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[R&F] Difficulty

Discussion in 'Civ6 - General Discussions' started by acluewithout, Oct 3, 2018.

  1. acluewithout

    acluewithout Warlord

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    This post in the strategy forum got my attention...

    Context is fast science victory times.

    Deity is too easy. But if you added 8 more difficulty levels, the game would still be too easy. There are many problems, but these include:

    (1) AI bonuses are heavily front loaded, so once you overtake the AI it can’t catch up. Emergencies could have helped with that, by giving the AI a leg up in some situations, but sadly that Mechanic doesn’t do much. The AI therefore can’t threaten you beyond the early game, doesn’t really compete with you otherwise (eg competing for great people), and can’t even threaten getting a victory before you do which would force you to try stopping the AI instead of just focusing on your own victory condition.

    (2) it is not hard to manage your empire, and indeed its relatively easy to optimise your empire and very strong when you do. Many SV strategies involve playing in a very “unbalanced” way. There are no consequences for having massive Knight Armies (except maybe warmonger points for capturing cities), no consequences for spamming cities and campuses, or for chopping all your resources. I’m not saying you should be punnished for these strategies. But playing in an extreme way doesn’t have any knock on consequences which balance out the advantages of these strategies. This makes these strategies sort of boring (they don’t create any interesting decisions), but all make them powerful because there is no downside.

    (3) nothing changes, so you’re never pulled off course. I’m not advocating natural disasters or RNG. But just an observation: after the early land grab, your empire basically never faces any challenges beyond timing of swapping certain policy cards and maybe some limited competition for great people (none of whom are actually critical for any victory type). The AIs poor use of naval and air may be part of this problem, as if the AI could use these it would challenge you and because you can’t prebuild some Naval and all Air units, defending sea and air attacks would potentially force you to change plans. But fixing that would only fix part of the problem. Your empire mid and late game is basically permanently subservient to you. I mean, it’s not like if you pick Facist or Commumist governments your people might try to throw off the yoke of oppression, or if you pick democracy your economy might shudder and collapse because of unchecked financial speculation.

    I don’t think nerfing chopping or magnus, or just having a better AI, is going to fix Civs lack of challenge. The current lack of challenge is actually a more complex problem, which is compounded by FXS’s decision to make all strategies viable and therefore not punish any particular play styles (specifically, not limiting wide play via global happiness etc.). To be clear, I think this “don’t punish any specific play styles” is probably right, and “don’t punish wide” is certainly right. But it limits the scope of the game to actually challenge players.

    Sorry. I think I’m slightly recycling some thoughts, and almost certainly just moaning (unforgivable). But while I was quite positive about the next expansion, the closer we get to one actually the less positive I am. I was think in the game just needed some better balancing and a bit of expansion in a few areas (if only for flavour), but I’m unsure if FXS really are going to be able to tackle all the various lose threads (there are so many really), and I’m not sure if they do it will really tackle the underlying issues. It’s going to need more than the loyalty system and few extra districts.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2018
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  2. Trav'ling Canuck

    Trav'ling Canuck Warlord

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    I wouldn't say Deity in Civ 6 is the equivalent of "normal". "Sand box" has always been a valid way to play Civ, and Prince is a good difficulty level for that in pretty much any version of Civ, including Civ 6. Deity in Civ 6 takes away a lot of the game (scouting, early Wonders, a lot of City States), which is fine for players who want a challenge, but not what you want "normal" to be. No, I'd say Prince is still normal and perfectly fine for people who want to play around and do their own things with the tools the game provides.

    The problem is for players who want to be challenged, who historically could be challenged by moving up, either King/Emperor/Immortal, or if really, really good (or masochistic) to Deity. It's those players who are expressing their frustration with comments like this.

    You've provided some good specific reasons behind the current situation, but stepping back, I'd say it's as simple as the AI not being taught how to play the game efficiently. And as to that, while I've expressed as much disappointment as anyone with the state of Civ 6, I'd also say it's fair at this stage in the game's development that the AI not know how to play the game well. For starters, it's okay from my perspective for the development team to wait until players figure out the best way to play the game before adjusting the AI's strategy. For seconds, the game rules aren't finished yet, and won't be until the final expansion is announced, so teaching the AI to play interim rules may not be worth the effort.

    What I wonder is will the development team ever decide to teach the AI how to play the game so that it has a reasonable chance to win? Do they care about this, and they're just not there yet? Or do they not care, and we'll need to rely on unpaid volunteers to teach the AI how to play?

    If Firaxis would communicate with us about their vision for the game, we'd have a better sense about that. Since they won't, they deserve all the "AI sucks" reputation they get. Silence suggests they're fine with Civ 6 earning that reputation. Who knows? Maybe it will boost sales from all those people who wouldn't want to buy a game if they couldn't earn the Steam Achievement for winning on Deity (hint: play Duel versus Kongo with Religious Victory enabled).
     
  3. The googles do nothing

    The googles do nothing Chieftain

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    So a combat bonus of +12 for difficulty?
     
  4. acluewithout

    acluewithout Warlord

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    Agreed.

    The problem is actually a bit more pernicious than this too. I want more challenge, but dislike being above Immortal because the massive starting bonuses of the AI make the game so boring and one dimensional. The game gets forced into a very particular play style, with no appreciable increase in difficulty.

    I think this is a key part of the problem, but fixing this alone would not be enough.

    Teaching the AI to play better might allow the AI to provide a challenge for longer, might allow the AI to adapt to better strategies if it is being left behind in science etc, and would allow the AI to pose a greater risk of getting its own victory forcing players to do something. But I fear the game would still be too easy, because you can snowball so hard giving there are no consequences to extreme one sided strategies and there are no other real sources of dynamism beyond war with the AI.

    As to the FXS development team, I generally assume these guys are acting in good faith. The problem may be lack of resources versus the difficulty of the task and or commercial factors. I loathe to blame them. But I am frustrated.

    Again. I’m happy to assume good faith. But yes, I wish they would communicate more. I’m not that interested in them telling me what they’ve got planned. But I would very much like to know why they’ve made some decisions they have out of genuine curiosity.

    I’m not exactly having an existential crisis here, but I am starting to wonder if I’m wasting my time with Civ. I’m really not sure it’s ever really going to offer the gameplay (including challenge) I want, whether through FXS or modding. (I’m not sure I’m actually that sold on modding either - I don’t want to really play a version of a game that only I or at best a small few are playing - I won’t to play a game that a good set of others are also playing.)

    I’m increasingly thinking my time would be better spent on some other game series (looking at you EU4), or just not playing video games.

    Heh heh.

    Maybe the player starts with one speaman and no settler, and just has to go from there?

    Or maybe the AI just starts with a SpacePort?

    [ps @Trav'ling Canuck Sorry, I was editing my OP when you posted, so you didn’t get a chance to respond to some of my further comments. My main point didn’t change, so hopefully that’s okay.]
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2018
  5. Leathaface

    Leathaface Chieftain

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    @Trav'ling Canuck I've read that Firaxis has only 1 employee who works on the AI for Civ VI, which would explain the not so pristine AI. I think we'll need the DLL source to be released and improvements to be made by modders for us to get very good AI.
     
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  6. Trav'ling Canuck

    Trav'ling Canuck Warlord

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    That's about the right ballpark, yes. Excluding the early Warrior rush, I've had two tough fights with the AI post R&F, both times against a Knight rush by an AI with the +10 religious belief bonus, which bumped the overall combat bonus to +14 at a time when I'd only reached and not passed the AI in military tech.

    I still won both wars, but it was a tough slog, much more what a fight on Deity should be. Giving the AI extra stuff each era combined with a +10 to +15 base combat bonus would be just about the right level to make the AI a little bit dangerous and not so easy a target, at least until you have airplanes.

    Wouldn't help the AI achieve victory itself any more quickly, though, or use airplanes, so it's only part of the solution.
     
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  7. acluewithout

    acluewithout Warlord

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    I'd be very surprised if we get the DLL. With Civ now on some any different systems, my expectation is that FXS will want to ensure more consistency between different versions, which militates against releasing the DLL.

    I'm also sceptical about what Modders can achieve. I haven't seen any great rebalancing mods for Civ VI, although I think some of @FearSunn has had some mods that are in the right direction. I have reservations about Vox Pop which is supposedly the Gold Standard. Corporations and City State Diplomacy seems a bit silly to me, although I admit I haven't played it or Civ V so maybe I'm wrong about that.

    I also wonder if some core game concepts just limit Civ. Having one permanent "leader" really limits what can be done with diplomacy and empire governance (I can't see how you'd ever have the complexity of say EU4 or Crusader Kings), and having a random map, map based warfare, and all "players" starting at the same time and basically all using the same mechanics (particular techs and units) really limits what the game can have. To be clear, I like these design choices more or less, and I think getting rid of them risks Civ not feeling like Civ. But, well, I'm just not sure how much better the game can get.

    I don't know. I'll wait and see what the game looks like in the next few months. I think the FXS people are good guys and are acting in good faith. Seriously, Ed and Sarah are darlings. And I'm still pottering around with Mods. So, maybe the game ends up in a good place, or close enough I can mod in what I want, or maybe someone else will do that for me. And if the game does eventually nail it, I'm happy to recant all earlier complaints.

    But I am becoming a little sceptical and I don't really know why. It may just be me being cheesed off with video games. I've been similarly fed up with TV and movies for a long while too.
     
  8. Gray Bell

    Gray Bell Chieftain

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    I can't help but wonder if there's a bit of an echo chamber happening here. I suspect that most Civ players find the harder difficulty levels very challenging. I know I do, I play Civ for a few hours every week and rarely try Deity level difficulty. I have just stared a game in deity but have awarded myself a sackful of gold to see if I can get far enough ahead of the AI before it starts to trounce me.
     
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  9. Trav'ling Canuck

    Trav'ling Canuck Warlord

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    Absolutely. That's exactly what I would expect, too.

    Every prior version of Civ, however, has had, in addition to "normal" difficulty levels like Prince and King for the casual player, much more challenging levels, up to Deity, for the hard core civ fanatic. I have a lot more time in Civ 5, for example, than Civ 6, and can't regularly win on Deity. Civ 6, at this stage in its development, is much, much easier than any prior Civ version at Immortal/Deity. Worlds of difference easier. It doesn't impact most players, but its very noticeable to some.
     
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  10. Archon_Wing

    Archon_Wing Vote for me or die

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    I lose games on Emperor.

    Don't tell anyone.
     
  11. acluewithout

    acluewithout Warlord

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    Yes, maybe.

    Me too. Let's just keep it to ourselves.
     
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  12. Leathaface

    Leathaface Chieftain

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    I watch TheGameMechanic on twitch and out of his previous 21 Deity games he has only lost 3. None of those were late game where he lost out on victory by a few turns due to the AI securing their victory, it was all by getting invaded by the AI early on. Like at the latest turn 60.

    Going from my personal experience, I'm won what be close to 15 games on Immortal now. I feel like i've a good chance of winning my next game on Immortal for sure. With Civ V, I only won a couple of times on Immortal and it was hard each time. And that was with the Civ V AI getting no bonus settler.

    (I've less than one hundred additional hours into VI than V)
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2018
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  13. Aristos

    Aristos Lightseeker

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    Well, turn your monitor on, man!
     
  14. Trav'ling Canuck

    Trav'ling Canuck Warlord

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    That's what you get for having fun, instead of playing to prove your superiority over a silicon chip. :)
     
  15. Archon_Wing

    Archon_Wing Vote for me or die

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    Nah man, I play these games to tell people how good I am.

    But I suppose there are games where I see an AI is ridiculously far ahead for reasons I can't describe (well, maybe they're just Korea) and any possible wins will be beyond t300 and that would just be feel like losing. Unlike past games, where I'm willing to take it to 2050 if needed, the management in industrial and beyond is just so tedious even with CQUI.
     
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  16. ShakaKhan

    ShakaKhan Chieftain

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    This is something that I noticed since civ4 and seems to be escalating with each title. Increasing the difficulty level doesn't make the game harder. Instead, fewer and fewer choices are viable options if your ultimate goal is to win the game.

    Looking at games of different genres, increasing the difficulty makes the game harder. In a 1st person shooter or a side-scroller, as you increase the difficulty level, the enemies are getting faster, more numerous, firing projectiles more frequently, can take more hits, you can take fewer hits, and projectiles move faster. This punishes the player and moves them further and further off track of the path to victory each time they either don't react to a situation quickly enough or act in a manner that doesn't properly address the situation- in either case, the player is making a mistake and suffering the results.

    I think one of the main reasons why we all have been drawn to the civilization series for decades is that there are so many different ways you can play the games. In this iteration, you could build a massive army that increases in size as the game progresses to take over the world, or you could build one or a few specialized detachments for specific purposes (namely city capture) or you could build just enough military to deter aggression against you. You could make a sprawling empire or have a tight, more defensible cluster of cities. Lots of wonders, specific wonders, or none at all. And the list goes on and on.

    But as you increase in difficulty level, fewer and fewer of these choices are going to result in victory. This leads to a decrease in the number of ways you can deviate from the optimal choices which in turn leads to a diminishing amount of variance between each game you play. Deity is, or course, the supreme example of this and consistently playing at that level leads to a heavy feeling that you're just rinse/repeating.

    People who play exclusively deity level often pride themselves on having a better understanding of the game and more of a wealth of experience than people who routinely play on lower levels. But they (formerly I) don't have a better understanding of the game but rather, a better understanding of what the optimal choices and exploits are and have mastered how to get the most out of them. This leads to a better understanding of one specific way of approaching the game. People who have beaten deity and now play at different difficulty levels will have a better understanding of different ways of playing the game (which admittedly are less effective than the cut/paste deity approach) and will certainly have a better wealth of experience, especially in terms of diversity. If a less experienced player was to make a post about how building the Hanging Gardens, Oracle, Stonehenge, and Colosseum is a good way to play the game, deity specialists would counter, "yeah, but that won't work on deity," True, but it could lead to a very fun game on lower difficulty. And that's the point here, this is a game and we play it to have fun. After winning four, five or six consecutive deity games (not sure exactly how many; thanks Mr. No-hall-of-fame :thumbsup: ) the game certainly wasn't fun anymore as I was just doing the same thing over and over.

    There's nothing wrong with making choices that are less than optimal. They can lead to a lot of fun, but aren't going to result in victory on deity. Most Deity-exculsive players have no idea how fun it is to take an infrastructure specialist civ like Poland or Kongo and go wonder-hoarding while building a 50 city empire with every district that population allows. But as you move up and eventually play deity, fewer and fewer of these approaches will work because doing things like first choosing Moksha instead of Magnus are choices at lower difficulty but mistakes on Deity.

    For me, playing creatively is more important than playing optimally, which is part of the reason I usually play around emperor now, plus or minus one level. Beating CIv4 deity in less than 100 turns is an accomplishment, but being the guy who first discovered the Pyramids/specialist economy is a much bigger accomplishment as it provides a completely different way of playing the game. I believe that there's still more to explore in this game, and we're not going to find these revelations by playing the game at the highest level, the same way, every time.
     
  17. Leathaface

    Leathaface Chieftain

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    I played at Emperor difficulty for a high portion of my Civ VI experience. However there came a time when I would just not lose if I played to the best of my abilities.
     
  18. ezzlar

    ezzlar Chieftain

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    I like emperor difficulty. You can really play in any style here. However, if you just do a few of the many optimal choices the AI gets left far behind. So I think about it as the role playing difficulty.
     
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  19. Disgustipated

    Disgustipated Warlord

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    heh, I doubt I could win deity consistently, but I admit I have never tried. Other than winning a religious victory against Kongo, or disabling all victory conditions except conquest (don't have to worry about the ai beating you to something, you can take your time conquering). But honestly I don't want to play like that. I want to explore all the game mechanics, including religion (though some civs I choose not to go for religion unless it well suits them). I think I am ready to move up a difficulty level, but I think I may be frustrated with not being to build wonders I like. I admit I don't take risks in life, it's part of my personality. In real life I don't take risks either. I play a difficulty I can win every time. But I do like the AI to provide some challenge, but I still want to win.
     
  20. Iberian

    Iberian Chieftain

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    I have mentioned this before on this forum but in the original Civilization manual it talked about balancing guns vs butter. Turns out OCS was the answer but anyway the premise is what I think is lacking. Even in Civ 1 binary research was the way to play and in Civ 6 we min/max everything without having to worry about balancing anything. Expanding should come at a high cost, being able to defend your entire empire with 4 units should be unwinnable, having no culture, or faith, or science should hurt your chances a lot. The issue is you can just pick a victory and beeline for it before the AI can do anything. Also the AI just can't figure out warfare. They need to get some deep learning tech and set it against itself. If AI can teach itself to beat humans at Go or DotA then it shouldn't have an issue with a TBS that has known states at the end of every turn.

    Make Civ 6 a rock/paper/scissors decision game with an AI from something like https://openai.com/ and the game should be a lot more dynamic instead of so wrote that it is almost a list of tasks instead of an interactive match against the AI.
     
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