AI barbarian waves : Step 4/5 is complete!

I ended up inverting the 2 last tasks and completing the AI waves system instead of the Techs first ( though the work on the Tech system is under way ).

So i have now added a basic system of barbarian ‘waves’, which adds challenge to the game and purpose to defending your cities.
The point of this system is also to allow players to regularly experience battles and improve their strategy, as wars between players will be much more rare and punitive (as, like in reality, when someone attacks its usually because they already made sure they would have all the chances to win ).
Its also a simple thing that added a lot to the fun of the game, as there’s now a ‘stress’ to develop and to be efficient enough to keep up with the increasing difficulty. It also adds the possibility to actually lose the game, which is important to make things fun!

Barbarian cities appear near your settlements and every once in a while they spawn a barabarian warband that will try to raid or sack one of your cities.
They increase in difficulty with time and eventually will even attempt to invade. After a while it gets quite challenging to deal with them, and it also opens opportunities for your human player enemies.
The barbarian cities can be attacked and destroyed, which allows you to recover all the ressources they have pillaged and managed to take back to their city. You could eventually get rid of barbarian waves if you destroyed ALL the barbarian cities around you, to a certain radius.
Its important to note that this is a gameplay feature independent of game rules: the barbarian raids are spawned from nothing, and depart from any nearby barbarian region to target one of your regions.
Their choice of units is affected by their region of departure:  you’ll face different units if its a barbarian camp located in an arid region or a nordic one.
Each player now has a ‘hidden’ system of game-events points and difficulty. With time, difficulty increases and increments points that will trigger negative or positive events. For now , AI barbarian waves are the only event, but of course with time other will be added to this, to make things more interesting. This is a component based and tailored for each player, meaning a player joining a game late would start with a low difficulty while the ones already there would face much more challenging events.

Barbarian cities now spawn automatically near your settlements and regularly launch raiding parties to pillage your lands.

There is also a new NPC faction called the Free cities, which also spawns cities around players in the same way barbarians do. For now they’re useless, but eventually they will export and purchase things on the market. All players are by default at peace with these cities with trading rights opened. The point of  these cities is to ensure a minimum of trading activity and to provide basic natural ressources, as you can hardly get them all yourself.

These new features also mark the completion of the first foundations required to eventually develop proper AI players: there’s now the embryo of an AI that manages these barbarian and NPC regions. It’s able to place some basic buildings and i’ve started to organize how it will ‘think’ to face problems and develop regions. Eventually i’ll develop this enough to allow the Free cities to exploit successfully their natural ressources and sell them on the market as well as buying resources sold by players. And on an even longer term, this region AI will be used as a base to create a proper “AI player”.

Besides all that i’ve playtested the game for more than 50 hours with a couple of friends. Only with 3-4 players in “realtime mode” for now, but its been quite fun especially since the addition of the barbarian waves that added spice to the game. This has allowed me to fix countless bugs and balancing issues.
These tests lead to the addition of some miscellaneous new features such as:

Burning buildings during a barbarian raid

– maintenance and state power costs for active policies
– maintenance cost for infrastructures like walls or gardens (making it impossible to build an infinite citadel of walls, as its now pretty expensive to maintain)
– added a new policy: a state subvention allowing you to help a specific class of population ( gives additional income to the population class, paid by the state ).
– burning buildings effect during battles (cosmetic effect to add ambiance, instead of the building switching instantaneously to ruins when destroyed by enemy troops)
– range attack bonus/malus depending on the height difference. Archers on top of cliffs or walls now have a damage bonus + a bonus to hit while its inverted for range units trying to target them from lower positions.
– range attack malus against moving units (proportionally to the target’s speed )
– new charging bonus for melee units based on unit’s mass and movement speed.
– a new ‘reach’ stat for melee weapons ( spears have a higher reach than short-swords ) , affecting many things in combat like giving a bonus against high-mass units like cavalry.
– ground fertility now affects the fields productivity.
– arid and desertic rivers now generate a new highly fertile ground type, giving more specific pros and cons to these climates : smaller agricultural surface but highly productive, which is a big bonus in early game ( less fields to make but produces much more )  while in late game you won’t be able to produce as much as a continental region because of the smaller available surface. Regions with gravely ground types (low fertility) like hills are now at a disadvantage for agriculture, compensating for their defensive advantages.

The great “battle of the 4 armies” that ended one of our test games : while the red player was attacked by a massive barbarian army, the blue player launched a surprise attack as well while i sent reinforcements to help defend the red city. An epic battle ensued, while reinforcements from all sides rushed to the city, extending the battle… Eventually the city was successfully defended with only a few troops left standing. The blue player made a mistake attacking too soon: his army ended up fighting both the red garrison of the fort and the barbarians raiders – who are hostile to everyone! Had he waited a bit more, and the victory would’ve surely been his.
The industrial district of Cochonville, during a test game.

25 Replies to “AI barbarian waves : Step 4/5 is complete!”

  1. Event banners is interesting, a detailed following of the dynasty that rules over your kingdom or the leader that was elected would be pretty cool. Also i was wondering when the final update for closed testing would come? i’ve been checking for two weeks now.

  2. Nice, only technology left to implement as it seems…

    I already have a hard time waiting for release. I would also like to participate in a closed beta!
    Also it seems like you got inspired by europa universalis too? At least with the event banners and so on or is it just a coincidence?

  3. I do agree to that! Just to listen and learn from the developer would be worth it!

  4. Neato! I’ll look forward to the Discord, tester or not. Just to listen in on the discussions will be interesting enough haha. Having the community on a platform like that would make communication so much easier as well. Usually a bit more active than forums.

    Yeah I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of work required to make a game optimized for modding. I’m not a modder myself but the thought just popped up in my head as people tend to want to alter games like these in various ways though I can imagine that the base game will keep people occupied for a loooong time.

    As always: keep up the good work! You are making awesome progress and I look forward to every update, no matter how small haha.

  5. Yes, when the last step is complete i’ll move to a closed beta!
    Participating in it will require you to use Discord. I’ll post more about it in due time.

    As for modding, it’s not just a matter of “choice”. Making a game moddable requires a lot of work. Its something i have in mind but i don’t have the time for that right now.

  6. Also, what are your thoughts on modding? Is it something you’ll support or encourage or do you want to keep it as “vanilla” as possible?

    If yes to the former, would you consider releasing an API or leave it in the hands of the people curious enough to figure out themselves?

  7. I’ve had a hard time grasping this and i’m sure you keep hearing this but: once step 5 is completed, will the game be released or will it just open for closed testing?

    If the latter is the case, is there any way to apply for joining in on it?

    Looks amazing so far! Thanks in advance.

  8. Thanks!
    A few people already suggested payoffs for barbarians. Its definitely something to think about as well as a “mercenary” system. But for now barbarians are pretty basic : some primitive tribes will randomly become barbarians and settle where they are, and then these camps are used as a location to spawn raids targeting each player.
    When the AI improves, these camps will eventually develop for real on their own and also recruit their own armies additionally to the automatically spawned ones, but that’s for later.

    The brick tower on the top left is a ‘Kiln’, and it can be used to cook coal into coke, or to burn limestone to make plaster.

    As for walls , yes they are quite costly to maintain. Stone ones are longer to build and more expensive, but cost less maintenance than the wooden ones.
    If you can’t pay , you simply go into debt. Its the same mechanic for everything. Debt then lowers proportionally your “State power”, which in turn affects the loyalty of all your regions, eventually leading them to revolt and you ‘lose’ the game!

  9. Hey,

    I’ve been keeping track of your game due to it’s interesting Economic elements (I’m an economics major about to go into a PhD program) and really like what I’m seeing. Catching up on all the articles shows that you put quite a bit of thought into how the simulation would work and how to abstractly represent certain items and balance the game.

    I was wondering if it would be possible to ‘pay off’ barbarians so they would not raid you (strengthening them in the process) or to hire them to aid your armies in a battle against a larger foe. Can early players act as barbarians as a government type to help gain some early strength before settling down? Can barbarian cities move? Thanks.

  10. i watching this game development since 2015 and seems great.
    i love old school city building game, i have all the original sierra Zeus, pharaoh, caesar , emperor games, and this seems to be exact what this old games are with some little new features.

    also you should update your page on steam greenlight.

  11. Looking great as always.

    What kind of building is the brick tower in the top left of the last screenshot ?

    Are walls really that costly ? I mean, wooden palisades, while not so resistant, should be possible to expand all around town.
    What happens if we can’t pay for the wall maintenance ?
    When an army move into a region to attack it, does it always spawn at the center of the border from which it comes ?

    I likes than height gives ranged attacks some bonuses. It reminds me of Age of empires and Stronghold, and that’s fitting as a mechanic (easier to do than range increase or modeling each arrow until it hits an unit or a wall).

    I wish you good courage, good health and all these things. And thank you for working on this beautiful game. 😀

  12. Looking great! But yes, please do take your time. Don’t make the same mistake as Lethis and not be complete on release; the hype will disappear quickly. Lethis simply didn’t provide anything C3/Pharaoh/Zeus/Emperor already do and with Emperor on GOG now you should make sure Ymir can really stand on its own before release.

  13. Quality takes time. I would rather wait longer and get a fully polished game than play an incomplete game full of bugs because it came out too early.

    In any case, when the wait will end and our desire will be satisfied, we will all end up desiring new things and waiting again, as human consciousness is eternally unsatisfied.

    Anyway, great news as always! I’m glad to see battles can involve more than two players at once. Should all armies arrive at exactly the same time to take part in the battle? Or do they have a little more time to send reinforcements and join the fight?

  14. I wouldn’t pressure the guy, just saying, he’s seems to be on track now and I’m hoping it will be out soon like everyone else. I would just be pertinent with him. give it like another month and this amazing game will be out.

  15. yes I know your alone to make the game,
    Ronchon but, can you at lease try to make an map creator demo that would alloyed for those like me to ease the anger which, I’m sure that can help me and maybe others too. and please think about it.

  16. I can wait! Ive been waiting for years! But the only question I have is, will the game be released after the final step? Thank you for your hard work!

  17. I’m alone so it takes time! sorry! And i dont want to release a completely unplayable ‘early access’ that would disappoint everyone. Even with all that i’m pretty sure the release will face a LOT of problems, like compatibility issues etc… , that will for sure still disappoint and irritate people a lot.

  18. how long do we have to wait till you let us download this great game? and to say this not in a bad way but, I’m getting tried of waiting. so my question is when is the game ready!

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