- Aug 28, 2014
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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: