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Girls like robots....inspiration for a simple new mechanic?

Discussion in 'Communitas Expansion Pack' started by void_genesis, Feb 18, 2014.

  1. void_genesis

    void_genesis Prince

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    I recently got onto the indie game "Girls like robots" where a series of different tiles need to be arranged in order to maximise the beneficial connections between them according to relatively simple rules for each type. It is the perfect example of a simple mechanic that gives deep game play.

    The only comparable examples I think of in ciV are a few unique improvements like moai, terrace farms and chateaus and I find these add an fair amount of fun to optimise their placement.

    Should something like this be considered in the mod where all possible tile improvements have positive and negative effects on other tile improvements? Currently there are very few tiles that make you seriously think about what to put on them. The only issues are which ones to improve first (critical in the early game) and where to situate a city. Once you have specialised your city/civ toward a particular improvement further improvements become a no brainer.

    It has realism on its side- trading posts on a road should give more gold, farms surrounded by mines should be less healthy and give less food, etc. If balanced well it would also give a dynamic tension between specialising a city (to maximise building based improvement bonuses) and maximising positive relations between different improvement types.
     
  2. Ahriman

    Ahriman Tyrant

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    Sounds like something that the AI couldn't handle....
     
  3. ExpiredReign

    ExpiredReign Deity

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    Actually I think the AI would handle this quite well.
    All we would be doing is applying specific weighting to the improvements based on the surrounding tiles.
    It already does this with regards to existing tile improvements, ie. if this tile has a Great Person improvement don't pillage and replace it with a minor improvement.
    Or, if a new strategic resource appears then the existing improvement gets re-evaluated.

    The chateau code would help if it allows the examination of other features/resources/terrain apart those specific to the chateau. Knowing Firaxis though I wouldn't count on it. I haven't found the specific code to examine it yet.

    Having said that, there would be a sizeable amount of work to apply weightings/flavors to these improvement combos. Is the gain worth the pain?:mischief:
     
  4. Delekhan

    Delekhan Prince

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    This sounds like fun, and the AI makes decisions based on yields and flavors, so it would adapt to such a system without much issue.

    Like ExpiredReign said, the issue - as so often is the case - comes from the effort in implementation and testing.
     
  5. void_genesis

    void_genesis Prince

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    I expected the trickiest part is making the system an area where a conscientious human can get an small edge on the AI, but that it isn't so powerful that the AI is blown away. Isn't civ all about recognising small advantages and synergies consistently enough for it to matter 300 turns later?

    With the tile yields being so low (i.e. in small integral numbers), particularly during the crucial early game the system may have to rely on the adjacent tile choices more widely to calculate any bonuses/maluses. So for example one extra food per farm for each adjacent pasture might be OK since we cannot create pastures at will without an underlying resource. A net bonus of +6 food is pretty strong, but you need to commit the population to work the tiles to get any good from it, so it will not have too big an effect early on. You could maybe limit it to "up to +3" food on a tile to set a ceiling.

    The inverse of one extra food on pastures for each adjacent farm is too strong since we are more likely to be able to choose to put six farms around one pasture, turning it into a supertile that only one population needs to work. A better approach would be that an pasture with 3 or more adjacent farm improvements experiences a modest bonus (+1 food per era?), for example. You can increase the investment (number of adjacent improvement choices) and decrease the proportional reward or loss per tile affected.

    You could make the pattern of bonuses/maluses change in response to techs/UAs/policies/religious beliefs/buildings as well. This would add the dimension of having to reevaluate your improvement choices as the game progresses. This has precedent in history with towns shifting between agriculture, production and commerce over time, and should make the late game more interesting.
     
  6. zibas

    zibas Chieftain

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    Fascinating! I'm the developer who made "Girls Like Robots". I'm glad it intrigued you. Coincidentally, to reward myself after launching the game on Steam last week I played 6 hours of Civ 5!

    I do see where there could be some interesting use of similar mechanics in civ. The heart of what I tried to do was to use feelings as a memorable abstraction layer for a numeric system. People will have trouble remembering that unit A gets a +1 bonus for being near unit B, -1 for proximity to unit C and zero for Unit A. But they only need to hear once that Girls like Robots, hate Nerds and are neutral to each other.

    Civ already does a masterful job of teaching players abstractions for far more systems. But proximity (and emotions!) aren't heavily utilized in my (admittedly novice) experience with the franchise.
     
  7. ExpiredReign

    ExpiredReign Deity

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    @zibas Welcome to the forum!

    Did you Google your game just to see who was using it?:mischief:

    Glad you did. Haven't actually tried it but I have heard about it.:goodjob:

    Any concept that can, as you say, make understanding abstractions easier is a good thing.
     
  8. void_genesis

    void_genesis Prince

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    Wow....very surprising to find someone on the game development team take an interest.

    A few refinements in my thinking:

    Keep combinations realistic and intuitive- e.g. different types of food heavy tiles are mutually beneficial, adjacent production heavy and food heavy tiles are neutral or negative.

    Aim to balance it so that specialising the improvements of the whole civ, or of each city, or of regions of land around each city are all equally viable approaches with appropriate techs/religions/policies. Some negatives for overspecialising in one improvement type could help avoid improvement spam.

    The system could kick in gradually at later eras and replace the simple tile yield increases per era with something a bit deeper.

    We already have a system like this with riverside mines and farms getting a bonus on a tech. This system could add some variety to the planned rehash of the religious beliefs.
     
  9. Gothic_Empire

    Gothic_Empire AKA, Ramen Empire

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    I'm a fan of implementing this, at the very least, as a compatible mod. =)
     
  10. void_genesis

    void_genesis Prince

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    I realised we already have something like this for combat where the relative position of troops gives flanking bonuses, great general bonuses, healers, melee adjacent bonus with honour and a few unique adjacent bonuses.

    Imagine how much less interesting combat would be without all these mechanisms. The AI isn't great at using them to their full potential (and probably never will be). I think the game can still be deep and challenging enough to be fun by balancing the ai in other ways.
     
  11. Ahriman

    Ahriman Tyrant

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    The thing is: the AI's tactical weakness in combat is a huge drawback of the game (it's the single biggest problem with Civ5), and large parts of the game all have to be designed around compensating for this weakness, including lots of brute force free cheat bonuses for the AI that aren't really fun but are necessary (big AI discounts on units, free units for the AI, etc.).

    Introducing another major form of AI weakness in the economy would require further dramatic AI bonuses, which exacerbates the problem even further. The human doesn't have fun unless the AI is a strong opponent, but it gets very frustrating for the player to be playing against an AI with too many cheats that let it ignore the core game rules.
     

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