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Long Term Play Motivation

@Gal2 and Community:
May be this topic Had been discussed already elsewhere. I would like to know what Kind of Features and ideas have been implemented or are in the Pipeline to hold the Long Term Game Play Motivation up. I really Like Banished and live ist feudal Forrest Village but to Set Goals Like “build an Castle” or build any Kind of bigger building" to yourself, became boring very quick. The survival factor gets very quick lost, even If you have build Up some Houses, ensured food income and expand slowly.

Feel free to Link to existing discussions, If they exist

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That’s a pretty good question, and I don’t remember it’s been discussed so frontally before your post. But, funnily, I think this meddles lot of things already discussed since months and years :slightly_smiling_face:
For instance, yesterday evening I’ve read the very interesting answers by backers to this tweet by the devs yesterday evening. I think this is closely related to your very question, as this is basically a list of what people hope to see in A.C. It could be partly summarized this way: players want to see their settlement progressively build up and expand, they want to see this evolution marked into the scenery (with paths for instance), they want the game to be challenging (although not too much), they want to build still bigger monuments, etc.

Please note everything I’ll write hereunder is a very personal opinion, that may be contradicted by the devs themselves because of technical limitations, or if they don’t feel up with implementing such features, or that could come later with upcoming DLCs, etc.
But, honestly, I don’t think the game will get boring for a number of reasons:

1) Build a society

In the official announcement has been announced traditions will appear as soon as the beta – I don’t expect them to be fully fledged for the beta, nor for the final release, but at least that’s the proof the devs will give importance to that aspect of the game.

In my view, that’s the single better point, as this means you’ll be able to forge totally a society, from scratch. But with passing time you’ll be confronted to other people, with different traditions. My hope is that if you choose any radical path, this may hinder your diplomatic relations–and as a consequence your trade relations, necessary to get resources you don’t produce. This would make the game alive, as it would oblige you to take decisions, without knowing what the future will be.

For instance, if you see one tribe gaining control over your whole area, will you try to resist them, or embrace their way of life, their new gods/spirituality and customs, just to be able to keep good relations with them? If you’re pretty adamant that it’s totally your advantage to have women authorized as hunters and chiefs (as this means you’ll have twice more good interesting candidates for such functions, making them far more efficient), will you accept to refuse women in such positions, just for the sake of getting flint through trade with those powerful neighbors? Such a single feature needs pretty drastic reactions and decisions, and avoid any boredom if your 50-hours settlement is not to be fatally hindered by the in-game situation.

2) Don’t build anything you want as you want

I think also you should not be able to build anything anytime. Let’s say A.C. is crappy game: then, you should be able to build Stonehenge as soon as you get the “knowledge level” for. Just, this will need 50 generations of work instead of 10 if you dont have enough resources and people. I mean, why not? But this would not be real fun.

My opinion is I think there should be a jauge on what you’re able to do, the lone jauge that allows you to build bigger and loftier buildings.

Let’s call that jauge “prestige”. It doesn’t need to be the hassle “with 10K prestige level you’re able to build that”, if that means just piling up prestige. That’s really not natural, that’s been seen far too often in video games.

Instead, it could be done very progressively, from tiny objects like necklaces made with boar teeth, to magnificent jadeite axes. If for instance you evaluate the prestige given by such tiny items, a cairn, one sacred source, tree or rock and 25 people in your settlement, you should be able to build an enclosure measuring for instance 30 meters. That’s not enough, you’d want a 50 meters enclosure with a real front gate, to get more prestige and build a real covered alley to bury your current tribe chief? Ok, let’s go to work. Make more cheese, trade it for shiny jadeite axes, build more menhirs, then you’ll have your enclosure and front gate. Attract people in your sanctuaries for sacrifices, invite neighbor chiefs (in the condition you’ve got enough food for all of them), progressively pile up more prestige over time, protect those prestige items from raiding neighbors, until the moment you may build the inner circle of Stonehenge, hoping no neighbor tribe will beat you on the prestige race and build a whole Carnac menhir field while you’re still building your first one–or you’ll be condemn to just rest in a backward settlement, which would be an unofficial game over.

For later times, let’s say the game reaches a development phase like Near East Bronze Age, or Greek/Roman eras: you could build bigger palaces, adding room after room, so that you slowly become the regional capital. Achievement and breaking lines is fun. And failure may be fun also, if you think you may do better the next time.

3) Adversity and challenges

Lot of people in the twitter answers told they want a challenging game – although that’s quite a thorny point when you think about it. Does this mean they want a tornado or a flood every 5 or 10 years, destroying half their settlement? Neighbors raiding you every 2 years, that raid half your people every two years? Epidemics?

All of that may sound a bit boring if coming too regularly. But that a fact that if nothing happens in game it could become really boring; and it could be boring if such adversity comes too regularly, and/or with too drastic effects, and/or never come.

But lot of things may happen that oblige you to redefine your plans in-game. For instance, if you imagine raids not be Neolithic World War 0, but something a bet? I mean, when looking at ancient warfare, it’s pretty assured by now most wars were a show of force, while diehard battles seemed to be quite rare.

So, what if you define the amount of loss and gains if you’re the winner or looser of the day, just by making a show of your force to your opponents, with magical gestures, savage yellings and impressive warrior dances, evaluating if your enemy is that much ready to fight you, hesitating yourself if you should still escalate the situation?
If they’re twice more people than you, maybe you’d better give up and give them the 3 wives, 5 cows and a number of axes as the tribute they ask, and go on with your hurt pride.
If you feel you may get the best, it could be a good thing tempting everything on a bet, make a real show of force, discuss with them as real men on the battlefield and try to keep everything, so that you enter a shiny new era with all those resources you gained with your prowess.

Aside of such obvious topics as warfare or calamities, we already now (from the official announcement and other topics) that there will be also a number of adversities in your games. The bigger your settlement, the most efficient it will have to be regarding resources collect, tool production, etc.
Hopefully, if you’re along the sea or along a river, on a harsh mountain full of precious jadeite stone that you may trade for food, the challenges will be very different.
Aside of that, I think a good deal of fun could come if for instance your river doesn’t produce as much fish every year, or if your flint mine may get exhausted, or if some neighbor tribe flood the market with the rarest stone axes ever made, that grant more prestige to their owners.

Then, you’d be obliged to redefine your plans if you want to avoid stagnation–and redefining plans to adapt to any new situation is definitively not boring.

4) End-game crisis

I think that’s the last point, but there is also another aspect that probably will be added to the game one moment or another: Indo-European migrations (a definitively brilliant proposed by @Tim), at the end of the game.

We can’t say for now if that’ll be implemented, but for sure the devs seemed to be interested. This means you’d have, at the end of the released game, something like an “invasion”. It could be a pacific invasion, with just a few more neighbors in the area, maybe some of them coming in your tribe with new customs, or maybe wild savages only interested in looting.

Whatever the way you see it, this would mean at least the final release of the game would have a major achievement: face those new people coming en masse around you, and maybe among you own tribesmen. Depending how you managed your game before, you’ll have to survive–be it culturally, militarily, diplomatically. Will you accept them and trade? Will you resist and fight? This may depend how to dealt with the game before, what was your past story, how you chose to face adversity and challenges before.

And, thinking about it, is it that much different to the Celt situation facing Romans, be it in Italy, Iberian Peninsula, Gaul, Germania or British Isles? Such an invasion/migration for sure would be a challenge, a real goal at the very end of the game, that could drive you to try multiple strategies.

5) Mods

Mods, also. They could change you whole vision of the game, in case you’re bored with time.

Just imagine anyone creates a mod where you’re a Bedouin tribe in the middle of a desert. Lot of trade and raids, no real resources save from a tiny oasis. That could be quite a challenge.

And what if you’re a Siberian tribe, facing the harsh conditions of the arctic landscape?

Or what about a Native American mod? A migrating Great Plains tribe, with the possibility to recreate the Mound Builder/Mississippian civilisation? Until the moment you see goddamn palefaces showing up and tell you they came in specially for you, as a special privilege, to get the chance to embrace a true civilization…

(hint: I’m not a modder myself–just to be clear)

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@Elfryc is on point!
Also, they won’t be present in July, but keep in mind big megalithic structures will be coming to Ancient Cities. Their construction will need an important workforce but it will also mean your settlement is hugely influential in the region. All these aspects remain to be fully revealed, just like the core gameplay loop that we, the testers, will help refine!

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One thing I’ve noticed in games that keeps me coming back is difficulty.

This tends to work better for survival games (such as The Long Dark or Project Zomboid). But I have seen it work in building games as well (Ostriv and Frostpunk).

When the mere fact that your tribe has survived for a whole year is an achievement worth bragging about, then going for another year becomes that much more appealing.

If the game is not challenging enough, then survival does not become an achievement, and thus the game become boring quite fast.

The best part is that this can be achieved with something as simple as a difficulty setting (think of resource scarcity versus resource consumption, sickness, temperature during colder climates etc)

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For me, it is the discovery of new game content that wasn’t there from the beginning - events, discoveries, etc. that change the gameplay, the environment, or both; so you can gradually do qualitatively different things in the game world. In the context of AC, that will be the different revolutions - the neolithic one being the obvious core of the first full version - but also some key technological discoveries. What also keeps me going is observing the organic impact of my development on the surroundings (I hope there is a lot of that simulated in the game, starting with paths developing where people walk as the most basic example) and world events (more interesting in later periods, for sure).

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For me, what will keep me going playing would be multiplayer.
I’d love to be able to play along with friends !

This kind of game rarely have more than 50 hours of content. I think you all should not think that you will play endlessly with high motivation.

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To be honest, that’s a possibility, but I’m really not sure of that because of the context(s) of the game–which in my view is the defining thing when compared to most city builders.

I did not played enough Cities Skyline to be confident enough to speak about it, but I’ve played some games with Banished and the boring thing is the snowball effect (after a certain threshold there’s not a lot left to do and discover). Also, in every game you magically appear in a random map, you found your city along the river to have access to the trader, not too far from mountains and forests for resources. Then you face a number of catastrophes, which you deal with. Aside of that, there’s not that much, save the balance between population and resources.

Regarding scenarios, Cities Skyline doesn’t have them but is still played. But every DLC makes the game deeper, without redefining the whole game.
On the contrary, Pharaohs relies heavily on scenarios: they’re even the key, as you have to deal with precise challenges while using a define set of resources, then you move to the next one.


Now, let’s give a look at A.C.: with the first release you’ll have only a random start, like Banished. Even with migrations, 50 games later won’t make any real change.
In the better case, there are high chances we end up with 2 scenarios:

  • either you begin as a a Mesolithic tribe (= nomadic);
  • or you begins as a Neolithic tribe (= half-nomadic/sedentary, already knowing how to settle).
    This would change the gameplay for the first phases in the game, not that much after.
    I think it’s higly probable, the devs will “cheat” by making Mesolithic and Neolithic people identical, in the sense you could learn very easily how to settle, even as a Mesolithic tribe. So, the base game will have to rely on different maps to create different conditions (if you find a gigantic silex resource on your map, you may expand quite fast. If you have to survive into marshlands, this will make things harder). But let’s be honest, this will not create that much difference after a number of games.

Now, let’s look at the upcoming DLC–hoping they will be released as intended. Those will necessarily create different conditions, or scraping any realism would endanger the whole game.

If for instance the first DLC is Bronze Age Middle East: you could imagine playing a Neolithic tribe in Mesopotamia and Egypt. Compared with the base game, there’ll be a number of new content added:

  • a new environment, obviously, meaning new challenges and new technologies (= gameplays and tools) to face them (with foremost irrigation, implying a reinforced social hierarchy).
  • the society (different structures of power means keeping order, progressive appearance of armies, palaces and temple institutions, etc).
  • also after the first, usual two phases in the game (i.e. nomadism, then sedentism), you’ll have to face the tribes/city-states rivalries, that gave way to progressive unifications, which will have consequences for your own settlement by defining if you’re a capital or a remote settlement).

Now, let’s go further along the road: let’s give a look at something like Bronze Age Greece. Then, you’ll face another different context–again.

This time, the environnement won’t be a major change. Rather, it will be related to the lack of arable lands, creating growing rivalries with neighbors for patches of lands, so needing you to develop an army from your farming citizens (the phalanx), equip them with bronze to gain or defend your fields (off-map probably, for gameplay and coding facility), but also dealing with those citizens that you recruit to serve in your phalanx.
Then you’ll have to make vital choices, like:

  • either a highly reliable military tool (nearly assuredly leading to a monarchy);
  • or keeping the people placated and opening the way to a democracy–where populists won’t give you peace and raise questions such as “Why should we go help those damn allies? Let them dye, I’m pretty sure our dear Spartian neighbors won’t be an annoyance before at least a few decades.”

If you do well, after a time you’ll still lack place and have too much people, then you will have to launch off-map colonization, which will be gain if you get favorable conditions for exotic resources and allies–but also greater complications with the greater world, and still more alliance to deal with.

So, clearly, the challenges will be different, once again.

Another side of things is this will automatically create scenarios. If you buy a Bronze Age Greece DLC, no one can’t imagine you’d have to launch the game in Mesolithic/Neolithic: the minimum will be a scenario where you’re the leader of Greek colonists in Greece, founding a new Greek city.

But there will be opportunities for very different scenarios: you could be Greek colonists in Cyrenaica or elsewhere in Africa, along the Mediterranean coast. This means you’ll have to create a trade post, then expand it. This means dealing with some on-map and/or off-map natives. Dealing, in such a case, means trade and/or diplomacy and/or assimilation and/or conflicts, with probably and alternance between all of them. Once again, this is still a different play to be able to build a flourishing town.


Now, let’s take another example: A Rome DLC. Let’s imagine you’re a player that was not that much interested with the DLCs after the base game, but got attracted with the promise to build the Coliseum. In such a case, you’ll necessarily be offered a number of scenarios:

  • play as a Mesolithic/Neolithic tribe, then strive to become a thriving Gallic/Hispanic/Illyrian tribe (according to your starting region). OR an Italian tribe, trying to emulate the historical Romans and imposing your domination on an expanding empire, so that you may build a new megalopolis, facing all the issues that goes with the status.
  • launch the game directly in the Roman era: you may be Gallic/Hispanic/Illyrian natives facing the coming legions, and may choose to welcome or fight them, trying to deal with consequences, when it comes to wandering armies, then (probably) progressively romanizing;
  • launch the game in the same Roman era, but this time as the leading authority of a nascent colony in recently conquered areas: then you’ll have to deal with the natives, impose Rome authority, progress and even try to rivalise with Rome and forge another capital, either in the empire or gaining independence, like this happened in Gaul, Germania, Hispania, Africa, etc.

Obviously, even the devs themselves can’t say if all will go according to such a vision. They have their own vision, there may be technical limitations, etc. So all of that is what I think is the most probable.
But, let’s face it honestly: if for instance a Rome DLC means the same Neolithic city builder with only a few new buildings and arenas being added, the game would be condemn to death. So it can’t be that only. Each DLC needs more, a peculiar flavor, new tools being added progressively, opening new possibilities, including in the previous content.

So, I don’t think I built castles in the air. And, this means A.C. has the potential to be something like a mix between a classic city builder (Banished, Cities Skylines, Pharaohs) mixed with such a game with high replayability (Crusader Kings, Europa Universalis, etc.).
This obviously won’t satisfy every type of player, but at least this should keep a number of them happy enough to make the game a very living beast.

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Of all the developer updates, this one is what got me most excited about the game - the mechanics of interaction between your settlement map and the game world/historical context:
https://forum.ancient-cities.com/t/history-vs-game-play-discussion-and-the-world-map-solution/5175
Click if you have access to the VIP section of the forum.

Concerning your theme, @Elfryc: I am really looking forward to a long play through the different eras.

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Logterm Motivation is a hard thing to do but I think the main contributor is difficulty.
If the game is too easy it gets boring really fast but if its too hard players will give up.
So either there are settings to change difficulty or the game has to geht harder with time. I’m honestly hoping for a mix - set your difficulty and have the game become harder with events like food shortage, long winters or an invasion.

Regarding the topic in Markos post I think thats really a tricky situation. On one hand its totally fine to build yourself up in your region, develop your city and try to survive. On the other hand, if you are closing to the year 0 it gets a little more awkward only to be able to control things in your region while there are forces who have conquered half of europe. That might get frustrating and dissatisfying.
One way to get past that might be a possibility to play a role in a bigger portion of politics. Like tribal leaders who form an alliance and maybe build a kingdom.

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When it comes to your second paragraph, the developers explained their approach in the post I linked to. You will always only be a regional manager (not doing a grand strategy game) - but the bigger world will encroach on your space. So when the Romans come knocking you may try to resist, but the likelihood is you will get absorbed. This means from then on you will be their local governor taking care of the city - but you won’t rise in the ranks to control more territory, become a consul, and manage the affairs of the entire empire. That’s a different kind of game, and they are not building that.

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I know, and for me thats kind of missed opportunity. Of course I have and will accept the decision of the devs but my opinion still stands. I all depends on how it will be layed out in the actual gameplay, but when it comes down to build your own culture which then gets destroyed without you being able to prevent this because you stand no chance against the mighty rome this will leave bitter taste.
But if you, the player, are only building the city, see people come and go, see different cultures come and go, just to see your settlement developing, it might work the way its intended. I think we will have to wait and see

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It’s not much of an opportunity if you have two full-time developers and it would require you to build a completely different game :slight_smile: But I understand your worry. However, it’s clear to me from the description of the designs we have got so far that the latter of the two options you outline will be the case. There is no game over, but rather a continuous development under assimilation pressures (from either the conqueror directly or from the general cultural enviornment that is changing, even if you keep a level of independence).

I think the devs said it is possible to hold of the roman speciallly if you are in a border region.
Like you, I would have love to be able to conquer but the amount of work is just too massive for an indie game.

Remember guys, it’s a city builder and not a grand strategy game.
I think it’s really awesome to be part of an empire or even try to fight against it with other cities !

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I mean, tbh, Minecraft only has like 20 - 40 hours of actual story line content with the Ender Dragon. But it’s still one of the most popular games… I don’t think anyone should be judging this game before they’ve played it.

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I am hoping that maps can be randomly generated on different play sessions. Options like this make starting in a location more challenging and change ones strategy based on what has been given to them. I love this aspect of games and increase its replay-ability.

I don’t think we need randomn maps because of the geographic accuracy they are aiming for.
If you want another map from your previous playthrough, you might simply select a different location or migrate your tribe.

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I agree with this. If the local map is generated based on the selected spot on the regional map then that is plenty enough for me

I am a modder and I 100% agree.

Every game I have ever played for an extended period has been due to modding (except Super Mario lol). Without mods, I’d have given up tons of great games early.

Also, game companies who support easy modding earned my repeat business!!!

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