Importance of Mods in Civ IV: S&T and Modding Communities

lymond

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Moderator Action: I have generated a new thread here by moving over some posts from another topic. PPQ_Purple posted something here that, honestly, I was completely oblivious to before today. Also, I'm quite skeptical of its general validity. However, I felt PPQ deserved his "forum" for this discussion and; therefore, this discussion will take place here - in a civil manner. Please feel free to discuss the Modding and Strategy & Tips communities and the importance of mods in general. BUT, please note that attacks, trolling, and flaming will not be tolerated in this thread. If the thread gets out of hand at any point it will be shut down. Cheers - lymond
 
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PPQ_Purple

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BUG/BULL are quality-of-life mods. Better AI, K-mod fix AI and game mechanic.

Other mods, like PlanetFall/Realism:Invictus are abandoned by authors & players.

I haven't played Fall from Heaven II or like to comment on importance...
You really don't go into the mod forum much than. The community is very much alive. And frankly I can't ever see my self playing the game unmodded or just with BUG.
 

gavenkoa

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And frankly I can't ever see my self playing the game unmodded or just with BUG.
Is it related to the play style? On Strategy subforum all discourage non-standard mods: you won't get any recommendation on improvement of play strength... as there are no common ground. I think mods are for casual players. I'm perfecting games on Imm/Deity.
 

lymond

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Mods can be a good distraction for a bit of a break from standard play. I recommend FFH @gavenkoa
 
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PPQ_Purple

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Is it related to the play style? On Strategy subforum all discourage non-standard mods: you won't get any recommendation on improvement of play strength... as there are no common ground. I think mods are for casual players. I'm perfecting games on Imm/Deity.
You will find that there is a huge community of people here who enjoy mods and don't care about the strategy subforum one bit.

We generally treat CIV as a game to be enjoyed and not a competitive sport to be mastered. Not that there is anything wrong with that approach either if that's what makes you happy.
And of course, mods that change the way the game plays also add whole new layers of strategy to it making it better and more enjoyable to master if you are into that. Just look at say the RFC section and how they treat things.

Bottom line is if you ignore mods because of a bad attitude what you learned from the strategy section you are ignoring a huge swathe of content you would enjoy and a huge reason why so many people still enjoy this game today.Moderator Action: "Bad Attitude", in this context, might be considered a bit contentious to your audience - and others - so let's try something else there. (feel free to edit how you wish but not the strike-thru text). Thank you and cheers - lymond
 
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PPQ_Purple

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Instead of an edit I have decided to provide a full post clarification because I feel that no change to the original post could adequately address the issue.


The strategy section of this forum has for a long time represented a problem for the entire Civilization 4 fan community due to the toxic and hostile attitude a large number of its members promote toward us mod creators and mod enjoyers. In particular these individuals hold and spread their opinion that the game should be played either with no mods at all or with only the specific mods they as a group approve of and that any deviation from this rule is an objectively inferior experience for the player who is therefrom labeled as a "casual". A word which in the gaming community as a whole is universally understood to be an insult describing that person as someone who engages their chosen game with no passion or care and who neither has nor desires to gain skill and proficiency in it.

In doing this they not only disparage the hard work of all us modders but they also disparage all the people who play and enjoy mods by claiming wrongly that doing so requires no skill and does not represent an enjoyable experience of learning, mastery and personal growth.

In short, certain segments of this community claim that to play the game modded with anything but their approved mods is to be playing an inferior product and that those of us who enjoy it are inferior people for doing so.

And if things were left at that it would be something that is offensive to us in the modding community but ultimately tolerable on account of the fact we don't go into their section and they don't go into our. Unfortunately things are not left at that because this group takes every opportunity at their disposal to convince new players joining this forum who do not know any better due to a lack of experience that they are the authority about the game on account of their "elite skill" and that thus obviously their stance on how to play and enjoy Civilization IV "correctly" is the one and only truth.

We in the modding community consider this behavior to be detrimental both to the individual players who are being indoctrinated into this line of thinking and the community as a whole. It splits the community into camps when these need not exist. And it drives many unknowing player away from enjoying the majority of content created by the modding community for this game over the 17 years since it came out. It is simply a loose-loose proposition which robs us of players and robs these new players of the fun experiences they could be having if they had not been told to ignore mods.


I firmly believe that I speak for the entire modding community when I say that the reason we have tolerated this behavior for this long and why we continue to tolerate it is because unlike them we respect every style of playing this game and consider them all equally valid as long as the person partaking in them is enjoying the experience. We do not disparage their way of playing and bear them no ill will at all. Indeed, we are more than happy that they have found a way of playing this game that they enjoy. And have taken great efforts to enable that enjoyment through mods such as BUG and BAT and further expand upon the formula with mods such as RFC. And we regret that this behavior and position are not reciprocated.


In light of these facts, my previous post was plain and simply an attempt to make clear that regardless of what certain individuals might claim there is no right or wrong way to play Civilization 4. There is only the way or ways you personally enjoy. And to invite everyone to try them all and make up their own mind rather than listening to anyone who tells them otherwise. If in doing so I have left anyone offended that was not the intention.
 
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lymond

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Moderator Action: adminstrative bump
 

Noble Zarkon

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I think the S&T forum is amazing as is the work of the many still active Modding communities.

The S&T forum was a key component in taking me from struggling at Warlord (when I joined 10 years ago) to having a Hall of Fame #1 slot on Deity. In that journey I discovered that playing the most efficient way felt to me more like work than fun! So although I can win on Deity it's not where I like to play - my preference is for Time games on lower difficulty levels where I can build a beautiful empire, of course S&T taught me how to beat down the AIs until there was only a single AI with one crappy ice city which makes the building much easier :)

In short I hope there isn't any conflict between the various groups on the site who all love this great game and derive enormous enjoyment from it no matter if you are a keen Mod player, a ruthless min/maxer, a competitive HOF/SGOTM player or a peaceful builder.
 

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Where any actual condescension among elite players does exist, I would actually say (intended with some humility) that denouncing mods is ironic when these make popular exploits of the base game impossible or rarely feasible, when these seem to be mandatory gambits for high level play.

Try playing R:I on Immortal while dismissing the idea of all but a small handful of key buildings as nothing but a siren song for noobs, or not being able to whip for instant production, or not being able to blast an enemy stack into chaff with siege, etc. These three in particular seem to be sine quo non in BtS; so playing a mod which creatively substitutes these out with interesting alternatives (among several other changes and layers of difficulty) creates a far more strategically rich and challenging experience, at least for me. And I don't mean to disparage anyone. Obviously the elite players here deserve their credit for mastering a very deep game and they give of a lot of their time to offer constructive feedback and advice. I do sense a bit of an exclusivity attitude though and I don't think that the vanilla has a monopoly at all on balanced and well-designed challenge.

I am just a mid-level Civ4 player, though. I could beat Monarch some of the time on BtS, but RI has challenged my play so much, that I'd be curious to see if Monarch would even be challenging anymore, since it is so much more challenging in the mod. I'd really like to see a reasonably comfortable deity player try their hand at even Immortal in the mod and see how they fare, because I think it would be a much harder game without these necessary optimizations which are orthodoxy in S&T.
 

lymond

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Where any actual condescension among elite players does exist, I would actually say (intended with some humility) that denouncing mods is ironic when these make popular exploits of the base game impossible or rarely feasible
I'd just like to have clarification here because this is not my experience. Are you saying this denouncing mods is your experience? I understand that some S&T folks may not play around with mods much but I don't recall anyone ever denouncing mods, modders, or the modding community. I have a feeling we may have some misunderstanding going on here. I realize that there are other communities around the interwebs like Realms Beyond that really do shun mods, and maybe over the years, an RB denizen has popped up over here claiming something. However, I'm not aware of the good and very helpful folks over in S&T disparaging mods or the mod community.

Someone saying they have no interest in mods is not disparaging mods. And I don't recall anyone really having an opinion on the difficulty of mods, as why would they, if they don't play them. Some of us have played Kmod and do find it actually more challenging indeed.
(Personally I've played tons of mods over the years and have a full appreciation of the modding community and always have. I will always play around with mods now and then. I also love to be very good at the vanilla game)
 

drewisfat

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Most of the charges here listed could be flipped on their head easily.
I've seen good players be called "min/maxers" and told they "abuse exploits" many more times than I've seen "casuals". The implications are equally clear, min/maxer = anti-fun, abusing exploits = soft cheating. Abusing exploits in particular smacks of self-rationalization: I'm better at the game, the mod I play is harder, and the only reason you can win on _difficulty_level_ is that you used a mechanic I don't like/understand.
Can't complain about dividing into camps when you speak on behalf of all C&C players in calling most S&T players toxic and hostile.
Can't complain about S&T "indoctrinating" people to be anti-mod when you do your best to "indoctrinate" people to be pro-mod.
The need for a baseline settings/game for in-depth strategy discussion is obvious. It's all too often that a point is made, and then 3 posts later it comes out that "I use the ____ mod". Like cool, we were having a discussion and now you've retreated into your own universe with unknown physics to save your point. (And generally the point doesn't even stand in that mod, but the opposing party can't continue out of ignorance).
Seems like what started this off was gaven saying some mods aren't supported anymore, only AFTER you said you wouldn't even play Civ 4 if not for mods. When you say that to a perspective civ4 buyer, which community is hurting which again?
I do not like gavenkoa being set up as a bully, when the victim is at least equal parts perpetrator.
Putting this message out there and painting the community as toxic is itself toxic. It's the hypocritical cherry on top of the hypocritical sundae.

At the end of the day people are going to promote what they like and attack what they don't like. People interested in a discussion on strategy are going to seek common game settings that they can agree on for reference. And when you bring strategic advice that runs contrary to the norm, expect to be challenged on it.
 

lymond

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@drewisfat Some good points there, but just a quick note of clarification here. Gav is not being targeted here as a bully. He more or less initialized the discussion which started in another thread.
 

AspiringScholar

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I'd just like to have clarification here because this is not my experience. Are you saying this denouncing mods is your experience? I understand that some S&T folks may not play around with mods much but I don't recall anyone ever denouncing mods, modders, or the modding community. I have a feeling we may have some misunderstanding going on here. I realize that there are other communities around the interwebs like Realms Beyond that really do shun mods, and maybe over the years, an RB denizen has popped up over here claiming something. However, I'm not aware of the good and very helpful folks over in S&T disparaging mods or the mod community.

Someone saying they have no interest in mods is not disparaging mods. And I don't recall anyone really having an opinion on the difficulty of mods, as why would they, if they don't play them. Some of us have played Kmod and do find it actually more challenging indeed.
(Personally I've played tons of mods over the years and have a full appreciation of the modding community and always have. I will always play around with mods now and then. I also love to be very good at the vanilla game)
Thank you for checking for clarification. I really mean no vitriol or aim to take away from anyone's fun with BtS, nor to question that it, as the final form of the base game, quite fittingly stands as the default metric for discussions and strategies, etc., even if high quality and viable mods do exist for those who prefer them. My response to Drew will hopefully answer your question.
Most of the charges here listed could be flipped on their head easily.
I've seen good players be called "min/maxers" and told they "abuse exploits" many more times than I've seen "casuals". The implications are equally clear, min/maxer = anti-fun, abusing exploits = soft cheating. Abusing exploits in particular smacks of self-rationalization: I'm better at the game, the mod I play is harder, and the only reason you can win on _difficulty_level_ is that you used a mechanic I don't like/understand.
Can't complain about dividing into camps when you speak on behalf of all C&C players in calling most S&T players toxic and hostile.
Can't complain about S&T "indoctrinating" people to be anti-mod when you do your best to "indoctrinate" people to be pro-mod.
The need for a baseline settings/game for in-depth strategy discussion is obvious. It's all too often that a point is made, and then 3 posts later it comes out that "I use the ____ mod". Like cool, we were having a discussion and now you've retreated into your own universe with unknown physics to save your point. (And generally the point doesn't even stand in that mod, but the opposing party can't continue out of ignorance).
Seems like what started this off was gaven saying some mods aren't supported anymore, only AFTER you said you wouldn't even play Civ 4 if not for mods. When you say that to a perspective civ4 buyer, which community is hurting which again?
I do not like gavenkoa being set up as a bully, when the victim is at least equal parts perpetrator.
Putting this message out there and painting the community as toxic is itself toxic. It's the hypocritical cherry on top of the hypocritical sundae.

At the end of the day people are going to promote what they like and attack what they don't like. People interested in a discussion on strategy are going to seek common game settings that they can agree on for reference. And when you bring strategic advice that runs contrary to the norm, expect to be challenged on it.
I'm not sure to what extent this was directed at me (per my use of the word "exploit," maybe?), but if it was, I think you've misunderstood me. I've had a long and somewhat stressful day and so am not in the best frame of mind at the moment, so please give me the benefit of the doubt here if you would. A few points off-hand, that I'd like to reiterate:
- I love Beyond the Sword and have spent probably thousands of hours of my growing up years and then quite a few hundred playing it recently. I really have a very high regard for this game and have precious little negative to say about it, even if I prefer the changes made by RI and regard them to be enhancements for my own play. The base game is superb.
- I respect the skill level of elite players. Being a comfortable deity player is something like a videogame equivalent of a chess grandmaster, and I think that's something to be proud of and I admire those who are there. I furthermore acknowledge with zero misgiving that I'm only a mid-level player.
- If someone barges into a S&T thread or discussion and attempts to derail the conversation on the basis of the different mechanics of their preferred mod; well that's obviously rude and uncalled-for, not something I condone or would want to do. I haven't seen that done, however, and I don't think casually mentioning "I think the difference in this mod is cool, by the way" at all constitutes the same thing.
- My comment about wanting to see a deity player try a very high difficulty level on RI is literal curiosity to see how they would go about playing the game after learning the differences, since obviously nobody beats deity on civ 4 without very strong critical faculties and intelligence. In BtS, we have well over a decade of collective wisdom about how to play the game, so any kind of significant paradigm shift would require lots of fresh thought on their part which I would truly enjoy witnessing. Not at all was I trying to rationalize my inferiority in BtS, which I have no problem at all admitting.

We had a similar discussion half a year ago in this thread, actually: https://forums.civfanatics.com/threads/hello-again-and-a-couple-of-quick-questions.674507/

There, I think you do sell the mod short and have judged it by its cover with respect to difficulty or the skill level of its creators (not all of whom are making strategy or mechanics decisions, by the way, with all of the added art and UI programming, etc.), and the main curator is far above being a Monarch player. I'd also disagree with your historical criticisms, respectfully, but that is a little beside the point.

Now to answer Lymond more directly, I was basically called a noob for even mentioning the critique of some of the base game mechanics when I brought up the topic about the mod. "You don't like some of the implications of the SoD mechanics conceptually? You're obviously just new and don't know how to deal with them properly." I think there is a little bit of an exclusivity and instant dismissiveness among top-level players against any kind of questioning of the base game, and this is somewhat circular. It does not logically follow that because some approach has been optimized after enormous amounts of community play, that the choices and preconditions which enable such a path are necessarily the best game design.

And lastly, while it would be cool to have more of a community to play with for the mod I prefer, I'm not at all aiming to tell someone else that they're playing the game wrong or how they should be having fun with the game, even if I did think that discussing it would be interesting. If that's not really desired here, I'll stay out of this board for the most part.
 

lymond

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AS....did a quick perusal of that thread, of which I was a brief part of early on. I think there are some misunderstandings going on there. I see the thread veered into some discussion of SoD stuff, and also veered into a bit of mods discussion, though I did not really figure out why that is the case. Not speaking of you particular here, but I will mention that I've seen over the now 15 years or so years here some folks balk a bit at some of the perceived bluntness of S&ters when explaining some things, and fiercely defending the mechanics of the base game (mods not relevant to this point). The mention of new or newbie or whatever I took as more of an assumption of playing level relative to the discussion at hand and not meant as an insult. Keep in mind that there has been a strong core of experienced players here for years assisting less experienced players with the mechanics and strategies of the game. Literally, hundreds and hundreds of players have been helped over the years with good intentions. The point being is that from our perspectives these discussions are a bit rote to us, while freshly new to the audience and; therefore, rather than perceived with the intended good intentions, they may come off a bit brusque.

Now to mods, it seems a post by drewisfat directed the thread a bit in that direction. Now there is much in his post I don't necessarily agree with but I would point to a particular statement here:

No mod that changes gameplay is well regarded among top players.
Now I can't speak for drewisfat on the context of that statement, and he does go on to say some stuff that I don't think all S&Ters would necessarily agree with. However, I will tell you what it means from my perspective. For me, changes to gameplay are not well regarded when one's intent and goal is to master the base or vanilla game. For me, it has nothing to do with mods or modders, but the fact that when I play the base game I want to do just that. When I want to play mods, I do that as well. I've played many mods over the years extensively. I've had binges of FFH (and several of its modmods) at least 5 or 6 times for months, playing through the scenarios three times as well. I played PAE extensively - it's one of my favorites and I love how Pie keeps it going. RFC I have countless hours from the delivered content to all the modmods like DOC - working through all the cool UHV strategies. I've done the RI thing a few times - it does always run quite slow for me. Really liked LoR - too bad it was abandoned before ironing out a few kinks and bugs. I played a mod called Quo Vadis or something like that years ago and I think it evolved into other stuff.

Anyway, I love mods and one thing I do agree with PPQ on is that the modding community is great. The work they do has indeed kept life in this great game and will continue to do so. I'd love it ...say...if the community as a whole got into a particular mod and really worked together to master it as we do with the base game. What I don't agree with, at least from my perspective, is that there is some kind of feud between the modding and S&T community. Some folks simply don't choose to play mods but neither do they disparage mods. I think Pangaea said it fairly well in one post there.

So while I think I kind of understand how someone might perceive some criticism or disparagement of mods from how we may talk sometimes, from my viewpoint, that is more of a misunderstanding rather than any intention to do so. We are more just defending how we play the game when we are indeed playing the vanilla game. I certainly don't claim to speak for everyone, but I'd wager to guess - and it is certainly my point of view - that we do indeed appreciate and respect the mod community a great deal even though we may not play mods regularly or, in some cases, at all.
 

drewisfat

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I had "balance mods" in mind with that statement, as opposed to total conversion stuff or graphics overhauls. Not because BTS' balance is perfect, but the more significant changes you make the more likely you are to completely miss the mark and break something (and I tried to give examples to that effect).
I think mentioning stacks of doom will often get a hostile response here, it's like a PTSD trigger from the civ 5 civil war.
 

gavenkoa

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I researched what makes Civ4 fun and looked to 1,2,3,5,6 game rules. Instead of buying games and wasting 1000 hours playing I read corresponding civilopedias and reviews.

This one https://sullla.com/Civ5/civ5editorials.html was particularly interesting. The author blamed civ5 for been "casual": he/she witnessed players just hitting Space / doing nothing and getting satisfaction from visuals on the screen.

I understand that some loves immersion / role-playing, some sandboxing / empire building, some min-maxing / power-gaming.

One aspect from civ5 critique - hidden rules of diplomacy. It is not acceptable for power-gamer: you cannot optimize if you don't understand.

Mods hide game rules. It is more like exploration game than min-max. Interesting if any mod comes with manual....

I was impressed by https://forums.civfanatics.com/threads/advanced-civ.614217/ The author put lots of efforts writing manual / defending / explaining changes.
 

lymond

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AspiringScholar

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@lymond, thanks for clarifying things at length and I hope no ill-intent was read in on my part.

I researched what makes Civ4 fun and looked to 1,2,3,5,6 game rules. Instead of buying games and wasting 1000 hours playing I read corresponding civilopedias and reviews.

This one https://sullla.com/Civ5/civ5editorials.html was particularly interesting. The author blamed civ5 for been "casual": he/she witnessed players just hitting Space / doing nothing and getting satisfaction from visuals on the screen.

Incidentally, I just read Sulla's entire review of Civ5 on Monday. It was actually in the sig of one of the programmers for RI, and I was curious about it when reading one of their posts over in
that section.

Mods hide game rules. It is more like exploration game than min-max. Interesting if any mod comes with manual....

I was impressed by https://forums.civfanatics.com/threads/advanced-civ.614217/ The author put lots of efforts writing manual / defending / explaining changes.

Yeah, not trying to be a complete apostle for RI, but this might be worth a quick browse. Fully transparent. No game rules hidden (in fact, it makes some formerly inconspicuous things like hidden relations modifiers visible, among other things)... :D

Ironically though, this thread has made me want to play a game of plain BtS just to see how well I would do after playing what I consider to be a much more challenging version at the same difficulty level. I have a feeling I would handily win on Monarch, but we'll see.. Maybe if you all wouldn't mind shadowing a game of mine if I could put one up soon?
 

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