Age of Wonders: Planetfall – Dev Diary #18: Colony Development Part II

Age of Wonders: Planetfall – Dev Diary #18: Colony Development Part II

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LennartGS

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Hi there, welcome to this week’s Planetfall Journal! In this follow up to Colony Development Part I, we’ll be looking at Colonists, Growth, Happiness, Food and the Colony Defenses.

Some of this content is quite detailed - we wrote this journal along with entries for the Imperial Archives - and note that some of these features are for experienced players. You don't need to micro manage colonists or to deal with food sharing in a more causal game. But if you want to, there is a new layer of economic gameplay waiting for you.

It is a bit of a text-heavy journal; for the people expecting a DVAR Journal I added a small teaser at the end!

Colonists

A growing, happy population is essential for re-colonizing the worlds of the Star Union, as population drives the economic performance and the sector expansion of your colonies. Population units are called Colonists, and range from 1 from the smallest outposts to about 20-25 for the largest metropolises.

Income from colonies is divided into two types. “Flat income” originates from buildings and resource nodes and does not scale with the number of Colonists. The second type, “Per Colonist Income” is determined by the number of Colonists assigned to a particular Resource type. By turning on manual Colonist Management, players can fine tune their colony’s output and adjust to sudden shifts in demand.

A Colony’s population count is visualized next to the Colony’s name on the world map, Colonist allocation per resource is accessed from the Colonist Management Tab in the Colony Interface.

Colonist Growth

A growing population of colonists increases economic output and allows colonies to Annex more Sectors. The Colony Size and Sector Limit is directly determined by the number of Colonists.

A colony’s food income drives growth. Food is collected each turn, when the total amount of food collected reaches the colonist acquisition threshold a new colonist is created. The colonist acquisition threshold is gradually raised as the colony gains more colonists.

Growth.jpg

Popups have breakdowns explaining the mechanics behind growth.
A new colonist arrives in 1 turn, but a riot will break out in 9 turns if no action is taken.

The total number of Resource Slots in a colony determines the natural growth limit. By Annexing additional Sector and producing Buildings you can increase the number of Resource Slots. If by special circumstance a colony has more colonists then resource slots, the remaining colonists will become idle. Ide Colonists cost upkeep, but do not generate any income.

Colonists have an upkeep cost of both Happiness and Food, so care must be taken not to grown a colony too fast, as that can lead to Rioters and Starvation.

Colonists have an upkeep cost of 2 Food and 1 Happiness. If the food income of the colony drops below 0 in the colonist growth pool, a colonist will starve and be removed from the colony.


Food

Food is a per colony Resources and drives Colonist Growth upkeep, which in turn leads to Colony Expansion and higher economic income. Food is also required for colonist upkeep.

Food can be shared between colonies through Food Sharing.


Food Sharing

Food Sharing allows players to distribute Food between their colonies to support colonies with low food income. This way players can help fledgling colonies grow faster, or prevent starvation at colonies that have come under attack.

Food sharing is managed individually per colony, via the income tab in the colony interface. Here a player can set whether they want the colony to take food or share food and to what degree.

Food sharing is set to Prevent Deficit by default, meaning the colony will take food until it’s food income is 0, and will not give away food. If all colonies are set to Prevent Deficit, no Food sharing will occur.

Foodsharing.jpg

Food Sharing Popup

Colonist Expansion

To exploit the environment around your Colony Center, you need to Annex sectors as Provinces. Annexing a sector will attach it to a Colony. The number of Sectors a Colony can administer is dependent on the number of Colonists.

Colonists Sector Limit Colony Name

1-5 2 Outpost
6-10 3 Town
11-15 4 City
16+ 5 Metropolis

Sectors can only be annexed by a colony if they are within two sectors of the Colony Center,

as well as being adjacent to another sector of that same colony. Once attached to a colony, the economic potential of a sector can be harnessed.

Colony Happiness

Happiness indicates how content the population of a particular colony is with their life. Positive happiness can lead to economic boosts, while negative happiness can lead to riots.

The happiness income of a Colony is added to a happiness pool at the end of each turn. When the happiness pool reaches the Happiness Event threshold a happiness event occurs.

In case of negative happiness income, the income is subtracted from the happiness pool instead. With enough negative income subtracted from the happiness pool, an Unhappiness Event will occur. Once either a happiness or unhappiness event has occurred, the happiness pool will be set to 0.

Happiness thresholds grow together with the number of Colonists in a colony. The more colonists a colony has, the harder it is for happiness events to occur, and the easier it is for unhappiness events to occur.

# colonists Base Threshold (positive / negative)

3 30 / -30
10 50 / -20
14 70 / -10



Colonist Management

Colonists are automatically managed by default. The manager will even out colonists over the resource channels (pending slot availability) and will prevent both Food and Happiness deficits.

Colonists_Auto.jpg

Auto Colonist Manager - Sufficient for most situations

Using the Colonists Tab in the Colony Interface, experienced players can fine-tune their colony’s output and adjust to sudden shifts in demand. The player has two options to influence Colonist Management. In Automatic Mode, players can set a focus on individual resources. The colony will prioritize these resources, but will keep avoiding deficits. A resource can also be deprioritized, meaning their resource slots will be the last to fill. Colonists will be equally distributed over resource slots with the same focus.

Colonists can be manually assigned by turning the auto-system off. This gives full control over where colonists are placed via arrows per resource, which can add or subtract colonists from resource slots.

Colonist_Manual.jpg

Full Manual Mode for the micro-managers


Happiness and Riots


Happy colonies will gain economic boosts from their colonists as a reward. On the other side, colonies with negative Happiness will upset their colonists, resulting in riots.

Happiness events boost the income of a randomly picked Resource (energy, food, production or research) by a base value of 300% for a single turn.

Unhappiness events can occur when happiness drops too low in a colony. Unhappiness events lead to Rioters.

Through Unhappiness Events and hostile Operations, some colonists can become Rioters. Rioters remain in their assigned resource slot, but do not produce any upkeep, and cannot be moved.

Continued negative happiness income will increase the amount of Rioters. You can curb Riots by swinging happiness back to a positive value. For every 20 accumulated happiness one rioter will removed. Another is imposing Martial Law, which will also remove Colonists over time at the cost of economic penalties.

Spookybones.jpg

A good leader doesn’t allow his Colonies to turn out like this (sorry just showing off some new skeleton props, its Halloween after all)

Colony Defenses

In addition to regular armies, colonies can defended by a number of colony upgrades.

Colony Militia Defenses

Colony Militia spawns units that only appear during battles when the Colony Center itself, or the bases of its province bases are attacked. This means that all colonies have a basic defense force and are protected from small raiding parties. Colony Militia Units can’t be moved freely on the map and are replenished at the next world map turn. Colony Militia can be upgraded to spawn more and higher tier units.

(renamed from Garrison to avoid confusion with regular armies stationed in the colony)

Turret Defenses

Turrets are Colony Defense upgrades unique to each race that automatically fire at the start of each Combat Round. Unlike the Colony Militia, Turrets only appear in the Colony Center spread at four locations on the citadel wall.
  • Vanguard Repeater Turret: Kinetic, Heavy Impact.
  • Dvar Bombard: Explosive, Heavy Impact, 1 Hex AoE, Single Shot.
  • Kir’ko Hive Guard Turret: Biochemical, Repeating, Melts armor,
  • Syndicate Suppressor Tower: Psionic Damage, Broken Mind, Armor Bypass. Repeating.
  • Assembly Arc Coil: Arc Damage, Jump Targeter (jumps twice between 2 hexes), Static Charge
  • Amazon Laser Turret: Laser, Repeating, Shield Overheat
DvarTopdownCloseBattle.jpg

The Dvar Bombard Turret
There's a lot more colonies like all the upgrades and colony ops, but this is it this week!
 

Dr_K

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Today is Wednesday right? :D

I really like the fact that there is an auto-manager for the colonist management with some various presets. I was slightly worried that the colonist management might get too tedious for larger games.

How complicated can the auto-manager get? It could make for some interesting (possibly not optimal) colony behavior to have it oscillate between producing more of a resource while running a happiness deficit, but adjusting at some threshold to turn the happiness deficit around (or stagnating at the threshold).

The UI and graphics keep looking better as always.
 
Last edited:

Fenraellis

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I'll just share my thoughts from Discord, then.

I absolutely love the U.I. updates. Colonist assignment looks much prettier, and those unit icons(with Leader/Hero portraits, too!), nice. It's also great to hear details on how maximum population really works(aside from the two or so obtained simply by research, as noticed by the cheat increasing the limit during the stream?).

It's also quite interesting, and appropriate, how it is both more difficult to make people happy, yet easier to make them unhappy, the larger your colonies get.

If you can, don't forget to add broken skulls or bones, and perhaps some of different shapes, such as for Dvar(smaller, denser skeletal structure), or creatures. I'm not sure how well Kir'Ko carapaces would last, rather than decompose, though.

That final image is just awesome, though. Rustic, but clean, like a well-used machine. The bombard turret looks appropriately dangerous, and I even spy what looks like a unit behind personal cover. That, and the melee mech on the far left side, if I'm seeing those weapon arms correctly.

As for the following:

Vanguard Repeater Turret: Kinetic, Heavy Impact.
Dvar Bombard: Explosive, Heavy Impact, 1 Hex AoE, Single Shot.
Kir’ko Hive Guard Turret: Biochemical, Repeating, Melts armor,
Syndicate Suppressor Tower: Psionic Damage, Broken Mind, Armor Bypass. Repeating.
Assembly Arc Coil: Arc Damage, Jump Targeter (jumps twice between 2 hexes), Static Charge
Amazon Laser Turret: Laser, Repeating, Shield Overheat

My personal guesses for most to least useful in a general sense:
1. Dvar/Assembly, due to being able to hit multiple targets, meaning they can somewhat control how the enemy approaches you. Lower single target damage, though.
2. Syndicate, due to bypassing armor, and also potentially applying Broken Mind(which feels like it might give a target a penalty to Psionic Resistance).
3. Kir'Ko, due to shredding armor, which nearly all units will have.
4. Vanguard, due to Impact, to drain enemy action points. Stagger Resistance can be acquired, or be innate, in several ways, though, so I rate this lower.
5. Amazon, due to requiring the target to have shields for their full effect to matter, and shields appear to be certainly less pervasive than armor. Maybe it has higher damage, or something.

Even so, I'm not saying the lower rated ones are outright worse, just a rough gauge of general utility based on previous experience of such effects. I definitely like how they are much more varied than the defenses in previous AoW games.
 
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Ridixo

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This looks very well, it's good to know how to manage the colony to starve the population and convert them on bones, fond memories of so many games :)
 

Jean-Luc

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I imagine happiness events with food bonuses will lose much of their appeal in the late game as will research ones after the tech tree is exhausted (or nearly so).

The Vanguard happiness bonus is looking pretty nice now, that early game income boost could be a big deal.

I'm kinda hoping the colonist system gets expanded in the future (like an expansion) so colonists doing the same job for X turns become specialists (better at the given job but lose the bonus if moved) or a chance for any new colonist to become a Talent (a bit of a SMAC reference) which simply produced more regardless of job, stuff like that.

Really happy about defenses. Have wanted destructible turrets (and maybe other defensive structures) to spice up sieges for a long time. I guess "repeating" just means it gets 1 shot per ap?
 
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Picrasso

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Looks interesting and a lot deeper than AoW's resource management. Getting an Endless Legend vibe although idle colonists are an interesting feature. I have one question though: how do you determine where to settle cities? Do you just go three regions over? Can you upgrade sectors into proper colonies?
 

Fenraellis

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Looks interesting and a lot deeper than AoW's resource management. Getting an Endless Legend vibe although idle colonists are an interesting feature. I have one question though: how do you determine where to settle cities? Do you just go three regions over? Can you upgrade sectors into proper colonies?
Colonies can be created in any sector not occupied by another feature(Dwellings or Landmarks, and also Hazards may possibly prevent creation of Colonies while still present), and not directly adjacent to another Colony.
However, while a Colony can claim sectors up to two away from their central location, due to limitations on claimable sectors(4 besides your starting one), it's not really going to harm a player to create a Colony that's only two spaces away. Since it's unlikely for them to compete over sectors.

Sectors attached to an existing Colony can not(as far as we know) be directly upgraded into a Colony themselves, even if they meet the 'not directly adjacent' prerequisite. Whether or not a player can decide to use a Colonizer in such sectors, though, I couldn't say, but I do doubt it to be a mechanic nonetheless. I imagine one would first need to tear down any existing sector development then... 'De-Claim' the sector, if such a thing is even possible. That, or simply 'De-Claim' the sector outright, again, if such a thing is even possible.
 

BloodyBattleBrain

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I was thinking/hoping there'd be something today.

☺

The utility of the colony manager could make or break the game.

I'll reread this on my main computer so I can see the screen shots properly.

Quick question- if I'm understanding this right, every additional colonist requires more food?
 

Fenraellis

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I was thinking/hoping there'd be something today.

☺

The utility of the colony manager could make or break the game.

I'll reread this on my main computer so I can see the screen shots properly.

Quick question- if I'm understanding this right, every additional colonist requires more food?
Yes, every colonist costs 2 food and 1 happiness upkeep. Not counting other modifiers outside colonists, each colonist can provide 5 food(2 1/5 colonists' worth) or 5 happiness(5 colonists' worth). So, all else aside, it would requires 2 colonists on food and 1 on happiness just to support 5 colonists. Leaving 2 other colonists available for other work.

Realistically, though, one would imagine that much of your food production will come from the terrain and structures, making assigning colonists to food be primarily for the purpose of accelerating growth. That, or for breadbasket colonies, supplying the rest of your empire with a focus on food/growth specialized sectors. Happiness is a bit of a toss-up, although last we saw the most basic Tier 1 research building provided 5 happiness itself, aside from two colonist slots for happiness. Obviously, assigning further colonists would accelerate the frequency of events.

Happiness upkeep does make the bonus colony Happiness of Vanguard more relevant, though, and also the happiness penalty of the Cruel Drawback is actually fairly impactful early game in particular as well! It almost forces the players with Cruel to research and build at least the basic happiness building if they want to grow their cities. They might even start with a deficit, depending on initial Colony size!

On that note, Jean-Luc brought up an excellent point about food events at maximum population, or knowledge events in the event your research is fully completed(one would imagine most games are at a terminal stage by then, though). For the food, I could easily see it being distributed to your other colonies, so I don't see that as an issue. Otherwise, it doesn't seem difficult to code an if/then check for max population and disable it as an option.
Likewise for Knowledge events occurring, although perhaps they could have their own alternate trick when there is nothing left to research. Like a cache of Cosmite(you would already be at super-late game, so accelerating it with a bump of Cosmite income might fit).
 

BloodyBattleBrain

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Hmmm....that means every new colonist costs the same amount.

I didn't phrase my question very well.

i was asking if new colonist cost was exponentially higher, like how in some games the 9th or 10th of a unit costs more than the 1st.

Seems like it's a flat increase, which is probably easier to parse mentally.


Anyway the system does seem to be pointing towards really specialising your cities, and taking advantage of the terrain, i.e. landmarks etc.

It also means that suck-u-bot factor is worth fighting over :).

Resources that aren't needed anymore, e.g. research, could just automatically be turned into something else, at an inefficient ratio, e.g. 10 research points for 1 energy.
 

HousePet

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This is a bit creepy. Its like they read our posts and make a dev diary to answer our questions.
I like most of what I'm seeing so far.

However, I think I'm wondering the same thing as BBB about food costs, as the colonist upkeep is linear (which makes sense) but production is exponential with colony upgrades. Not necessarily and issue though, as you would just balance it for early colonies to be more farmer colonists and then move them into everything else late game. But it sounds tricky. I hope you get that balance right.

Perhaps you could create a Colonist Migration feature, for when something goes wrong at a colony making the population unsustainable (or you just decide to respec a province, or are looking like you are going to lose that colony). In the latter case the food sharing mechanic won't help, and with how valuable colonists are to rebuilding the Star Union it doesn't make a lot of sense to just have them die instead of move to where there is food available.

Happiness events seem a little bland. Have you thought about adding some interesting ones in there? Random Cosmite would be an easy one. With all the new colony structure building going on, perhaps they could give you a free unit built as well (since it looks like you are less likely to be building units when you get the 3x production event). Maybe rarely you could get a random mod created by an eccentric inventor or a new sector feature could be created/upgraded?

Probably an idea for an expansion, but how about Colonies coming up with their own quests. They would request something and if you provide it within X turns you get a lump happiness (and maybe influence) reward. AoW3 has a weird situation where you couldn't get any more race happiness boosts if you had annexed all the cities of that race, because only external cities would give quests.

"Another is imposing Martial Law, which will also remove Colonists over time at the cost of economic penalties." Should that say Rioters instead of Colonists? Or does it actually just kill the Colonists that are rioting. That seems like a huge economic penalty.

Finally: Do we have control over the turrets?
 

Fenraellis

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@BloodyBattleBrain
I'm fairly sure each next population costs more than the last to actually grow, if that's what you're asking about. Well, it's a standard feature of such things, at least, so I would imagine that to be the case.
If you are actually asking merely about upkeep, then I wouldn't expect that to scale. If anything, due to economies of scale, one might argue that each person(or abstraction of a thousand or more people, realistically) would have less upkeep than the last.

@HousePet
Happiness events are the same as AoW3, for better or for worse, and fairly easy to factor, due to their direct percentage boon. Production boons are only really wasted if a player doesn't have further items queued, though. Something I would argue is up to the individual player. Even loop queue will simply make extra copies of a given unit, rather than going to waste(or rather, would make potentially multiple extras due to now-existing production overflow!).

That being said, I do agree there is room for something like cosmite(scaled upon some value to be determined). Free units just sounds like a worse version of production, as you would still need to give them unit mods after the fact, presuming they are not given random mods(which would still likely need to be switched around to suit a player's preferences).

I'm not actually sure what your paragraph about race happiness boosts in AoW3 is referring to, though. If nothing else, all races can hit max happiness eventually simply by settling more cities(+50 each). Provided room allowing for such. What specifically are you referring to, if not that?

Also:
Turrets are Colony Defense upgrades unique to each race that automatically fire at the start of each Combat Round.
 
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Leyrann

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This is a bit creepy. Its like they read our posts and make a dev diary to answer our questions.
I mean that might very well be the case.

Happiness events are the same as AoW3, for better or for worse, and fairly easy to factor, due to their direct percentage boon. Production boons are only really wasted if a player doesn't have further items queued, though. Something I would argue is up to the individual player. Even loop queue will simply make extra copies of a given unit, rather than going to waste(or rather, would make potentially multiple extras due to now-existing production overflow!).
Doesn't production also overflow if you have nothing queued and just count as bonus towards what you select next?
 

HousePet

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Well this game has some rather different features to AoW3, so it would be silly to just duplicated things and not consider if it fits as well as it could.
Hopefully they add production/research overflow being held for the next selection, or have already added it.
For the free units, I would just have it select one of your premade templates. If you know the approximate value of the unit you want to give a free version of, you can just scan the players templates and base units for options of that cost. Pick one and create. I doubt players are going to have too many templates set that they aren't intending on using.
My race happiness comment was wrong, as I'm sleep deprived, so we can pretend that didn't happen. I was mainly just suggesting something for your own cities to give out quests occasionally.
Sleep deprivation also caused me to miss the 'automatically' bit. But being able to aim them would be cool.
 

Fenraellis

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Mmm, well, we do actually have confirmation that production and research overflow will be a thing in Planetfall. We're not sure yet if research can be queued, but otherwise the extra knowledge will just sit, the same as if you gained more than needed from a pickup or festival event in AoW 3.

As for production overflow converting into a form of the "Produce Merchandise" type command, I don't know. It would make sense, though, as a default, for if nothing else was queued(directly, or by loop-queue).

So, something like a premade template unit, perhaps favoring a cost towards the upper end of what a production boost might be able to produce? That's a neat idea, and adds some variety, while also nudging people towards experimenting with the system and making Templates.
 

Quark02

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Colony Militia spawns units that only appear during battles when the Colony Center itself, or the bases of its province bases are attacked.
So if a player can deplete the militia at a forward/province base, they can take over the city with a zephyr bird drone (if no garrison)?

Turrets are Colony Defense upgrades unique to each race that automatically fire at the start of each Combat Round.
If the militia has been depleted/killed, can the turrets defend the colony without any units present, or are they more like AoW2-style Tower Guards?
 

Chimaira

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Man, reading the latest journal I see that Plantefall will be a game I wish AoW3 was. When first AoW3 screenshots were shown there was a one with resource nodes, like food, production etc. and there was some talk about deep city and economic management. Sadly It was scrapped before the final release. I am glad that it aspect will be present in Planetfall, and I hope that in distant future when AoW4 will be released all those game mechanics will be there aswell :)
 

Nerdfish

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Impressed by how much bigger the Mecha is than the bulwark. That is going to be one tough customer.
and a HUGE YES to auto defense from buildings.
 

no0ne86

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I have one question. In AoW3 the only way to win was city spawn 'cause every city was giving smth there were no penalties for many cities. Will smth be done in AoW:pF?
 

Nerdfish

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I have one question. In AoW3 the only way to win was city spawn 'cause every city was giving smth there were no penalties for many cities. Will smth be done in AoW:pF?
I think a simple problem like tall vs wide is obviously beyond the skills of the absolute masters of strategy games on the planet.
:p