View Full Version : The Refilling Mechanic Isn't Pointless

03-02-2018, 05:36 PM
I've seen a fair amount of comments both before and after they declared that mineral deposits will be infinite stating that it's a purely positive change and that the mechanic was an unnecessary chore that had no gameplay value.

While I agree that the feature hasn't been implemented very well in past games, whether it be the constant annoyance of noria replenishment in 1404 or the mass production of drilling units and the like in 2070, I think it's something that has the potential to create interesting situations if done right.
As an example, in 1404 I often prefer to grab a few islands right at the start of a game in order to secure som essential resources and separate residences and production to different islands right away. What often tends to happen then is that my initial iron mines run out while I'm still quite low on income. So rather than an expensive refill, I usually opt for a new mine instead if one is easily within reach on one of my islands. I often end up in similar situations as the Tycoons in 2070, when it's cheaper or easier to move on to new deposits rather than refilling existing mines. I also feel that is a central theme of the voracious Tycoons, and is part of why I enjoy playing them so much.

Going back to what is probably the worst implementation so far, Anno 1404's norias, I think they may hold a solution to how to make refilling actually work well. In 1404 you can store items in an island's warehouse that provide island-wide upgrades, for example improving a certain plant's productivity or adding an additional fertility. One such item gave norias infinite water in exchange for greatly increasing the upkeep. Of course, you first have to acquire that item, which may be a hassle. Instead, that could just be an option right away, to set it to stop consuming water but increasing its upkeep. The same solution could be applied to most deposits. With an iron mine it might be something like funding mineral exploration.

Another solution might be something similar to what is used in 1602 and 1503, where regular iron mines run out eventually and must be replaced by the higher tier Deep Iron Mine to continue mining. This however presents the dilemma where one might have used up all iron resources without unlocking the tier 2 iron mine, forcing you to trade for iron products until you reach that technology yourself. This places pressure on the player to hurry up with development or risk getting stuck for a while, and might be quite stressful for those who enjoy a lazy approach (like myself). All this could be solved with different difficulty settings though, so it shouldn't be an issue.

Anyway, the important takeaway of all this is that finite resources done right add interesting gameplay options and also contributes to the immersion. I personally enjoy competing for resources in Anno, and although they certainly don't have to be finite to create this struggle since demand is always rising and a single deposit can only produce so much, I think that at least the option to play with limited resources would be a good addition even if it doesn't make it into the core gameplay.

Apologies for the length, brevity is not one of my talents :D What do you guys think?

03-02-2018, 05:57 PM
I agree partly with what you have said, especially:
Anyway, the important takeaway of all this is that finite resources done right add interesting gameplay options , but I think this is the crux of the issue. In previous Anno's, finite resources was not done right - it didn't feel like a meaningful thing for the player to do, it was just an annoyance (at least for me).

You have said it above - that resources aren't required to be finite anyway to be interesting, due to the continual need to produce more materials. If someone could think of a system that was satisfying for the player, then sure, I'd be all for it, but I feel like there's only so many ways you can do it, and at the moment, none of them would improve gameplay.

I can see the benefit of finite resources for adding an extra challenge, but I think whatever happens it would always be an annoying thing to deal with in normal play.

03-02-2018, 10:59 PM
For sure, I do not yet know what a successful implementation would look like, but as I outline in my post I very much want to overturn the perception that finite resources are always just a chore to handle.

The option to save money and get ahead by devouring all the available resources, rather than staying conservative and thinking long term, is very appealing to me and is what makes me enjoy the Tycoon play-style in 2070 so much. But the core of it is options. I want to be presented with meaningful choices about how to proceed with my economy, and this I think is a good addition among all the ones that already exist. If mineral deposits are infinite, settling an island with six iron veins on it just means that you wont ever have to look for iron again, whereas if they are finite it means you got the early game covered but may have to fight or trade for it later on. This creates scarcity, leading to a race for resources, more diplomacy, trade and tension or even war. The latter sounds a lot more enjoyable to me, personally, but I understand Anno players have diverse tastes as a quick look around the forum will show. That's why I think it has some future as an option in map settings, and that's probably what would please most players.

I dare say that the devs also agree that this is a worthwhile feature, or at least did so in the past since they've made so many attempts at making it work and be fun. I just hope all the failures haven't caused them to give up and abandon the concept entirely.