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[R&F] Difficulty

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

  1. Archon_Wing

    Archon_Wing Vote for me or die

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    I don't think you're reading my posts at all.
     
  2. Aristos

    Aristos Lightseeker

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    I am. Always.
     
  3. Archon_Wing

    Archon_Wing Vote for me or die

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    Well, as I said here, whether or not a game is forgiving or not has little to do with consistency that I brought up.



    You could make Civ 6 have its AI leaders start out with 4 cities. You could also have the game uninstall itself if the player didn't click the right corner once every 2 minutes. These things would make a game objectively harder and less forgiving, but it wouldn't solve a thing. It's not just about the quantity of difficulty, but also the quality.

    It's important for a game to deliver proper feedback to how the player plays a game, at least for those of us who try to improve their gameplay. In Civ 4, it was hard, and it was also clear if your skills were not up to par but there was still a lot of flexibility in what to do. It's very hard to fluke out a win on high levels not just because it was hard, but you actually had to understand the game mechanics. But once you mastered the game mechanics, you had enormous leeway to pursue many options and make them all seem viable in strength. This is why I never even saw a need to play above the mid-levels in the game, despite the fact it would be "easier".

    In Civ 6, I really don't know if I picked a good strategy or because the AI just threw the game. Why is it that sometimes the AI walls itself on turn 30, but sometimes not on turn 140? There's no reason for that. I built 30 war carts and won on Deity. Does that mean I'm better than someone that only plays on King? Actually, I have no idea. This is not true at all in previous games.


    As a result, I may "win" in multiple games but I have no way of improving. And at a certain point, I stop caring and just treat it like a sandbox, which is fine, but not everyone can handle that.

    There have been many, many complaints about how the game isn't fun past the first 2 eras even though that's always a problem-- it's because the bulk of optimal play is concentrated there. Optimizing a game that you've already won is so you can win even harder, well to me, incredibly dull.

    Point is, Civ 6 is easier yet more shallower in its challenge. It's like a puzzle with only 1 answer while the rest is merely an illusion of choice. It doesn't reward the player for experimenting or trying something else simply because its victory mechanics cannot comprehend it. It's already the game with the biggest AI bonuses, but they just don't work for good reason.

    tl;dr Challenge /=/ Maschoism. Well, at least to me
    tt;dr 2: This is also why I liked loyalty in Rise and Fall. It doesn't make conquest impossible. But it makes it require at least some thought. And suddenly it got much better.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2018
  4. Spudsie74

    Spudsie74 Chieftain

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    I don't think you CAN make an AI that can beat a good human player. Not without pumping an incredible amount of money, R&D, and human resources into a project that will work well until the next upgrade. They would also probably have to have the AI run by a Cray Supercomputer, and the human player go at it online. Otherwise, it would take a week for a functioning (good) AI to make a move.

    The complexity of the game (so many ways to play/win) mitigates against having a good AI. Most programs use a modified brute force approach; there are multiple decision trees, but no computer (until they make a quantum one) can process the gazillion decisions that the human brain makes.

    It usually futzes the AI when you give it multiple choices...or do something unexpected. Suppose it is about to kill you wounded archer; you move 2 other units (a scout & builder adjacent). It often does not know what to do. (I'd either scarf the builder, or kill the archer, but the AI is operating from pre-existing plans...it can not react. Another example is using a scout as a decoy.

    The AI does NOT react optimally to things like that (Actually, I'd argue that it does not react at all) I have yet to see a strategy game where the AI is better than a good human (unless it cheats). That's why so many gamers play head to head. An example I am familiar with would be Hearts of Iron 4...the is no way the AI can guide all the divisions one side had in WW2 better than a human. Yes, it takes us longer, but we can ponder alternatives. A computer is pretty stuck with a "cookbook" approach....something great for shooters, but not so viable in strategy games.:p
     
  5. Leathaface

    Leathaface Warlord

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    I don't think of playing peacefully as a challenge, I think pairing 10+ Knights with a battering ram and a Great General then conquering on turn 80 as easy mode.

    Or at least it will be easy mode until the AI improves substantially.
     
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  6. Aristos

    Aristos Lightseeker

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    Exactly. That one-liner is very, very powerful and precise. The "illusion of choice" is one of the best definitions of the problems with civ 6 I have read so far since release.
     
  7. chazzycat

    chazzycat Chieftain

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    Hasn't civ always forced a more narrow, optimal, path to victory on the highest difficulty levels? You could just as easily apply this "illusion of choice" concept to the tradition-->rationalism 4 city strategy of civ 5, no?
     
  8. Aristos

    Aristos Lightseeker

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    Nope. That was a matter of balance, which never came after the last bnw patch left things unbalanced. But there were real choices to make, even in civ 5, and more so in its predecessor. Civ 6 has few of those, with the rest being exactly what Archon pointed out: illusions that seem to be hard choices but have no real effect in the outcome.
     
    Trav'ling Canuck likes this.
  9. Trav'ling Canuck

    Trav'ling Canuck Warlord Supporter

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    In an ideal world, no one decision set would be optimal in all circumstances. I'd like to think that's what Ed Beach and his team were aiming for, at least in terms of "playing the map", i.e. adapting to your starting terrain. I'm not sure they ever intended that the AI would force you to respond to it's actions, as that would have conflicted with another apparent objective: to be able to play any leader and be able to choose a victory condition, before the game starts, and be able to succeed with that victory.

    As of the current state of the game, it doesn't really feel (to me) like there are tough decisions to be made that vary with the current game circumstances.

    One issue is that you must, eventually, research nearly every civic and nearly every tech. With few exceptions, no one tech or civic has a material impact on the game. So most of the optimal decisions are to research the tech/civic which is already boosted while seeking boosts for the others.

    A second issue is that because you don't need to fend off the AI's attempts at victory, you can focus exclusively on your own victory condition, and most of the time that means spamming the districts associated with that victory type. So the map may dictate the optimal place to put your Holy Site, but the decision to pursue a religious victory dictates that building a Holy Site in every city will be optimal.

    A third issue is that large cities never pay for themselves in terms of speeding up victory. Therefore, you never have difficult decisions to make about whether it makes sense to invest in growing a city past Pop 10 or not.
     
  10. Spudsie74

    Spudsie74 Chieftain

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    It may be an illusion, but IMO Civ 6 (at least in the early game) makes you balance alternatives, depending on map, location, neighbors, and the situation in general. I like 5, but find in 6 I have to be more flexible, not less. That said, after about turn 100-150 it is pretty much of a done deal, but that's because it's easy to steamroller everything in sight, as long as you do it systematically, so as not to fun into loyalty issues. I think the "There is only one way," issue follows from the fact that increasing difficulty makes the AI "stronger (read: breeds like roaches, and has a corresponding IQ)," not smarter.

    The AI does suck, but IMO that is inherent in any complex strategy game that makes aa lot of money. No point in spending all that gold on AI and having to redo it every patch. Perhaps when we have quantum cloud computing, it will be more cost effective to have a smart AI. :p
     
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  11. chazzycat

    chazzycat Chieftain

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    I agree with that. The early part of the game where you're still catching up to the AI is definitely the most dynamic and intense part. In that phase sometimes one bad choice can be your downfall, especially since the patches made the AI aggressively beeline towards cities more effectively. I just lost my most recent game because I chose to build a campus instead of troops at the wrong moment. But you're right...once you reach a certain point it does seem impossible for the AI to be a real threat.

    I'm hoping that the next expansion will include some mechanism to actually restrain runaways (including the human player). IMO they kinda botched the whole "Emergencies" thing...they can start by fixing that. Or maybe the World Congress will help.
     
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  12. Disgustipated

    Disgustipated Warlord

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    This is what I find. My current game I almost seem to have too much choice LOL. In that I can't decide what victory condition to pursue (it doesn't help that the civ I am playing isn't suited to any one victory type). And the map I'm playing is giving me a lot of pause as well. So much so that deciding my pantheon and religious beliefs were tough decisions. And I hate deciding on a victory method that early, but it almost seems necessary when deciding religious beliefs. But yeah, after a certain point in the game, the map and opponents have dictated the best course of action.
     
  13. c4c6

    c4c6 Chieftain

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    This. And, please, an option just for the boldest players (just an Option!) to experience something that kind of really feels like a ... 'fall', a 'Dark' age ...
     
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  14. Archon_Wing

    Archon_Wing Vote for me or die

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    Well, I do prefer 6 after all and don't like 5.

    In Civ 4, you had people beating deity with just warriors throughout the whole game for example. Maybe that was too abusable but certainly allowed for more variety.

    I mean sure, options disappeared the higher you went, but I think this is applicable to any level of play (well besides settler)
     
  15. EgonSpengler

    EgonSpengler Warlord

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    This is one of my biggest gripes with the game. I really can't remember the last time I finished a game, because I know when I've won the game and just have to press "End Turn" a bunch of times.
     
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  16. Leathaface

    Leathaface Warlord

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    Maybe move up in difficulty?
     
  17. acluewithout

    acluewithout Warlord

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    The weird thing about difficulty is that higher difficulties are actually easier.

    If you play aggressively, you end up with more cities to capture because of the extra starting settlers the AI gets.

    Even if you don’t play aggressively it still ends up easier. Higher difficulties force you to play efficiently in the early game, but then that snowballs and suddenly you’re thrashing the AI. The worst is culture victory - you can often end up in a situation where you’re getting all the tourism, but the AI has a tonne of culture because of its bonuses so it takes forever to win even though winning is inevitable.
     
  18. Leathaface

    Leathaface Warlord

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    I like to play peacefully and Culture victory is my preferred victory condition. I find Science to be too straight forward and I don't like Religious. I'm winning fairly regularly in Immortal but when I move up to Deity I think i'll find a challenge going Culture.

    On Deity I hear it can be difficult to survive until mid game playing peacefully. I know building 7-8 archers and having 3 warriors then conquering is easy mode, I don't go that route.
     
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  19. EgonSpengler

    EgonSpengler Warlord

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    Unfortunately, that doesn't really change the equation. For me, raising the difficulty means I'm more likely to get overwhelmed in the Ancient or Classical Era if I do anything other than build military units; I have to hit my neighboring civs harder, sooner; and I have to choose which victory condition to aim for sooner. It pushes back the moment when I say, "alright, this game is in the bag, time to start over", but I'm not sure that's the same thing as "more interesting/fun." In some ways, it is; in other ways, it's not; and either way, the late-game is a dud.
     
  20. Trav'ling Canuck

    Trav'ling Canuck Warlord Supporter

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    I think that's a fair assessment. After about T100 (standard speed), Deity and Prince play remarkably similar.

    The ways they differ prior to T100 isn't necessarily the best, either. The military threat posed by the AI is much greater, and that's positive. Early scouting is rendered almost meaningless, however, rather than being more important, because free City State envoys are much less likely, tribal villages are much less likely, and early contact with neighbours creates more danger than opportunity. Also, Ancient Wonders are out of reach, although that's not particularly material since none of them provide benefits worth their production cost at that stage in the game. (Note: lots of people believe the Pyramids and Temple of Artemis are worth their cost; I think it's a bit of a toss up due to the uncertainty of whether you get beaten to the Wonder, but do agree that if you could guarantee getting them, these two at least won't hurt you from a return on investment perspective).
     
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