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I'm currently building a world war game with a timeline between the first world war up to current days. In the game there will be many fighting units with a diversified range of classes and sub-classes. Also there will be around 5 to 6 resources where the player will have to manage because every equipment will have a different trend on cost. Some examples that I have in mind for resources:

  • Money (Main resource. Used to build buildings and fund researches);
  • Manpower (Used mainly to make disposable infantry units);
  • Steel (Used everywhere in fighting units. Used a lot in armored units);
  • Oil (The heavier, the costlier);
  • Rare Materials (Used in... I'm not really sure where);
  • Electronics (Used in modern units);

Here are some examples of fighting units:

  • Early Anti-Tank Gun
    • Class: Anti-Tank
    • Sub-class: Stationary
  • Self-propelled artillery
    • Class: Artillery
    • Sub-class: Self-propelled
  • Motorized Rocket artillery
    • Class: Rocket Artillery
    • Sub-class: Motorized
  • Machine Gun
    • Class: Infantry
    • Sub-class: Machine Gun

And I'm currently facing two problems:

  • There will be many fighting units and as time passes the player will have to retire some of its older equipment. And the problem is that warfare and the purpose for each war equipment changes through time, so: how do I classify all these fighting units from a very broad timeline?
  • Also I'm trying to make the player have a very balanced army. If he decides to go full on planes he will soon lack some resource that is crucial to building planes. Or if he spams cheap infantry he will run out of manpower, so: How do I balance the player resources? Which ones should I use? (This can also be manipulated so that in the future I can have a world map where the player plays as a certain country that has a higher production of a given resource in a way that he can play/is forced to play with a certain army configuration)

I'm currently making this system of units and resources to later have many playing modes like world conquest, survive waves of incoming enemy units, missions with rewards, and many others.

Two sources I'm currently using: Wikipedia (for information on technologies used during a given time and trying to make a classification system) and Hearts of Iron 4 (the resources system). My game will be played on the browser (until I change my mind), so It can't be very calculation-intensive such as HoI4. Current prototype is in pure JavaScript that simulates a very simple the battle.

This is my very first game that is more than a couple of source files long and that will probably require a lot more thinking than coding at first. I'm currently very lost. I feel like if I go head-on making the game and the user interface I will eventually hit a wall because "I haven't thought enough" about how the game mechanics.

Edit:

The battle mechanics is almost done. If needed, I can describe it how it is, but think of it as a very simple one, like machine guns and artillery are good against infantry, anti-tank... well..., planes are good against bombers, CAS against land units and so on. Also there will be ships and submarines...

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    \$\begingroup\$ You are asking two unrelated questions here, one about unit classification and one about resource balance. In this case you should also post two separate questions so people who can answer one question but not the other can give you an answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Philipp Jan 28 at 14:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes they are related. I seek to balance the user resources based on a classification of units... \$\endgroup\$ – LeoVen Jan 28 at 14:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ The balance of a game is a very broad subject. As a game developer, its up to you how to define it and implement it. Would you like the war to end with one battle? Or would you like the war to be hundreds of battles? You want players to have a massive army, or just one squad each? Do you want the user to play and finish the game within 5 minutes or after a couple of months of playing? Answering these questions plus a few more similar ones can help you go to the right track. \$\endgroup\$ – TomTsagk Jan 28 at 14:40
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In both cases, unit and resource properties will dictate mechanics, and mechanics will direct player actions.

Q1: How do I classify all these fighting units from a very broad timeline?

Really if you look at the military unit concept, not much has changed to some extent. Range attackers have been range attackers for thousands of years. Early on it was someone throwing a spear, then a bow that shot farther, then an artillery, then a rocket. But the concept is the same - stand away from the enemy and cause damage from a distance, but don't let the enemy get close.

To implement this, you should look at defining units by attributes. E.g,, short versus long range attack (artillery vs machine gun), mobile vs stationary, high damage vs low damage, slow travel speed (soldier on foot) vs high travel speed (airplane).

Then over time, you increase the abilities of units by upgrading their attributes. An early infantry unit can't travel as fast, nor shoot as far, nor do as much damage as a modern infantry unit for example. An early tank can't go as fast, can't take as much damage, and can't shoot as far as a modern tank.

From the perspective of unit evolution over the time period of the game, the thing you should do is figure out how to modify over time the attributes of unit types as they upgrade. A player will not want to keep using outdated units because newer versions of the same unit type will outmatch them in combat.

Q2: How do I balance the player resources?

Each type of unit has strengths and weaknesses, and you need to create unit types that both contrast and compliment each other.

The range attacker for example can cause damage at range, but if engaged in direct combat is weak. So artillery is powerful against infantry if the infantry is not close by. But if infantry can directly attack artillery, the artillery is weak.

Where actual resources CAN work is with the idea of upgrades, and your first question. Let resources be the thing you need in order to upgrade your units. So modern infantry needs more oil in order to transport units farther and faster. But unlike infantry, airplanes need factories and oil.

Summary

In a nutshell, units are defined by their attributes (good and bad). Units get better over time by having those attributes go up as part of upgrades. Upgrades require resources.

Balance is created by creating complimentary and contrasting unit attributes, and structuring resources such that resource availability dictates the types of upgrades that can be done.

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