Settlement Influence

First, a few notes on 1.4: Work is almost completed. There are just a couple more bugs (which might get pushed to 1.5) and the standard release checklist to go through. I'm targeting  release for friday.

Why Do Settlements Have An Influence Radius?

My goal for the settlement influence radius was to keep  settlements cohesive. Due to the need to move items around the settlement keeping them from being too spread out is a major concern. Sparse settlements will have problems with logistics, and will present more complicated pathing problems and threaten performance. The formula behind the radius has been changed a few times, to make sure settlements have enough room to grow, but keep it from getting unreasonably large.

A side benefit of the settlement influence radius is preventing accidents when ordering construction. A few times I've been looking at one settlement, while actually having a different settlement selected. The influence radius has prevented me from placing a structure from Settlement B inside Settlement A.

Potential Changes

Right now I'm planning on moving the World Update up to 1.5 (pushing boats back, yet again), as part of that update the world will get a major overhaul. Part of that overhaul will be persistent regions. The new world generator in 1.3 generates regions, which you see as coherent biomes. Those regions are discarded once generation is finished, though. The new world generator will remember those regions, allowing them to be used for gameplay. I'm already planning on using them for Masklings. Instead of being psychopathic raiders, they would now have a set of regions that they consider their territory, and try and keep the player out of it.

Another use for regions I've been considering is to replace the Settlement Influence Radius. Instead of settlements being restricted to a circle that grows with population, the settlements would be restricted to a single region, or a region and all adjacent regions. On the one hand I think this would be a more natural restriction, as borders would tend to follow natural boundaries (rivers, forests, different biomes). On the other hand it would invalidate some currently useful tactics, like straddling a region border with a settlement to get access to multiple resource types.

What do you all think about regions and the settlement influence radius?

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(+2)

Thanks for all of the discussion. After reading it all and pondering for a bit, I present...

Proposed New Settlement System

Settlements no longer have an influence radius, instead they are associated with regions. When founding a new settlement you place a central administrative structure. That structure represents the "claim" to the region. When placing the structure, the target region will be highlighted both on the local map, and on the minimap. You cannot claim a region that is already claimed by another settlement (yours or otherwise).

At certain population thresholds a settlement can construct an additional administrative structure in an adjacent region. In the future settlements may be restructured to contain districts (mini settlements within a settlement), when/if that happens it will be based on regions (each region becomes a district).

Structures may only be placed in a claimed region, but citizens will be able to harvest trees, gather pigs, and build roads in claimed regions, as well as regions adjacent to claimed regions.

Ownership Changes

If an administrative structure is destroyed, then that region becomes unowned, any citizens will evacuate, and any structures will become useless. If another group places an administrative structure in that region they gain control over the structures and any items they contain, effectively capturing the settlement. This could potentially mean the capture of Maskling settlements, or Masklings capturing your settlements. Note that this excludes the people, they'll just flee to the remaining parts of the settlement.

If a settlement loses all of its administrative structures, and ceases to control any regions, then that settlement ceases to exist, and the population converts to immigrants. This allows you to abandon settlements by deconstructing the administrative structures.

Administrative Structures

I'm not sure what to call it yet, but the administrative structure will be heavily upgradable. Higher levels of it will provide additional features, such as attacking invaders, boosting settlement happiness, providing a bonus to research, and diplomacy.

How Big a Region?

The world generator will aim to create regions about 90 tiles on a side, roughly filling a 1920x1080 monitor. Individual regions will vary, of course.

Sounds great. Does that mean maskling camps will have their own admin structure? Potentially upgradable with each upgrade unlocking behaviours.

90 tiles square sounds a bit smaller than what I'd consider "regions" right now. When I look at the 1.3 map, I see region borders to be mostly the rivers. Looking at my cities the "regions" are maybe 100x150-ish, give or take (they're quite potato-shaped). We'll see how it turns out.

All in all I'm really excited for that update. Almost forgot 1.4 lol.

Maskling camps will have their own admin structures. I think upgrading them could tie into Masklings getting access to more resources down the line. Masklings could get more resources by trying to steal them from your settlements, or by trading with you for them. That most likely wont be in 1.5, but I think it opens up some very interesting possibilities.

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This is a very interesting issue, here is my take:

I've been thinking that you could tie influence to buildings, say give a small base settlement influence radius and then have claim territory within x tiles from it's structure. You could then modify x by other factors, say local settlement density, population, distance from the colonies gravitational center, etc... in order to discourage colonies from getting spread too thin. That said, distribution inefficiencies are their own elegant solution to shoddy city design. I don't like tying territory to biome types, I think most or all of my cities would fail that check.

I would also limit how closely settlements can build to each other, requiring them to merge administratively first.  With some level of separation enforced, I would then have the game automatically decide which settlement a building belongs to based on the owner of the ground it is placed on. Now you no longer select a city through the menu, you select simply by viewing it in the main game window. You're now either in creation mode or destruction mode. :D Defining territory more explicitly while managing it more abstractly could be useful later on with empires, where ownership can be multilayered and ambiguous.

Some buildings may ignore territorial ownership, instead allocating labor by raw proximity and availability. These would possibly include roads, mines, hunting/lumber camps, towers, etc. It might be useful to add a tower type distinct from the one for use with walls. This could be the same as the 2x2 planned for early game and could be useful for territorial control later. I typically have mines fairly distant from my settlements, so I'll place a tower next to them for monitoring and defense. A building that claims territory can only be placed on territory that is already owned, and a building that does not claim territory must be placed within a certain distance from owned territory.

I'm unsure of the best way to effectively limit settlement size. One could use public health factors, effective distribution limits, or food production in various ways to provide soft caps that might evolve with access to new resources and technology.

Mr. Coel has some pretty great ideas with masklings. Perhaps they could rarely take over cities or even empires, like the hyksos, the amorites, the hittites, the  kassites, etc. Having desert tribes or forest tribes is also pretty compelling, along with monsters roaming the land. I would also like to be able to turn away migrants, but have them potentially form/join other local maskling camps or villages instead. Many other rich possibilities with migrants in general, to be honest, but I've already gone on too long. :P Edit: I couldn't help myself. Imagine a drought in a neighboring region prompting a large influx of refugees into your own. Now you must balance integrating them into your empire (with all the logistical troubles that brings with it in terms of food, housing, public health, happiness, etc) against them just pushing you out and taking over.

I prefer a region-based system rather than a distance-based one. I feel like it would be more realistic, as it would enforce natural borders like rivers and mountains. Maybe have a mix of both, with a small influence radius that doesn't expand or not very much, and otherwise go by region. So if you settle near the border between biomes you can go a bit on the other side, but you're otherwise bound to natural borders. Something I feel is important.

If the borders of settlements and maskling territories follow rivers and mountains, rather than being circles that ignore terrain, then border friction feels more natural. If the masklings attack you because you built a tower two tiles too far to the left and its circle overlapped with their invisible circle, it feels arbitrary and annoying. If you piss them off because you crossed a clearly visible, unchanging boundary, then it makes them feel more human. "This is our side of the river, this is yours" is much better than "You can get within 144 squares of our huts, if you get even one step closer we'll shank you."

Expansion should in my opinion bound to milestones allowing you to claim more regions as "core". Those milestones could simply be population (IMO something exponential like 150-350-600-1000 rather than a flatter 200-400-600-800), wealth, or later in development be tied to achievements like successfully developing a noble class or technology.


>I think most or all of my cities would fail that check.

Looking at the cities you posted, at a glance Scalestander port is on a single region, it passes. Grasschopper port looks to be on four regions, but at 1600+ citizens I think it could be allowed one or two more, so it passes. Wallstander on the other hand seems to sit on three regions, and at 229 it should be allowed two, so if the region-based system was in place, you most likely would've had to stay on one side of the lake, maybe making your town more vertical instead.

>I would also limit how closely settlements can build to each other, requiring them to merge administratively first.

Forbid settling into another settlement area of influence (core regions + regions adjacent to core), can't expand into another settlement's area of influence unless it's for a merge.

>I'm unsure of the best way to effectively limit settlement size.

I think you'd need more systems in place, like happiness or diseases, before an adequate soft-cap can really be implemented. As it stands, hauling inefficiencies and FPS death act as a soft cap.

Expansion should in my opinion bound to milestones allowing you to claim more regions as "core". 

I really like that idea. The UI might be a bit tricky, but I think it's worth an attempt.

I think you'd need more systems in place, like happiness or diseases, before an adequate soft-cap can really be implemented.

That's one of the plans for settlement happiness. Settlement size would decrease happiness. As settlements grow larger and larger you'll have to acquire more and more luxuries to keep the population satisfied. Diseases would be another good (and historically accurate) way to soft cap populations.

>The UI might be a bit tricky

We'll need a region view/overlay in any case, to see where the regions end and who owns what. It could be done through there in a fashion similar to building upgrades ("influence area of settlement A" "1: claim as core" "you need X citizens to claim as core"). Or, if we go by my favoured idea of Town Hall buildings, inspecting a town hall (or trying to build one) may tell you what you need. The Settlement Info screen might also see use here, with different pages. I think eventually this screen is likely to require some expansion anyway as a menu or ledger of sorts, to see everything that's going on with the settlement.

I really like the idea of certain structure providing administrative functions in general. Going back to what I said earlier about not selecting a city like you do currently, you could move most or all of the settlement info menu to the town hall. Surplus management is very important, but not until a certain point in a settlement's development. Or perhaps add a quartermaster for surplus management and have the town hall for planning functions like the top third of the settlement info window plus info necessary for expansion, etc. This could also provide ways for colonies to specialize further. The idea is that you grow into needing the services provided by these structures. We already have some of that with the way that the tradehouse works.

On the kingdom level, there could be another structure that provides even more advanced functions required for managing a kingdom, perhaps providing advanced interfaces used for balancing resources and populations across many settlements. Call it a palace and have it make the hosting city your capital, and maybe provide local bonuses as well. You could then take this further to the empire level, perhaps as some major long term upgrade or series of upgrades to your palace, with perhaps further regional administrative structures as well. They could also provide broader ui elements, such as markings on the world/region/empire/whatever map. Or maybe you don't start counting the year number until you build a palace and found a kingdom.

I went back through my cities and I think you've won me over, with a couple of caveats.

First, I think their is some ambiguity as to what exactly constitutes a region. I'm viewing Scalestander Port as straddling 3-4 of them, one forest and the rest plains. Wallstander Village lies across 4-5: a forest, barren plain, grassy plain, and one or two mountain, depending on where the boundary might fall. Grasschopper Port is was my first city and is just absurd. I'm currently leaning towards the idea that cities in the 1500-2000  range should be scarce. Your capital and maybe one other large trade and manufacturing center in a large kingdom, supporting by a network of 8-10 smaller settlements. I think most should be in the 150-500 range.

I'm with you on rivers and coasts forming great natural borders. I think a good system could have you settle a single region, consisting of an area about the size of Wallstander Village (ignoring the region boundaries on that map.) Selecting a site to settle would highlight the region claimed, making explicit any borders not already obvious from a coastline or biome change. You could then claim two adjacent regions fairly early on, with the others accessible later.

First, I think their is some ambiguity as to what exactly constitutes a region.

Regions are a little nebulous in 1.3. During world generation a noise map is sampled to pick "biome region points". Chunks then assign themselves to the closest "biome region point", which determines the biome of the chunk as well as river placement. Multiple nearby "biome region points" can end up with an identical biome, which renders the borders between them invisible.


 In 1.5 the generator will get an overhaul, and regions will be permanent fixtures. I'm aiming to have a single region roughly fill a 1920 x 1080. Individual regions will vary, but that's the target. The regions will also be visible to some extent in the UI, probably though the region map.

 Selecting a site to settle would highlight the region claimed, making explicit any borders not already obvious from a coastline or biome change. 

That's precisely my plan, it will make things nice and obvious.

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> I don't like tying territory to biome types, I think most or all of my cities would fail that check.

Historically borders usually follow natural boundaries. Rivers, mountains, and forests are big ones. Allowing settlements to claim a couple adjacent regions would mitigate the biome-straddling issue. But I think there's a balance to be had there.

A major benefit of settlements occupying regions, I think, is the ability to tie into the idea of territorial possession. Maskling behavior, settlement expansion, and diplomacy could all interact through that system.

> Some buildings may ignore territorial ownership, instead allocating labor by raw proximity and availability. These would possibly include roads, mines, hunting/lumber camps, towers, etc.

I've been pondering a possibility of different types of regions claimed by a settlement. One idea was a split between the "core" regions  (where anything could be built), outlying regions (where only farms, small towers, mines, and the like could be built), and harvesting regions (where settlers could cut down trees and gather pigs). That plan really depends on how large the regions end up being.

Edit: thanks for the post, some really thought provoking discussion going on in here

Thanks for being so transparent and responsive. This game is a really cool concept and fun to think about.

I like the idea of restricting a settlement to a biome rather than a radius. However, as you said, it might cause some problems. A possible solution is to allow certain buildings (mines, roads, 2x2 towers eventually) and activities (gather pigs, cut trees...) to be built in adjacent biomes, letting citizens gather ressources from adjacent biomes, but not live there.

A more complicated idea would be to have a specific building (a town hall) that claims a biome. When a group of settlers is ordered to settle, they build such a building, claiming the biome. When a settlement reaches a certain population, it is allowed to build another such town hall, claiming a second biome. This could again tie into districts somehow. The masklings may also be drawn to the town hall, trying to destroy it to kick the settlers out. It would also be a prime target for all kinds of upgrades and various mechanics and interface (nobles, diplomacy, early religion...).

I also like the idea of  maskling tribes claiming biomes. It would make them seem more intelligent, more relatable, and it would open the possibility of peaceful interactions down the line. And/or conflict between masklings. Maybe they'll even expand under certain circumstances, one tribe gaining in power and asserving or wiping out tribes you were trading with would be a matter for concern or even war. Imagine, going out at war to save masklings!

I like the idea of restricting a settlement to a biome rather than a radius. However, as you said, it might cause some problems. A possible solution is to allow certain buildings (mines, roads, 2x2 towers eventually) and activities (gather pigs, cut trees...) to be built in adjacent biomes, letting citizens gather ressources from adjacent biomes, but not live there.

I'm leaning towards that approach. Depending on the size of the regions.

would open the possibility of peaceful interactions down the line. And/or conflict between masklings.

I think, once I generate multiple Maskling tribes, that conflict between them will happen automatically. Peaceful relations will take some work, but will really expand the possibilities of Bronze Age.

The Maskling changes could be super fun, like having them guard the biomes with copper or limestone (or other rare resources), making it more difficult to get the higher resources. Makes having a military a requirement for the expansion of your empire.

These changes might also mean players will need to create new settlements and explore further then they might have before, and increase the importance of trading and your trade routes (protecting from masklings?).

Everything sounds great! Would you unlock adjacent regions through growth like population/wealth? Any plans for 1.5 to expand the number of current biomes? 

Adding biomes in 1.5 would be a good idea. I'd like to cram as much new world-gen stuff in there as possible, to prevent invalidating saves with updates.

Adjacent regions might be unlockable through population growth, but it might be simpler to have a settlements start at it's maximum territory. I'd like to move away from wealth, as it's proven hard to balance properly.

I love the Maskling changes, also it can allow the opportunity for new enemies to defend their own biomes (like giant spiders protecting rocky regions, etc.) or something like that. I think this helps give the masklings some personality, they are just killers they are protecting their people!


Biome ideas: alongside the biomes we see already

Desert: gives a use for Sandy ground other than coastlines. Could be rocky too

Swamp: very fertile soil but tons of shallow water everywhere. Making it difficult.to settle 

Mountains; very rocky, with only small path ways of grass to navigate through. Maybe rocks have height? (Like two or three levels that slow movement even further?)

(+1)

Deserts are already in. You can see them as large patches of sand. I like the swamp idea. I was planning on adding mountains as a mix of rocky ground and impassible cliffs.

Monsters is another good idea.

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I thought of maybe fishing spots for rivers and oceans to have an alternate food source? Could be an interesting use for rivers

That's a good idea.