In case you didn’t see T90 put out a video asking for the dock to be reworked and suggestions made:
A lot of comments came forward suggesting having two different docks. 1 eco dock and 1 military dock (shipyard)
I like this idea a lot. I thought I’d make a post to help boost it so devs can see it.
All military ships and upgrades visible in one menu of shipyard (and in appropriate spots)
All eco ships and upgrades visible in one menu of shipyard (and in appropriate spots)
Now you can set separate gather points for fishing ships and military ships.
You can continue to invest into fish, while still producing military
Choosing to fight for water becomes more of a choice.
Generally makes sense with the rest of the game (you don’t have to choose between creating villagers and militia)
Would you like 2 docks?
Personally I’d also like to see separate upgrades for Galley/Fire/Demo lines, to make tech switching more of a choice. But lets stick to one thing at a time I guess.
I like the intent of T90’s video, but I don’t think any changes are necessary; most of the issues he raises involve new players not knowing how basic things work. Seems to me that new players should learn how the game works as the first line of defense, and changing the game should be the last. Sure there are some intuitive changes that might be nice, like moving all military units to the first page of the dock, and eco units to the second. But it’s hard to see this as some kind of “bug” or thing that needs fixing when it can be entirely overcome with a tiny amount of knowledge and experience.
Making 2 kids of docks has no influence on whether or not you can do this: the true constraint is wood. You can already just build another dock just to make fishing ships, but doing so will put you behind on water battles, same as if there were 2 types of docks.
You’ve covered the pros of 2 docks, I’ll go over the cons:
-Lack of flexibility: If you make too many eco docks, they can’t make military when you might need them to, and vice versa.
-Greater investment into water, and greater punishment for making the “wrong” choice. Everyone is going to fish on water, so this is a given. Then everyone is going to want to make military to protect their fish and/or attack the enemy. So it will play out similarly to how it does now, but with more wood investment (to build both kind of docks), less flexibility, and more resources lost if you lose water.
-2 Types of docks might also be confusing to new players (since that is the standard of the video). What if they get confused because the buildings look too similar, and they build a fishing dock when they meant to build a shipyard (or vice versa)?
-Clutters the villager interface with 1 more building that doesn’t add any functionality. If you think docks having 2 pages is confusing, wait til you learn the same is true of villagers, only worse.
This is the only reason which I would think makes having 2 docks a good idea; if they fundamentally transform the water meta by adding 2+ generic warship types (could be boarding ships, ramming ships, etc).
I like most of his suggestions, but i didnt hear about the two docks idea. I also dont like the two docks idea at all. The ideas of T90 were about how to better understand water play for newer players. Not for an total overhaul of the water meta. So i am not really sure why the two docks idea is linked to his vid.
I am in for the idea of 2 docks and it was one of the things planned for AoK (something named Port).
Dock: economic building in which fishing ships and villagers (except farmers) can drop off food. Creates: Fishing Ship, Transport Ship, Trade Cog (latter requires market). Has the following upgrades: Gillnets, Shipwright, Careening, Dry Dock. Has the fish trap queue things as well.
Port: Military building only available in Feudal Age. Along with Blacksmith, Market, Archery Range, Stable, it can be built as a requirement for Castle Age. Can train Galleys, Fire Galleys, Demolition Rafts, Cannon Galleons in this order. The 2nd line contains the respective upgrades. The third line is for unique warships.
Thalassocracy - basically Tigui on water, enables your civilian building to be able to shoot projectiles without need for garrison (basically no change, but clarify that the effect is limited to Dock, not Port)
I found the dock quite intuitive, but I will admit adding the raft and such did change its logic. This created confusion since I had not played in years when DE came out. Perhaps the War Galley upgrade should be renamed High Sail Warships, that way it covers all three.
Having seperate types of docks adds layers of complexity, and changes the utility of the building entirely. Will I have to have 2 docks to fend off a sneak who is raiding my pond with 1? How much would each dock cost? Will fishing ships, trade cogs, and villagers be able to drop off at both, or will I need to spend much time and wood on the coast? Would both build transports? How would this affect the notorious issue of Cog traffic? I do not see the building as it is as problematic.
As for the prospect of reorganizing the menu, I think that could be a free ingame mod, that players are immediately informed of when installing the game.
I linked it because in the video he asked for suggestions and lots of people independently made this suggestion. So it’s linked because it was caused by the video.
Yes you can learn how it works, but T90s point seems to be the current system actively hinders peoples learning and understanding.
This is true, and you can also even say it’s worse because you can only create 1 of each, instead of 2 of one type under the current system. Though I would take that trade off personally, so that I can use the gather points effectively. This benefit is definitely more mid/late game I guess.
My thoughts on your ‘cons’
Lack of flexibility: I think this turns it into more of a strategy choice, do you put wood into farms or archers? Do you put wood into eco docks or military docks? But yes it is less flexibly.
I’d like to see how things play out with separate upgrades for the 3 ships, it would provide less flexibility in the same way… but I wonder if it might make water less stale. Imagine everyone just having access to upgrade all land units (or even just the trash units) with one tech and all production buildings built all the units. Certainly a lot more flexible, but now less interesting since you just make the counters without having to make a difficult choice.
Which leads nicely onto your next con.
Punishment for making the “wrong” choice: Yes if you have to make choices then you can get ‘punished’ but I’d argue that it’d make for more interesting game play (see above). I don’t know that it would cost more wood investment. As you pointed out currently you can just make more docks and if you’re fighting for water you’re likely to make 2 or even 3 docks. If anything, you’re spending less resources initially since you can only build out of one of your docks. It would slow water down by a whole dock. Which again, might not be a bad thing. It might make it less ‘snowbally’ which people complain about. Slowed down water, means more time to assess whether you can win or give up on it.
2 Types of docks might also be confusing to new players + get confused because the buildings look too similar. This seems no different from building a mining camp vs a lumber camp. Making it clear what building it is will be down to the art department. Certainly seems easier to navigate than current system.
I think it does add functionality, and villagers have two buttons to press 1) for eco 2)for military. After you’ve clicked you can cycle between them, but initially you have to choose. I don’t know, maybe this is a solution for the dock. Click the dock, then click 1)eco ships 2)military ships. Not the worst idea ever.
I would like more ships too. A light siege ship in castle age would be great.
That’s a good point for maps like 4 lakes. It’s easier to raid ponds since they won’t be able to defend as quickly, but perhaps people would find new ways of defending without building the 2nd dock.
Who knows what would be implemented but my gut reactions to your other questions are:
Dock costs: Not sure, probably the same.
Fish Vills Trade would only drop off at eco docks
Eco would build transports
Cog traffic would likely remain unaffected since all docks are still placed on the shore. However Cog traffic might get better/less congested because you build military docks on the front and eco docks at the back. Now cogs only go to eco docks, you have more control over the cog route, so they go the back route and don’t bump into all your new lovely warships being created at the front.
I think someone has made a mod since the video went live to test if T90s suggestions would be good. Yep just looked it up, it’s called “DockRework” and I’m going to download and try it out now.
Gut reaction would be ‘no’ but it would need to be tested ofc.
Phew, exciting stuff. thanks for all the responses.
I’ll start with suggestions that impact gameplay dynamics.
I. The most common suggestion - separate economic/civilian & military docks - have gameplay repercussions.
If the two buildings each cost the same resources (and time) as the original dock, investing in water becomes more expensive.
If the econ dock is cheaper (& faster to build), it makes fishing fleets cheaper; if the mil dock is cheaper (& faster to build), it makes navies cheaper…
OTOH this change still doesn’t solve the problem of water game being simplistic.
II. Under the video, there’s the suggestion to make a separate building for researching all water techs & upgrades, allowing the Dock to be dedicated to unit production.
I think its main downside is in UX design: it deviates from the AOE2 logic that all unit upgrades are researched in the same buildings that produce the units.
III. I’ve seen a more radical proposal as part of a complete water game overhaul: add more military ship types, and have two dock buildings that each produce a different lineup of military ships.
This has the potential of making the water game less one-dimensional, by introducing a meaningful “which building to build” choice similar to the land game.
(Compatibility isn’t an unsolvable problem: legacy scenarios can keep using legacy gameplay.)
However, it is significantly more cognitive load on the player for the water sub-game.
And arguably it’s not enough, since the choice is still only between 2 buildings, compared to a Meso civ’s 3 land unit producers (Barracks, Archery, Siege) and a “normal” civ’s 4.
Now, if all you want is UI improvement with no gameplay overhaul, there’s an answer I find obvious. I’ve been advocating for it since AoE2DE was announced, and I’m curious why FE never used the chance of AoE2DE to put it in place.
First, the current Dock’s command panel uses AoE2’s built-in panel-expanding feature.
A unit-producing building’s command panel’s Column 5 is always reserved for system functions (Set Rally Point, Ungarrison, Next Page), and you cannot assign units or techs to them.
As a scenario designer or modder, you can assign units or techs to a building’s 2nd page, and a Next Page button will automatically appear when needed.
However, since the Dock is the only standard game building that has a 2nd page, if we keep AoE2DE’s panel UI without major changes (like adding panel tabs, or displaying both pages simultaneously), my proposal is to implement a different panel schema for the Dock (preferrably not hardcoded like Villagers are; modders have suffered enough from hardcoded features already):
Example layouts, designed to be as close to current positions as possible to ease veteran re-orientation.
Put all unit productions on the 1st page. You always see this production page when a Dock is selected.
Put all techs on the 2nd page. After selecting a Dock, you always need to click on the “Research” button to switch to this 2nd page.
The logic of doing that should be clear: by definition, tech buttons are each used only once, and can afford needing an additional click to reach, while military units should always be on the 1st layer.
The original design has this problem where users didn’t notice there’s a 2nd page, because: 1) the button is placed on the 5th “system functions” column, which users get trained by the game to ignore; 2) the red arrow button is not eye-catching enough there.
To fix the problem, the Research/Build switch button should be:
Located in the same Row 3 Column 4 position as the Villager panel, to stand out and be consistent with Villagers;
Have an eye-catching icon, like a glittering golden upward arrow.
Also as suggested by T90 and commenters under his video, the War Galley upgrade indeed needs a better name and an icon that’s split three ways (by “Y”-shaped dividing lines) showing 3 ship images.
There are a few open questions on details of implementation:
Whether the Research page is equal-ranking to Build in the UI hierarchy, or a sub-page like the Building pages are to the Villager. The difference occurs after the user has clicked on a tech to start its research. In the former case, the user will stay on Research; in the latter, the user will return to Build.
What conditions make the Research button visible? What happens after a user clicks on the last available tech?
Eh, seems like a lot of effort for such a minor problem. Sure, maybe organize the units in a more intuitive way and make the arrow button shinier, then call it a day. Then the devs can work on things that are actually severely broken.
I think we all know that nobody would have made this thread if T90 hadn’t put the spotlight on this “issue.”
UX is an extremely important part of software design. Good UX design helps new users adapt to a game, and improve the veterans’ quality-of-life. Their benefits are long-lasting.
Since the AoE2HD days, I’ve accumulated pages upon pages of notes on the AoE series’ UX. If T90 hadn’t done a video about it, I might’ve made a thread on this very topic (and many other UX topics) myself next week.
Ideally there should also be no tradeoff between UX work vs. fixing bugs. Though admittedly, the tech development fortunes of the DEs have been less than ideal.
(Also, this topic isn’t only about UX; it also has discussion on revamping water gameplay mixed in from the beginning.)
Sure, but I maintain the dock UI is nowhere near the steepest part of the learning curve for AoE2. Should it be changed? Maybe, but I’d have it wait in line behind dozens of more pressing issues.
For me, and probably a lot of people, a lot of the bugs directly detract from the UX. Basic functions of the Scenario Editor not working kind of makes it useless, regardless of whatever fancy stuff they add on top of a broken system. Others have had similarly game-ruining experiences with unit pathing, or other issues.
Sure, but there’s a trending thread that is more specifically about that, so I’d save that discussion for it. Independent of that aspect, the changes proposed here would have an extremely minor impact on my gameplay at least, i.e they’re worth implementing if it can be done with very low effort.
yes of course. Most importantly more units are needed. A fast but weak and cheap raiding ship, a strong fast anti-galley type ship with low range but more expensive, tanky but slow and low range ship which can destroy buildings fast along coast or on mangrove terrains which can’t be destroyed by galleys and need fires/demos and so on. There should also be possibility of defenses on sea - like sea towers from the campaigns, harbors being available to all civs but shoot only 1 projectile while Malay ones shoot multiple (similar to Yasama vs regular towers on land), builder ships that can also build along the coast but take longer time to build compared to villagers and most importantly fishing ship should have the ability to fight. Maybe 1 range and 2 attack or something like that, so that if there are 10 fishing ship and one galley or fire galley arrives they don’t have to run all the way and can just kill that ship, similar to villager vs archer.
I don’t like It, looks like 2 docks idea would completely kill hybrid maps, just Imagine “military docking” an enemy pond on cross, and then not being able to fish from it until you invest additional res in the eco dock. In general, It would raise the investment into going water and would probably turn Hybrid maps into sth like land maps with a bit of early fishing boost
For those who say docks are the only thing with a second page: please don’t forgot villagers. They have also two pages and no one really complains about that part.
I would move some dock tech/units to other pages so we have a clear eco page and a mil page. Separating these might be enough for me. This is also in line with what T90 himself suggests.
There is no need to go for two types of docks. It will really mess up the water play and I think it makes it even less popular. 2 docks isn’t the solution to make water more popular.
T90 also mentions that LELs build transports instead of fires or something like that. I think that is due to a conflicting hotkey. Both panels use the grid hotkeys, so the upper left starts in both panels is a Q, the one next to it a W, … So being in the wrong panel result in making a different unit. The same is true for a villager trying to make buildings. It does matter if you are on the eco page or mil page. Pros probably have their own hotkeys, so they don’t run into this issue any more, but LELs who just start to use hotkeys will probably have the default ones and thus they do run into this issue.
I don’t think 2 docks will help water gameplay. But after listening to all his ideas, I’m finding them interesting. I like that they will bring general order and tidiness, plus making dock upgrades more intuitive.
Other changes I’d like to see are 1. change demolition ships to be more anti building, less anti ships. 2. A new ship that deals meele damage. So the rock-paper-scissors system in water is more similar to the ground counterpart (infantry-archers-cavalry).