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Éa Game Pacing

Discussion in 'Éa Fantasy Mod Project' started by Pazyryk, Sep 2, 2014.

  1. Pazyryk

    Pazyryk Deity

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    This discussion could easily fit in the "Balance" thread, but I thought it would be useful to deal with it separately. You can skip down to the bullet point questions if you don't have patience for long-winded posts.

    First, a little discussion of base Civ5 as I see it. Folks should know that I really think Civ5 developed into a great and well-balanced game, at least after it had time to bake for a while with patches and expansions. You shouldn't take my attempts to do something different as necessarily a negative assessment (although I may complain about specific parts of base game).

    Base Civ5 moves at a pretty steady rate. You get techs and policies every x turns, more or less. The only exception is the specific game mechanic where settling too many cities shuts down policy progression (which you all know I hate). Thankfully, that particular mechanic was toned down in BNW with addition of ideologies and removal of the "Complete-5-Policy-Branches Victory". Other than building too many cities, there are few things you could do (that is, playing in any sensible way) to really change these rates a great deal. Well, but you don't need to change it a great deal. If you have a 20% lead on AI for rate of techs, you will win by one VC or another. There's no need for base game to limit techs because, to put it simply, finishing tech tree = finishing game.

    I originally conceived of Éa as a "perpetual game" that could, in theory, go on forever, perhaps with players coming and going over time. That's not really what happened and it's no longer a goal or principle to adhere to, but it may explain some of the way it works. Within this perpetual world, players could specialize in techs and policies but never complete all techs/policies or even a substantial fraction of them. Hence KM and CL systems that make it near impossible to complete either.

    So even though I'm not attempting to make a perpetual game any longer, we still have this system (which evolved rather than being designed) where Victory Conditions are not strongly locked to completion of any "tree". It's true that getting a tier 7 tech is more or less equal to victory, but that's an unusual case rather than the rule.

    But that leads to the problem that a player can stagnate in techs/policies before they have won or lost, which likely leads to boredom. To some extent, this is inevitable given the open nature of the VCs. The way it is intended to work, however, is that in most games someone should be wrapping up victory as that inevitable stagnation sets in. There might still be that occasional game where victory was not certain or quick, but in that game maybe you are still interested because, against all odds, you think you can squeak out a victory and you are determined to fight it out to the bitter end. The way I see it, there are two things that can sustain interest in a Civilization game:
    1. continued progress of some sort such as in techs, policies, exploration and/or expansion, or
    2. you don't know what's going to happen and you want to find out.
    Almost all of my experience with base Civ5 is that it is sustained by #1 alone, and even that only for techs/policies (more on exploration below). The goal, which may be an impossible dream, is to see Éa sustained by both #1 and #2. There are a lot of different ways to try to do that. For example, simply throwing in more stuff (e.g., Enabled Policies) can allow longer/more sustained "progress", although there are limits to how far we can go with that. I think everyone agrees that Civ (all of them) have endgames where you know the outcome but it just goes on and on and on forever (how many players actually finish games?). So one thing I'd like to work toward is the principle: When victory becomes certain, it should also be quick.

    Notice that I included exploration in that list of "continued progress of some sort." This is probably my greatest disappointment with each new incarnation of Civilization. I always know all or most of the significant world by, say, 1000 BC, with some but not very much effort at all. It's as if the Egyptians sent out a reed boat that mapped all the shoreline of Africa, Europe and Asia, and maybe even the Americas. Even when there is a deep ocean barrier, my experience with Civ5 is that with Astronomy I build and send out one Caravel plus one land unit (a lingering scout or horseman) and complete mapping of the rest of the world very quickly. It's even worse put in terms of game hours. I've literally timed this before: 2 hrs to essentially complete map of land areas, 20 hrs to finish game ... so the exploration phase of the game finishes with 90% of game time left to play. And that (for me) is similar to having tech or policy progress stagnate. It's the end of an element of the game which happens to be very sustaining for me. It's inevitable, of course, but the timing is not. (On top of that, it's extremely unrealistic and unhistorical. And on top of that!, Civ5 punishes so severely for settling those new lands that I've been psychologically traumatized to no longer feel rewarded by finding new juicy, unoccupied city sites, as I used to be in earlier Civ incarnations.)

    So that gets us to the key points of discussion for pacing in Éa,
    • When does tech stagnation happen? When does policy stagnation happen? And are these stagnations abrupt, asymptotic, or something else?
    • When is your entire starting continent, or your "Africa/Eurasia-connected continent complex," fully known? When is the whole world known?
    • When is your civilization growth-stagnated -- i.e., no longer growing sideways or up?
    • When can/does a player (human or AI) achieve each of the Victory Conditions?
    • What is the proper relationship of the above to each other?
    • All of the above questions, at each game speed / map size combo.
    Getting the pacing right is basically a case of Dead Reckoning: I make course adjustments based where we are now and projections (that are not entirely accurate), then we see where we are after adjustments, then repeat. I don't really know the timing for anything after, say, turn 50 or thereabouts, so I'm entirely dependent on player feedback. Of course there is no single answer since every question depends on how you play. But even so, there could be a "what's typical" answer, which is what I'm really asking for. There are a lot of things that can be adjusted to speed or slow the timing of each item relative to the others, or to adjust for game speed and map size. And VCs can be reworked in any way we want, not just threshold levels but qualitatively if needed. It may be a long, long time before these are balanced properly to have a good overall pacing with many different play styles.
     
  2. Civitar

    Civitar Adventurer

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    Well, I don't know if this is the right place to put this, but here is something I'd thought of.

    You mentioned that Kraken were supposed to make sailing all over with your first boat impossible. Well, you need (a) a lot more Kraken than I've been seeing, or (b) Kraken in deep ocean. When first starting Éa, I tried to explore the edges of my continent with a boat of some sort, I think it was an old Biremes. Scurvy and coastal Kraken combined to sink that unfortunate boat very quickly.
    Then in my last game, I was Fomhóire so naturally was going to do a lot of exploration. But when I struck out into the deep ocean (which was massive btw, something like 50% of the map just open water), I was half-cringing every time I moved my Quinqueremes forward, expecting to see a sea monster come boiling up to take them to a watery grave... which I believe is what you would have wanted. NOPE. Not a single Kraken showed so much as the tip of a tentacle at any point. They all seem to be stuck in coastal waters... which for a deep sea legend is absurd. It's actually safer to sail around in deep water than shallow, when I have a sneaky suspicion this shouldn't happen.
    I think that what you need is for Kraken to be both more numerous and more powerful in deep ocean. So that way, if you encounter a Kraken off the coast of your continent, you are irritated but not afraid. But if you run into one out in the open ocean, with no other ships or land within 20 tiles, you say your prayers, because this is one of the deep ocean monsters come to kill you, and it's probably not even close to being the only one out there.
    This should ensure that crossing oceans will require a hell of a lot of luck, and a very fast ship. People should fear the deep ocean, which will make games last a lot longer if you don't know what lies on the other side of the briny blue...
    Heck, for added coolness (from my perspective at least!) you could have two types of Kraken - the Juvenile Kraken, which is the kind you have in Éa now, the blue-green coastal pest, and the Kraken, which is the kind you don't have, which lives out in the deep ocean and is a lot bigger than the Juvenile. You could use an upscaled version of my Black Kraken unit, and restrict Kraken to deep ocean but allow Juvenile Kraken to go anywhere in the water that they want... maybe Juvenile Kraken could be a fleet unit like Carracks or Galleys, but the monstrous solitary Kraken goes storming about the ocean by himself like an oceanic Mûmakil...
     
  3. Pazyryk

    Pazyryk Deity

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    Yeah, it was pointed out in another thread that Animals (meaning animals and beasts) stray from their native terrain. There is no control over where these units go, only where they spawn. I don't know what logic is making Kraken more abundant at coasts; it may be an effect of random motion combined with attraction to other Animal player units (possibly trying to combine forces) or coastal ships (to attack).

    Ideally, Kraken would be deep ocean creatures and something else would be coastal. But it's going to take some modding to implement a good Animal movement restriction system. (Once we do it can be applied to other animals, for example keeping sand scorpions in the desert.)

    Also, if we made deep ocean much more dangerous than coast, that would require some AI work in dll for proper pathfinding. The AI now takes the shortest path which often crosses ocean even when a coastal route is available. We would need to penalize deep water so they would minimize it. That's very possible though - there's some similar code in dll for routing AI away from danger plots.

    Anyway, I'm glad to hear that it's not a sure thing that you can map a whole continent with your first most primitive boat.
     
  4. BrokenSky

    BrokenSky Warlord

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    One thing for pacing: I think what really needs to happen to stop the stagnation late game (basicly to help with point #1) is that there needs to be something which doesn't really start to happen until late game, so as the techs and policies start to plateau off another mechanic needs to come in and carry the player's attention. I'm not really sure what though. One idea would be Adventures!

    Basicly GP type guys who go off and do things instead of staying at home and helping the civ directly. Probably generated separate from the main GP counter. Generate Prestige from good adventures. "Adventures" here being things like exploring unknown lands (prestige is based on the number of other civs (not you) who haven't explored that area yet when you reveal the tile), Clearing dungeons and other similar structures (barbarian sorcerer towers?). I should probably mention what prestige is. The idea is that it is a points type thing accumulated by your civ maybe for a GLORY! based victory? Get some prestige from conquering cities, more from winning large battles ((unit strength * (#adjacent units +1 ) / 2 )*scaling factor) and alot from great warrior actions, especially defeating another in a duel. When a warrior dies, gain prestige equal to their highest modifier * scaling factor. This victory would be a good one for Heldofalr or maybe man? Prestige also gained from a (1) monument (maybe pyramids) and maybe a heroic epic type thing? Get diplomatic effects based on prestige related to reputation as a strong conqueror?

    But yeah so maybe having this would help with pacing by adding some coold stuff to do late game?

    So yeah. Victory through Glory. based off having the most prestige. Prestige gained by adventures having adventures, by warriors duelling (that new challenge mechanic), by leading the charge to a lesser extent, from winning large battles, small amount from city conquests, Also probably from some other sources... Would probably make late game more fun, since adventures wouldn't have a large spawn chance until late game. Successful adventures could have other effects too and they should be useful for helping with most victory types, or at least to try to stop other players victories from being as easy? Slay dragons to lower natural terrain strength (if dragons get added? see balance thread? um...) and get prestige. Kill barbarian sorcerers and explore their towers. Also send-able into other civs as a weakly invisible unit with hidden nationality? Disrupt enemy rituals, divine or diabolical. And stuff. I think. Maybe?

    Edit: Ok I just realised I'm asking you to add dragons ... and dungeons. and adventures. hmm..
     
  5. Pazyryk

    Pazyryk Deity

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    It's a bit much for the near term, which is what I'm confining myself to for now...

    But what do you mean by "late game"? That's what my questions above are trying to get at. If you are stagnating in techs/policies at turn 250, but victory isn't possible until turn 400, then that is the exact problem I'm trying to address! Basically, if that is the case, then I would do stuff to shift both of these to some middle point like turn 300. (Or something like that, for standard speed/map size.) But I can't do that without some idea at what turns these things presently happen.


    [Edit: just to be clear, I'm very favorable to adventures of some sort. There has been discussion of dungeons, and this could be integrated with CS/god quests. But the victory conditions are more or less set, with only two more coming in a future phase (i.e., not for a long while yet). But all of this is discussion for another thread.]
     
  6. Doopliss

    Doopliss Chieftain

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    I played a couple games, not to completion, but much longer than normal on Small/Quick/Emperor. Of course, every victory condition except Armageddon (and maybe in practice Protector) will scale massively with map size as-is.

    Protector: Someone fell on Turn 160. On Turn 180 I had wheeled my army around, and by turn 195 they were no more. Culture and research hadn’t yet stagnated, though being a Pantheist and finishing the Horse/Archer tree early I didn’t have much to research. The purging process was remarkably annoying, with single Anra followers popping up in some City-State every time I thought I got the last of them. Once I finally got them all (the religion overview acknowledging the world population of 0%, and me not having any ‘renounce maleficium’ diplo options) I was still unable to Seal Ahriman’s Vault. I saw way too many meaningless-seeming error reports across multiple saves (some of which I worried were mine), so unfortunately there’s no formal bug report for this one.

    World Conquest: By turn 105 I wasn’t getting anywhere meaningful in the tech tree without bringing my murderwizards back to spam Lectio Occultus, though my research was crap throughout and I still snapped up some sort of convenient T2-3 techs or sink 30 turns into the occasional T4 tech. Culture went into the 0.03 toilet around turn 150, but again, it wasn’t really the focus. On Turn 184 there were four flimsy holdout cities left, and I remembered why I basically never finish a game of Civ. I would anticipate victory around turn 205. Dutifully burning my 100 mana per-turn and summoning a bunch eventually got me to a mere ~15k burned mana, which is pretty beefy for a Conquest civ, but it seems like non-Temple Armageddon is Breach or bust.

    Incidentally, does 'highest ever population' for culture calculations include cities you annex and later raze? Because my culture growth really tanked around the time I started doing that even with specialists working.
     
  7. Pazyryk

    Pazyryk Deity

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    Post those errors or they will never get fixed! Clicking OK and playing on almost guarantees downstream problems. And there's no need for that when my turn around time on fixing Lua errors is pretty darn fast.


    But to summarize pacing at Small/Quick, from my understanding:
    • Protector and Conquest VCs at something like 200.
    • Techs still rolling along fine at that time.
    • Policy progress stalling out at 150 (without strong culture focus)

    Yes, CL is based on highest population ever right now (total). That could be made more complex: 0 for cities currently in revolt; 1/2 for puppet? (Civ5 gives you reduced culture from puppet cities, but I don't remember how much reduced off the top of my head.)
     
  8. Doopliss

    Doopliss Chieftain

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    It's probably less accurate to say Protector hits at turn 200 as it does "shortly after someone falls", particularly if they don't found Anra in the process. If Turn 160 is consistent for the backup "make someone fall" effect, that might be close enough, except for the rare times someone goes Stygia/Moriquendi.

    Puppeting is complicated, but unless militaristic playthroughs are supposed to put you at a massive culture disadvantage I'd be very grateful to see rebelling pops count for zero.
     

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