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Rome: Unit movement.

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Level 7 Human gamer
Alignment: Lawful
Posted on July 16, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Question:

Will units in Rome behave more realistically when moving? Playing Gold earlier, I had to move a small army (3 hoplites, 6 peltasts) through several narrow passages. Continued on my merry way for a while, went back to the spot of the map I expect my troops to be at and.. nothing.

Went hunting for them and found them only about a third of the way along their route so sat with them and watched. Had just taken a city with the capture and hold for X days objective and kept track. It took those 9 units 27 ingame days to negotiate between two passes, the one ahead of them and the one they had just come through with each unit one at a time shuffling idly back to where they thought they needed to be for the "formation" to proceed.

Obviously not quite so happy with that state of affairs so, are formations in Rome going to proceed intelligently and just send units forward as they fit while the rest hold position and await their turn, or will we be facing similar issues?

Level 17 Extraplanar gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on July 17, 2013 at 6:09 pm

Good looking group movement was definitely one of the tougher things to code in Hegemony, and I won't argue that there wasn't room for improvement in Gold because that's why it's been completely rewritten for Rome (also a good example of why Rome's taken much longer than we first thought).

The main differences in Rome are that we've restructured how groups are organized and also relaxed the connections between individual units. For example, in Gold the groups were structured into rows which worked ok when setting up a battleline, but made it more awkward to reshuffle the group when a unit routed or when constricting through a tight pass.

However, in Rome units are parented in more of a tree structure so that units will have a single "parent" brigade they are following and multiple "siblings" alongside them. This allows a child to easily be promoted if it's parent routs and gives a simpler hierarchy to follow when constricting through tight terrain. It also allows new features like linking one group onto another group or pulling off a "branch" of a larger group.

We've also de-emphasized groups for basic movement so that now when you give a move order to a bunch units, by default they will all move independently to the target unless you explicitly order then to form up.

Additionally, we've rewritten the movement code for the individual guys to improve collisions and put more emphasis on formations (now called stances) e.g. if your troops don't have enough space to form up they will just cluster around the target and you might lose any buffs associated with the stance.

Level 7 Human gamer
Alignment: Lawful
Posted on July 18, 2013 at 2:36 am

Thanks for the answer Rob! Admittedly this particular movement issue was rare yet I suspect the rarity is why it can be quite frustrating, especially when trying to conquer the far north of Greece using native Macedonian units (We all lose troops some times right?).

Also very interested about that last past. There are a fair few written sources around that tell us some times the situation demanded that the Legions dropped all cohesion for the impact of a sheer wild charge. You mention they lose the stance bonus when this happens yet perhaps it could be replaced with a short buff to represent this? Maybe in the same way cavalry units can build up a charge bonus.

Oh, one last question. Pila, can we expect any mechanics/gameplay involving these famous Roman charge breakers?

Level 17 Extraplanar gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on July 19, 2013 at 5:01 pm

We've generalized the charge mechanics in rome so it's not limited just to cavalry. Each unit has an inheirent charge and charge block skill and then these can be modified by generals, officers or stances. So legions in a battleline stance will have a large block bonus, but they lose that if you switch them to a forced marching stance.

The legions do carry and throw pila but we're still playing with how to balance it. We don't want to turn them into regular missile units but we also don't want them to need a lot of micromanagement. We may tie them to a particular stance but we haven't decided for sure.

Level 7 Human gamer
Alignment: Lawful
Posted on July 19, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Could it not work as say the battleline stance they would launch 2-3 volleys before the enemy collided? I believe that was the amount a typical century could offload before receiving the charge. Then if there is an offensive stance used to approach the enemy, perhaps RTWs system would work, legionaries march up, throw a single volley then charge the enemy.

Not sure how possible those would be, if even possible at all to limit the amount of volleys and then making sure the limit cycles rather than being a single time use. First thought would be to limit the ammunition yet that would dent the authenticity to a degree. Saying 2 volleys then expended isn't quite right, each man carrying 2 pila and very often only the front rank would actually throw, with spares being passed forwards for subsequent volleys.

More I think about it the more confusing it gets, don't envy you folks having to find a workable solution.

Level 7 Human Misanthropic Aficionado
Alignment: Chaotic
Location: The Jungle
Posted on July 20, 2013 at 9:33 am

I had always thought an ammunition system for Hegemony would work best if it mimicked the sprint bar. Dedicated skirmisher units would be able to sustain volleys for a long time, but eventually their ammunition bar would run out and require them to withdraw until recharged or commit to hand to hand fighting. For units whose ranged attack is only secondary their ammunition would obviously run out much more quickly, maybe only enough for two full volleys. Officers of course could allow their unit to hold more ammunition, perhaps tacked onto officers providing logistical buffs since the amount of equipment you carry is a question of logistics.

Level 7 Human gamer
Alignment: Lawful
Posted on July 20, 2013 at 10:41 am

I think an ammunition system could work if tied into the supply mechanic. Towns and Forts would obviously be stocked with spares and have the people with the skills on hand to make more, though I do see two issues with it.

First up defenders would basically have an unlimited supply, just fight within supply range and you immediately have a rather large advantage over an attacking force.

Secondly, as an attacking force once you have expended all your arrows/javelins etc you could end up with half your army sitting around near useless doing nothing but consuming supplies of your melee units.

This of course only really work if going for realism and while I'm unsure I always thought of gold as aiming more for authenticity than realism, in which case your idea of a rechargeable bar could work quite well. Likely need a lot of tweaking on the consume/recharge rates for different unit types though. Slingers for example could fire near on indefinitely and recharge very quickly being able to substitute lead shot for small stones. Archers would have a decent fire time and decent reload speed whereas javelin based units would have a fairly short fire time, and quite a lengthy reload.

I'd think especially where auxiliary units are concerned we'd need some form of fire at will/hold fire command for them rather than Gold's fire as soon as an enemy comes into range. That is the only downside to an ammunition system of either kind, we'd need more control over it which would mean more coding.

Level 17 Extraplanar gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on July 24, 2013 at 5:06 pm

I'd think especially where auxiliary units are concerned we'd need some form of fire at will/hold fire command for them rather than Gold's fire as soon as an enemy comes into range. That is the only downside to an ammunition system of either kind, we'd need more control over it which would mean more coding.

That's really the crux of the matter. As soon as you put a limit on the number of shots than it becomes far more important that the unit uses each one effectively. This can be interesting in small scale tactical game, but it becomes more problematic in a game on the scale of Hegemony.

Right now we've got it so the legions have a much smaller range than dedicated missile units which means that they can generally only get a few shots off before an enemy can close the gap. Combined with a limit on firing into enemies that are already engaged with your units than it might be enough to enforce reasonably accurate historical usage.

That said, I am kind of curious about treating ammunition like stamina and might look into it further. It could help further differentiate the multiple types of missile units and could be tied to the initiative system that we're working on. Thanks for the ideas and we'll let you guys know how it goes.

Level 7 Human gamer
Alignment: Lawful
Posted on July 24, 2013 at 6:33 pm

If the stamina idea doesn't play out then that min/max range and an in combat/disengaged flagging sort of system sounds like it would work quite well. I do think that sometimes realism and/or authenticity must take a back seat to gameplay and that this is one of those times.

I can't think of any single army ever that fought a battle then marched back home to resupply it's ammunition, supply carts/trucks just deliver more to the front. Perhaps that could just be the "reality" in Hegemony without having to actually display it ingame.