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I made a video on why I think donut is the most balanced map

Discussion in 'Community Patch Project' started by GodDamnItAlexander, Sep 28, 2017.

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  1. GodDamnItAlexander

    GodDamnItAlexander Warlord

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    All feedback appreciated.
     
  2. Blue Ghost

    Blue Ghost King

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    Sure, having uniform starts all around the board certainly makes the game more balanced. So if you're looking for an e-sport-like experience with perfect balance, sure you can't go wrong with Donut. I've played Donut a few times, for the sake of diversity, and it is a very balanced and fairly fun map.

    But I think you're asking the wrong question. What matters is not what map is most balanced, but what is most conducive to a fun Civ experience. Donut achieves balance, but at the cost of what I think are more important factors: variety, mystery and realism. A great deal of Civ is exploring the map and adapting your strategy based on terrain and proximity to your neighbors. That's only possible if there's variety in civ placement, which necessitates a degree of imbalance. And being placed in mirrored starting points on an artificially uniform map makes immersion more difficult.

    That's not to say map balance isn't important. Grossly unbalanced starts make the game frustrating. But if you focus solely on balance, you're going to lose a crucial portion of Civ's gameplay.
     
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  3. GodDamnItAlexander

    GodDamnItAlexander Warlord

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    Also present in donut.
    You'd be surprised. In one of my previous games I was neighboring a Carthaginian coastal city that was near impossible to take solely by land (until siege units get indirect fire).
    Point is is that the map really isn't uniform.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2017
  4. Ziad

    Ziad Emperor

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    I find that the game with VP is far less dependent on terrain.

    Honestly the map is kinda irrelevant at this point
     
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  5. Funak

    Funak Deity

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    Civ is all about how you adapt to the situation the game throws at you, and the first situation is your starting-location. With all starts being symmetrical that situation is diminished.

    That being said I've played plenty of donut, and I have absolutely no problem with the map itself, but I would definitely don't want to claim it as the map that everything should be balanced from.

    I also believe that your quest for balance is going too far, imbalances is what makes a game interesting. A completely symmetrical map 1v1 with the same leader would be dreadful. I mean just take chess as an example, white goes first that's a massive advantage, a complete imbalance, but out of that imbalance strategies have formed and it makes the game more interesting as a result.
     
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  6. doublex55

    doublex55 Prince

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    The fact that there are no peninsulas or bays in Donut makes naval warfare rather boring imo.
     
  7. GodDamnItAlexander

    GodDamnItAlexander Warlord

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    How is this the case if every civ is neighboring two different civs? For example right now I'm playing Morocco. I'm neighboring China and Egypt. However China is neighboring Morocco and The Maya. Egypt is neighboring Morocco and Sweden. Symmetrical? Nope. Also there is a mod that lets you edit maps (IGE). You can see the entire map form turn 1 if you turn off fog. Load up any game of donut and I guarantee you will find that all starts will not be symmetrical. Just spawning on the inner vs outer coast line has a huge impact on the game.

    You'd think if all starts were symmetrical you wouldn't get choke points or impossible to conquer cities or favorable starts and so on. But that's absolutely not the case. I just made 3 cities which are unsiegable without indirect fire and are not coastal.

    If I spawn near Songhai and I go tradition (which I have replayed this very mistake over and over again) I just straight up lost the game. In archipelago I wouldn't care about this fact and I wouldn't have to adapt my game plan either.

    In one of my games I had to deal with a runaway Russia in the late game. My plan was to conquer the world, but that obviously wasn't happening with Russia going Imperialism and being ten techs ahead of everyone. And the fact that I'm playing donut only makes the situation harder. Not having to adapt? Are you serious?
    Specify what type of imbalance makes the game interesting in your opinion. If one Civ is just simply better than all the other civs combined, then we call that broken and we demand a fix.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2017
  8. glider1

    glider1 Deity

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    Thanks for starting this discussion. I agree that there is still a lot of variation in donut by terrain, capital placement and civ.

    Donut has problems too though. Civs that start with the capital on the outside coast are safer from surprise naval attack than capitals on the inside coast because navies only come from the left or right with plenty of advance warning.

    Also, donut/ocean for some reason does not spawn rainforest ever.That is a pity.
     
  9. GodDamnItAlexander

    GodDamnItAlexander Warlord

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    Can you explain this please?
     
  10. glider1

    glider1 Deity

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    I don't think donut allows navies to cross over the edge of the map (the edge of the map is a barrier)
    So:
    If the coast capital is on the outside ring coastline, attacks by sea cannot cross an ocean to get to the capital. They only come from left or right over a long distance.
    If the coast capital is on the inside ring, attacks by sea can come from left and right over a short distance and also come from across the ocean.
    Therefore inside ring coastal capitals are more exposed to naval invasion than outside ring coastal capitals.
     
  11. GodDamnItAlexander

    GodDamnItAlexander Warlord

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    Yep. Inner sea has higher risk/reward.
    Also no one expects the outer navy assault. It can make for a vicious surprise attack.

    Another weird quirk is that the north, south, east and west most points of the donut are very close to the edge of the map, meanwhile the north east, south east, south west and north west are further away. So a cities borders on the north/south/east/west points could block you from crossing to the other side, whereas that can't happen else where.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2017
  12. tu_79

    tu_79 Deity

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    I just can't play with that map. It's like playing in an arena. I prefer landmasses looking like a true planet.
     
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  13. Moi Magnus

    Moi Magnus Emperor

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    I really like maps that create "unbalanced terrains". I like having to think about how to exploit huge mountain chains, peninsulas, forgotten island that I'm lucky to find before the others, ...
    So donut map, why not for 1-2 games in order to play with the 2 seas, but it does not have a lot of "aberration", precisely because it would be unbalanced.
     
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  14. Tekamthi

    Tekamthi Prince

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    For what its worth, I admire your passion on this topic, Alexander. I think most would agree that in some ways 'donut' could be considered one of the more "balanced" maps as you describe... that said I think it equally valid to interpret balance as giving every civ an equal chance to access its advantages, and equal challenges, such as an equal uncertainty about the world its in. I haven't observed a very strong need for balance re-work for the most part in recent VP, though if that were the case I would hope to even things up as broadly as possible, rather than on any one very narrow ruleset that will be infrequently played by most.

    I think many on the forum here need to be persuaded that this very focused balance approach would be a good thing, and not so much convinced that donut is in some way a very even map to play on. I also think you may be overlooking one very critical flaw with 'donut'. Consider that the human, when it chooses 'donut' already knows very precisely, to a much greater degree than on almost any other map, the shape of the geography its working with, and can very quickly infer where it is on that map within a few turns. I may be wrong but I don't think the AI is told what map script was chosen in the settings, and is left to blindly explore w/o any foreknowledge. This is a massive advantage to human... in this way, 'donut' is one of the least desirable maps for AI vs human games I think
     
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  15. glider1

    glider1 Deity

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    It is true that the shape of the map gives humans an initial edge over AI but adjusting the difficulty absorbs that edge as always.
    Donut is a subtle map type because there are imbalances all over the place in the terrain and placements that only become obvious much later in the game than other map types.
    But sadly, the problem is there is no jungle in donut because of a bug in the map script.
     
  16. GodDamnItAlexander

    GodDamnItAlexander Warlord

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    Muh realism. ;)
    You give donut too much credit. There are still many imbalances (although no islands). However donut gives you more tools to deal with other players imbalanced starts.
    Choke point? Invest in a navy and go through the coast line. Are you and your neighbor equal in military strength and he has much better defensive terrain? Get friendly with his other neighbor and launch a surprise attack.
    "that said I think it equally valid to interpret balance as giving every civ an equal chance to access its advantages"
    Sounds like you haven't watched the video. That's exactly what donut sets to achieve. The only civ that is slightly nerfed is Spain as there are no new continents she can use her settle ability on.
    "and equal challenges, such as an equal uncertainty about the world its in."
    Donut is not equal nor certain. Like I told Funak, load up some games with IGE mod and turn off fog. You will see huge differences in every game.

    Not everyone are balance freaks like me. People who don't choose to use standard settings, for whatever reason, are explicitly deciding X over the highest degree of achievable balance. Which means they don't care as much about balance. So what difference will it make to them if there are standard settings or not? Just scroll up and look at what @doublex55 and @tu_79 said.
    I'd think that at least the more veteran players would be curious as to what standard settings could achieve. This is G and the community raising the bar as high as they possibly can.
    I honestly don't know how to persuade people that having a more balanced game is a good thing if they don't already believe in it. For me that's a given. My best example is from dota. Their basic approach to balance is to fight broken with broken. Simply put, all the heroes have the potential to be absurdly strong in the right context, to the point where picking just one hero in the right context can hand you the game on a metal platter. However that doesn't mean that the developers don't try to make the game as a whole more balanced.

    And like I said time and time again, standardized settings does not equal removal of customizable settings. You can still play with your favorite settings and I can argue that over the long run you won't feel a difference either way.

    Also don't feel bad for the AI not knowing the map. It's not the same every game and in my last game I got 2/3 of the map revealed for me after I traded world map with an AI.

    Yep.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2017
  17. doublex55

    doublex55 Prince

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    I would actually love for there to be more standard settings and more fine tuning of balance. But balance at the expense of interesting gameplay is not something I'm interested in seeing.

    Instead of picking one map as a standard map, perhaps it would be better to narrow the range. This way we get list if 8-10 maps instead of the entire range of maps, because many of those maps are indeed very imbalanced.
     
  18. Blue Ghost

    Blue Ghost King

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    Oh, I see the issue now. You're equating "there are other considerations besides balance" with "I don't care about balance at all." That is simply not true. Just because we recognize that balance is a single factor rather than the entirety of game design does not mean that we think balance is unimportant.

    Frankly, dismissing the valid concerns of others with flippant comments like "Muh realism" doesn't reflect well on your perspective.

    I don't know what you would consider a "veteran player", but I think a year of Vox Populi gives me enough experience to have a valid opinion. And my opinion is that excessive standardization and focusing on balance at the expense of other considerations is detrimental to the game. And considering that Gazebo has rejected the proposal of standardized settings, it seems he would agree.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2017
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  19. GodDamnItAlexander

    GodDamnItAlexander Warlord

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    Nope. Never said that. Your opinion is balance isn't the first priority. If the civs gods themselves were to hand you down a map type that would be the pinnacle of balance, would you play it over and over again? Probably not.

    "Frankly, dismissing the valid concerns of others with flippant comments like "Muh realism" doesn't reflect well on your perspective."

    And how do you gather I dismissed his concern? Also please don't attack my credibility, attack the argument not the person.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2017
  20. Ziad

    Ziad Emperor

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    Again, map type is irrelevant by virtue of randomness and VP reducing the value of the default slate by massively increasing bonuses to all yields, scaling, and combat types.

    Donut is just balanced over one iteration while random is balanced over many.

    It can be argued that random maps can emphasize where the civ can be too strong or too weak, so that they can be fixed.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2017
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