Removing concept of scouting nodes/lairs/towers

Discussions on game logic and rules used in MoM IME

Removing concept of scouting nodes/lairs/towers

Postby Implode » Mon Oct 06, 2014 10:05 pm

I'm now starting to look at writing combat in v0.9.5, its the last big thing I have left to do. The first part to that is the scouting screen, where it pops up saying "You have found a Chaos Node, scouts report seeing a Great Drake, do you want to continue?". So I've been looking in detail at how this worked and getting frustrated... again... at how many fudges, workarounds and special rules there are specifically because of this. Examples are (and honestly, if I listed everything out it'd be over a page):
  • If a player can see a map cell where an enemy unit is, then of course they can see the unit... But not if its a monsters player guarding a node/lair/tower, in which case the only time the player knows the full details about the units there are when we're in combat with them.
  • The monsters player itself is an exception to that exception, in that they do know about the monsters units when they aren't in combat with them, because its their own units.
  • Even if we attack and then lose the fight, and so know exactly what units are guarding the lair/node/tower, we're somehow stupid and forget what we knew, and can't see on the map how many units there are there (that particularly bothers me in relation to writing a good AI - as things were, the AI could not remember the strength of a lair/node/tower and so estimate the size army it needs to attack it with to capture it).
  • If we scouted a node/tower, find out there's some kind of monster there, then walk away and come back later to see an enemy wizard unit standing there, we implicitly know that the lair is now empty of monsters, otherwise they couldn't be standing there.
  • Same applies for implicitly knowing nodes have been clear if we see another wizard's aura there.
  • Nodes/towers containing monsters hide the units inside and require scouting; nodes/towers containing units owned by enemy wizards allow the units to be seen and can be attacked directly, so there's 2 very different sets of rules there. And it doesn't even make sense, are monsters so much better at hiding than regular military units?
  • ..and so on, and so on
The more I tried to deal with this mess of over complicated rules, the more I started to think, well why even bother? Now that Units' fog of war can be set to "Remember as last seen", that already means you can walk up to a node/lair/tower, see what's inside, walk away and still know what's there - it works better and more accurately than the original MoM scouting, so why go to massive effort to make it work worse? That seems to be the main reason the scouting even exists in the original MoM, because you retain no memory about units that you can no longer see, so they had to put scouting in so you could see scouted units on the surveyor or you'd have no way of checking out strong lairs/nodes/towers early in the game and coming back to the later once you had better units capable of capturing them.

So, I'm thinking from 0.9.5 I'm going to completely remove the concept of scouting nodes/lairs/towers. So:
  • There will be no more popup "You have found a Chaos Node, scouts report seeing a Great Drake, do you want to continue?" popup window.
  • Just by standing next to a node/lair/tower, you'll be able to see what's inside, not just 1 unit type, but exactly how many, what health they're on, and so on.
  • One of the units will then appear onto the overland map, exactly like if you ticked the "Show type of monster in scouted nodes/lairs/towers" checkbox in the Options screen in 0.9.4.
  • Similarly just by standing next to a node/lair/tower, you'll be able to tell if its empty.
  • Moving onto that map cell will then just immediately start the attack, you can't then pick 'No' and abort it. So attacking a node/tower full of monsters becomes just the same as attacking a node/tower full of units owned by an enemy wizard.
  • All of the rules, exceptions and complications around the monsters player just go away and they get treated just like any other AI player (except that they don't move on the overland map or pay upkeep for their units).
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Re: Removing concept of scouting nodes/lairs/towers

Postby Worsas » Sat Oct 11, 2014 1:27 pm

Also, this will make playing with several people more fluent, as you can save yourself the additional step of testing what's actually inside of a node/dungeon.
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Re: Removing concept of scouting nodes/lairs/towers

Postby npilgaard » Sat Oct 11, 2014 9:05 pm

That workaround sounds good.
And thanks for the update :)
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Re: Removing concept of scouting nodes/lairs/towers

Postby Irwin » Thu Oct 16, 2014 1:24 pm

Sounds good yeah :)
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Re: Removing concept of scouting nodes/lairs/towers

Postby Cor'e =) » Mon Sep 26, 2016 7:06 pm

Just a thought, just for fun,... ;)
what if upon completion of winning the battle of the guardian units (monsters or whatever), that everyone can visibly see on the map all too well (just like in cities, everything is scouted in detail), there lay beneath a single additional (semi?)randomized level that could not be scouted? What if that had a pop-up that put some fear into you! Made you sh.., er, quake in your armor? And if you win, then it is cleared and treasure may be gained, but if you lose then chomp chomp, it gets randomized again! I'm saying this because it is actually fun to fight monster battles of unexpected strength or numbers (well, if semi-randomized you could expect some things, like kinds or strength, which is better than totally random). =)
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Re: Removing concept of scouting nodes/lairs/towers

Postby Seravy » Sun Nov 27, 2016 1:36 pm

The original game used a pretty simple solution, the units in lairs didn't exist at all. They were created on-demand when entering the battle and ceased to exist immediately when it was over, they were stored as mere numbers, such as "4 copies of unit type 177 and 2 copies of unit type 192". Since these units didn't exist on the overland map, the "neutral player" didn't need to control them in the first place.
I assume there won't be a global unit cap in your game unlike the original, and AI will be better written so large amount of units won't cause slowdowns, in which case you don't need to do that.

On the other hand, knowing too much detail without having to sacrifice a unit to enter and see the enemy does take out a little from the game, I think having a somewhat less detailed scouting report was fun...though the original was not detailed enough. In my mod I have a report that says "many" for 5+ primary monsters, "a few" for 3-4 and "a" for 1-2, and ofc no information about secondary monsters, however earth lore and nature awareness reveals both monster types, but no numbers are given for either.
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