A gourmet proposal: Making pop produce food

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ohmka

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Short story

What? Make pops product food themselves instead of having static food production values assigned to terrains.

Why? It feels reasonable that a settlement full of slave should produce more food than an empty one. Also in terms of balance, static food production is a problem as it won’t scale well with pop consumption. More generally, we need to be able to interact with food production.

How? Just add a food production value to each pop. This can be later modified by terrains, trade goods and tech. Slaves produce more food than Tribesmen and Freemen. Citizens produce no food and thus need others to produce food for them. Overall we obtain a fully dynamic food system that we can interact with.

Long story

Current situation. From @Johan Twitter we know that he plans to implement a food system in the game, with pop consuming food and surplus being stored at the province level. I think it is an amazing step towards a better and more unique game, especially with the city/settlement distinction.

However, I see one caveat: food production is (for now) not tied to pop, but only to terrain. In the Twitter teaser, we can see that Farmland gives +8 food, but there is no contribution from pop.

I think this is a problem for two main reasons. Firstly, as we don’t have any way to modify terrains, it means that food production isn’t flexible: food production will roughly always be the same (I guess we can expect tech to influence it a bit) and we can’t interact with it. Secondly, because it is a static production, an empty settlement will produce as many food as a full one. This is both a problem for realism and gameplay, meaning that you have no incentives to have any pop in high food production settlements.

Main suggestion. I propose to link food production with pop, namely that food is mainly produced by pops. Following Johan’s idea that pop have different food consumption, I propose to give them different food production. Slaves produce more food than Tribesmen and Freemen. Citizens produce no food and thus need others to produce food for them. Below is a table with the proposed values and a try to balance things out.

Plain.png

Table 1: Food production and consumption for different type of pop. Terrain is Plain with no bonus/malus.

Terrains influence. In Imperator Rome, Plain is the neutral terrain. Thus it makes sense that it has a neutral impact on food production. Farmland is positive, everything else is negative with Desert being the worst. Below is a proposed table (in %) of the impact of terrains on food. There’s also an option for a small food buff from rivers and shorelines but I don’t think it is worth the extra complexity.

Terrains.png

Table 2: Influence of terrain over food production.

Trade goods. Right now we have three trade goods mostly related to food: Grain, Fish, and Livestock. I would also add the following three: Dates, Wild Game, and Vegetables (Olives can be a very good candidate too). For these special trade goods, I propose to add a small static food production bonus that helps kick start the food production in low populated areas. The only exception is Grain that has a modifier, meaning that it is better than everything else for highly populated areas (more than 10 Slaves). Surplus gives food for Grain, Fish, and Livestock. So that that you can trade food in and out if needed. Others trade goods surplus are unchanged. Below is a table with suggested trade goods modifications.

TradeGoods.png

Table 3: Trade goods modifications.

General remarks concerning food balance.
  • Freemen and Tribesmen produce the same amount of food, but Tribesmen need less of it. Thus Tribesmen are slightly better than Freemen for food production.
  • Freemen can only support themselves in Plains and Farmlands, so civilized countries need Slaves to grow cities, especially in unfavorable areas.
  • Tribesmen can support themselves in every terrain except Desert. Countries with Desert heritage could get a +25% buff for food production in Desert (reaching -25% baseline) to allow self-sustaining Tribesmen. Others need Slaves.
  • In Plains, Freemen can support themselves, and 1 Citizen needs 1 Slave. This leads to an “ideal” 33%/33%/33% ratio.
  • In Plains, 6 Tribesmen can support 1 Citizen, allowing limited cities for tribes. This fall down to 10 Tribesmen for 1 Citizen in Forest/Hills.
Below is a table with a few in-game cities, and their resulting food production.

CityFood.png

Table 4: Example of food production for a few in-game cities.

Cities and Settlements. In one of the latest teasers, Johan has shown that there will be cities and settlements in the future. With settlement having unique buildings. I think this fit very well with this proposition, we can imagine a Farming Settlement building (taken from his screenshot) that would increase food production by 50%. However, it is important for this bonus to be multiplicative (I know it isn’t usual at Paradox), and not additive. Otherwise there is no interest in putting Farming Settlements in the most food productive terrains (every settlement get the same benefit).

Technology and Inventions. Each Civic Technology level could increase baseline food production by step of 1%, reaching 20% end game. More interesting would be to have a few Civic Inventions, that give a 5% food production bonus. Also we can imagine special invention/tradition that increase food production in certain terrains. Finally, an end-game invention giving an additional +1 food for Grain/Fish/Livestock surplus could make sense.

Pop cap. There are two options for pop cap. The simplest option is just to remove it, and let food (and granaries that stock food) act as a soft cap for population. The other (maybe more interesting) option is to keep it and use it to roughly simulate the Malthusian trap. Then overpopulation and starvation would lead to a decrease of production (notably food), creating the trap. Afterwards one could increase infrastructures or develop new techs to increase pop cap/food production and escape the trap. However, the system becomes more complex and there’s a fine balance to be found regarding buildings and pop cap. Thus for now, I think it is better to simply remove pop cap and let disasters (plagues, fires) dissuade “every pop in one city” strategies.

Gold Balance. This food system ends up being a huge buff to Slaves (they produce more food and consume less), and a nerf for Citizen (they consume a lot of food and produce any). As a result, I propose to balance things out by adjusting the gold income from pop. Namely I propose to increase Trade income from Citizen, increase Tax income from Freemen, and decrease Tax income from Slaves. Below is a table with a sum-up of the proposed modifications.

Gold.png

Table 5: Gold income modification for different pops.

Trade Good Surplus. Right now the game feels a bit trade starved, it is often difficult to fill up every trade route one has. An easy fix would be to make one extra good produced every 10 Slaves instead of 15. This has also the advantage to align extra good with additional estate, making everything simpler. Finally, bonus for Farmlands (-2 slaves needed for surplus) can be removed as they now have a real advantage over other terrain type.

Weather, Warfare, Oasis, and Terraforming. Additionally, I have a few extra -low priority- ideas in reserve. For instance, it would be neat if weather could influence (mainly decrease) food production. winter, tempests (snow and sand), and volcanos are very good candidates. Moreover, pillaging and siege should have a similar effect (but I believe Johan is already implementing theses). Overall it would create an intensive in having food reserves and building granaries. Regarding Deserts, it would be nice to have a few places with an Oasis modifier, that would increase food production (+25%?), making them strategic area to control. Finally, I would love to have a terraforming feature. For Hills and Mountains, one can imagine a simple modifier such “terraced farm” that would boost food production (+10%?). Cutting down Forests (changing the trade good) and Jungles, draining Swamps, or transforming Plains into Farmlands make a lot of sense, but I am not sure the game engine can support it. If not, a simple modifier would be fine. Of course such great works would be very costly in gold and manpower, and take a lot of time.

Conclusion. In the end, I think this proposal is interesting as it provides a dynamic system and forces the player to make choices. Also it is more realistic and therefor good for game immersion. Balance might be tricky, but as food will scale with pop, it should avoid going directly from a “I don’t care about food” to a “I feel restricted by food and I can’t do much” situation. Game implementation shouldn’t be a problem (the biggest step has been done with the food system itself), and so is compute time. Finally, this (with a food system) was a, idea I had in mind for a long time. I fully understand if the devs don’t want to implement it (it’s their game, not mine), and if not I will probably try to build up a mod in the (not so near) future. Meanwhile Imperator Rome is going to be better and better anyway!

Thank you for reading if you reached this part :D I tried to highlight important point as best as possible.
Thank you @Johan and the rest of the team for your dedication.




Extra Tables with examples for Marsh and Farmlands:
Marsh.png
Farmland.png
 
Last edited:

cristofolmc

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But the basis of your proposal is wrong. People dont produce food. They have jobs. Somebody else produces the food they then consume.

I much rather like a system where you assigned slaves or freemen to farmlands (or rather, they did automatically, farmlands having a pop capacity number of jobs you can invest in to increase it). They would then stop producing tax and manpower to produce food instead. Once you assign a pop to a farm, you cant remove him in like 50 years (to represent that he's job and life is now on a farm, farming. I do too not like the fact that a farm gives a plain +10 food automatically. I'd be much more dynamic and realistic if each terrain type had a pop capacity for jobs to assign to work the farmland. Each pop produces X food. And then you have stuff like buildings and tech that increases it. You could even introduce a social element to it. An "slave/freemen food production ratio". If you assigned all your slaves to food production because they produce more than a freemen and that ratio was 100%, freemen would be very unhappy (representing the ever present roman problem of slaves taking all the work and roman citizens being unemployed and poorer).

I think this would make it even more dynamic and realist rather than assuming that all the population of the world produces food, which they dont, at all.

Your other changes I like them all.

PS: You could expand this system to all trade goods not just food. You could assign freemen and slaves to produce certain trade good surpluses. As of now, slaves do it automatically, and only they can do it. But I think it would be nice if certain trade goods could only be done by freemen. Of course it would take a lot more freemen to produce a tradegood than a slaves, as slaves are the most scarce labour source and the cheapest. So to produce in Rome +1 cloths would take 30 freemen, maybe. Produce +1 grain would take 20 freemen, while only 10 slaves.
 
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Denkt

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Food should be produced through working the land and I don't see why slaves should be more productive food producers than freemen and since freemen consume more food slaves still end up with a higher net production. The number of farm jobs should be increased with civilization level (to represent better organization and irrigation of the farmland) which mean more civilized nations have the ability to feed large populations in a smaller area.

It should be possible to invest into the farming infrastructure (on province level to reduce Micro) which would increase food production which would help you support more Citizens who don't produce food, this mean tribes who probably should not be able to develop farms would have a very hard time supporting Citizens.

Freemen working the farms should be one of the few ways to produce Manpower since farmers need to be in shape while most city living freemen should not produce Manpower, the game already give too much Manpower and without farmland the only way to increase Manpower production would to build expensive training camps that have maintaince cost so you cant spam them. However the game will try to replace freemen with slaves since the rich will try to purchase farmland and that could destroy your Manpower production.

Citizens should maybe not produce anything at base since they are basically a leisure class that maybe have not done any work in their Life. Both freemen and Citizens should be able to work in libraries and other buildngs and be equal productive but with slavery the greater the Citizens class become while the freemen class shrinks which could be made into a drawback if Citizens become a worse freemen class. Another way would be to simply make the Citizens class represent people that live in cities and freeemen be the free people that work the fields and instantly convert pops between these two classes depending on jobs.

Tribesmen should probably be about par with freemen but as tribes are less capable of building advanced infrastructure they will have a harder time at Everything.

So basically this:
  • Freemen, slaves and tribes produce the same amount of food working the fields
  • Freemen and tribesmen working the field produce Manpower in addition to their food production
  • Citizens produce nothing without any infrastructure and are equal to freemen in productivity when working in buildings but consume more food or Citizens and freemen is merged and Citizens represent the city living free population and work in the city rather than at the farms
  • Slaves will try to replace freemen working the field which could reduce your Manpower
  • Taxes come from all pops but depend on wealth level of the city rather than being arbitary produced by slaves.
  • Large Projects and high organization can increase the food production which allow for larger city population.
Infrastructure should not have caps but instead have a maintenance cost which would help reduce the infinite Money problem. Higher civilization value should make the infrastructure more effective by giving more jobs and or increasing productivity per job. It should no longer simply boost pops like it currently do but be important to produce research or increasing the amount of Manpower producing pops.

Basically this should help solve these problems:
  • Infinte Manpower since Manpower will be produced by less pops and may actually decrease with conquest and the influx of slaves and training camps no longer give % Manpower rather give Manpower producing jobs to help combat the loss of Manpower to slavery
  • Infinte gold since buildings now have upkeep and you need buildings in order to provide jobs otherwise a large part of your population may not be doing anything but making unrest and since taxes are produced by everyone your whole population is important to have high taxes and since wealth level determine taxes you need to invest into the infrastructure in order to create wealth. Maybe if wealth level become too poor, taxes may actually become negative to represent the need to subsidise population
  • Mega cities no longer have much more productive population, some advantages may be gained by investing into civilization level in order to have better organized infrastructure but not to the current level, likely you will have smaller cities and city size being limited by how much food you can produce.
  • Make tribes alot more diffrent from more civilized countries by making them have a harder time building up food infrastructure but on other hand it could work to their advantages since they are less likely to suffer social issues.
 
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In the last Twitter post from Johan a food aspect for pops was going to be in 1.2
 

Todie

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In the last Twitter post from Johan a food aspect for pops was going to be in 1.2

This was the whole premise of the original post. More specifically, it.can be inferred from johans screenshots that pops consume food, but dont produce it.

... ill reserve my opinion on this til laster.
 

ohmka

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But the basis of your proposal is wrong. People dont produce food. They have jobs. Somebody else produces the food they then consume.

I fully agree that food isn't magically produced and comes from people having jobs.
While I love the concept (I've had similar ideas notably to create a soft pop cap that creates a crude Malthusian trap), it doesn't look like a job system is going to happen anytime soon in Imperator, or at least in Cicero.
And the main point of this proposal is to provide a variation of the food system being introduced by the devs in Cicero.
Variation that would be easy to implement in-game, with my shot for balance.

You could expand this system to all trade goods not just food. You could assign freemen and slaves to produce certain trade good surpluses.

This I am a bit less sure.
Again I love the concept, especially the fact that you would need more advanced pop (freemen) to produce certain trade goods.
But is it something that we want in a game like Imperator?
I'm a bit afraid it would end up being a micro-hell, Stellaris end-game being and good example while having fewer trade goods and pops.

Food should be produced through working the land and I don't see why slaves should be more productive food producers.

I have every reasons to imagine a slave being more productive than a freeman in the fields, a whip can be very convincing!
Jokes apart, don't forget that a pop actually represent many people. In the case of freemen, as they also produce manpower, it is legitimate that a part of their potential productivity is invested into manpower (this is very abstracted of course).

It should be possible to invest into the farming infrastructure [...] this mean tribes who probably should not be able to develop farms would have a very hard time supporting Citizens.

It's possible to achieve exactly the same result just with tech and inventions.
I the long run I completly agree with you, and actually I am working on a building/infrastructure post.
Yet, for now, I think the tech abstraction that increase food productivity immediatly and in all the land you own would work fine.

Another way would be to simply make the Citizens class represent people that live in cities and freeemen be the free people that work the fields and instantly convert pops between these two classes depending on jobs.

Well I always thought it was the current vision of the devs. Citizen in cities, Freemen in rurals areas, and Slaves being the cheap labor available everywhere.
That's the reason I gave no food production to Citizens, and a subsistence agricultural behavior to freemen.
In terms of realism, there's an argument in giving manpower to Citizens. However they would end-up being a bit op, and freemen somehow useless, so for game balance I think t is best if they just provide money and research.

More generally, good game design is also knowing where to put the threshold for abstraction.
With the disparition of monarch powers, we have lost an important part of abstration in Imperator.
Yet we can't imagine going all the way through realism, at some point some abstraction is necessary for gameplay reasons.

In game we currently have 2 abstracted currencies produced by pop: manpower and money.
Introducing food make sense as it probably was (I'm not an expert) the main labor activity before the industrial era.
Also it opens up new gameplay possibilties with food storage, famine, and supply for warfare.
I think there is place for a metal currency, mines where a very important workplace in ancient time, and it again opens up new possibilities in terms of gameplay.
But going all the way towards a full job system with every trade goods produced by jobs, I am not sure.
At least I have no ideas about how to implement it without creating a lot of micromanagement.
The risk is to obtain a Ceasar like game, where administrating a single city is already quite difficult.
 

Denkt

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I have every reasons to imagine a slave being more productive than a freeman in the fields, a whip can be very convincing!
Jokes apart, don't forget that a pop actually represent many people. In the case of freemen, as they also produce manpower, it is legitimate that a part of their potential productivity is invested into manpower (this is very abstracted of course).
Im not sure since the freemen could be motivated by economical gains while the slave may have no initiativ to be productive.

Well I always thought it was the current vision of the devs. Citizen in cities, Freemen in rurals areas, and Slaves being the cheap labor available everywhere.
That's the reason I gave no food production to Citizens, and a subsistence agricultural behavior to freemen.
In terms of realism, there's an argument in giving manpower to Citizens. However they would end-up being a bit op, and freemen somehow useless, so for game balance I think t is best if they just provide money and research.
The difference between Citizens and freemen is quite arbitary since the game don't represent economy or pops having Citizenship or not. Simply merging Citizens and freemen into a single class of free people and make jobs the central part of what they produce would make more sense in my opinion. Roman and other states drew their Manpower from people of high physical fitness so it make sense that only pops that work the land or other physical demanding jobs would provide Manpower and you have to build training camps to keep up in Manpower as an urbanized society.
Manpower thus would be a precious resource rather than something large empire can massproduce.
 

TheWorstPro

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The biggest problem I can see with pops directly producing the food is some kind of micro-management hell for larger empires which usually have thousands of pops spread across hundreds of cities/settlements.

Also, having certain terrain boost the productivity of pops but not affect their consumption could lead to some very cheesy tactics like setting your province capital in a desert and then moving all your slaves in increments of 10(to prevent promotion) into a plains or farmland to completely fill the pop cap with slaves and maximize efficiency.

Allowing pops themselves to be self-sustaining would also make many regions that were historically crucial parts of various empires (mainly Mesopotamia and Egypt) lose much of their value due to food not being a necessity. Why would you need to import food if your pops will never starve?
 

Denkt

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The best way is to simply make pop Micro out of player Control and make it so that pops try to migrate to areas that produce food if they are starving. I Agree that food need to be transported between areas to represent the value of certain areas.

Research should probably be separated so each of the 4 categories are developed in their own way. Military research come mainly from warfare. Civic research comes from having a large urbanized population. Oratory comes from pops working in libraries and religious may be tied to each religion (each religion could have its own way to produce religious research).

This way tribes can keep up on military and religious research but would have a hard time with Civic and oratory research since that require developed cities, but it is not impossible and tribes can reform their government or build up their cities in order to do so.
 

Todie

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However, I see one caveat: food production is (for now) not tied to pop, but only to terrain. In the Twitter teaser, we can see that Farmland gives +8 food, but there is no contribution from pop.

I think this is a problem for two main reasons. Firstly, as we don’t have any way to modify terrains, it means that food production isn’t flexible: food production will roughly always be the same (I guess we can expect tech to influence it a bit) and we can’t interact with it. Secondly, because it is a static production, an empty settlement will produce as many food as a full one. This is both a problem for realism and gameplay, meaning that you have no incentives to have any pop in high food production settlements.

These are some notable observations. Though, i dont think these reasons call for a granular ”more-people-grow-more-food mechanic” in line with what you suggest. That would throw so much up in the air, arguably stiring things up to a needless extent.

If you want to inject flexibility and interactivity to food production, just add a province-level or settlement-level decision ”coordinate rural development” that works similarly as urban development, but requires a number of settlement pops for each incriment and adds permanent modifiers for something like 10-20% food for each.
 

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These are some notable observations. Though, i dont think these reasons call for a granular ”more-people-grow-more-food mechanic” in line with what you suggest. That would throw so much up in the air, arguably stiring things up to a needless extent.

If you want to inject flexibility and interactivity to food production, just add a province-level or settlement-level decision ”coordinate rural development” that works similarly as urban development, but requires a number of settlement pops for each incriment and adds permanent modifiers for something like 10-20% food for each.
I suggest you can build large irrgation Projects at a huge cost but it would increase food productivity in the whole province which would help to urbanize the region since the base food production would probably not be enough to keep a large urban population.

Cities would be poor at producing Manpower without training camps but would act as Commercial hubs with each Marketplace increase the amount of possible trade routes (but buildings no longer give massive % bonuses to whole population). And have other uses such as producing more advanced goods and contribute to research.

Rural areas would likely produce the majority of your Manpower and food but if the free population are replaced with slaves you may be forced to build up your cities to produce Manpower which is much more costly and thus a drawback for having too many slaves taking away the farmland from the free population. On other hand it open up the possibility to build some very large cities which would otherwise be hard to do since the free population rather stick to their fields rather than moving into cities.
 
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I suggest you can build large irrgation Projects at a huge cost but it would increase food productivity in the whole province which would help to urbanize the region since the base food production would probably not be enough to keep a large urban population.

Yeah i think it makes sense and can be implemented in a mechanically simple way, similar to other provincial investments. To the points @ohmka made origionally though, number of pops in rural territories(=settlements) could certainly be made a prerequisite for these.

... the includion of a food system and its hopks into established system is quite groundbreaking on its own. I agree it would be nice with some interactivity for the means of food production in cicero, but i dont expect much nuance to it yet just spmething simple that works, that the AI can be taught to use somewhat rationally as well.
 

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The big thing that Imperator: Rome needs is strategic choices, something I feel the game currently lacks. Building large cities need to have advantages but also drawbacks, military traditions is just a few numbers when it could have serious impact on your army and food production can be tied into both armies and city building as well into other mechanics such as slavery vs free population and thus become a thing about both advantages and drawbacks instead of having more slaves equal better in the majority of situations.
 

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The big thing that Imperator: Rome needs is strategic choices, something I feel the game currently lacks.

Then i think we have some rather fundamental disagreements.

To refocus on the thread topic, the strategic element of the simple suggestion i made is that a province can only have one ongoing investment at a time, and it will cost resources - likely influence and temporary output malus. Thus, there would be a significant cost/ benefit analysis and oportunity cost - especially considering options like importing food or having free pops migrate to other more naturally fertile areas.

Building large cities need to have advantages but also drawbacks
everyone will agree eith this.

military traditions is just a few numbers when it could have serious impact on your army and food production can be tied into both armies and city building as well into other mechanics such as slavery vs free population and thus become a thing about both advantages and drawbacks instead of having more slaves equal better in the majority of situations.
Try to be careful not to strawman a bunch of percieved issues at once.

If you see pop-type diversity / level of differentiation / tradof as a problem, you need to define that problem more clearly, maybe here, maybe in another thread.

... More slaves = better ? (For the moment they are valuable, yes) ... And you don’t think the game has means of tweaking this by changing some numbers? (Like Pop-type ratio, invention cost, base freemen output, tech speed parameters, migration and popcap stuff).

Complexity and granularity for its own sake is rarely a good thing.
 
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ohmka

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I suggest you can build large irrgation Projects at a huge cost but it would increase food productivity in the whole province which would help to urbanize the region since the base food production would probably not be enough to keep a large urban population.

Cities would be poor at producing Manpower without training camps but would act as Commercial hubs with each Marketplace increase the amount of possible trade routes (but buildings no longer give massive % bonuses to whole population). And have other uses such as producing more advanced goods and contribute to research.

Rural areas would likely produce the majority of your Manpower and food but if the free population are replaced with slaves you may be forced to build up your cities to produce Manpower which is much more costly and thus a drawback for having too many slaves taking away the farmland from the free population. On other hand it open up the possibility to build some very large cities which would otherwise be hard to do since the free population rather stick to their fields rather than moving into cities.

Actually that is exactly what I hope my proposal would lead to.
Perhaps I wasn't clear enough regarding the consequences.

So regarding irrigation projects: Johan said that settlements (new rural areas) will have special unique buildings available, but limited to one.
In the building list we can see Farming Settlement, that would act very similarly to your irrigation project: it increases food production, but in return you have to put slaves into this settlement to benefit of the bonus.
Also you have an opportunity cost, as you have only one building slot.
Note that it's important that pop themselves produce food. Otherwise there is no benefit in moving slaves into your farming estates.

In the same way, you can imagine a settlement building that gives a big boost to manpower, and encourage you to put freemen there.

Finally cities would end up being specialized in making money, and mainly inhabited by citizens. However as citizens don't produce food, you would still need other pop, preferably slaves in settlement reach food neutrality.

Complexity and granularity for its own sake is rarely a good thing.

This I fully agree with.
That's why I think the food system is already a big step forward, as it opens new choices and decisions.
 
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Short story

What? Make pops product food themselves instead of having static food production values assigned to terrains.

Why? It feels reasonable that a settlement full of slave should produce more food than an empty one. Also in terms of balance, static food production is a problem as it won’t scale well with pop consumption. More generally, we need to be able to interact with food production.

How? Just add a food production value to each pop. This can be later modified by terrains, trade goods and tech. Slaves produce more food than Tribesmen and Freemen. Citizens produce no food and thus need others to produce food for them. Overall we obtain a fully dynamic food system that we can interact with.

Long story

Current situation. From @Johan Twitter we know that he plans to implement a food system in the game, with pop consuming food and surplus being stored at the province level. I think it is an amazing step towards a better and more unique game, especially with the city/settlement distinction.

However, I see one caveat: food production is (for now) not tied to pop, but only to terrain. In the Twitter teaser, we can see that Farmland gives +8 food, but there is no contribution from pop.

I think this is a problem for two main reasons. Firstly, as we don’t have any way to modify terrains, it means that food production isn’t flexible: food production will roughly always be the same (I guess we can expect tech to influence it a bit) and we can’t interact with it. Secondly, because it is a static production, an empty settlement will produce as many food as a full one. This is both a problem for realism and gameplay, meaning that you have no incentives to have any pop in high food production settlements.

Main suggestion. I propose to link food production with pop, namely that food is mainly produced by pops. Following Johan’s idea that pop have different food consumption, I propose to give them different food production. Slaves produce more food than Tribesmen and Freemen. Citizens produce no food and thus need others to produce food for them. Below is a table with the proposed values and a try to balance things out.

View attachment 503464
Table 1: Food production and consumption for different type of pop. Terrain is Plain with no bonus/malus.

Terrains influence. In Imperator Rome, Plain is the neutral terrain. Thus it makes sense that it has a neutral impact on food production. Farmland is positive, everything else is negative with Desert being the worst. Below is a proposed table (in %) of the impact of terrains on food. There’s also an option for a small food buff from rivers and shorelines but I don’t think it is worth the extra complexity.

View attachment 503463
Table 2: Influence of terrain over food production.

Trade goods. Right now we have three trade goods mostly related to food: Grain, Fish, and Livestock. I would also add the following three: Dates, Wild Game, and Vegetables (Olives can be a very good candidate too). For these special trade goods, I propose to add a small static food production bonus that helps kick start the food production in low populated areas. The only exception is Grain that has a modifier, meaning that it is better than everything else for highly populated areas (more than 10 Slaves). Surplus gives food for Grain, Fish, and Livestock. So that that you can trade food in and out if needed. Others trade goods surplus are unchanged. Below is a table with suggested trade goods modifications.

View attachment 503459
Table 3: Trade goods modifications.

General remarks concerning food balance.
  • Freemen and Tribesmen produce the same amount of food, but Tribesmen need less of it. Thus Tribesmen are slightly better than Freemen for food production.
  • Freemen can only support themselves in Plains and Farmlands, so civilized countries need Slaves to grow cities, especially in unfavorable areas.
  • Tribesmen can support themselves in every terrain except Desert. Countries with Desert heritage could get a +25% buff for food production in Desert (reaching -25% baseline) to allow self-sustaining Tribesmen. Others need Slaves.
  • In Plains, Freemen can support themselves, and 1 Citizen needs 1 Slave. This leads to an “ideal” 33%/33%/33% ratio.
  • In Plains, 6 Tribesmen can support 1 Citizen, allowing limited cities for tribes. This fall down to 10 Tribesmen for 1 Citizen in Forest/Hills.
Below is a table with a few in-game cities, and their resulting food production.

View attachment 503461
Table 4: Example of food production for a few in-game cities.

Cities and Settlements. In one of the latest teasers, Johan has shown that there will be cities and settlements in the future. With settlement having unique buildings. I think this fit very well with this proposition, we can imagine a Farming Settlement building (taken from his screenshot) that would increase food production by 50%. However, it is important for this bonus to be multiplicative (I know it isn’t usual at Paradox), and not additive. Otherwise there is no interest in putting Farming Settlements in the most food productive terrains (every settlement get the same benefit).

Technology and Inventions. Each Civic Technology level could increase baseline food production by step of 1%, reaching 20% end game. More interesting would be to have a few Civic Inventions, that give a 5% food production bonus. Also we can imagine special invention/tradition that increase food production in certain terrains. Finally, an end-game invention giving an additional +1 food for Grain/Fish/Livestock surplus could make sense.

Pop cap. There are two options for pop cap. The simplest option is just to remove it, and let food (and granaries that stock food) act as a soft cap for population. The other (maybe more interesting) option is to keep it and use it to roughly simulate the Malthusian trap. Then overpopulation and starvation would lead to a decrease of production (notably food), creating the trap. Afterwards one could increase infrastructures or develop new techs to increase pop cap/food production and escape the trap. However, the system becomes more complex and there’s a fine balance to be found regarding buildings and pop cap. Thus for now, I think it is better to simply remove pop cap and let disasters (plagues, fires) dissuade “every pop in one city” strategies.

Gold Balance. This food system ends up being a huge buff to Slaves (they produce more food and consume less), and a nerf for Citizen (they consume a lot of food and produce any). As a result, I propose to balance things out by adjusting the gold income from pop. Namely I propose to increase Trade income from Citizen, increase Tax income from Freemen, and decrease Tax income from Slaves. Below is a table with a sum-up of the proposed modifications.

View attachment 503462
Table 5: Gold income modification for different pops.

Trade Good Surplus. Right now the game feels a bit trade starved, it is often difficult to fill up every trade route one has. An easy fix would be to make one extra good produced every 10 Slaves instead of 15. This has also the advantage to align extra good with additional estate, making everything simpler. Finally, bonus for Farmlands (-2 slaves needed for surplus) can be removed as they now have a real advantage over other terrain type.

Weather, Warfare, Oasis, and Terraforming. Additionally, I have a few extra -low priority- ideas in reserve. For instance, it would be neat if weather could influence (mainly decrease) food production. winter, tempests (snow and sand), and volcanos are very good candidates. Moreover, pillaging and siege should have a similar effect (but I believe Johan is already implementing theses). Overall it would create an intensive in having food reserves and building granaries. Regarding Deserts, it would be nice to have a few places with an Oasis modifier, that would increase food production (+25%?), making them strategic area to control. Finally, I would love to have a terraforming feature. For Hills and Mountains, one can imagine a simple modifier such “terraced farm” that would boost food production (+10%?). Cutting down Forests (changing the trade good) and Jungles, draining Swamps, or transforming Plains into Farmlands make a lot of sense, but I am not sure the game engine can support it. If not, a simple modifier would be fine. Of course such great works would be very costly in gold and manpower, and take a lot of time.

Conclusion. In the end, I think this proposal is interesting as it provides a dynamic system and forces the player to make choices. Also it is more realistic and therefor good for game immersion. Balance might be tricky, but as food will scale with pop, it should avoid going directly from a “I don’t care about food” to a “I feel restricted by food and I can’t do much” situation. Game implementation shouldn’t be a problem (the biggest step has been done with the food system itself), and so is compute time. Finally, this (with a food system) was a, idea I had in mind for a long time. I fully understand if the devs don’t want to implement it (it’s their game, not mine), and if not I will probably try to build up a mod in the (not so near) future. Meanwhile Imperator Rome is going to be better and better anyway!

Thank you for reading if you reached this part :D I tried to highlight important point as best as possible.
Thank you @Johan and the rest of the team for your dedication.




Extra Tables with examples for Marsh and Farmlands:
View attachment 503467
View attachment 503468
Oh. For a moment there I thought you meant honest cannibalism, or at least livestock a la Stellaris...;)
 

ohmka

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I'm bumping this up because I believe it is now more relevant than ever.
After playing Cicero for few weeks, and as mentioned by others, it appears that the food system has some deep flaws:
  • Lack of dynamism. Early game food is never a problem, and thus can be completely ignored. End game there's not enough food for everybody, and POPs are starving all around the map. This is a direct consequence of food being mainly produced by terrains with a flat value.
  • Link with the trade system. Right now the only way to get more food is to trade surplus. However the management of goods is a bit broken. There's no trade priority, so it is first-come first-served. This added with the fact that trade routes randomly disappear due to war and are costly to set up makes for a bad game experience. Also trade automation trades-out your surplus...
As a result I really think the game should adopt a food system based on POP themselves, where terrains give bonus but are not responsible for the main food production.
 

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I've been messing around with food on my own time. I think adding food production to pop output is possible so I'll whip up a WIP mod to see how it looks.

One fix I already made is the fact that starving cities have a separate Modifier that activates when the province starves. Obviously the easiest fix to stop AI countries from collapsing is to just move the negative growth the starving cities instead of the whole ass province. Half the problem fixed.

I also decided to link a food modifier bonus instead of tech level to Civilization value. Civ Value is kind of underutilized IMO.

Also giving a flat food production to rivers and Coasts is necessary complexity since it will greatly boost Egypts production and also help those poor Somali republics from being wiped off the earth 20 years in game.
 

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I've been messing around with food on my own time. I think adding food production to pop output is possible so I'll whip up a WIP mod to see how it looks.

One fix I already made is the fact that starving cities have a separate Modifier that activates when the province starves. Obviously the easiest fix to stop AI countries from collapsing is to just move the negative growth the starving cities instead of the whole ass province. Half the problem fixed.

I also decided to link a food modifier bonus instead of tech level to Civilization value. Civ Value is kind of underutilized IMO.

Also giving a flat food production to rivers and Coasts is necessary complexity since it will greatly boost Egypts production and also help those poor Somali republics from being wiped off the earth 20 years in game.

I have to admit that my knowledge in modding is lacking...
I wanted to add a modifier on pop such as pop_food_production, but I'm not even sure that such a thing is possible.
Anyway I will continue reading a few tutorials...