Old World designer notes #10: Soren Johnson on diplomacy

Discussion in 'Old World - General Discussions' started by The_J, Oct 8, 2021.

  1. The_J

    The_J Say No 2 Net Validations Super Moderator Supporter

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    Soren Johnson has published another blog post about the development of Old World, this time discussing diplomacy.

    He talks about how the systems in Civ3 and Civ4 were independently flawed: In Civ3 the AIs would simply trade techs with each other no matter what, letting them get ahead of the player. In Civ4, this was fixed, but your best strategy would be to contact the AIs every turn to get whatever you wanted out of them, making the whole interaction feel not very diplomatic. To fix this in Old World, they didn’t incorporate a bargaining table to exchange items, but let instead events take this task, and gave a cost for diplomacy, leading to more careful planing of your diplomacy. The whole blog post is very well worth a read.

    An excerpt:
    Read the whole blog post here: https://www.designer-notes.com/?p=1742
     
  2. PiR

    PiR Emperor Supporter

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    That is very true about Civ IV, I couldn't help but trying to sell my map to every AI every turn right after discovering caravels and exploring oceans. I often felt this map selling should be automated, when that wasn't really the "game designer" solution. :)

    The systems in OW are very enjoyable, but I can be frustrated to wait another turn for peace when I'm begging for it.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2021
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  3. Solver

    Solver Mohawk Games Designer

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    Let's recall that Civ4: BtS added a No Tech Brokering option, which only allowed you to trade techs you had discovered yourself. I used that option and enjoyed it a lot, as it still allowed you to sell techs and thus benefit from being ahead in research, but without being able to do the silly diplo dance of buying a tech and then reselling it to five AIs on the same turn.
     
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  4. PiR

    PiR Emperor Supporter

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    Still, I hope we'll get more options when trading

    I understand not having a result that can be predicted + having to wait a couple of turns to not just undo (saving the player from themselves) but something regularly disappointing can become... underused?

    For example, sending the ambassador and them coming back with 3 options or backing away and only get 20 XP out of this can be regularly disappointing. Maybe sending the ambassador with an objective in mind? (doesn't mean that objective will be reached when they come back)
     
  5. Solver

    Solver Mohawk Games Designer

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    You can think of it as the ambassador having an objective - profitable trade deal - but comes back with whatever they can negotiate. It's not like the other nations want to give you too good a deal unless they love you.

    We've recently expanded diplo events though with a bunch of tech trades, so I think it's now more common to see some actual trading going on.
     
  6. uhu

    uhu Chieftain

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    I feel the uncertainty of just try again once more after a run of disappointing results. Perhaps it would help to know, that the game monitors the outcome of random decisions (weighted on severity) and levels (but only partly!) the probability of future random results depending on past (too many) unlucky dice rolls, "lucky" selection of replayed save games etc ... in order to lead towards the intended play experience (eg. "It's not like the other nations want to give you too good a deal unless they love you.") -- if it did.

    It is only natural to refuse (at least for a moment) negative events (especially strong or several in a row), but probably better to bear if one knows, that endured hardship means a more rosy future, respective avoided hardship vice versa -- and that it is fair distributed accordingly to an adjustable, agreed upon difficulty level.

     
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  7. jguy100

    jguy100 Warlord

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    My biggest gripe is it sometimes feels like you have no options to influence a scenario.

    If your spouse doesn’t like you, you can influence them once. After that, you’re relying on blind luck.

    If you don’t have the appropriate advisor techs, your options for dealing with an angry foreign leader, city, or head of house are pretty much non existent.

    I feel like this could be fixed by allowing your leader to influence a character multiple times. I’m curious why the decision was made to limit it. As it stands, I find myself scouring the character lists every other turn looking for a person I haven’t influenced yet. It feels like I’m repeating the pattern Old World hoped to avoid.
     
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  8. Solver

    Solver Mohawk Games Designer

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    Influencing multiple times didn't feel true to character dynamics any more. Click a button enough times until the person likes you. We want to combine the power of a ruler with character relationships where you can only do so much. People sometimes don't like you and there's a limit to what you can do. In OW, you have quite a few options, you can influence the character, you can try intercession or religious conversion, for a foreign leader you can make any trade deal, accepting one that isn't economically profitable just for the relationship boost.

    I wouldn't think that constantly looking for characters to influence is a problem, if you find yourself doing that. The problem Soren talks about with tech trades comes up when it's optimal to keep doing something all the time. That's not the case with influencing. It costs precious resources, and it's one of several leader missions. If you choose to influence, you're not doing Rally Troops for instance, so it's always a tradeoff. Sometimes the right choice is to do nothing, which is a common theme in OW.
     
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  9. PiR

    PiR Emperor Supporter

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    Yeah, but the ambassador comes back with 3 options and I choose amongst them, how comes it's not me defining the 3 options and the AI picking of them once in a while? :D (just kidding, no idea how to implement that, just the roleplay feeling)

    Isn't that the definition of "random"?

    Not really. You can use religion also, then the religion head can intercede for you, the family head as well in some cases. Also the events can help, but yes that is luck then.

    That part I totally share the feeling. There are things I have to check every turn, just as I used to in Civ IV: influence checks, intercessions, tutoring possibilities, etc. At least the orders can limit that.

    Then maybe just a UI improvement, a way to see who can be influenced or not quickly + who can be interceded?
    Also when some menus are containing only greyed out options, maybe they could be "greyed" as an indicator towards that?
     
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  10. steveg700

    steveg700 Deity

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    I think Soren Johnson has a kneejerk to reduce any criticism of TOW down to people being closed or unaccustomed to unpredictability. And so in turn do TOW's supporters.

    But there's a legit beef with diplomacy being unilateral. The AI can show up at my doorstep to make demands, which I cannot demand in turn. I can seek a marriage with another nation, but nations do not come to me to make similar requests.

    In your example, it is perfectly reasonable for me to decide what I'm offering in a trade. Allowing the AI to set all the terms and putting the player in a purely reactive position is not made positive by describing the player's lack of agency as "dynamic". I think this will bear through over time as more players fall out of their honeymoon phase to see some of the game's shortfalls.

    Having my groomed heir to the crown become Cruel is palatable if it's the consequence of a decision, OR spurs me to take action to address it. But that's not what happens. The game just suddenly assigns a nasty weakness, and the player's only option is simply acceptance or save-scum.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2021
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  11. Solver

    Solver Mohawk Games Designer

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    I don't like unilateral diplomacy, and the game should have options for you to do anything that the AI can. You can definitely ask the AI for tribute, and I specifically recall we added that because demands were something the AI could do to you but not vice versa. Marriage proposals have been bilateral in the game for a long time, it's fairly common for the AI to ask to marry your heirs (or even the ruler).

    If you have examples of one-sided diplomatic interactions, we definitely want to know!
     
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  12. steveg700

    steveg700 Deity

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    Regarding diplomatic marriages, what I am saying is I would like to see the AI come to me and propose marriage of someone from my bloodline to a leader or heir of their nation. This would cost players someone on their line of successful, but would be a boon to maintaining good relationships that wouldn't require diluting one's own bloodline with foreigners. And there should be a nice dowry to boot.

    I'm not sure if there are any events that can occur for having leaders that have diluted their bloodline too much, but there definitely should be. And of course, these diplomatic marriages between nations are ripe with potential for intrigue that developers could exploit.

    Other one-sided situations would be the AI demanding I do something that damages my relationship with another nation, such as cancelling a trade deal. And other nations can come to me and ask for one-time handouts (not the same as tribute). There is no tech-trading, but the AI can simply ask or demand that I fork over research.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2021
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  13. Solver

    Solver Mohawk Games Designer

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    This is definitely a good idea.
     
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