Handling Villagers, Organizing Resources

Been discussing two topics in the wrong places (“Bug Reports”, when Bugs is what we aren’t concerned with here) so I’ll try to put them in the right topic.

There are two problems with the game currently that have come up in various forms time and again:

  1. Villagers ignoring nearby food and shelter to, basically, commit suicide regardless of the gamer’s actions.
  2. Lack of ability to control when and how well Resources of all kinds are distributed among the various storage facilities, so that it becomes very difficult to get the resources to where they are needed.
    At its worst, this problem aggravates the first problem: resources aren’t near the villagers, and villagers are not ‘programmed’ well enough to go find them before they keel over.

These are serious, because the resulting inability to access and exploit resources far away from the Town Center because they can’t be transported efficiently or Villagers far away can’t be kept alive long enough to exploit the resources puts a serious brake on the development of the game. Specifically, building towns with appreciably more than 1000 population is not possible when only a fraction of the map is accessible for resource extraction and you cannot efficiently distribute food, clothing, luxuries and other resources to the population.

The basic Villager problem seems to be that they are programmed to get what they need from Markets and Town Centers. Several gamers have commented on the fact that Temporary Shelters that are supposed to allow workers to work distant Mines and Work Camps simply Don’t: they are hard to keep stocked with food, and workers continue to run back to the Town Center or Market-served residences, and if those are too far away, they die on the way.

Distant Resources become as bad as Wolf Clusters at reducing population, which (I don’t believe) was the intended purpose.

A possible solution would be to provide each villager with a Radius in which they will seek their Requirements. In order, these reqirements would be:
Food, Water, Shelter, (Firewood in winter), Clothes, Shoes. Luxuries and Entertainment would not apply to workers in this case, because those, by definition, are not Requirements to keep them alive: IF a Temporary Shelter has Food, Water, Firewood stocked within 20 tiles they will not bother going 30 tiles to find a residence with those things plus Shoes and Clothes (‘hierarchy of requirements/needs’), but they will go to the residence if it is roughly the same distance away and has the extra requirements.

That leaves it to the gamer to organize shelter, etc. for the workers near to their workplace and keep Bad Decisions by the villagers/workers from being possible.

Organizing Resource allocation, movement and storage is a major part of the game, since accomplishing anything requires that you provide resources to villagers and production ‘chains’ to advance and prosper. There is a definite structure to this already built in to the game, with the provision of separate types of Storage and ‘extra’ transportation in the form of carts and Wainwrights.

But it doesn’t work very well.

To put it simply, if you have a block of Firewood Splitters and a Stockyard next to them, you can set that Stockyard to only accept and store Wood and Firewood, so it serves to provide the Splitters with their raw material and accept their finished goods without wasting too much time in travel back and forth from production site to storage site. BUT, try to build another Firewood Splitter or two on the other side of town, or put your Sawmills over there, and either there will be massive reduction in production from those because of the travel time to the original Stockyard(s) OR you have to build a new Stockyard for Wood/Firewood/Planks next to them.

And then it is virtually impossible to get the transport, whether individual workers or carts, to deliver to both Stockyards. Inevitably one Stockyard gets filled up, the other stays empty. Or what they get in quantity is practically random and not related to how much is needed by the local, nearby production facilities.

Multiply this by a dozen or more types of resources and finished goods and a dozen or more types of production facilities and several different Destinations (Market, Trading Post, other Production buildings) and you have a nightmare of distribution that gets less and less efficient the larger the town gets. That means there comes a point where the town cannot support the population, not because of any deficiency of the on-map resources available, but because of the deficiencies of the distribution system to put those resources to use.

Right now we can exclude resources and types of resources from storage facilities to focus what is stored there, but that’s the only control we have. Expand that. Revise the display for the storage site so that we can specify the maximum amount of a good that can be stored in that storage. That would actually make it possible to distribute resources and manufactured goods throughout the town and map to where they are needed: keeping every Market supplied, as well as every Production Building no matter how far apart or irregularly clustered.

Second Suggestion:
Allow Carts to move goods between storage facilities, but ONLY if there is nothing left to haul from mines, quarries and Work Camps or supplies to haul out to the Temporary Shelters serving those. In other words, if you want to use Carts around the town, you are going to need a LOT of Wainwrights.

Third Suggestion:
On Upgraded roads (cobbled), allow Carts to move faster and carry 50 - 100% more goods. This addresses the problem encountered of not being able to move enough resources across the map from distant Work Camps/Mines without making it too simple. A plain dirt road just doesn’t survive being traversed by heavy carts for long: it turns into a muddy rut and slows down all traffic.

You will still need More Carts to fulfill all your transport dreams, BUT by the late game when dealing with 2000 or more townsfolk you will at least have options available to move goods in quantity long distances.

I don’t agree with the suggestions that the gamer should have Complete Control over the villagers, carts, resources in the game. That’s a Totalitarian Fantasy that, frankly, sounds creepy to me and not much fun: you want complete control, go play Chess. On the other hand, More Control of things that should be controllable would be nice, which is what this over-long post is about.

Everything is Suggestions Only. Discussion (hopefully) follows . . .

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