Morale in Battle for Wesnoth

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questbird

Morale in Battle for Wesnoth

Post by questbird »

Hi all, this is my first post here.

Battle for Wesnoth is a great game (I am downloading it by CVS right now.) I thought a good addition would to be to introduce a simple concept of morale. Troops are not automata; they are human (well some of them :) ) and they feel fear when going into battle. Morale would be a feature lacking from other similar games such as Warlords etc.

My idea is that after combat, a unit must check to see if it holds its nerve, or becomes frightened and disorganised - 'Shaken', for one turn possibly also forced to retreat or flee, after which (unless attacked again) it reverts to normal. Units have more chance of becoming shaken if they are isolated from friends, surrounded by enemies, inexperienced, badly wounded or cannot see (ie, bad light). A shaken unit has its next turn's movement limited:

A Shaken unit
- cannot attack (but may defend)
- cannot move into an enemy ZOC (zone of control)

additionally a Retreating unit
- must move out of enemy ZOC on the following turn, if possible

additionally a Fleeing unit
- must move its maximum move out of enemy ZOC on the following turn, if possible.

Here's how I would implement it.

At the end of each turn, make a morale check for each unit
- which has attacked or been attacked that turn and
- which has at least 1 enemy unit in its zone of control

To make a check:
- randomise 1-6
- make the following adjustments:
+1 if light is good (eg. Lawful unit during day)
+1 for each ally in ZOC
+1 if affected by Leadership
+ (unit's level -1)
+1 if unit is healthy (ie. green health bar)
+1 if unit is Steadfast (proposed new unit trait)
-1 if light is bad (eg. Lawful unit at night)
-1 for each enemy in ZOC
-1 if unit is critically wounded (ie. red health bar)
-1 if unit is already shaken

Results:
3+ no effect
2 unit becomes shaken
1 unit becomes shaken and retreats
0 or less unit becomes shaken and flees.

I would propose a new unit trait called 'Steadfast' or something similar (= Miyo's previously proposed 'Courage'), for troops who can keep their cool in battle - less prone to panic.

Leaders (eg Konrad) would be unaffected by morale, since they are so critical to game victory conditions. Possibly undead might also be unaffected.

Units which cause Fear might affect morale checks negatively.

The concept of morale makes the game a little bit more complex, but the strategy would be enhanced I believe. What do other people here think?

Quest Bird
Last edited by questbird on March 3rd, 2004, 12:39 am, edited 1 time in total.

quartex
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Post by quartex »

You've obviously spent a lot of time designing this system, and I congratulate you on your work. But I think that losing control of your units doesn't make the game more fun, it makes it more annoying/frusterating. And also I think that it is a bit late in the development cycle to add such a big feature/change to the game. You'd have to redo a lot of the strategy, balancing, and AI. In general I think that people have their hands full trying to implement everything that has been suggested already, that adding morale would slow development even more. But maybe other disagree.

Kamahawk
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Post by Kamahawk »

One of the primary goals for Wesnoth is keep the game relativly simple and one of the other main goals is to have wesnoth be fun. You suggestion is realistic, but too complex (in my opinion anyways) and lossing controll of your units seems to take away from the fun of the game as opposed to adding too it.
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kmj
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Post by kmj »

Something along those lines, but maybe simpler, would be to have a very inexpensive "militia" unit that disbands if it takes damage, say, more than 50% of it's HP during any given round. This would still require modifying the code a little, but it adds the element you speak of. This assumes that more expensive units don't have to worry about this, human unit types already having a kind of "built-in" experience, and non-human units being, well, not so prone to human tendencies. Perhaps the militia unit never disbands if it is next to a unit with the leadership ability.

Christophe33
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Post by Christophe33 »

I'm afraid that implementing the morale was already proposed multiple time...including by me since it is a standart in many wargames but was rejected. It would effectively add to the playing of leaders since they are the one involved in supporting troups morale and who reorganize demoralized troup. But sa mentioned by other it might be too late in the game development for that. Some also feel it makes the game too complex but most of the complexity is actually handled by the computer.
However kmj variants sounds interesting. It might be applied to all or most units of lvl0 who are not "professionnal" fighters.
Another variant would be that a "shaken unit" (lost more than 50% HP and not in contact with a leader) would fight with a malus, like 25%. This could apply to lvl1 units but not experienced (lvl2 or more) one.
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quartex
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Post by quartex »

Forcing a unit who is not in combat with his leader would make the game a lot harder. Am I the only person who often keep their leader in their home base, especially if the leader is already level 3 and can't level up? The leader is safer in the home base, and needed there to recruit and recall units. Having the leader in the front lines, means that one mistake might cost you the leader and the whole level. So requiring a unit to be fighting near a leader to avoid being shaken and such just isn't practical. Leaders are too rare and too important to be leading the battle charge.

Christophe33
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Post by Christophe33 »

quartex, by leader I mean any unit with the leadership ability (elf captain, marshall, human lieutenant...) not only the main leader. Actually to avoid confusion it would help to use another name for the main leader unit. When I started playing Bwf, I was thinking that any unit with leadership would be the leader and able to recruit. Well, it sounded logic point. :? until I found out I was wrong.
I almost never let Konrad on the keep more than 3 turn. I place him just behind the frontline to provide the leadership bonus and sometime to cover up a wounded unit, fill a hole or attrack the enemies fire away from a weak
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quartex
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Post by quartex »

It's a tradeoff, is one powerful leader unit like Konrad or Lisar better for their fighting ability, or for the fact that later in the level you can recruit/recall important reinforcements? I often make more units later in the level, so that's why I like to have a leader at the keep. But I suppose having the leader fight might help keep other units alive, and if you don't have to make more replacement units later, you save a lot more gold.

kmj
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Post by kmj »

quartex wrote:... and if you don't have to make more replacement units later, you save a lot more gold.
plus if you can get them out earlier, you might as well, because you'll usually finish earlier and get a better turn bonus.

questbird

Losing control of units

Post by questbird »

Now an Entire Force can be robbed of its Spirit;
The Force's leaders can be robbed of their Composure.
In the morning the Spirit is sharp;
In the daytime the Spirit is idle;
At dusk the Spirit draws inward.

Hence those skilled in the use of Strategy
Evade when the Spirit is sharp
And confront when the Spirit is idle or withdrawn -
Such is the way they control the Spirit.

- Sun Tzu, 'The Art of Strategy'

Thanks for your comments. In the morale system suggestion which I made, I didn't intend that players would lose control of units, just limit their freedom of movement for the turn that they were shaken, just as terrain limits movement freedom normally. I imagined that the player would still be able to move retreating or fleeing units as they choose, provided it is not into an enemy zone of control. Only if the player neglected to move their fleeing or retreating unit would the AI move them automatically.

The morale system in the game currently is implicit. The AI of the game already has some concept of fleeing. Badly wounded enemy units run off to villages to heal, if they can. The Day/Night system whereby creatures do more damage in good light is somewhat like a morale system - Chaotic things are scarier at night :) (Though, if you think about it, it is sort of hard to justify why things should do more damage during the day or night..) And think of the dread when you are playing and (say) it's night and one of your good units gets surrounded, immobilised and hacked to pieces by enemies (and then imagine how that unit feels..)
Adding cheap units such as militia as mentioned here would also be acknowledging an implicit morale system. This is not necessarily a bad thing as long as you realise you are still implementing the concept, just in a bit-by-bit fashion instead of systematically.

However, I concede that implementing such a system would be more work (although I am a coder and willing to put in some of that work), which if the project is nearing 'stabilisation' might not be desirable. I don't think the addition of morale makes it less fun, necessarily, or particularly more complex (as Christophe33 said, most complexity is handled by the computer, which is what it's for) Just another strategic factor to deal with (probably a more important one in terms of its effects upon battles than, say, weather). Remember that the morale rules would affect the enemies too. The system wouldn't just be a burden but a means of defeating or directing enemies without necessarily having to hack through them solidly.


Quest Bird

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Post by turin »

I like the game how it is, and i dislike the idea of adding something to needlessly complicate it. i still think that adding morale would make it too complicated. if morale simply lowered a unit's damage, that would be OK, or if it lowered it's movement (becomes undiciplined, unable to force-march the entire distance). but having a unit be forced to do something you do not want it to do would complicate it unneccessarily. it is OK to make it so you can't do something, but it is bad to make it so you have to do something, such as run away
.
a unit that is wounded running away is good strategy. to make it inevitable would give experienced players less of an advantage. 8)
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questbird

Running away

Post by questbird »

if morale simply lowered a unit's damage, that would be OK, or if it lowered it's movement (becomes undiciplined, unable to force-march the entire distance). but having a unit be forced to do something you do not want it to do would complicate it unneccessarily. it is OK to make it so you can't do something, but it is bad to make it so you have to do something, such as run away
So you don't like the idea of being forced to move your units. It would still be possible to make a 'shaken' condition (much like Poisoned or something similar - perhaps shading the unit blue or yellow) which would mean
1. The unit can't attack (but can defend)
2. The unit can't move into an enemy zone of control

until the shaken condition wears off (probably the following turn).

Note that becoming shaken would be much less likely for higher level units and would encourage lower level units to attack in groups, protecting each others' flanks - which is a good strategy in general.

Quest Bird

miyo
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Post by miyo »

Has been already "talked" in past, http://wesnoth.whitevine.net/forum/phpB ... ht=courage

And to those who claim it does not make gameplay more complex (as computer handles this) - untrue. Now when attacking you have to consider the possibility that your units don't do what you want them to do.

Unit with special ability causing fear on his/her ZoC might be simpler solution.

- Miyo

Christophe33
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Post by Christophe33 »

miyo wrote: And to those who claim it does not make gameplay more complex (as computer handles this) - untrue. Now when attacking you have to consider the possibility that your units don't do what you want them to do.
If we follows quesbird option, you don't face a "possibility" that the unit refuse to do something, if it is shaken then it will be labelled as such, like poison, with a added "can't attack" text. So either a units is shaken or not, in both case you know before you act, there is no random possibility that the unit will change its behavior while you try to give it an order. When using weak units in a fight you also face the possibility that it get killed and thus won't do what you want afterward :D .
If the "shaken" stage can be removed (immediatly?) by the presence of a higher lvl unit with leadership, it would increase the value of such units which is quite low right now: the elf captain needs more Xp to turn lvl3 than the elf Hero while having less HP and lower attack. The leadership bonus as it is remains limited.
The results woulkd look similar than placing a poisoned unit near a healer.
Also the shaken statue would be remove when the unit is healed up enough. The total complexity remains still fairly low while game would would be improved.
I think the situation is a bit similar to the "length of weapon" question previously discussed. After a lot of discussion, the problem turned into how to implement some of the concept in a easy and simple way.
The fact that the morale-courage issue is recurent shows that it should be taken in account and we should foccus on how to get it done in a balance way and remain simple.
miyo wrote: Unit with special ability causing fear on his/her ZoC might be simpler solution.
I like the fear effect too but the way to implement it would certainly be as complex (or as easy :D ) as for morale.
Actually, it would be interesting to have both. I think the main units source of fear would be the lich and some otherhigh level undead (moslty against loyal units?) and the paladin/mage of light against chaotic units.
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Post by miyo »

From #Wesnoth on irc.wesnoth.org (irc.freenode.net):

19:28 < miyo> SynrG: So... should it be made more complex?
19:29 < SynrG> eh? the gameplay is fine
19:29 < SynrG> i'm still just doing this at "easy" and i have plenty of challenges even at that
19:29 < miyo> SynrG: some/many are suggesting more features to add...
19:29 < SynrG> and i have more than enough factors to track
19:29 < SynrG> bah
19:29 < SynrG> convenience features, maybe
19:29 < miyo> morale, courage, etc...
19:29 < SynrG> like being able to control replays
19:29 < miyo> =)
19:29 < SynrG> it is too early to contemplate such changes
19:30 < SynrG> stick to basics
19:30 < SynrG> it has worked so far


- Miyo

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