As above

4: Mine placement hints is not solved, but this solution would make a big difference anyway.

Edited: 2012-03-26, 15:58

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PkK
Joined: 2012-01-06, 14:19
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Posted at: 2012-03-26, 16:08

I do not see the current situation with geologists as optimal. Personally, I think Astuur's proposal is fine: Have a (maybe toggleable) display that shows the result of the most recent geological survey visible to the player: signs decay, but do not disappear: Instead they get a lighter color on the resource or a different sign color or shape to mark them as outdated).

Philipp


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simplypeachy
Joined: 2009-04-23, 14:42
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Posted at: 2012-03-26, 18:06

Making the marks permanent, but part of an overlay, seems to be an elegant solution to the problem. We should consider why the marks disappear though.

Does the behaviour provide the player with an enjoyable challenge? Does it fit in with other behaviour the game exhibits? Is it part of a natural process?

I find disappearing marks to be annoying. However, as I said to Nasenbaer, maybe I'm not using a feature of the game properly - the spy window. Or the messaging system - which tells me when resources are found. Are these features not working as well as they could? Am I just not using them properly?

Most other visuals that Widelands provides are permanent. I can always see possible build plots. I can always see flags, workers, wares being transported. Why can I not always see the marks? Yes - fog of war means the viewable area is not permanent, but this stands out as its own feature and challenge, which I enjoy.


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wl-zocker
Joined: 2011-12-30, 19:37
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Posted at: 2012-03-26, 20:03

I think the marks should not disappear. It is, as simplypeachy already said, annoying if one has to send geologists two or three times two the same mountain, only because those marks have disappeared. It is just unlogic: I would think that normally, the marks would be drawn onto a map so that they won't be lost. Marks on mountains can disappear, but the leader of the tribe still has the knowledge where the ressources can be found. This information should be shown to the player, who is the leader.

A hut for the geologist is a nice idea, but I think it takes definitely to much time until the wares for construction are delivered.

I do not want a geologist being tied to a flag, because if one forgets to "release" them, they will waste a lot of hammers.

I do not know if a military attack-style UI is a good idea. The player has to click onto the flag (1), click on "Send geologists" (2), choose the number (3, but in fact, it is pulling(?) (I want to say: press the LMB and move the mouse)) and click on "Attack" (4).

I would prefer a feature where e.g. five geologists can be sent to a flag at once. It would then be click onto the flag (1) and choose one or five geologists (or three, if wanted) (2). That would not allow to choose the exact number, but I doubt it matters if four or five geologists search the area. More than five geologists are not necessary, I think.

That feature would solve the problems:

1) It is now problem (for me) to wait for the geologists (you would have to wait for the building materials of the geologist's hut, too). As they do not work really fast, it is easy to send five of them.

2+3) As the marks will not disappear, place-holder mines are not needed.

4) I do not think that the geologist should "think" for me. It is the player's decision where he places the mines and what strategy he plays (fast exploiting vs. efficient mining).


"Only few people know how much one has to know in order to know how little one knows." - Werner Heisenberg

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simplypeachy
Joined: 2009-04-23, 14:42
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Posted at: 2012-03-26, 20:44

wl-zocker wrote: A hut for the geologist is a nice idea, but I think it takes definitely to much time until the wares for construction are delivered.

The geologist could always arrive at the flag immediately, and begin working in the "normal" manner until his hut is completed, but it seems that huts are not the way to go.

I do not want a geologist being tied to a flag, because if one forgets to "release" them, they will waste a lot of hammers.

This is a good point. However, once you start building mines to start mining you will see the geologists are there, and would be reminded to release them. If the geologists are moving around the player would see them while scrolling around the map, and the fact that the marks are still present on the mountains (which would be very obvious) then it's clear geologists are still present.

If you forget to "release" lumberjacks in areas where you are clearing trees then axes and wood are used up, which can be considered wasteful. The player is trusted to remember to dismantle these and recover the resources.

This does all just complicate the fact that the marks disappear and if they stayed...that would be the end of it! face-smile.png

I do not know if a military attack-style UI is a good idea. The player has to click onto the flag (1), click on "Send geologists" (2), choose the number (3, but in fact, it is pulling(?) (I want to say: press the LMB and move the mouse)) and click on "Attack" (4). I would prefer a feature where e.g. five geologists can be sent to a flag at once. It would then be click onto the flag (1) and choose one or five geologists (or three, if wanted) (2). That would not allow to choose the exact number, but I doubt it matters if four or five geologists search the area. More than five geologists are not necessary, I think.

Again I think we're making the solution too complicated. The problem is that the geologists are lazy for some players. This shows that geologists do not discover resources quickly enough. I like to think that I am not a "rushing" or impatient player, but having to wait for the geologist to arrive and then run around randomly makes me feel my time is being wasted. I don't, however, want five geologists to be sent to a 3x3 mountain!

If the game decided for me, and immediately sent a number of geologists according to the available area, this would be great. It could even limit the number of geologists if the economy is suffering an iron shortage. Otherwise I am forced to click and click and click and...oops, I clicked "destroy flag". Now all of the lazy geologists are going home!

4) I do not think that the geologist should "think" for me. It is the player's decision where he places the mines and what strategy he plays (fast exploiting vs. efficient mining).

This is a fair point. I think I was coming up with ideas to make the geologist hut a useful feature. I'd still quite like to be shown good spots for mines but I can see that a) players have different preferences for mine density and b) don't want Widelands to play the game itself face-smile.png


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Astuur
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Joined: 2009-02-28, 12:08
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Posted at: 2012-03-26, 21:36

Obviously there are at least two strategies or playstyles that always surface thrughout many such discussions.
There is the the competitive, time-critical style, predominantly on smaller maps, leading to games in the range of 1-3 hours.
And then there is "superior planning" style, on very large to huge maps with fewer players.
This is less time critical, more strategic and leads to games in the range of several days.
(Yes, I belong to here face-smile.png )

For the question at hand this translates to:

  1. Minimize the time until you can successfully build a mine. (protagonist Nasenbaer)
  2. Maximize what you can get from a mountain range (protagonist Simplypeachy, or perhaps me )

It should be clear, that these two have different requirements in a lot of fields including the mining prospection and the decayng of information.
So the challenge is to come up with a system that would serve both styles equally well.

A good argument to let some useful information decay, that a player has rightfully obtained (i.e. by geologists) IMO is that it is outdated or cluttering the screen and doesn't look nice.
The latter could be solved by a visibility toggle (like the buildhelp) and supports all styles.
As for information becoming outdated, that will only happen, if a mine has been working near.
This is a condition. that could easily be used to our advantage. The spot finding logic for the geologist would have to be re-programmed. We should try to get rid of the useless "returns to the flag" after each spot. It makes sense for a lumberjack to deliver his trunk, but not for a geologist. Instead he should work his way outward from the flag spraling in clockwise or counterclockwise direction.
There could be two distinct cases:

  1. If a geologist is called to a base flag of an existing mine, he'd do a "near area survey" that covers an area a little wider (range radius+1) than the mine may have exhausted, and so overwrites any existing indicators.
    One geologist should be enough to do that and he should systematically check all the points.
    This would not take long. You can, I think, wait for the results. This serves the needs of type 2 players.

  2. The other case (calling geologists to a road flag) is more versatile and can support both styles.

    1. The type 2 player would do what could be called a "wide area survey".
      To do that, you'd preferably call several geologist to one spot. Each one should be programmed to explore let's say 16 spots, going from the flag outward in a spiral. There is only one real difference. He will now respect indicators that are already present, and find an unscanned spot instead. This behaviour is triggered by a calling him to normal flag, not a flag belonging to a mine.
      That would guarantee that more geologist scan a wider area and that the area is completely explored.
      This is, IMO as it should be. It would take a while, but since the indicators do not decay, it is a one-time event.
    2. For the type 1 player the logic described above (wide area survey) is too slow.
      But what happens if he builds several flags and calls one geologist to each one?
      He will get a result almost immediately (remember the way back to the flag is gone)
      The extra time needed to connect some flags should be more then compensated in that way.

To sum it up:

  • Indicators for mining resources never decay, but can be updated. They can be made invisible by a keyboard key.

  • New, more effective way of systematically scanning the mountain range for all geologists.
    (spiraling, no useless returns to the flag)

  • A different behaviour concerning preexisting indicators, triggered by the kind of flag the geologist is called to.

    • Overwrite when called to a flag belonging to a mine.
    • Respect and find different place, when called to an ordinary flag.
  • The benefit for type 1 players who call one geologist each to several flags, is a speed increase, which should serve them well.

  • For the type 2 players wide area surveys are possible and with less effort. Information does not decay.

No UI change necessary, but some explanation in the help files, not too hard though.

Could this be a helpful concept that serves all typs of players?


Being no programmer, I apologize for all my suggestions that imply undue workload and for other misjudgements due to lack of expertise or relevant skills.
I am on Win32, have no means to compile, and rely on prefabricated distributions (Thanks to Tino).

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simplypeachy
Joined: 2009-04-23, 14:42
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Posted at: 2012-03-26, 22:14

Astuur wrote:

The spot finding logic for the geologist would have to be re-programmed. We should try to get rid of the useless "returns to the flag" after each spot. It makes sense for a lumberjack to deliver his trunk, but not for a geologist. Instead he should work his way outward from the flag spraling in clockwise or counterclockwise direction.

We have to be wary of changing behaviour just because it is "more realistic". However, a geologist working methodically would make more sense. I have to say that there is something pleasing to see him run around randomly finding resources face-grin.png

There could be two distinct cases:

If a geologist is called to a base flag of an existing mine, he'd do a "near area survey" that covers an area a little wider (range radius+1) than the mine may have exhausted, and so overwrites any existing indicators.
One geologist should be enough to do that and he should systematically check all the points.
This would not take long. You can, I think, wait for the results. This serves the needs of type 2 players.

An interesting suggestion. When a miner digs coal, he knows how much he has removed. Maybe the miner should update the marks? A farmer plants seeds and harvests wheat. The player can see there is wheat, and what growth state it has. The farmer removes the wheat and it disappears. The player can see there are trees, and the lumberjack removes them. The miner can see there is coal, and "removes" it from the marks. The coal is just another resource which is being harvested. It is subterranean so the player cannot see the coal, but the miner would change the marks. Maybe even walk outside and, like the geologist, "tap tap tap" the spot to update it? Maybe only Master Miners could do this as they are more skilled. Maybe each mine could hold a geologist, if the economy can provide one? It could even be optional: mine is built with default slots for miners, but also a slot for geologists. By default this is set to 0, and the player can increase/decrease this as they prefer. Geologists will then be delivered, and stay to update the marks, until they are ejected.

I prefer the idea that discovery remains the job of the geologist.

To summarize ideas:

  • Geologists called to a mine will first discover resources in the mine's range, then work outwards
  • Miners update marks, with animation or not
  • Master miners update marks as they need the extra skill to do so
  • Mines can optionally have x number of resident geologists who update marks.

The other case (calling geologists to a road flag) is more versatile and can support both styles.

The type 2 player would do what could be called a "wide area survey". To do that, you'd preferably call several geologist to one spot. Each one should be programmed to explore let's say 16 spots, going from the flag outward in a spiral. There is only one real difference. He will now respect indicators that are already present, and find an unscanned spot instead. This behaviour is triggered by a calling him to normal flag, not a flag belonging to a mine. That would guarantee that more geologist scan a wider area and that the area is completely explored.
This is, IMO as it should be. It would take a while, but since the indicators do not decay, it is a one-time event.

I do think that geologists called to mine flags should discover the mine's resources first; this is a subtle and intuitive idea. The idea of working methodically does have merit but, despite my frustration at the current implementation, I like seeing the geologist walking randomly around. I think the "cuteness" of Widelands has been mentioned before as a precious resource that must be preserved face-smile.png

For the type 1 player the logic described above (wide area survey) is too slow. But what happens if he builds several flags and calls one geologist to each one? He will get a result almost immediately (remember the way back to the flag is gone) The extra time needed to connect some flags should be more then compensated in that way.

Indicators for mining resources never decay, but can be updated. They can be made invisible by a keyboard key.

I definitely like this idea. It could be integrated into the mine icon in the buildhelp overlay. Miner tools, plus on top the resource mark as it is now. Is there discussion of why the marks are designed to decay?

A different behaviour concerning preexisting indicators, triggered by the kind of flag the geologist is called to.

Overwrite when called to a flag belonging to a mine. Respect and find different place, when called to an ordinary flag.

These two could be combined by forcing the geologist to update the marks around a mine, then revert to his current (or preferred) behaviour once he has finished.


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QCS
Joined: 2009-12-30, 00:47
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Posted at: 2012-03-26, 23:35

Just a different suggestion to keep you all thinking...

Let's say the geologist action from the menu is gone. Let's say, you see a spot where you could build a mine. You don't know what's there. Or even if something is there. You build a mine. Which mine? A basic mine. A testing gallery. No specialty. Just a hole in the mountain. Then, the geologist runs into it. Gets to work to check what's there.

Then, when he's done (or even when he's still working), you decide to mine coal there. You "upgrade" the testing gallery into a coal mine. The geologist runs home. The miner comes. Starts working. Maybe even updates the 'coal found' surrounding icons where he mines the coal as you suggested.

The coal is done. But there's still iron in vicinity. 'Upgrade' the coal mine to an iron mine. The miner goes, the miner comes back after it is finished.

Ok, soon the iron is gone. You forgot if there was granite somewhere. 'Upgrade' it to a testing gallery again. The geologist comes back and checks again. No, no granite found. Nothing found, to be honest. Ok, let's dismantle this mine.

What do you think? face-wink.png

Edited: 2012-03-26, 23:35

CMake is evil.

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Nasenbaer
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Joined: 2009-02-21, 20:17
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Posted at: 2012-03-27, 01:15

Again my personal view face-smile.png :

Well I see, there are a lot of ideas, but most of them sound like they would complicate the game without bringing a lot of a feature that all want. Just some examples:

  • Opening the watch window automatically... well I never use the watch window to see what is happening on the mountains, so this would be quite anoying
  • Mines that can be upgraded to one another and back and forth and dummy mines for geologists: The "realistic" idea behind is easy to explain, but the game mechanics will clutter the user interface and at least from my point of view: I am all for complexe economies, but not for complication - such a feature would not make the economy more or less complex, but would just complicate the way to handle it.
  • markers from the geologists that remain until eternity - is quite counter productive as they won't be updated, when the resources are mined. Making them autoupdating would be kind of unrealistic, so we would have to resend the geologist, but how to know which of the markers are new and which were present before?
  • Concering the geologist hut: see my last post
  • etc.

The only two ideas that sound like possible improvements without making the game more complicated are for me:

  • improve the way the geologist finds it next stop and do not send it back to the flag inbetween <- sounds very reasonable for me
  • showing resource indicators on spaces where once resources were found (similiar to build help overlay) - sounds like a possible solution, but the question is similar to the markers that stay until eternity: autoupdating does not seem to be a good idea, so this is not yet a real solution.

During writing I got another idea, but actually do not really know whether it would be useful:

Player generated list to mark areas or fields with user defined texts

A player would click on a tool, to mark a specific area or a point (highlighted in the user interface), can add a text and save it, can choose this or another saved area/point in a list, can jump to the position - the overlay for that area can be turned on and of, and it can of course be deleted.

Such a feature might be useful for even more stuff than just the mining.

I think there was a feature request for named map regions, this could be implemented on the same basics...

...........

okay back to topic!

I hope you all understand what I try to explain with all the points above and again: it's just my personal point of view.

Edited: 2012-03-27, 01:19
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fuchur
Joined: 2009-10-07, 16:01
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Posted at: 2012-03-27, 03:47

Just one comment to the problem of outdated ressource markers. They could fade out after a certain time but not vanish completely. When you resend a geologist he will use the original shiny paint to update the marker.

This is similar to the scout. The fog of war comes back, but you still see what the scout discovered.


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