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A comprehensive criticism of FFH2

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Fall from Heaven' started by ProkhorZakharov, Jul 1, 2010.

  1. DaveGold

    DaveGold Emperor

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    To be honest Professor Z, I think you just don't get the Balseraphs or they're totally at odds with your play style. There was a poll a while back and the Balseraphs were voted the most original and interesting nation to play, probably because of all the things you want to take out!
     
  2. ProkhorZakharov

    ProkhorZakharov Chieftain

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    There's a really important distinction between having a lot of choices, and having meaningful choices. Having 10 very similar Champions that all perform the same role in the same way doesn't really add variability or replay value. I think FFH's biggest flaw is that it often is the same game twice, because many civs don't have enough mechanical difference to make them feel different from other civs. Very few of my proposed changes actually remove functionality from the game; they just move it around. I'd prefer to be able to see all the content of FFH in 15 games than to see the exact same content over the course of 21 games, with a bunch of filler in between.

    Variety can come in the form superficial flavor changes. Flavor changes are fine, so long as they don't come at too great of a mechanical cost. I think FFH suffers a bit from this - the design team had great flavor ideas for many civilizations, but didn't have enough mechanical ideas to flesh out all these flavor ideas. This leads to some civilizations, such as the Elohim and Doviello, having interesting flavors but relatively dull gameplay. This is subjective, but I think a strategy game isn't a very good medium for trying to tell a story (although it's a fairly good medium in which to create a world), and should try to focus more on the strategy element.

    Variety can also come in the form of mechanical complexity. This is something that has to be considered very carefully, as complexity often comes at the cost of strategy. The FFH AI is, to be frank, strategically worthless. Strategy mostly consists of anticipating what your opponent will do and finding the best way to take advantage of that, while knowing your opponent is doing the same. Unfortunately, the AI seems to operate independently of what everyone else is doing. You can't trick the AI, you can't really counter the AI's lack of a strategy, and any "strategic" moves you make against the AI (for example, killing their workers with Giant Spiders, or pillaging their resources with Horsemen) feel like you're gaming the AI's horrible decision-making. This is largely due to the complexity of FFH outstripping by far the AI's capability of dealing with this complexity.

    Removing variety in the mechanics of the game in order to reduce complexity can actually increase variety in the gameplay. Nearly all my games consist of expanding, then building up technology and high-value units, then overrunning the AI with an unstoppable stack, and that gets boring after a while. Sometimes I go for peaceful victories, but there's even less variety between those, as the AI doesn't seem to be aware of their existence. If game was simpler and the AI was smarter, maybe it would be able to counter my strategy. Maybe I'd be able to turn the difficulty down a bit, making the strategies that don't work against the AI's massive bonuses viable.

    That's what my magic changes are trying to accomplish. You've got a variety of interesting spells instead of a dozen interchangeable summons. You don't have the "I win" of puppet-Domination. You don't have the tedious micromanagement of early-game terraforming spells that reduce variety by making all your cities almost the same. By giving each civilization a stronger focus, it allows a greater variety of strategy because new strategies become viable.
     
  3. ProkhorZakharov

    ProkhorZakharov Chieftain

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    All I want to take out is Puppets and Disrupt. My version of the Balseraphs still have their flavor and their interesting unique units. They've also got the "culture matters" mechanic and the more-meaningful Insane. Puppets are a good example of something that adds a huge amount of complexity and tedious micromanagement but has very little strategic value. I'm not saying they're not powerful, just that they don't force you to make meaningful, interesting decisions. Disrupt is just a broken mechanic.
     
  4. Morkonan

    Morkonan Warlord

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    It's extremely popular. Almost everyone knows how to play it. In fact, I'd wager that there are more people playing Tic-Tac-Toe, right now, than there are people playing FFH2. Heck, it could even be more popular than World of Warcraft...

    Of course, that's not because it is fun. It's simply easy to play, you don't need much in the way of instructions or equipment and it's the same cookie-cutter strategy, game after game- He who goes first, wins or forces a draw.

    Tic-Tac-Toe is extremely popular, much like paying electric bills or eating crappy food because you're in a hurry. That doesn't mean it's fun, though.
     
  5. Grey Fox

    Grey Fox Master of Points

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    Well I hope for the people playing it that they have made house rules to make it playable. Like me and my brothers where we played on a whole A4 math paper, and I think we sometimes had to get 4 in a row. You could mark your X or O wherever on the paper. Beats 9 squares and gives some room for errors at least :p
     
  6. Morkonan

    Morkonan Warlord

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    There are synergies and substitutions for "Champion" or "Axeman" that are NOT all the same. But, even if they were.. they don't look like they are. Certainly, something has to be said beyond "mechanics." The appearance and feel of the game is just as important as any well-thought out, complex and inspired game mechanic. That "deceptiveness" has meaning for the player beyond mechanics. When you click on a unit and it acts like a Champion but has a different sound file, graphics and what-not, then it IS a different unit. It's your special version of a Champion. Was Blizzard's "Orcs vs Humans" a bust because many of the units had the same roles? Heck no! Clicking on that Orc and hearing him say something Orcishly stupid was a blast! Orcs vs Humans solidified the idea that two opposing sides in a game did not have to have access to the exact same units. The same goes for "Command and Conquer" and "Total Annihilation." "Empire", one of the first real grand-strategy games, had all the same units for each side and provided variability by using randomly generated terrain. After awhile, that wore thin even though it was completely Multiplayer friendly through dialup connection. (A first for PCs, IIRC.)

    Mechanically, some might seem to be the same with similar bonuses and promotions. But, they differ in how each Civilization uses them. Their play-mechanic varies between Civilizations. How they are used by that particular player may be very, very different from how they are used by others in other Civs. Not all players have access to the same units and they must use what they have differently. Some must rely on units in ways that another does not. Some have unique additions to their "Civ-Specific" Substitutions that add remarkable flavor to the game. Some use the same types of units but use them according to an appropriate strategy for their particular Civ and not due to a "locked in" game mechanic. After all, your Bannor Champions can not turn around and EAT a Warrior for an extra attack like the Calabim can do with their Bloodpets... :)

    (Edit - Add note: It may be possible that one reason you interpret gameplay as being "The Same" is because of the AI and its choices, not the choices available to the player. That is a huge difference. I agree that the AI of CIV IV is not immediately suitable for handling all the choices that can be made. I'm sure Kael&Co members involved in forcing the AI to jump through hoops in order to appear to behave somewhat intelligently would agree with that.)

    I disagree completely. I think that a game is a very good medium for telling a story. As a matter of fact, how can such a possibility even be considered as "bad?" Every game should tell some sort of story otherwise it's just a case of someone going through button clicks for no particular reason other than to see what happens.

    If you can involve your players in your game, you win - It's as simple as that. The more depth and involvement a game provides for its players, the better it is. There are very, very few exceptions to that Rule. The only immediate consideration as an exception is when you do it overpoweringly simply for the sake of doing it. Then, the player gets lost in the details and becomes frustrated. I don't think that FFH2 has enough details forced upon the player to lose their interest or frustrate them if they are a fan of God/Empire building fantasy games.

    That doesn't make much sense. Unless, of course, you have greatly limited the victory conditions, a well honed game will provide many more opportunities for strategy as it gets more complex. The simpler you get, the less strategic you have to be. In some games that are not complex enough, players have to agree to uncoded rules in order to have an enjoyable game. Otherwise, everyone will Tank Rush.. Everyone will Zerg.. There are notable exceptions to that rule. But, in all of them that I can think of, they rely on game mechanics that are variable for both players. Terrain, resources, trigger events, effects, etc... In other words, there are additions that introduce complexity by using surprise or uncertainty. That's not always a good thing. The simpler the main scope of the game is (like units/sides/etc) the more drastic that uncertain elements will have to be in order to provide variability. The more drastic they are, the more they can negatively impact a player. Who wants to lose a game because of random_87?

    Universally acknowledged as true, despite modmod improvements. But, that's not FFH2's fault. That's the engine and what Kael&Co can force it to do. It is a Full Mod of another game, after all...

    It seems you have more of a problem with the AI knowing what to do with its units and civ-strategies than the actual units or civs themselves. I would probably agree with that, if so.

    I'd have to look at them more critically and with more game-mechanic knowledge to comment directly. However, I can repeat myself in a paraphrase - If it ain't broke, don't fix it. And, if you're fixing something, be sure you're fixing the part that broke.

    FFH2's diversity of play and variety of flavor modifications need to be very carefully guarded against undo tampering. They are part of what makes the game what it is. Anytime you look to change the shape of a wheel, if you change it too much it simply is not going to roll. What makes a wheel a wheel is it being round. What makes FFH2 what it is happens to be its diversity. Change its variety too much, too often or create ways to minimize it and you damage a primary asset for the game.

    (I'm not saying your proposals are bad. I'm only saying that one must act to protect the core of the play experience that has proven to be value-added game elements for the player. So, such things must not be considered lightly. That I am arguing against it means that I am trying to test the credibility of the idea against the value I perceive in retaining FFH2's variety and demonstrate fundamental gaming concepts at the same time.)
     
  7. ProkhorZakharov

    ProkhorZakharov Chieftain

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    I think this is the key difference between our lines of reasoning. You see FFH as an empire building fantasy game, I see it as a strategy game with a fantasy setting.

    My proposed changes might reduce the total number of unique units, but they increase the ratio of unique units to regular units. This way the user sees more new, interesting stuff every time he or she plays the game.

    Of that series I've only played Warcraft III, so I'll take that for a reference. What I found really interesting about that game is that not only did different units in each category look different, they also played really differently. Footmen were cheap cannon fodder, Grunts were expensive but strong fighting units, Ghouls were weak but could gather lumber, and Archers were ranged. This meant each team used their basic units in a different way, greatly expanding the range of strategies available. By contrast, while the flavor differences are valuable, you're not going to treat a Beastman any different than you'd treat a Warrior.

    I'd like to reduce the amount of "locking in" in the game. Currently, the Calabim are "locked in" to the Feudalism tech line for Vampires and Mansions, the Bannor are "locked in" to fanaticism unless they're willing to be a vanilla team, the Doviello are "locked in" to an early rush, etc.

    I interpret gameplay as being the same because the set of strategic options available to some teams are almost identical to (or worse, a subset of) the set of strategic options available to another team. For example, the Doviello are good at early rushing, and nothing else. The Clan is good at early rushing, and building a lot of units. Playing the Doviello feels just like playing the Clan, but with less variety.


    Every game should have a setting, but not every game needs a narrative. It's hard to tell a narrative during gameplay in a game as open as FFH, rather, the narrative is determined by the player's own actions and the actions of the AI. FFH's "official" narrative is told in the scenarios and in the civilopedia, but neither of these are necessary when it comes to enjoying the game itself. Even if the Elohim and Doviello are critical in telling the story of the history of Erebus, you could still take them out of the game and have a fun game with an interesting setting. In any case, not every game needs to tell a story. Go is a completely abstract games that's nevertheless one of the world's most popular strategy games.

    A good strategy game should do more than just get players involved; it should keep the players involved. I really got into playing FFH to see the cool content, but I haven't played any games in the past few weeks because I can't think of anything new to do. On the other hand, I've played Team Fortress 2 for years despite it being mechanically and flavorfully far less complex than FFH, simply because it keeps offering new and interesting challenges. Of course, a single-player game can't hope to have the replayability of a multi-player game, but I feel the strategic shallowness of FFH is a problem.

    Complexity can add strategy, or it can mask a lack of strategy. Each new addition to a game can add new strategies, or it can invalidate old strategies (by countering or obsoleting them), or it might not add strategy at all. The only things you can say for sure about complexity is that it makes the game harder to learn, harder to balance and harder to teach to the AI, and you have to balance this against the possible flavor and strategic value the complexity might create. The value of strategy in a game is that it gives the player the feeling of being smart. Learning the game mechanics does this to an extent (for example, "wow, I can use twincasted puppets with Summoner twincasting Water Elementals with Summoner to get a ton of elementals"), but I think the real value of strategy comes when you've learned how the game works, but not yet mastered it. I feel that FFH should offer more in this area. If I had the time and the inclination, I'd love to strip FFH down to its fundamental core features, then when adding in new content first consider very carefully the balance, strategic and AI implications of the change. My proposed changes, which I'm working on turning into a modmod, go some of the way.
     
  8. Jarrema

    Jarrema Master Voter

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    Prokhov, it is for me really hard to admitt (after reading some of Yours earlier proposals that I do not like), but I agree COMPLETELY with what You have written in the few last posts. Your "philosophy" of strategic gaming is, if I understand it correctely, identical to mine - but I just do not have enough talent to describe it so toughtfully.
    I give You a lot of respect (even if I still do not feel comfortable with a lot of what You had proposed - particularities are different thing than overall design aim)
     
  9. Morkonan

    Morkonan Warlord

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    I think you are correct here. We are viewing the game differently. CivIV, for me, isn't much on "strategy." It's pretty simple.

    FFH2 is also fairly simple but there is much more variety. Still, the strategies for winning are similar. That is a result of the engine, the desire to keep the game basically within the CivIV flavor and the general flavor of all map based, empire building, god-games.

    Look at the addition "Afterworld" for BTS. Afterworld is squad based tactics using the CivIV engine. It's an "OK" game. But, it's an outstanding use of CivIV to produce something completely different than CivIV. What could make it much better? Well, that's easy - Be developed as a standalone with all sorts of additions that CivIV simply can not provide... In other words, you work with what you have to work with.

    Civ IV is not a complex strategy game. It's an empire building game. Likewise, to make FFH2 into a more complex strategy game would require a load of different resources that are not available in CivIV. And, once you are done, would the CivIV fanbase want to play it? If it doesn't resemble CivIV, which it can't if you are going to move it into another genre, then the CivIV fanbase won't be as inclined to play. Afterworld might be a great innovation, but do die-hard CivIV fans want to play it as much as CivIV? I doubt it.

    Pickup an old Avalon Hill boxed game. Those are "strategy" and "tactics" to the hilt. They are designed to be just that so they do the job effectively. FFH2 is not designed to be a "strategy" game - It's an empire building game with strategic elements.

    To some extent, that is true. However, that is also true of CivIV. The difference is that CivIV has taken pains to reduce the flavor of each civilization so they are not "locked in" to certain strategies.. the Mongols can still win. But, they have unique flavors that come into play in different stages as the game evolves. Yet, they still play pretty much the same. The basic difference just has to do with some numbers in a database - Some get bonuses, some don't.

    There's only so much deviation you can do within CivIV in order to introduce variety and have truly unique civs. Players who like rushing the early game will find great enjoyment in playing civs that are very suitable for that. Likewise, other civs lend themselves more appropriately to certain styles of play. FFH2 does not completely lock-in civs to set strategies.. it only makes those civs much more effective at certain ones and less effective at others. But, the Clan of Embers can still win the game... they're just not going to be able to build a rocket to Alpha Centauri.. and if they did, I wouldn't want to ride on it. :)

    They are similar in that they are not late-game civs. Their research is too low for that. But, they are different. The Clan is allied with the Barbarian state and relies on hordes of units.. like an Orc nation would, in a fantasy setting. Doviello are more like a constant stream of Vikings. They're made to keep making war and keep pushing forward. Both can play similarly, that's true. But, their flavor is a bit different. Could they be improved? Certainly. FFH2 isn't perfect.

    Narrative is different than Story. A narrative could be someone reading the directions on how to make chicken soup. That's not much of a story. Similarly, if a game takes over and presents too structured of a narrative, the players aren't given any leeway for their own imaginations. A game that is completely narrative would be like a book that was inflexible in its interpretation.. Opening its pages would be like listening to Sony's "You're In Our World Now!" speech over and over... scary...

    Every game should tell a story through the minds of the players. Even Go is a story of struggle in the mind of the player. Not every game tells a story in as good a fashion. FFH2 has the elements of good story that can arise during play. So does CivIV and the rest of the successful empire building games out there. What is the secret? - "Here is a board, here are some pieces.. build your empire how you see fit and enjoy the story that you create with our game."

    Some games can be dramatically improved just by adding the ability to tell a story. Tic-Tac-Toe doesn't tell much of a story no matter how deeply one goes about anthropomorphizing their X in the upper-right square. BUT, change those x's and o's to real, live people and not only do you have a game "story", but you have one of the most popular television game-shows in history, ported to many different countries and presented in many different formats. One simple twist and the addition of a question revolutionized Tic-Tac-Toe! (The Hollywood Squares.)

    A good game should tell a story. Does chess tell a story? Sure, it does. It also puts you into the mind of your opponent. Your opponent's thoughts are there for you to read on the board, if only you know how to read them. That's the story, that's the hook. That is the imaginary portion of the game you create for yourself inside your own mind - the story. Of course, one my still envision their knight fighting valiantly for their queen.. But, it's not the only story the game can tell.

    In truth, it's all about the sum of the parts. If a game becomes more than the sum of its parts than it is successful. If the player opens up the box, plays the game and then brings something more to the game than it originally came with, the game has succeeded where many have failed. If the game is not more than the sum of its parts, it is boring, repetitive, uninvolving and tells no story worth hearing.

    Then, you may need to look at it from another angle. Do you consider CivIV to be suitably "strategic?" If so, why? Take that answer and compare it to FFH2. Where are the differences? If you don't see suitable strategy for you in CivIV, I doubt you'd find it in FFH2. That's not the type of game it's supposed to be focused on producing.

    Strategy isn't a magic word. It's an idea concerning a process of decision making. "What is the best way to go about solving this problem?" - That is "strategy." If you have a lot of options to choose from in order to solve the problem, you have more available "strategies." The key entertainment factor comes into play when you have multiple levels of options, each with specific decisions that have to be made in order to use them effectively in order to solve a problem or accomplish a goal. That is a part of good, complex strategy games.

    Go's allure is its initial simplicity. But, the complexities that the players can create within the palette of the game is what keeps people playing it.
     
  10. DaveGold

    DaveGold Emperor

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    There is a dilemma here. How many interesting but complex, fun features do you sacrifice because they're not balanced or the AI can't understand them. As far as I understand it, FFH2 was never meant to be entirely balanced. It was meant to be fun to play.

    We can all agree that an AI Auric Ulvin should cast ascension rituals and build his avatar. Should we remove this feature from the game though if the AI can't do it? I'd say no since quite simply because players enjoy doing it when they play the Illians.
     
  11. ProkhorZakharov

    ProkhorZakharov Chieftain

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    Yes, that's why I want to reduce the number of civilizations, so they're all truly unique.

    What I want is civs that are able to do something quite well, but they're also able to do other things reasonably well if you want to. For example, you can play the Clan as a rushing team, and they do that reasonably well. Alternatively, you can use Warrens along with the Barbarian and Expansive traits to expand really quickly with settlers, building up a strong economy. You can use Warrens, Nationalism and Military State to build really cheap Soldiers of Kilmorph, getting lots of infrastructure up in all your cities. By contrast, if the Doviello don't rush, they've got bad Champions and very few perks. The fact that their flavor is a bit different isn't enough, in my opinion, to justify creating a whole new civilization. In this particular case, though, I think the Doviello flavor is strong enough that it's worth giving to my proposed Grigori/Elohim hybrid civ.

    By this definition of "story", removing or merging some civilizations wouldn't have too much of a negative impact on the story of the game.

    I think CivIV is more strategic than FFH, but could also do with improvement in that area. See, for example, this account of the detailed level of strategy that goes into playing some multiplayer Civ. I don't think FFH has the necessary balance to do something like this, and I think a large part of this is due to the complexity of the game making balance very difficult. On the other hand, the extra features of FFH give it the possibility of being more strategic than vanilla Civ. In any case, I certainly think it's possible to make a turn-based strategy game with a deep level of strategy, and I think that regardless of its original intentions it would be possible to turn FFH into that game.

    I think that's only a small part of strategy. Finding the best way to solve a problem in the abstract (for example, building the fastest Mercurian Gate) is an interesting challenge, but once you've done it once, you know the answer. Finding the best way to achieve a goal while someone else tries to stop you from achieving that goal is the better part of strategy, as it requires you to make a much more complex and meaningful decision.
     
  12. ProkhorZakharov

    ProkhorZakharov Chieftain

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    If a feature wasn't balanced, I wouldn't include it until I finished balancing it. If a feature couldn't be balanced, I wouldn't include it, but features which can't be balanced are nearly always bad design, anyway. If a feature crippled the AI, I wouldn't include it. For example, if the AI wasn't able to escort their settlers, I wouldn't include wild animals until teaching the AI how to deal with them. If a feature gives the one who uses it a significant advantage, but the AI is incapable of using it, I'd perhaps include it only if a particular game option is selected. For example, if the AI wasn't able to use magic, I wouldn't make magic part of the base game. If the AI can do just fine without knowing how to use a feature, it's OK to include it. In the case of Auric Ascended, I'd allow the player to use it, as it's so expensive that it's not overpowered even if the AI has no idea how to use the Godslayer. I would tell the AI not to create Auric unless they were winning so much they stood a chance even after casting the Draw, or losing so badly their only hope is to create Auric, as I don't think the AI should be programmed to suicide every time they reach Omniscience.
     
  13. Pickly

    Pickly Prince

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    If you're really obsessed about this stuff, you might as well learn the modding needed and make those adjustments, rather than complaining in a forum thread. (Most of these opinions are nothing special.)
     
  14. Valkrionn

    Valkrionn The Hamster King

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    Again, we have a fundamental disagreement on how to handle situations like that... You advocate simply removing those lesser civs. I advocate improving them.

    For example, in RifE:


    • The Clan remain focused on hordes of units (in 1.3 they lose warrens, but gain the ability to produce multiple units in a turn if they have the hammers... Better balanced, and also stronger in the late game).
    • The Doviello have gained mechanics which push them towards using small numbers of high strength units for their wars, as well as the ability to use a variety of animals against their enemies.
      • Duels - Two doviello units may duel. Loser dies, winner gains xp.
      • XPShare - When new units are built, they receive a certain amount of xp, based on the average amount of xp on your existing units (so small numbers of highly promoted units allows new units to start stronger, as well)
      • Looting - After combat, victorious Doviello units are able to steal metal weapons, and gain a promotion making them upkeep free for 10 turns. Keep them fighting, and they will support themselves.
      • Animals - If you focus on smaller cities, you will be able to utilize Bears, Wolves, Griffons, Stags, and several other animals against your enemies. As these units require no production cost... It can be a very good thing.
    I believe those changes make the two VERY distinct, and interesting in their own ways; I also firmly believe it is a far better path than cutting them.
     
  15. Morkonan

    Morkonan Warlord

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    I know your post wasn't directed at me. But, I can agree with it anyway, can't I? :)

    As long as diversity doesn't turn into absurdity, then having many different types of civilizations for the player to choose from is a good thing. They each have their focus point, their strengths and their weaknesses. That is part of the overall strategy of the game as well - Choose the right civ for the strategy you think you will enjoy trying to play. Players will even have the chance to find Civs they particularly like no matter what style of play they prefer. But, if there are too many civs, the game is always uncertain and one may become frustrated trying to remember details that might be critical. (ie: Elohim have Sanctuary? ZOMGZ!) That would lead to frustrating and possibly unrewarding play and that is "bad." Players rarely know all the rules by heart nor can they usually recall them all when that knowledge is needed. Being defeated by the game is one thing. Being defeated by a lack of knowledge concerning an obscure Civ nobody ever plays is... bad.

    Now, as far as being locked into a strategy, one must be sure that the civ isn't completely inept at doing anything else but, for instance, hitting things over the head with a rock. If that was all they were capable of doing and other civs followed suit, it would make for a very dull and uninteresting game. ie: Civs would be TOO specialized.

    The idea is to tweak sides so that their differences do not become a complete hindrance should the player either need or wish to adopt a different strategy. It is also good to be sure the Civ does not have an instant "I WIN" button and they should have a weakness that the player must protect against. CivIV does this fairly well. There are broad, loose differences between Civs and if a player plays a Civ to their strengths, very well, they will see a considerable gain when compared to an other Civ. But, that doesn't mean they will win... Hordes of Mongols can ruin anyone's day, especially an architect's who has simply been concentrating on building.. everything. (Yeah, the Mongols tick me off...)
     
  16. Morkonan

    Morkonan Warlord

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    I think you may not believe this makes much sense, but the variety of Civs one can play significantly increases the play value of the game. The variety of assets each unique Civ brings to the table increases that value significantly, whether you are playing them or are playing against them. The combination of Civs on your map changes between games and some really interesting synergies can result which add even more variety for play.

    That's one reason why FFH2 is popular -Its replay value is much greater than vanilla CivIV. (Despite its bugs, AI weaknesses or needed tweaks.)

    I agree. But, one must be careful not to give a side a truly unfair advantage. What if the Calabim popped their River of Blood spell on Turn 1, every game. Not terribly bad.. if you're not their immediate neighbor. But, combine that with a game variable like a great start location with good production... then, it becomes almost an "I Win" button. They'll walk over the map before most Civs can recover their population and production.

    I think it's a good idea for Civs to have a weakness to counter their strengths, but it is necessary to allow for the player to try to adopt new styles of play if necessary. They may not be particularly good at a completely different playstyle. But, that Civ should be able to reasonably accomplish it if the player works hard enough at it. A Civ that was really good in one area but did not have sufficient vulnerabilities in another would be "imbalanced" if it's strongpoints were not countered exactly by another civ. If such a situation did exist where civs simply countered each others strengths, it would be a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors every time you played. (A popular game.. but not much fun..)


    That might be true. I don't play the Doviello much. But, I do like their Civ and think its interesting. What might be better than merging them would be to work on developing that difference into something that is truly unique yet still balanced. But, after all, that's really the toughest part of designing a side-vs-side game with unique sides, isn't it? Starcraft II was in production so long that it was almost vapor-ware.. But, Blizzard is very finicky about fine-tuning their shelf releases. No public betas in boxes on the shelf for them...

    That depends. If there is not enough "meat" on the Doviello bones to evoke enough in the way of imagination and involvement from the player, I'd agree. But, removing or merging them would be removing a very large element - an entire unique civ. Even if it isn't "unique enough" it's still taking an entire segment of variables out of play -Either for players to muck around with or the AI to play.

    It is possible to create such a game. Medieval 2 - Total War is one of those. It combines turn based strategic play with real-time tactical combat and does it extremely efficiently. (The Total War series has always been great in that regard.) I even considered trying to build a FFH2 mod for M2TW. :) It is also a very mod-able game though, not as mod-able as CivIV.

    And, we come back to the AI. The AI is not great, but they've done an amazing job with what they had to work with. The AI doesn't understand what to do with all these new gizmos they've thrown in there. It doesn't present an appropriate challenge across all levels of difficulty. And, when it does, it's usually because of an artificial play mechanic/variable/bonus that is not always balanced. Yet, FFH2 is still popular. People are willing to put up with a crazy AI for years because the game is fun. That's a pretty good testament, IMO, regarding FFH2's "fun factor." It's strong enough to encourage play even though the AI needs serious therapy..

    Note: Ideas are great and discussing them is even better. So, any opposition from me is only to determine the depth of your argument. That's all. I appreciate your candor and all the work you have done thinking about your criticisms and proposals!
     
  17. ProkhorZakharov

    ProkhorZakharov Chieftain

    Joined:
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    The problem with the RifE approach, to me, is that it makes the game too complex, introduces balance issues, and doesn't feel like a finished game. Also, after playing with RifE a few times, the AI there seems worse than the Wild Mana AI. It's got a lot of cool stuff that you can do, but that's not all I'm looking for in this kind of game.

    I think there's more variety to be gained by having fewer civs with more unique features. Let's consider two cases, one with 60 unique mechanics split between 20 civs. In a 7-player game, you'll see the interaction of 20 unique mechanics. Alternatively, those 60 mechanics could be split between 15 civs. In a 7-player game, you'd see the interaction of 28 unique mechanics. The larger number of interactions means the games are more different from one another, i.e, more varied.

    We know how many people keep playing despite the AI issues, but we don't know how many people stop playing after a few games and don't recommend it to anyone because of the AI issues. I know that because of the weak AI I tend to play a few games of FFH every few months then get bored of it for a while. I suspect other people might be in the same boat. I think that if I make a mod of FFH that's stable and capable of having a better AI, I or someone else might some time have time to improve the AI. I'm kind of wary doing that, though, in case FFH becomes obsoleted by Civ V or a new fantasy turn-based strategy game.

    And I appreciate all the effort you've put in to providing a different perspective on the issue, it's made me think a lot more about FFH and game design in general.
     
  18. Grey Fox

    Grey Fox Master of Points

    Joined:
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    Well the reason why it feels unfinished is because it is :p

    We got like 7 team members now one of them pretty much focusing on AI and Bugs.
    And a big patch coming out, I think today or this weekend.

    Your points about the ton of content are valid, but not really for this game. I see it as one of it's biggest strengths.


    For our Civ5 project, which I am team leader of, I've decided to go for 7 major civs only partly because of the complexity of too many unique civs. Not all RifE team members are part of this team atm, but it's basically our next project.
     
  19. Morkonan

    Morkonan Warlord

    Joined:
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    ...Assuming the mechanics are equally weighted. But, what if they're not evenly distributed because some are more powerful than others? Some "flavor mechanics" would necessarily be included to make the side stand out without being over-powering or as powerful as one of the major mechanics as well. But, unique side-based game mechanics can't always be evenly distributed. So, xx side doesn't get unique mechanic_1 because they have mechanic_II and III else they would be overpowered. Similarly, yy side gets negative_mechanic_I because they have a very positive mechanic_IV. Side zz gets flavor_mechanic_I and mechanic_V but also gets slightly_negative_mechanic_I because the synergy of flavor_mechanic_I and mechanic_V could present too powerful a combination in specific circumstances that would be common to all sides yet randomly determined. (Like map/resource generation or random events,etc.. This keeps them from getting an "I WIN!" button due to a randomly occurring synergy of their unique game mechanics that would not be commonly encountered.. but would still arise from time to time.)

    Yeah, it gets complicated. Sorry for the rambling explanation. The point is - Not all unique side-based game mechanics can be equally weighted.

    It's possible to dumb-down FFH2 so that the native CivIV AI can better handle it. But, what the AI seems to have problems with is what makes FFH2 significantly different in play-style than CivIV to begin with... The AI doesn't know how to handle spells really well, it's understanding of the religion bonuses is wonky, it balks at naval invasions (though, some say this is much better due to some small mod-mods), some world-spells are handled strangely (this seems to have gotten better), many unit synergies simply don't get used, etc... It's a mod of another game.. There are bound to be only so many hoops you can make the AI jump through. Making less hoops may not improve it much without reducing it to the level of the original game. ie: If it was reduced to being just a unit-graphic mod for CivIV, the AI wouldn't have these issues.. but then that wouldn't be FFH2..

    Thank you as well. Discussions like this make me examine and more deeply appreciate what it is I really enjoy about FFH2 and why I happen to feel its such a great achievement in the game-modding community. It also makes me focus on the qualities I believe a good game must have in order to be successful.
     

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