Initial land expansion...what direction and how big?


Pathfinder Online

Goblin Squad Member

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Warning....wall of text. (There are previous posts about land expansion, but little detail.)

OK. I am rereading the blog from the beginning and was scribbling on a piece of hex paper and crunching some numbers based on the original size of the proposed gaming area (11 miles by 12 miles consisting of 256 hexes) each about 1.34 square miles in area). Doing some calculations, if my group (doesn't matter what it is called) establishes a settlement in a hex, and three allied groups establish settlements in equidistant hexes three hexes away...that will give our four communities effective control (at least within a line drawn around the perimeter of the three outlying settlements) of 63 hexes. (Let's assume this is a "good" settlement. There will also be an evil settlement, and likely several neutral settlements, so everyone will have access to some sort of higher level training. That's well over half the map!)

So, if the entire initial area is 256 hexes, and we created a player kingdom, we would control almost 25% of the map. I know it is early, and I know the developers have crunched a lot more numbers than I have (well, used a big spreadsheet with fancy equations on it), but this seems like a really small area to start in.

Unless a large expansion of the playable area is already planned as the community grows! Certainly this must be the plan because I can easily see four solid groups building settlements as early as possible and forming a player nation to control 25% of the map.

Expanding the playable game area to the east (doubling it) would give 512 hexes. Stacking more to the north and east (say another 12 miles longitude and 11 miles latitude) giving four total rectangles the same size as the original starting area, and now encompassing the western third of the Echo Wood, providing players with 1024 hexes, about 528 square miles.

NOW we’re talking about player kingdoms, but the same group would only control 6% of the map!

Not trying to put any pressure on the development team, but if you are planning on growing your player base at a steady rate ala EVE Online, I hope you are also planning on greatly expanding the playable area on a fairly regular schedule. It will be far easier once your terrain creation engine and seeding systems are polished, but I see a real squeeze coming. (Conflict creation anyone?)

A wild guess at some numbers at 3 months with 5,000 regular characters logged in at any time …

Initial size - 132 square miles Initial Hexes – 256 Starting player base – 5,000 Avg players per hex – 19.5

Most will be concentrated in the first few months in the original settlements and will spread out slowly learning the mechanics and skill systems, honing combat skills and clearing land. Keep in mind the cities will be stacked deep with life, while many hexes will be empty most all the time. Some skirmishes have had 25-50 players involved.

After six months, maybe 10,000 characters logged in?

Initial Size – 132 square miles Initial Hexes – 256 Current player base – 10,000 Avg players per hex – 39

Most will be stacked up in cities, either new players in starting cities or player groups in new settlements. Most hexes will most often be empty, with passing groups exploring land and clearing the more difficult hexes in preparation for construction where possible. Battles with over 100 players have already occurred.

After 18 months, another 5,000?

Initial Size – 132 square miles Initial Hexes – 256 Current player base – 15,000 Avg players per hex – 58.5

Cities are getting very crowded. The starting cities are regularly jammed with new arrivals. The earliest settlements are getting pretty advanced and the earliest characters are starting to be able to consider large combat scenarios. Larger skirmishes have already occurred with over 250 combatants, though full out sieges of settlements seems unlikely (could be wrong here).

Let’s go another year out. Technical bugs are rare. Word has spread through the sandbox MMO community the game is a lot of fun and players who don’t mind some PvP risk come in to check it out. In this year I think you could realistically see at least another 10-15,000 new players. So we are 2 ½ years in, the first players are just now getting their 20th merit badge securing the most powerful skills of their class. Many groups have tried some of the toughest PvE encounters, and some have succeeded. Most of the land has been well explored many times over and the early players are getting itchy.

Initial Size – 132 square miles Initial Hexes – 256 Current player base – 25,000 Avg players per hex – 98

If I am right (it’s all a guess anyway, right?), after 2 ½ years, all the players cities will be busting at the seams, the starting cities will be totally unable to manage the crowds who will be moving out as soon as they are able. Thieves and ne’er-do-wells will heavily populate all major population centers to get as much easy loot as possible. The largest player organizations will be competing fiercely for control of land and several large player run settlements will have by now been destroyed in large scale battles with siege engines and up to 1,000 players fighting in the field in the biggest battles.

This would be the time to introduce fast travel (mounts, if not already introduced) and expand the playable map space. Player kingdoms will have been started, some successful, some already gone (if the mechanics are is place and tested thoroughly).

So, what direction to expand? (Along with my guesses.)

East, to include more of the River Kingdoms. Mostly plains and forest land. Great for farming, timber, open land ready for the largest settlements, and more chaos. (Deemed most likely)

North, to include the western part of the Echo Woods and possibly that southern tip on Numeria (Castle Urion is run by worshipers of Iomedae, which fits with the current starting dieties). (Deemed likely)

West, to include parts of Ustalav. Initially this area would look much like the River Kingdoms, as a land expansion large enough to include mountains in Ustalav would be enormous…likely far too large for one land expansion. (Deemed unlikely) (One of my mains will be a Dwarf and wants to see some area near a mountain or large foothills to establish a proper Dwarven stronghold. The River Kingdoms doesn’t seem to have anything of the sort.)

South, again, much like an expansion to the east with more open plains and less forest. Not heard much about the South, as the general trend and the back story has our Crusaders all traveling north to the World Wound. (Deemed unlikely)

Goblin Squad Member

A niche pvp sandbox game may not have quite the number of characters online at one time that you are projecting.

I am curious on future expansion plans however. Some of us just like to get far away from civilization.

Goblin Squad Member

(double entry)

Goblin Squad Member

It's a guess. Normally there are many more accounts active than there are players actively playing. EVE claims 500k accounts, but there are normally only 50,000 playing at any one time.

EVE also has 5,431 star systems, while PFO will start with 256 hexes.

Goblin Squad Member

Yeah, Eve has roughly 50k playing. Also though, some of that is people with 2+ characters.

It will take several years to see those numbers, but if they hit the right things... PFO could very well steal plenty of players from several Fantasy games.

Goblinworks Executive Founder

For 10% of the subscriber base to be playing at the average time, the average player would have to spend about 17 hours a week playing.

Peak times, however, need to be designed for, and I don't think that 40-50% participation during peak times is a bad design criteria.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

Hardin, that's an excellent and thoughtful post. A couple of comments:

It'll be interesting to see how big a single hex feels when playing. If they are as expansive as an Eve system then having multiple tens of players won't feel crowded. And given that some players will be stay-at-home crafting or trading types, the remote wilderness may feel empty longer than average players per hex suggests.

I wonder how many characters it will take to build a reasonable settlement? High tens, or high hundreds, or over a thousand? Again, that will influence the timing of land take up and expansion requirements.

How did you get to 63 hexes controlled by 3 settlements with a gap of 3 hexes between the settlements? I make that a triangle with each side 5 hexes long, which covers 15 hexes.

Goblin Squad Member

Will Cooper wrote:
How did you get to 63 hexes controlled by 3 settlements with a gap of 3 hexes between the settlements? I make that a triangle with each side 5 hexes long, which covers 15 hexes.

It's a central settlement, with three settlements radiating out in a sort of circle (say, N 3, SW 3, and SE 3). If you draw a ring around those three exterior settlements you have a bigger hex. My counting was off tho, by a full circle. (That outer ring is 18 hexes along the perimeter, but I included an extra ring which would be 24 hexes around the perimeter. My bad.) The settlements would (or should) try to maintain control of their full perimeter by patrolling in a big circle (or something like it.

BUT, yeah, my numbers are off. Should be 37 hexes for the full area vs. 63, so 14.5% +/-, not 25%. Still, land will be scarce if these numbers are anything close to accurate. (Woulda been 61 anyway. Hexes boggle me I guess.)

CEO, Goblinworks

Note, those EVE numbers are usually PEAK concurrent users, not average concurrent users. ACU is usually about 60-70% of PCU.

Goblin Squad Member

I was also troubled by the "... effective control... of 63 hexes" part. I'm not sure that treating it like 37 hexes really changes anything. I think if you and three "friends" each have a Settlement, then you'll be in effective control of 4 hexes. I don't see how having a Settlement a hex or two away will give you any more control over a wilderness hex than if you had your Settlement four or five hexes away.

Hardin Steele wrote:
So, what direction to expand? (Along with my guesses.)

I already replied in another thread, but figured I could repost here too.

Nihimon wrote:
Hardin Steele wrote:
Which leads me to ask "What are the plans for future land expansion? More of the River Kingdoms? An expansion to the north through Numeria (since the Crusaders are heading north to the World Wound)? West to Ustalav?

I asked this some time ago. I don't think they've given any further information since then. I think it will stay in the River Kingdoms for the foreseeable future.

From Goblinworks Blog: RESPECT: Find Out What It Means to Me!:

Ryan Dancey wrote:
Nihimon wrote:
1. Can you tell us in which direction the map is likely to expand?

It will not grow into the surrounding nations, at least not on any timeframe we're thinking about.

The question becomes: Do we want a contiguous map, or do we want to have a patchwork map connected by some kind of gates? There are merits to both, and frankly I'm not going to worry about it much until I get 256 Crusader Road hexes figured out first. :)

Goblin Squad Member

Nihimon, I did see the previous discussion thread(s), there are at least a couple. Months old now, but I did read through those before splattering the wall up there. But the effective control concept is a basic military concept. Yes, you will have to establish the settlements, and you will certainly need a standing army to patrol the areas within your perimeter. But that is a critical element to having a secure kingdom (even one "as small as four settlements").

If the bad guys want to have four settlements spread out like that and not patrol them (thereby maintaining effective control), I hope they do so.

Goblin Squad Member

Hardin Steele wrote:
But the effective control concept is a basic military concept.

I'm just trying to understand your rationale for determining which hexes can be in your perimeter. My understanding is that you'll be patrolling the Hex that contains your Settlement in order to maintain effective control of that Hex. Once you start patrolling Hexes where you don't have a Fort or Settlement, why is a Hex that's two hexes away different than a Hex that's three hexes away?

Scarab Sages Goblin Squad Member

I remember a dev post I can't find right now said that a settlement will require several hundred (250-500) players to be sustainable. With that in mind, it seems unlikely that you and three friends could deadlock a region even 37 hexes in size without working with thousands of players. That is a player nation, and you can't make one by simply squatting in four hexes. You have to have thriving settlements that will attract that many people to live in your area and want to play the game in your alignment and by your laws. If you can do that, then you DESERVE to control that much land.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

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Hardin Steele wrote:
...Yes, you will have to establish the settlements, and you will certainly need a standing army to patrol the areas within your perimeter. But that is a critical element to having a secure kingdom (even one "as small as four settlements").

I'm not sure we've seen much about how a player organisation can effectively control territory beyond its actual settlements. We have heard about watch towers, but I had the impression that they were more precursors to settlements than something to put up in nearby hexes to exert control.

Which leads me to another thought. In Eve, the connections between systems are relatively sparse - there may be gates to 0, 1 or multiple other systems. This means that the map has natural chokepoints where a strong defense can effectively protect a significant number of 'internal' systems. In PFO my current unexamined expectation is that every hex is accessible from all 6 neighboring hexes (except at the edge of the map). This is a significantly different tactical situation - and could make defense difficult.

So I'll be keen to see if there are effective 'travel blockers' that carve up the map to provide for some choke-points. These could be natural - rivers, mountains, impenetrable forrests. Or they could be man made - walls and palisades.

Liberty's Edge Goblin Squad Member

Nihimon, I can't locate the info on sub-hexes, might you be able to link to it? I think some thought as to what sub-hexes may mean to a settlement might come in handy in this thread. IIRC, it is 7 sub-hexes to each hex, but since I can't find the info at this moment, i am not 100% sure on the number, but with each sub-hex being something you can explore and get resources from, it means that there will be plenty of places to expand within the current region as is, leaving GW to decide what and how to expand this area. Even if they simply went north and south along the Crusader Road for the same number of hexes currently planned, it won't touch any existing nations.

I see the Crusader Road area as sort of the equivalent of the Kingmaker AP Stolen Lands (just on a different side of the River Kingdoms) - not overly large, but holding great possibilities. Until all those possibilities are exhausted, I see no reason for GW to expand (at least into new territory - they could always explore underground). I also suspect that Paizo would want to keep the land area of the MMO relatively small so that existing and future AP's won't need to be changed, or revisited. One good thing about Golarion is that it is just one planet in a solar system of many planets, many inhabited (heck, even the sun is, as it holds a Goddess' realm within it, though unless an herbalist or alchemist invents an SPF 1,000,000 sun block I wouldn't advise visiting it).

@ Will, I agree, though no mountains exist in this area, but rivers do, many wide and deep, as well as deep forests.

Goblin Squad Member

I don't see the concern, we have no reason to believe the lines between hexes will have any meaning or measure of territory control. What we know is that the cost of expansion increases exponentially. At a certain point, it will cost more coin than exists in the game to increase your territory. I would like to see that number be less than 10 hexes.

Goblin Squad Member

What Hardin is talking about sounds like what we used to call 'zone of control' back in the day of hex-based board game war simulations (Avalon Hill). Zones of control were used to deny supply routes, assuming artillery fire and interdictions of supply in neighboring hexes to a mobile or entrenched force.
If that is right, then I have to say I doubt PFO will have anything similar, save that your settlement's foragers will have a relatively short walk to resources in thos adjacent hexes.

Goblin Squad Member

Imbicatus wrote:
I remember a dev post I can't find right now said that a settlement will require several hundred (250-500) players to be sustainable. With that in mind, it seems unlikely that you and three friends could deadlock a region even 37 hexes in size without working with thousands of players. That is a player nation, and you can't make one by simply squatting in four hexes. You have to have thriving settlements that will attract that many people to live in your area and want to play the game in your alignment and by your laws. If you can do that, then you DESERVE to control that much land.

This certainly would not be myself and three other players. More like me and 2499 other players. Ryan stated he thinks the largest settlements will house thousands of players, and that makes perfect sense. But it also makes sense that a part of that "membership" is a standing army "marking their territory" around the perimeter, securing that area within the perimeter so other players can set up farms, harvest natural resources, and provide internal security so merchants can do business without the constant threat of banditry.

Sure, some will slip through and commit individual crimes, but overall a "Player Nation" must have borders. The army will be the group that patrols those borders and keep the nation's leaders, people and economy safe.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

Valkenr wrote:

I don't see the concern, we have no reason to believe the lines between hexes will have any meaning or measure of territory control. What we know is that the cost of expansion increases exponentially. At a certain point, it will cost more coin than exists in the game to increase your territory. I would like to see that number be less than 10 hexes.

I don't have a concern, as such. But thinking about territorial control leads me to thinking about how to attack and defend that territory. And the topography of the map - fully connected as opposed to sparse vertices - has implications for defense, location of strong points, and meta-tactics of siting settlements and what areas become desirable.

Goblin Squad Member

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Will characters be able to traverse rivers? Obviously wagons are going to be limited to bridges but what about characters swimming across?

Goblin Squad Member

Will Cooper wrote:
I'll be keen to see if there are effective 'travel blockers' that carve up the map to provide for some choke-points.

I think Ryan is very committed to ensuring there aren't.

From Goblinworks Blog: A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Single Step:

Ryan Dancey wrote:
We're also going to ensure that there won't be startegic choke points in the core game regions that would let a group block access to critical resources or travel routes.

Goblin Squad Member

Gloreindl wrote:
Nihimon, I can't locate the info on sub-hexes, might you be able to link to it?

From Screaming for Vengeance:

Quote:
Our immediate development objective is to create the first of what will eventually be hundreds of hexes. A hex is the basic unit of territory in the game design. The team has decided that they wish to sub-divide the original hex into 7 "subhexes"—that's a central hex surrounded by 6 identically sized satellites. After making this change, we're now working on 7 hexes for our initial objective. The team is making this change to better facilitate territorial warfare, by creating intermediate points of control for settlements to contest, as opposed to an all-or-nothing contest if two settlements were immediately adjacent to one another. This design also makes it easier to visualize and implement things like escalation, and to reflect the impact of character actions on resources and wandering monsters at a higher degree of resolution.

Shadow Lodge Goblin Squad Member

I must admit, the scenario you described at the 2 1/2 year mark got me excited.

It would be really cool if the land expansion didn't happen until those kinds of pressures mounted. Perhaps some kind of in-game event would fire, "The lands of the Crusader Road are overflowing with adventurers and those that seek to profit from their presence. The only place left to go is East. The powers in the region must now compete to find routes through the echo wood to the east where further settlement can occur."

Or something like that. Actual competition for access would be bad, because large and powerful organizations could become more so by getting head starts. Perhaps the pressure triggers some scout finding the route, then bragging about it while totally wasted before he can sell it to the highest bidder, and it starts the mad rush to explore the new territory.

Goblin Squad Member

theStormWeaver wrote:

I must admit, the scenario you described at the 2 1/2 year mark got me excited.

It would be really cool if the land expansion didn't happen until those kinds of pressures mounted. Perhaps some kind of in-game event would fire, "The lands of the Crusader Road are overflowing with adventurers and those that seek to profit from their presence. The only place left to go is East. The powers in the region must now compete to find routes through the echo wood to the east where further settlement can occur."

Or something like that. Actual competition for access would be bad, because large and powerful organizations could become more so by getting head starts. Perhaps the pressure triggers some scout finding the route, then bragging about it while totally wasted before he can sell it to the highest bidder, and it starts the mad rush to explore the new territory.

When new lands open it will surely be a "Gold Rush" effect with thousands of players heading into new territoy to establish a foothold and build impressive new settlements. By that time I also believe most of the EE players will be maxed out in their original "class" and new crafting materials and skills will be available. I expect our first player-made artifact like objects to be made shortly after that time as well.

Goblin Squad Member

I bet territory is going to expand east at first and maybe south as well, as River kingdon is the right place to have lots of small kingdons, if we follow Golarion lore. Any expansion to north, for example, reaching numerian territory would be technically an invasion and the logical thing to happen is an armed response from Numeria.

Goblin Squad Member

The choice seems to be between expanding directly off the map in a way that multiple border hexes suddenly have new hexes beside them, or creating a single portal that effectively takes you to a new region, leaving the vast majority of the original map unchanged.

Because so much of the River Kingdoms hasn't really been developed, I don't see any compelling reason to create new maps for specific regions.

My main concern about contiguous map expansion is how it will impact Settlements that have hexes on the border that expands.

...

Ryan, would you care to share your analysis of what impact contiguous map expansion might have on border Settlements?

Scarab Sages Goblin Squad Member

As it stands, Border Settlements have both bonuses and penalties. They have bonuses in that they cannot be attacked from one side(maybe.. it's not clear yet if the settlement will end at the hex side or be a smaller structure within the hex). They have penalties in that they have less space available for resource gathering. The the game map expanded past their border, they would just go to being the same as a normal settlement.

Goblin Squad Member

As not all hexes will be available for colonization, maybe few or none border hexes will be available as well. At least before expansion. That would solve the advantage/disadivantage issue.

Liberty's Edge Goblin Squad Member

Nihimon wrote:

The choice seems to be between expanding directly off the map in a way that multiple border hexes suddenly have new hexes beside them, or creating a single portal that effectively takes you to a new region, leaving the vast majority of the original map unchanged.

Because so much of the River Kingdoms hasn't really been developed, I don't see any compelling reason to create new maps for specific regions.

My main concern about contiguous map expansion is how it will impact Settlements that have hexes on the border that expands.

Ryan, would you care to share your analysis of what impact contiguous map expansion might have on border Settlements?

I, too, would love to hear more from Ryan or whomever the Dev in charge of such things has in mind.

In the meantime, a suggestion: Since so little of the area east of the Lake of Mists is described (such as Iobaria), a gateway that leads there might be a good choice for future expansions.

Goblin Squad Member

Imbicatus wrote:
They have bonuses in that they cannot be attacked from one side(maybe.. it's not clear yet if the settlement will end at the hex side or be a smaller structure within the hex).

From Screaming for Vengeance:

Quote:
The team has decided that they wish to sub-divide the original hex into 7 "subhexes"—that's a central hex surrounded by 6 identically sized satellites. After making this change, we're now working on 7 hexes for our initial objective. The team is making this change to better facilitate territorial warfare, by creating intermediate points of control for settlements to contest, as opposed to an all-or-nothing contest if two settlements were immediately adjacent to one another.

It's certainly possible that the Settlement could occupy a border sub-hex, and they've generally left the door open to having a few special case hexes that have more than one Settlement, but based on that quote, I'm making the assumption that a Settlement will occupy the central sub-hex in a given hex, leaving some room for attackers to encircle it even on border hexes.

Goblin Squad Member

I would preffer no gateways but a progressive border expasion.

Scarab Sages Goblin Squad Member

Nihimon wrote:
Imbicatus wrote:
They have bonuses in that they cannot be attacked from one side(maybe.. it's not clear yet if the settlement will end at the hex side or be a smaller structure within the hex).

From Screaming for Vengeance:

Quote:
The team has decided that they wish to sub-divide the original hex into 7 "subhexes"—that's a central hex surrounded by 6 identically sized satellites. After making this change, we're now working on 7 hexes for our initial objective. The team is making this change to better facilitate territorial warfare, by creating intermediate points of control for settlements to contest, as opposed to an all-or-nothing contest if two settlements were immediately adjacent to one another.
It's certainly possible that the Settlement could occupy a border sub-hex, and they've generally left the door open to having a few special case hexes that have more than one Settlement, but based on that quote, I'm making the assumption that a Settlement will occupy the central sub-hex in a given hex, leaving some room for attackers to encircle it even on border hexes.

Yeah, I was thinking of subhexes when I posted.

Goblin Squad Member

@Imbicatus, I agree it's a very interesting topic and I'm extremely curious how the devs end up working it out. I don't know that I have any strong feelings one way or the other.

Goblin Squad Member

LordDaeron wrote:
I would prefer no gateways but a progressive border expansion.

My sentiment varies with consideration what the gateways lead to and what they are surrounded by.

If access to gateways can be denied to some because of alignment or affiliation, then gateways seem a bad idea. Other hand such fortifications might lead to interesting battles, but even then those would be between large and powerful kingdoms I suspect.

If there were smuggling routes, underground entrances, and wilderness traces that also lead to these gateways, then maybe the idea would be viable.

Goblin Squad Member

Being wrote:

What Hardin is talking about sounds like what we used to call 'zone of control' back in the day of hex-based board game war simulations (Avalon Hill). Zones of control were used to deny supply routes, assuming artillery fire and interdictions of supply in neighboring hexes to a mobile or entrenched force.

If that is right, then I have to say I doubt PFO will have anything similar, save that your settlement's foragers will have a relatively short walk to resources in thos adjacent hexes.

Agreed, I think in practical terms, a settlement is going to have a very difficult time exerting effective control into the hex's surrounding thier own...it would take a HUGE amount of players to do that on anything approaching a 24/7/365 basis. More likely they could be a fly in someone elses ointment if an unfreindly force tried to settle those hex's (conflict, yay!).

In practical terms, a really powerfull settlement might be able to do something closer to a "Sphere of Influence"... where they try to get it so the hex's being settled around them are mostly occupied by organizations that are reasonably palatible politicaly...and maybe leave open one avenue for expansion/growth for the organization.

That would probably be the more practical, "real-politik" approach...be able to exert enough influence that you get to have a little control over who your immediate neighbors will be.

Goblin Squad Member

GrumpyMel wrote:
In practical terms, a really powerfull settlement might be able to do something closer to a "Sphere of Influence"... where they try to get it so the hex's being settled around them are mostly occupied by organizations that are reasonably palatible politicaly...and maybe leave open one avenue for expansion/growth for the organization.

This is exactly the kind of thing I had in mind when I posted my questions in the Video Q&A thread.

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