"An Army Marches on its Stomach": Soldiers and Food


#1

So, I remember lightly touching this topic in previous threads, but I don’t believe we ever discussed this potential issue in depth. What sort of methods should there be for feeding soldiers, especially in the case of leaving your city and its stockpiles?

The issue first came up as I was watching videos of RimWorld: as units would be drafted into combat or leave the base for extended periods, they would inevitably get hungry. This is of course bad, as this severely limits how far from you base you can send troops as well as the actual amount of world you can safely explore. The reason I bring this particular case up is that I notice a close resemblance of gameplay between the two games (especially the hands-off orders with directing units), and I see this being an issue in the future once the game starts getting bigger and more diverse.

So, here’s a few remedies I wanted to bring forward for the discourse!


1. Sacks and Backpacks

I figure this is a request from many of us, and not just for away troops. Having a pack or some sort of inventory would be incredibly useful for workers such as miners, who will need to keep going deeper to find more resources the farther in the game you go. Being able to hold more than one item would both boost productivity in workers and allow soldiers more time in the field to operate, if they can carry food and basic bedding with them on journeys. Production of the sacks could be through the Weaver, much like the current armor is done (perhaps with a way to specify the unit or squad desired for the upgrade).

It’s on the border of becoming micromanagement, since units would start getting their own inventory you might have to look over. But I think some version of this ability would really help exploration and combat in the long run.


2. Supply Wagons

Another topic we’ve discussed at one point or another. Having a sort of cart or wagon that acts as a mobile stockpile would eliminate the micro- issue I mentioned in the first idea–the major downside is that the soldiers and workers are restricted to wherever the wagon can travel (no using ladders, for example). This might force the player to explore at a more controlled, calculated approach, instead of just rushing through the world to find all the best resource spots (the Radiant team has mentioned this issue a few times…), so I definitely hope it is considered for the game later on.


3. Soldier “Ration” Meals

This would work similar to the backpack, except it’s a preexisting slot in each soldier. Essentially, it would be a specific meal (or meal type) that are taken by soldiers automatically (like the current armor) and carried with them until necessary. While in your city, the soldiers won’t eat this provision, and instead consume a normal food item from your stockpiles. Once they leave, however, they can eat this item while out fighting or exploring. It might be less nourishing and filling then something from the town, but hey, it’s easy to carry.


So, that’s all I could think of for now. What do you guys think? Do these ideas sound practical, debatable, or a little unnecessary? I’m curious as to what other thoughts regarding exploring and unit needs people might have come up with as Stonehearth’s development has been progressing.


Long term plan for resource distribution
#2

Slaughter everybody you come across, take no prisoners, eat your enemies.

You will never run out of food.


#3

That is the greatest strategy of all time.


#4

But you would still need to find enemies.


#5

Oh please, as if I would reduce my people to eating my weakling foes.

Then again, I never did specify where the “rations” were coming from…


#6

I both like and worry about the idea of having vaguely realistic logistics for military expeditions. On the one hand, nobody seems to do it: everyone from RTS games to Total War-style grand strategy games all seem to assume that cannons, muskets, ammunition, uniforms, rations… it all just rains down like manna from heaven.

On the other hand, doing it properly would be a sizeable game all by itself at the scale of Stonehearth…

“Okay, I’m sending six footmen and four archers on an expedition that’ll take 3 weeks to get there, and they can’t carry all their own supplies. So I’ll need a wagon plus wagon driver, plus a couple of draft animals. Now, the soldiers require two ration meals a day, as does the driver, so that’s 462 ration packs. Now the draft animals require either 42 grain bags or grass to eat - I’ll go with grass, because I’m short on grain ATM. Except that means they’ll take 4 weeks to get there, so now I need 616 ration meals, which means I need a second wagon et al too… 672 ration meals then (finally!). Now, the archers shouldn’t need more than 10 quivers once they get to their destination, but the fight might go badly, so I’d best bring extras. Also I’ll need bandages and medicines, camping supplies, cold weather uniforms, some surplus armour, maybe a blacksmith and a healer, oh damn and I forgot the diplomat to sign the treaty, and… damn, got to go over the food and wagon calculations again…”

Point is, I worry it’s a bit too complicated. For small groups of adventurers exploring a scenario or dungeon, I’d much rather hand-wave away most of the supply issues in the interests of fun. For large-scale combat… I dunno, the thought of punishing players that don’t treat logistics seriously does appeal to me. Plus, doing it “properly” would be very Dwarf-Fortress-y IMHO.


I wonder if we can get some pointers from @sdee or another dev here - how complex / realistic are we planning to make Stonehearth, at least with regard to this kind of thing?


#7

What about the possibility of foraging and hunting? It’d make a good last resort if you don’t have enough rations to last the adventure, and it’d also make a fine starting point if you forget to promote a farmer. It may already be planned though…


#8

Well there’s already berries etc in-game don’t forget :wink: .

For armies though… foraging is something you really want to do in farmland, because there’s obviously a much higher chance of finding food in small villages etc compared to, say, a forest.


#9

Oh yeah! I’ve completely forgotten about the berries, though hunting for deer would add an interesting arrows for food mechanic to the game. Also, are you suggesting foraging the settlements you’ve raided for more food? If so it’d add the possibility of not even needing farmers and just raiding helpless towns for food and loot, though now I’m sure I’m just being Captain Obvious. :sweat_smile:


#10

Raise your settlers from birth to look upon life as less important than it normally is, and feed the children human meat every so often so they are used to it. As long as these are enemies, it shouldn’t be too hard on their conscience. Eating human meat makes it easier to finish the kill in battle, and they wouldn’t think twice before hacking their enemies to pieces.

Sorry, back on topic.

I mainly agree with @Teleros, it seems way too complicated. The easiest solution seems to be to make simple food sources like berries and animals eay enough to find that your army will have food only as long as it keeps moving.


#11

Up until very recently in historical terms, most of the population of any country you cared to pick lived in the countryside. So, suppose you want to march your army up to Voxelton and lay siege to it. Well, what you’d expect to find in that case is a lot of farmland between you and Voxelton (we’ll assume you’re picking a conventional route to march along) which you could raid for supplies - unless of course the Voxelton defenders have time to gather in / destroy said supplies first.

Plundering the countryside during a siege was in fact pretty standard stuff up until the era of canned food (seriously, canned food was a huge advance in military technology), because both the besieged and the besiegers would usually not have enough supplies in their army to survive the siege otherwise (granted, the defenders can more easily create large stockpiles in their castle, but in real life food spoils etc).


#12

I wasn’t saying it was a bad idea at all, I’m all for it! It’d add another level to the game for the militaristic players who can’t be bothered with such menial things such as farming or foraging, it’s a great idea, completely realistic as well.


#13

Yeah, once you start trying to put numbers on everything, it does get a little crazy. But one possible solution could be to change game rules for different experiences. There could be a Unit Hunger Slider that controls how often your people (or maybe certain classes that have to venture out) need some source of food, or maybe an Inventory Capacity Slider that defines exactly how much wagons, chests, and backpacks can actually carry–it could be very realistic or insanely big like Minecraft’s, when you think about it (64 pieces of one-meter-cubed stone?!). I believe Space Engineers has something like this for their inventory, as well as construction speed to avoid becoming “Welder Simulator 2000” when you try to make things in the game.

These sorts of sliders would allow the Radiant team to quickly begin shaping different modes of gameplay for Stonehearth. You could have both realistic logistics and fun modes for the different types of players in our community.


#14

If we had sliders there would need to be and few concrete difficulty modes. Otherwise, someone could set inventory size and hunger to extremes and then destroy everything, then brag about conquering the world on “hard” difficulty.


#15

True, but I guess it’d also depend on what ultimately decides “hard” mode–AI aggression, mob occurrences, resource rarity, etc.

Maybe “difficulty settings” could actually be presets to these sliders. Then there could be special challenges, like “famine mode” or “eternal winter” that would be outside of the normal gameplay/difficulties.

Then the large inventory setting could be changed for something like “exploration mode” or “realistic logistics”.


#16

Difficulty modes are a different topic, I’d think, but that might just be me. In a mod-friendly game like this, though, I suspect any hard-set “vanilla” difficulty settings will go out the window pretty fast.

Since DF has been cited, I’ll note that the system used there is definitely imperfect; food as a whole becomes largely irrelevant once you have a surplus going, and having to take some out to supply your soldiers’ rations is more of a UI chore than anything else (but then, what isn’t in DF?)

However, the mechanics and consequences of an army on the march have not yet been fully explored, both in what form it’ll take and how it might play out ingame. Wasn’t there mention of a feature where other players’ armies, or copies thereof, could attack your settlement? Would those need to be treated largely as NPC enemies? Would players directing their armies to attack other players’ settlements be treated to an NPC-held copy? Many of these details are required to hash out how feeding armies will work.

In any scenario, feeding an army should be more difficult than feeding a village - be it due to distance, consumption rate, or other factors.


#17

great topic!

as is my style, i’m going to oversimplify things and provide my braindump… using one of @Atralane’s original suggestions, we could potentially craft packs which would then be “filled” over time (perhaps even provide the means to determine what the pack will carry, similar to the stockpile zones), and used by units to fan out from the original settlement…

commence with (potentially screwy) pseudo exploration gameplay mechanics!

  • the player crafts a pack
  • the packs gets dropped into a stockpile
  • the player selects the pack and gets prompted for what items to have stored (berries, meat, etc.)
  • units will then “add” those items to the pack (from an existing stockpile), and once it is filled (whatever that may equate to) it has some visual FX applied to it (similar to the profession tools sitting in a stockpile, ready for promotion)
  • the pack can now be assigned to a unit (similar to the promotion method)
  • once that pack is assigned, the unit is promoted to an “explorer”
  • they can then be sent on their merry way (however that process is handled? waypoints, general AI mechanic to radiate out from the campfire?)
  • the unit could live off the rations in the pack, possibly setting up a temporary camp of sorts at night
  • once the items have been half consumed, the unit can begin his trek back to the main camp?

#18

As above, I do like the idea of logistics as a complex task. Mind you, I see offensive army operation as being largely unnecessary in a singleplayer game: most enemies will I imagine either arrive from “off screen” or not require the scale of fighting this kind of talk implies. Point is, if you do decide to play Napoleon or Alexander the Great… yeah, get them there spreadsheets ready :slight_smile: .

Consumption rate is probably the same for both, and it’ll likely be easier in terms of food variety (“biscuits, salted beef, lime juice, next!” etc), but distance and/or regular supplies are the big (BIG) issue.

[quote=“SteveAdamo, post:17, topic:7238”]as is my style, i’m going to oversimplify things and provide my braindump… using one of @Atralane’s original suggestions, we could potentially craft packs which would then be “filled” over time (perhaps even provide the means to determine what the pack will carry, similar to the stockpile zones), and used by units to fan out from the original settlement…

{snip}[/quote]
I mentioned… somewhere anyway, about the idea of a knapsack for the trapper that would let him eat & sleep out in the wild when far from your settlement, instead of always having to return to it whilst hunting etc. Main difference between your idea & mine though - my knapsack was of the “unlimited food” variety - once made, it didn’t need refilling (mainly to reduce micro etc).

That IMHO is the problem with your backpack idea insofar as the UI is concerned: if you want several, then you have to faff around (re-)filling each one individually. Personally I would prefer it if the crafting recipe included either specific foodstuffs (“two bolts of cloth, two baskets of turnips, and a basket of corn”) or was just a “two bolts of cloth + three food (any kind)” style of recipe. If you insist on refilling it (which is logical after all), the unit with the backpack should do so automatically, either from the specific foodstuffs used in the pack’s creation, or from the nearest source of public (that is, “not being eaten or hoarded by someone as their private property”) food.


#19

excellent point… i was envisioning an empty pack in the stockpile and an option to select food types to be added (from the available stockpiles)… and thought that once the process was complete, that the visual queue would then trigger the same promotion mentality we have with the existing class tools… i hadnt really considered the requirement for refilling… which leads to

i missed this earlier, but love the concept! this opens up the possibility of simply having multiple backpack recipes (vegetable pack, fruit pack, meat pack, “combo” pack, etc.), with each recipe having the items plainly spelled out, as you suggested…

since the item had a specific “makeup” when it was crafted, it makes it simpler to “refill” when necessary… makes the entire concept much more fluid! :+1:


#20

This is a nice idea–simplifies a lot of the micro- issue, just make sure you keep producing those particular foodstuffs! It might also help to be able to specify from which stockpiles the settlers are allowed to take from to refill the packs, maybe even have a specific “pack” zone (might be pushing it).

If they do need to be refilled (rather than magical backpack of eternal food) with only a certain food, what would we do with the old packs? Say for example, turnips or corn, which are pretty basic starter vegetables, compared to something like meat or prepared meals. Should they be able to be recycled or repurposed, or would it be too much trouble and we should just pitch them (once we get a “trash” command)?