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An unfortunate problem, and a question about modding

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Level 9 Human Sorcerer
Alignment: Chaotic
Location: Wales
Posted on May 13, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Hi there,

I just bought the game a few hours ago, after playing through the demo, but I'm having a bit of difficulty completing the next objective. I have managed to kill Bardilys, but all his hoplites - which I need to kill 6 of - appear to have vanished. I assume they've all ran off back to one of the Illyrian cities to the west of Eordaea and Elymia, but unfortunately thats a restricted area, and I'm not allowed to send any of my troops after them. Is there any way to mark the objective as complete, move the hoplites into the game area, or get rid of the restricted areas? Some kind of console command, perhaps? If not, I'll just load a previous save, but maybe adding a bit of code stopping quest-critical units from leaving the play area would be a good idea for any future patches.

As for modding: how much support is there? ie. is it possible to add new units, modify existing ones, edit cities, etc? I'm guessing its not possible to do anything with the map, or at least not easily, but I'd imagine changing stats etc should be possible.

Cheers,
Jonan

Level 13 Extraplanar Programmer
Alignment: Chaotic good
Location: Toronto
Posted on May 13, 2010 at 8:10 pm

They're probably either on their way to Pella, or hiding in Heraklea Lyncestis. If they're not there, email your saved game to rob@longbowgames.com and he'll help you out. If you're running Vista, your saved games will be in the "Saved Games" folder of your user folder, and if you're running and earlier version of Windows it will be in your "My Documents" folder.

There is a console, but you need to edit the controls.xml file found in the same directory as the game to enable it. Once you've enabled it, you can type 'commands' to see all the commands available, but beware! These aren't polished, and could crash the game.

As far as modding, the easiest stuff to change are all in the Resources/Data/globals.xnt file.

Let me know if you'd like me to expand on anything. If you prefer email, I'm always available at rick@longbowgames.com.

Level 9 Human Sorcerer
Alignment: Chaotic
Location: Wales
Posted on May 14, 2010 at 6:44 am

Thanks for the help. I've captured every city in the accessible area, and they're not hiding around there. But it seems I can use the 'clearboundary' command to access the restricted areas, so I'll have a look round Illyria to see if I can find them first. Is the restricted area removed once that objective is completed anyway, or does it simply change? If so, can I use the clearboundary command to enable it again, or would I need to use changeboundary somehow? They were there in the original battle - after routing my army, they marched east and captured my fort. Then all the hoplites marched off to the west, and left the fort garrisoned by their generals, and noone else. I haven't seen them since.

As for modding, I've only had a quick look so far - but I get the impression it might be possible to edit and create objectives by editing campaign.xml, and creating a new .xnt file for the Quest in Resources\Entities\Quests. That could make for some interesting possibilities. And quite a few of the values in globals.xnt seem useful too. It's going to be fun to see what players manage to do with this game :) I'm going to try and finish it before changing too much though, I think.

Thanks for your help! I appreciate it.

Level 13 Extraplanar Programmer
Alignment: Chaotic good
Location: Toronto
Posted on May 14, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Heh, glad to see you're enjoying the console.

Yes, the boundary is cleared after you defeat Bardylis, so no worries there. Rob's currently looking into the issue of Bardylis' troops running away, and if everything goes according to plan then hopefully we'll make the 1.0.1 beta available to paid customers in an update on Monday.

Creating new quests isn't too difficult, but you'll need to create new strings in the language.str file. We've got a custom tool for that, but the text format is pretty straight-forward as well.

Level 9 Human Gamer
Alignment: Lawful good
Location: Toronto
Posted on May 14, 2010 at 3:19 pm

I got the same problem i got 4/6 hoplites the rest was either ran/surrendered or killed. :( i want patch now :(.

Level 9 Human designer
Alignment: Good
Posted on May 15, 2010 at 9:23 am

This is from a poster over at the 'quartertothree' forums:

"Please point out any factual inaccuracies in the below report, I want to like this game, so if I missed anything in terms of game mechanics (or I have just demonstrated how stupid I am) please let me know so I can try again.

The long and short is that this "game" is an incredibly tedious and frustrating collection of broken mechanics thrown together. Micromanagement hell does not begin to describe it.
The demo somewhat hinted at this problem but some clever design was hiding the extent of the problem. Once you play longer the whole thing collapses. Think of the problems ramping up according to an exponential curve based on the area you control. Shame the objective is to control the whole map !

As an introduction, the game lacks some fundamental features:
- there is no centralised list of units. So the only way to find a specific unit is to fly around the map and select each and every city in turn to see what's available.
- the number of units you can control is subject to a hard cap depending on the population of your cities. There is no way to increase said population.
- on average, a city can only support 1 or 2 units: a city does not allow you to generate enough units/structure to defend itself. This is the crucial point and central to the whole mess.
- there are no effective fixed structures to defend cities (catapults do not work, they defend jack shit)
- the various factions ALL attack you, ALL THE TIME. There is no way to arrange peace.
- your position on the map is central

The above means that once you reach a certain number of cities, you cannot possibly defend all of them at the same time. The more you expand, the worst your position becomes.
Since you cannot make peace with any of the factions, there is no safe place anywhere in your empire. The only way to kill a faction is by taking all its cities (expanding), which only make matters worse ....

The ONLY way to reliably defend a city/area is by stationing a large stack of units (which cost more resources than said unit/area can generate by itself). So what happens is that you reach 10+ cities and the "game" becomes a tedious exercise in shuffling stack of units around the map to put out the fires lit up by random stacks of enemy units. I can hardly describe how frustrating and boring this becomes.

If you decide to make a concerted push to get rid of one specific faction and through some clever management finally manage to take all its cities (usually 5+, so not exactly easy either) without losing the other half of your empire YOU ONLY MADE THINGS WORSE FOR YOU! Because you enter into contact with even more factions and the few units you have are now stretched over an even larger surface.

To repeat the previous point, a city does not usually (couple exceptions, that's about it) generate enough resources to defend itself effectively, the more cities you conquer, the worst your position becomes and the more overstretched your military resources become. As a result, after a certain point, you are stuck: it becomes impossible to expand further and all you can do is react defensively.

So, what's the point of expanding? it just makes your life harder. Except, conquest is supposed to be the whole point of this broken game! The core driver/idea is broken!

Finally, the sense of direction you get in the demo (through the quests) - which to me was a clever way to mitigate the above problems completely disappears shortly thereafter. You just have a laundry list of places to take over which pretty much boils down to "take over the entire map".

That's why this makes me so angry and I mention "bait and switch" with the demo. I honestly cannot believe anybody played beyond 10-15 cities and did not realise how seriously broken the situation becomes.

in addition, the UI/gameplay suffers from some pretty bad decisions:
- units are linked to a specific city and respawn there if beaten in battle. If you ever lose a big battle, be prepared to go around the map to try and collect your units together again.
- on the strategic map, slaves and normal units are not differentiated when garrisoned, so you quickly look at a city and think you have a garrison when in reality no defenses are available.
- the strategic map quickly becomes the only way to play but clicking on the mini map is awkward as it involves some zooming effect taking a couple seconds. By itself not a big deal but when you are constantly moving around it becomes frustrating.
- the only way to kill an enemy unit is by beating it once in combat then having some fast unit run after them to capture them. You cannot reliably do any of the above from the strategic map (finicky controls) so you need to zoom right in at the tactical level and micromanage that stuff. When you are managing 3 fights at the same time, this is great.
- If you do not kill enemy units, they just respawn a little bit later and come back at you. Also, apparently, the AI is not bound by the same rules regarding number of units, so after a while each faction attacks you with stacks of 10+ units

To finish on a more positive note, I would suggest they introduce the concept of PD in a similar way to what is available on dom3 (i.e. permanent but limited provincial defense forces that allow you to maintain a modicum of peace in your inner territory and protect against raiding parties)
This would certainly reflect historical reality AND actually give the game a chance to be playable"

-farfrael

Now he started out very enthused by the game and posted a couple of positive things prior to that post above, but it seems either he is doing something wrong or there may be some issues the devs should look into solving? I've only played the demo myself but am interested in this game if things like this can be addressed.

So i'm thinking how much can be balanced via patches+modding? Having looked around the internet i think people are really wanting to like this game but there may well be a few issues outstanding. for example do marriages do anything currently? - can they be made to form an alliance with another faction etc. It seems some form of diplomatic option could be quite essential to achieve the aims of the game?

Level 9 Human Sorcerer
Alignment: Chaotic
Location: Wales
Posted on May 15, 2010 at 10:05 am

I haven't had a chance to look through it properly, but it is certainly possible to make some kind of difficulty patch. A lot of key variables (such as how much food farms produce, how much different events affect morale, etc) are stored in various plaintext files, so they can be easily changed. That said, I don't know if you can adjust population points or not. I have been considering maybe making some kind of difficulty mod (I swear I spend more time dissecting games than I do actually playing them...), but I want to play the game properly first - and as I'm a student in the middle of exam season, I don't really have time atm.

As for diplomacy - from what little I've played so far, that would be my number 1 improvement. It would be difficult to implement, however - the way resources work currently (ie. gold) is not ideally suited for trading with other nations - though some kind of regular tribute idea would work (eg: "We accept your offer of peace, in return for a tribute of 25 gold"). If you were to define relationships between all the different nations, you could perhaps have military aid as another bargaining chip (eg: "We will agree to peace, but only if you capture the city of Athens (or some other city, maybe picked at random, or based on size/garrison - proximity to Macedonia would probably have to be a factor too) from our hated enemies the Athenians."). That would both alleviate the problem, and help give the player some direction with who they should be attacking next.

But, like I said, I haven't really played enough of the game to know if that would work - or even enough to know if the problem is as serious as you describe.

Level 9 Human gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on May 15, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Good to hear from Rick that they are intending to patch the game, though.

Level 13 Extraplanar Programmer
Alignment: Chaotic good
Location: Toronto
Posted on May 16, 2010 at 2:02 pm

The long and short is that this "game" is an incredibly tedious and frustrating collection of broken mechanics thrown together. Micromanagement hell does not begin to describe it.
Well, I guess we can't please everybody.

there is no centralised list of units. So the only way to find a specific unit is to fly around the map and select each and every city in turn to see what's available.
Actually, there is. It's the 'Assets' button to the right of the compass.

the number of units you can control is subject to a hard cap depending on the population of your cities. There is no way to increase said population.
As you complete certain quests, you'll be awarded with 'Migrants'. Walk them into a city to increase your Macedonian population.

on average, a city can only support 1 or 2 units: a city does not allow you to generate enough units/structure to defend itself. This is the crucial point and central to the whole mess.
A city can "support" many more units than 1 or 2. They only provide enough population points to build one or two units to your pool, but you don't need to use those units at that city, and don't be afraid to leave some cities undefended!

Choosing how to disperse your units is definitely a challenge. Most of your cities will go undefended (even unwalled (!) so they don't rebel) and you'll need to find ways to create a perimeter you can defend without your response being too far away.

there are no effective fixed structures to defend cities (catapults do not work, they defend jack shit)
Catapults fire faster with the more men you have in a city. Since spearmen are fairly cheap for their large size, they're a good choice for garrison. But generally they just hold off the enemy while you organize a response.

units are linked to a specific city and respawn there if beaten in battle. If you ever lose a big battle, be prepared to go around the map to try and collect your units together again.
Only Macedonian units level up, which means you probably don't want to disband them. That means that, even though they're good units, you should be careful with them, because you don't want to have to make them march all the way from Macedonia to the front lines.

But the non-Macedonian units don't level up, so if it gets to a point where most of your army is respawning too far away to be useful, feel free to disband them and rebuild them somewhere else.

on the strategic map, slaves and normal units are not differentiated when garrisoned, so you quickly look at a city and think you have a garrison when in reality no defenses are available.
That's true. We've considered making the discs a different colour for non-combat units, and that's still a possibility in future patches. For now, it helps to merge your slaves together, so 40 of them only take up one disc.

the strategic map quickly becomes the only way to play but clicking on the mini map is awkward as it involves some zooming effect taking a couple seconds. By itself not a big deal but when you are constantly moving around it becomes frustrating.
Double-clicking on the minimap will insta-jump.

the only way to kill an enemy unit is by beating it once in combat then having some fast unit run after them to capture them. You cannot reliably do any of the above from the strategic map (finicky controls) so you need to zoom right in at the tactical level and micromanage that stuff. When you are managing 3 fights at the same time, this is great.
The cavalry are really good for this, since they're fast enough to catch fleeing units. It's also good to make judicious use of pause-time, so you can issue your orders before the enemy gets too far away.

If you do not kill enemy units, they just respawn a little bit later and come back at you. Also, apparently, the AI is not bound by the same rules regarding number of units, so after a while each faction attacks you with stacks of 10+ units
Where possible, we did give the AI the same limits as the player, but some factions start with a lot of gold and farms. Interrupting their trade routes will help.

To finish on a more positive note, I would suggest they introduce the concept of PD in a similar way to what is available on dom3 (i.e. permanent but limited provincial defense forces that allow you to maintain a modicum of peace in your inner territory and protect against raiding parties)
This would certainly reflect historical reality AND actually give the game a chance to be playable

Diplomacy is definitely sorely lacking in Hegemony. Rest assured that's high on our list of priorities for the sequel.

Level 9 Human gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on May 16, 2010 at 4:15 pm

The cavalry are really good for this, since they're fast enough to catch fleeing units. It's also good to make judicious use of pause-time, so you can issue your orders before the enemy gets too far away.

I think this is one of the things that struck home for me as a primary issue. I have to issue an attack order three times to nullify an enemy unit. 5 units attack, and that's 15 clicks individually for that one combat. Magnify that by however many simultaneous (usually 3) that are going on. It's micromanagement of the combat that gets old for me. That and units not responding defensively to attacks on themselves.

"Hey look, those archers are shooting at us."
"We can't move unless we get orders. Just let them pick us off!"

I love the game. Paid for it after spending well over 15-20 hours on the demo replaying over and over to get movements and build orders down.

After you kill Bardylis though, "All hell breaks loose."

Don't get me wrong, I recommend this game to all my friends. But the constantly having to hit C, while paused, to issue "response" orders (and I'm not talking the front line) to garrisoned units or units stationed just outside a city is tedious.

Please don't take this the wrong way. I love this game. I've played it almost exclusively this weekend (well over 10+ hours a day). Not many games get to that point with me and I'd have to say only the Civilization series has done that. That says a lot.

Thanks for a great game.

Level 13 Extraplanar Programmer
Alignment: Chaotic good
Location: Toronto
Posted on May 17, 2010 at 2:21 am

Quick update: I just fixed the problem with not being able to differentiate slaves. They now have silver bases instead of black bases.

If everything goes according to schedule, we'll be doing a beta release of 1.0.1 tomorrow, available to paid customers. Watch the news page.

Level 9 Human gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on May 18, 2010 at 11:51 am

Hi!
I just have one simply question - is there possibility to multiple number of soldiers in unit? If yes, where I can find values for it? I think if I multiple my units about x2 (ex: from 60 to 120) battle will be more epic than it is now ;)
regards!

Level 9 Human Music
Alignment: Lawful good
Location: Ireland, Waterford
Posted on May 18, 2010 at 2:49 pm

I hope this beta is will be released soon.
I want to check this out!

Oh I hear ya with the micromanagement of war!!
Very annoying!!!
Lets hope the beta release will let troops attack when being attacked from ranged units.
Also some sort of diplomacy!

Also I want to find the population values too.
I can't find them anywhere.
I want the troops to be much larger.

Level 13 Extraplanar Programmer
Alignment: Chaotic good
Location: Toronto
Posted on May 18, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Sorry, there's no troop multiplier. Maybe in the sequel.

Also, sorry about the delay for the beta. We ended up making some changes to the AI behaviour, and we want to test it a bit more before release. We'll probably release tonight.

Level 9 Human Music
Alignment: Lawful good
Location: Ireland, Waterford
Posted on May 18, 2010 at 5:46 pm

aww that is a shame :(

Anyway I will be keeping an eye open for this beta!