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Thread: [I] - Watchtowers and forts in SSHIP

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    Icon3 [I] - Watchtowers and forts in SSHIP

    Quote Originally Posted by Jurand of Cracow View Post
    Only in the vast territories of the steppes, it may be not worthy. But it's rare. Personally, I find 1000 fl. to be a better number - it will make the players not putting a watchtower in a not-so-strategic place. But it'd be still affordable.
    Ah, so there is our line of departure. I have a psychological imperative to see all that transpires in my domains, so when I take that giant pain in the royal that is a steppe territory, I always first send at least one (sometimes two or even three, depending on size) general out to cover that son of a with watchtowers, and the idea of each of those costing 1000 makes me just want to curl up in a ball on the floor of the shower and die
    Last edited by Jurand of Cracow; January 08, 2020 at 10:43 AM. Reason: Categorisation after moving to a subforum.
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    Lifthrasir's Avatar A Clockwork Orange
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    Default Re: Home rules to prevent exploiting of the M2TW engine deficiencies

    From my opinions, watchtowers should go, at least in their representation on the stratmap. Watchtowers as such weren't used during that period. Instead, fortified places or new settlements were created. Populatons were even moved in some extrem cases.
    Anyway, to go back to this topic, I think that they should actually be replaced by another model and name, something similar to that submod replacing them by villlages. The other side of the medal is that some areas are already quite full (North Italy for example) and adding such model might be a problem for these areas. It has to be considered "wisely"
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    Default Re: Home rules to prevent exploiting of the M2TW engine deficiencies

    I love watchtowers! I use them a lot. I find it so useful, to keep watch over my frontiers and also help to identify rebel stacks.
    Quote Originally Posted by Adar View Post
    I am quite impressed by the fact that you managed to make such a rant but still manage to phrase it in such a way that it is neither relevant to the thread nor to the topic you are trying to introduce to the thread.

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    Jurand of Cracow's Avatar History and gameplay!
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    Icon3 Watchtowers and forts in SSHIP

    Watchtowers and forts in the SSHIP

    In the SSHIP the possibility of building forts has been removed, and the prices for building watchtowers have been set to 500. Occasionally there’re discussions on these issues. I think it’d be good to have a separate thread for this issue so that we neither go off-topic in the other threads or our opinion is buried in the FAQ or General Discussion thread what makes it inaccessible.

    I. Forts
    In the M2TW the forts may be buildable or permanent, even with the names. However, they have been removed in the recent mods as SSHIP, BC or EBII, but they’ve been present in the SS6.4, DLV or recently in the Dawn of Conquest and The Italian Wars.

    I see five major gameplay problems concerning both the permanent and the buildable (temporary) forts that justify the decision of the removal:
    1. CAI is absolutely broken on the choice what to defend. Usually, it leaves the main settlement empty, concentrating troops in a fort present in the province. Or it moves it between them. A player can easily exploit this behavior.
    2. However, the AI doesn’t know how to use forts strategically in the way the player does. It doesn't use the forts to block the player's advances to buy time for the reserves to come. It also leaves forts from time to time (it doesn't stay in a fort, it moves out and in - if it's a temporary fort then it disappears).
    3. While on the offensive, the AI sieges a fort instead of the settlement, furthermore it breaks these sieges very often. The result is: a player can dupe the AI easily into endless sieges.
    4. The number of siege battles is high with the permanent forts. The chrome of the forts is nice, but it's a nightmare to play with: you're bogged down in dozens of irrelevant sieges.
    5. Western Europe is already full of settlements close to one another, so any forts would limit the tactical movements even more, with the player blocking passes through the mountains or woods. The result would be a restricted tactical movement, detrimental to the AI as it's not really capable of assessing the situation and sending troops around, or not sending them.
    x) If the buildable forts are additionally related with the free_upkeep then an exploit is possible: you farm the forts to keep your whole army without paying upkeep (it was the case of the HURB, but also in the DLV).

    I think possible exploits were known long before and Byg, one of the most deep-thinking M2TWmoder of all times, has introduced a simple solution that on hand left the possibility of building forts, but on the other making that so unappealing to the player that it would happen very rarely. Namely, in the BGR IV_E he made the price of a fort to 15000 florins (it was an additional patch, I recall). Any player would think many times before splashing 15k for a fort but we would be able to do it in a grave need (or in the late game when you’ve got hundred thousands of florins spared – but who besides Alavaria gets to that stage…).

    In future, I’d see theoretically just two possibilities of re-introduction of the forts.
    a. permanent forts on lone islands (like Rodos)
    b. buildable forts with the extreme price of 20000 florins or more.
    However, for the moment I don’t see a real need for such a re-introduction.

    I don't discuss here either historicality of buildable forts or their uses because it’s not worth doing at the moment since they’re not in the game.

    Quote Originally Posted by Callistonian View Post
    From what I can tell, the AI seems to hate forts. They immediately move out any troops stationed there in descr_strat and from then on they merely treat forts as obstacles (you can actually use forts to block narrow passageways and the AI will always try to walk around instead of deigning to garrison their own fort). They only deign to attack forts when 1) an enemy owns a fort on their region or 2) they really, really want to take a certain region (due to conditions in descr_campaign_ai) but they've been unable to take the settlement after several attempts at which point they may attempt to take a fort if it has enemy units in it. The AI never willingly garrisons or defends their own forts
    II. Watchtowers

    In my understanding, the watchtowers are in the game just to reflect one historical pheon phenomenon: the problems with information-gathering by the ruler/government. The game gives the possibility to solve such problems in three ways. First, you may send a spy or another agent to see what’s happening far away. Second, you may send some military forces to the same end. Third, in your territory, you may establish a system to gather intelligence: it’s called “a watchtower” (the name and the pics are misleading, or rather are symbolic. You should not think that a watchtower is actually a watchtower. It’s a system of gathering intelligence, only that).

    As any game is about making choices, each of the decisions should come at an opportunity cost. The spies are needed elsewhere and cost upkeep. The armies cost upkeep, may rebel or may be easily ambushed if weak. And the watchtowers incur costs of setting up (but no upkeep) plus you need to send a general to build them.

    I’m personally a control freak and I need to know what’s going on in my kingdom. I’m building the watchtowers all around. What I found is that I have no qualms about whether to build them. They are cheap (500 in the SSHIP) compared to the benefits. It's almost always better to give that 500 fl. to save your ass from surprises.

    As I think that in every aspect of the game there should be a choice for the player - it's what gaming is about – I find it to be a mistake. There should not be any "obvious" option as such a situation is actually not an option. And if there's no choice, there's no gaming. We mod the games to provide the reasonable options.

    In this context, personally, I find 1000 fl. to be a better number - it will make the players not putting a watchtower in a not-so-strategic place. But it'd be still affordable.

    As far as historicity is concerned, I think that the prices of watchtowers should be based entirely on the gameplay and economic balance. Nohistoricality here. However, as far as the graphical representation is concerned, I’m quite agnostic. It may be a watchtower, it may be a village. Unless it creates confusion with something already existing, I’m happy with any solution. In his minimod, tmodelsk made a possibility of switching to a fort pic. Actually, I can imagine that a kind of model of a spy might be used instead of a watchtower if watchtowers don't look historical.

    BTW, I don’t think we should - as some would have proposed - remove watchtowers from the game and base all our intelligence on the (numerous) spies. I think it’d be too burdensome for the player to move them around.
    Last edited by Jurand of Cracow; July 19, 2020 at 06:17 AM.
    If you want to play a historical mod in the medieval setting the best IMO are:
    Stainless Steel Historical Improvement Project and Broken Crescent.
    Read my opinions on other mods here.
    ........................................................................................................................................
    Reviews of the mods (all made in 2018): SSHIP, Wrath of the Norsemen, Broken Crescent.
    Home rules for playing a game without exploiting the M2TW engine deficiencies.
    Hints for Medieval 2 moders: forts, merchants, AT-NGB bug.
    Thrones of Britannia: review, opinion on the battles, ideas for modding. No good mod yet, alas!
    Dominant strategy in Rome2, Attila, ToB and Troy: “Sniping groups of armies”. Still there, alas!
    .................................................................................................................................................................................
    Mod leader of the SSHIP: traits, ancillaries, script, historical improvements, fixes everywhere.

  5. #5
    Jurand of Cracow's Avatar History and gameplay!
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    Default Re: Home rules to prevent exploiting of the M2TW engine deficiencies

    Quote Originally Posted by bigdaddy1204 View Post
    I love watchtowers! I use them a lot. I find it so useful, to keep watch over my frontiers and also help to identify rebel stacks.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kilo11 View Post
    Ah, so there is our line of departure. I have a psychological imperative to see all that transpires in my domains, so when I take that giant pain in the royal that is a steppe territory, I always first send at least one (sometimes two or even three, depending on size) general out to cover that son of a with watchtowers, and the idea of each of those costing 1000 makes me just want to curl up in a ball on the floor of the shower and die
    I share your feelings and I also build the watchtowers everywhere. As they're so cheap, I have no hesitation. And this is exactly the problem: they're so cheap that I don't hesitate. It's not a choice. It's not a game.
    I want to play a game with hard choices. This is why I would prefer the prices of 1000 fl.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifthrasir View Post
    From my opinions, watchtowers should go, at least in their representation on the stratmap. Watchtowers as such weren't used during that period. Instead, fortified places or new settlements were created. Populatons were even moved in some extrem cases.
    Anyway, to go back to this topic, I think that they should actually be replaced by another model and name, something similar to that submod replacing them by villlages. The other side of the medal is that some areas are already quite full (North Italy for example) and adding such model might be a problem for these areas. It has to be considered "wisely"
    I think populations were moved and fortified places were created to control a territory, not to provide information. This would be the role of the forts. And the watchtowers are just representations of the constant-inteligence-gathering-process (spies are different).

    PS. Navajo Joe or Lifht - would it be possible to move entries #11-13 to that relevant thread I'v just created (I've actually included #10 in that thread). I've move much off-topic in the thread, discussing watchtowers, not the exploits.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Watchtowers and forts in SSHIP

    Quote Originally Posted by Jurand of Cracow View Post
    BTW, I don’t think we should, for instance, remove watchtowers from the game and base all our intelligence on the (numerous) spies. I think it’d be too burdensome for the player to move them around.
    Sometimes though, your medieval CIA receives a bloated budget:


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    Lifthrasir's Avatar A Clockwork Orange
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    Default Re: Watchtowers and forts in SSHIP

    JoC, do you know who were the most active spies during the Middle Ages? Merchants and Diplomats.
    Population were moved to develop areas. However, try to move an army in a populated area without being noticed
    All in all, yes, spies in game are useful for the gameplay even if quite unhistorical. Same remark for watchtowers but for that case, model and name should change as their cost as well.

    Regarding forts, they can be implemented with more "efficiency". There are specific locations (roads crossing for instance) where to put them to make the AI interacting with them. Associating a resource to them will also help. However, the biggest question will still be the same about how the AI will consider them (as primary or secondary targets compare to the settlements)?
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  8. #8

    Icon3 Re: Watchtowers and forts in SSHIP

    In my opinion the decision to remove the Forts was OK. If they were to be re-implemented again then I would suggest that they be only placed in strategic locations (close to important passes or resources) or in some Islands to represent settlements (like Rhodes, Malta etc etc) or trading forts/post (like Venice and Pisa did during the height of their Trading Maritime Empires across the Eastern Mediterranean or the Crusader Orders, but on the Crusaders they only did this after they lost the Levant so I don't see much sense in that).
    Last edited by Pyres Δt Varanasi; November 25, 2017 at 03:49 PM.

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    NorseThing's Avatar Primicerius
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    Default Re: Home rules to prevent exploiting of the M2TW engine deficiencies

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifthrasir View Post
    From my opinions, watchtowers should go, at least in their representation on the stratmap. Watchtowers as such weren't used during that period. Instead, fortified places or new settlements were created. Populatons were even moved in some extrem cases.
    Anyway, to go back to this topic, I think that they should actually be replaced by another model and name, something similar to that submod replacing them by villlages. The other side of the medal is that some areas are already quite full (North Italy for example) and adding such model might be a problem for these areas. It has to be considered "wisely"
    I do agree with much of this. Even when I play on a vanilla game of M2, I will house rule to limit forts and watch towers and use the agents (priests, princesses, diplomats, and merchants) in productive manners that both fulfill their direct purpose as well as act as information for me to counteract the fog of war. The geography of the steppes is so different from Italy, we cannot really have a rule to cover the enormous map for anything as basic as a watch tower or a merchant for all places and for all reasons. Thus we all probably do a bit of the role playing and use house rules to cover the gaps as we personally see them. House rules are fine unless we are in a multiplayer game. Then it seems the temptation to 'cheat' by bypassing a house rule is too much for some players.

    To address the fog of war versus the need to hide a bit from the all knowing human player is tricky. I would rather see the FOW effect to consider activity of movement, population and trade activity of a settlement and so on to make more of the map known for more than the moment the FOW is lifted by the movement of a unit or agent. Keep the mountain tops in the fog and the better improved farmland less in the fog. If the effect is only for the player and not the AI, that would be fine -- we all believe or think that the AI cheats a bit anyways.

    Well that are my thoughts though I am not a modder, so I may be really off base on this.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Watchtowers and forts in SSHIP

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifthrasir View Post
    Regarding forts, they can be implemented with more "efficiency". There are specific locations (roads crossing for instance) where to put them to make the AI interacting with them. Associating a resource to them will also help. However, the biggest question will still be the same about how the AI will consider them (as primary or secondary targets compare to the settlements)?
    I don't know your descr_campaign_ai but it must have some defend_fortified decisions parameters. The problem is that aside from this land mine left by CA that makes it screw around with the forts, it is the best defend decision for many situations, therefore, keeping the forts out of the game stay necessary for any mod, in my opinion.

    Unless that somehow, having some permanents forts in some places hard to reach, maybe even in a 'desert' region without settlement would make the ai ignore them and then some 'simulation' of settlements for very selected map parts would become possible... That's a interesting idea to try for me, thanks.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Watchtowers and forts in SSHIP

    Still forts have their role btw...

    By forcing the ai labels in xml related files and allowing for "desctructible forts" (not permanent ones), they can have their own role on the map...
    All in all, settlements always have the priority over forts.


  12. #12

    Default Re: Watchtowers and forts in SSHIP

    Quote Originally Posted by Pyres Δt Varanasi View Post
    In my opinion the decision to remove the Forts was OK. If they were to be re-implemented again then I would suggest that they be only placed in strategic locations (close to important passes or resources) or in some Islands to represent settlements (like Rhodes, Malta etc etc) or trading forts/post (like Venice and Pisa did during the height of their Trading Maritime Empires across the Eastern Mediterranean or the Crusader Orders, but on the Crusaders they only did this after they lost the Levant so I don't see much sense in that).
    I also agree about implemented forts and change the stratmodel of watchtowers...forts could be implemented wisely but in strategic passes and for islands as Rhodes, Malta..it would be interesant but at the beginning of the game so you can not build them
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  13. #13
    Lifthrasir's Avatar A Clockwork Orange
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    Default Re: Watchtowers and forts in SSHIP

    Quote Originally Posted by rafmc1989 View Post
    Still forts have their role btw...

    By forcing the ai labels in xml related files and allowing for "desctructible forts" (not permanent ones), they can have their own role on the map...
    All in all, settlements always have the priority over forts.
    Can you develop the part I've put in bold please? That sounds interesting but not sure I got it right
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  14. #14

    Default Re: Watchtowers and forts in SSHIP

    Quote Originally Posted by rafmc1989 View Post
    Still forts have their role btw...

    By forcing the ai labels in xml related files and allowing for "desctructible forts" (not permanent ones), they can have their own role on the map...
    All in all, settlements always have the priority over forts.
    Quote Originally Posted by j.a.luna View Post
    I also agree about implemented forts and change the stratmodel of watchtowers...forts could be implemented wisely but in strategic passes and for islands as Rhodes, Malta..it would be interesant but at the beginning of the game so you can not build them
    Quote Originally Posted by Lifthrasir View Post
    Can you develop the part I've put in bold please? That sounds interesting but not sure I got it right
    Same as Lifthrasir I think I have an idea of what you said, but like, I'm not sure exactly what you meant by "forcing the ai labels in xml​".

    j.a.luna I'm glad someone agrees with me on the island examples (Malta, Rhodes, Corfu etc etc) those island could be use as resting post for crusader armies or by Venice, Genoa and Pisa (sorry forgot Genoa is not a faction) as trading forts to represent their Maritime Trading Empires along the territories of Byzantium, Dalmatia, the Levant, some parts of Asia Minor and the regions of the Black Sea.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Watchtowers and forts in SSHIP

    Quote Originally Posted by rafmc1989 View Post
    Still forts have their role btw...

    By forcing the ai labels in xml related files and allowing for "desctructible forts" (not permanent ones), they can have their own role on the map...
    All in all, settlements always have the priority over forts.
    Not sure to get it either, rafmc? Sure, it has been maybe two years since I stopped using forts with my ai modding but I clearly remember, as soon a ai label were choosing a decision with defend_fortified and a fort was close enough from it's territories, permanent and destructible, it was stupidly rushing in the forts no matter what, stacking and defending it while leaving settlements empty, stopping trying to intercept other attacks, movements and such...

    And I can't do without defend_fortified, it's just the best and reactive parameter for too many situations... What remain to try is maybe far away or sea only reachable forts, never thought of it before but now I have different plans for forts, if it can work. It woudn't be for the new DBM though, or maybe just in britannia, and then relocate the last settlements there... But it's not for now.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Watchtowers and forts in SSHIP

    I don't have any hard or considered thoughts about forts, but I've been thinking about watchtowers more, and was wondering if it would be possible to add an upkeep to them? I wanted to check this for myself, but for the life of me can't find where the forts and towers are located in the data files to check if they can be modified in that way.

    My thought is to make them cost less to build (maybe only like 100 or something), since they really only require a small camp with a few lightly armed men to see what's what (since they can be occupied by enemy armies without any type of issue, it is plausible to treat them as non-combat units that simply keep watch and run when enemies come by), and also add a small upkeep (maybe like 20-50 per turn). This would make them initially cheap and also individually cheap, in terms of upkeep, but they would constantly drain one's income and also stack with each other, making one have to consider whether they would like to build them everywhere or only where it is really necessary. This would also make it more realistic, as outposts, even small ones, would have to be manned, and that would cost some small amount of cash each season, what with having to send supplies, pay watchmen's wages, etc. Thoughts?
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    Lifthrasir's Avatar A Clockwork Orange
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    Default Re: Watchtowers and forts in SSHIP

    If possible, I'm not sure that it can be done easily
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    Roma_Victrix's Avatar I am your sovereign now
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    Default Re: Watchtowers and forts in SSHIP

    I'm apparently one of the few people here who actually like the presence of forts. I understand the problems the AI has with them, but if you simply make them expensive (i.e. 15000-20000 florins as mentioned above) then the AI won't build a bunch of them and the player can establish them judiciously based on their budget. It seems like a reasonable solution to me.

    By the way, how can I mod the present game to reintroduce them into my own campaign? I'd like to reintroduce them for my own purposes. Is there a file in the data folder where this can be edited quickly and painlessly? Or do I have to do a bunch of scripting to make it work?

  19. #19
    Jurand of Cracow's Avatar History and gameplay!
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    Default Re: Watchtowers and forts in SSHIP

    I think only the player makes problems with the use of the forts - I haven't seen AI setting up the forts in the other games (but I might be wrong).
    I share your feeling (and it Byg seemed to share it as well): prohibitively expensive forts might be left in the game. However, I've got no slightest idea how to re-introduce them.

  20. #20
    Lifthrasir's Avatar A Clockwork Orange
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    Default Re: Watchtowers and forts in SSHIP

    Gigantus has made a tutorial somewhere in the workshop. Check the list of tutorials. It's in there
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