Poking at RAND

Arkaeyn

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Perhaps something involving the settlers aiming for the blue circles that the AI thinks will be good cities? Red circles for bad expansion? Or a lack of blue circles?

The lack of blue circles might already exist, come to think of it.
 

Arkaeyn

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Here's my first RAND victory! I won a cultural victory without directly trying (not pumping up culture in those particular cities until the last couple of turns.) But my Rome was a wonder machine, and, if you'll note the screenshot, had a HUGE advantage: a mountain range across an isthmus which divided me from everyone else. There were some barbarian rushes from the north that caused a few problems, but other than that, I never was particularly threatened.

Also, I had stone and marble right next to my first two cities, which turned them into Wonder machines. I had the Oracle within 20 turns, which I turned into Theocracy and Christianity. That kept my stability strong for pretty much the entire game, with the exception of 5 turns of depression or so.

While it was fun to win, I must say that the map basically handed it to me.


The game also had the bizarre occurrence of a Babylonian respawn where no Babylonian cities had actually survived. Hadn't seen that before.
 

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musicfreak

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So what is RAND? RAND initially appears as a progression of RFC with a random map. But RFC is so tweaked for its map, its AI spawning and behavior, and its stability - all in the name of historical accuracy - that at a certain point, it's losing one of the key aspects of Civilization: remaining fun and challenging.

One of the keys to having a game be fun and challenging is that the player should have the necessary information to do what they need to do. (I've actually written about this! http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_95/533-Mid-Level-Exceptions) Random stability maps, poor spawning locations, and chaotic flipping can get in the way of that.

I would argue that, instead of viewing RAND as a progression of RFC which was a progression of Civ4 and Rhye's of Civilization, RAND might be better viewed as a midpoint between vanilla Civ4 and RFC. I consider the two most interesting and beneficial aspects of RFC to Civ4 to be dynamic spawning and stability, and I consider speed to always be critically important.

So, in general, my vision of what would make a "good and balanced" game of RAND would be one which includes the best aspects of stability and dynamic spawns, and I'm willing to sacrifice other parts before then. It's better, in my mind, to have a China which may be a superpower in the endgame than to have a China which can achieve its (insane) UHV.

A different viewpoint, which sees RAND as an extension of RFC, might call for China's UHV to be rebalanced to the point where its stability collapse by 1700 isn't as important.
Dude, you write for The Escapist? :eek:

Anyway, I completely agree with mostly everything you said. Actually, I'd take it a step further and say that UHVs should be removed from RAND because they are simply based too much on luck, but I'm sure I'd get a bad response from the rest of the RFC community.
 

Rhye

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Rhye, any chance you will change the water level? If I'm not mistaken currently it is fixed on a rather low level, which seems to influence the map generation on exactly those points onedreamer mentioned: big africa, small Mediterranean sea, etc. (using Huge/High Likeliness). Or does a higher water level make it harder to fit in all the spawns (not enough land)?

Just out of curiosity: did you consider other map scripts like Earth.py instead of Terra.py to base your map script on? In my experience Earth.py resembles the Earth map better.

If any, RAND will benefit the most from improving the map script I think. Personally I would prefer that over any other changes too get more balance.


I agree that the high likeliness could be made even more likely.
I'm not touching the water level. It is low because it allows a high landmass ratio, thus a smaller map (faster loading times) compared to the same mass with a higher level.
 

Rhye

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So what is RAND? RAND initially appears as a progression of RFC with a random map. But RFC is so tweaked for its map, its AI spawning and behavior, and its stability - all in the name of historical accuracy - that at a certain point, it's losing one of the key aspects of Civilization: remaining fun and challenging.

One of the keys to having a game be fun and challenging is that the player should have the necessary information to do what they need to do. (I've actually written about this! http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_95/533-Mid-Level-Exceptions) Random stability maps, poor spawning locations, and chaotic flipping can get in the way of that.


Flipping is going to be improved.
Spawning locations too, if you provide necessary feedback (I had already improved them, I need to know what's still wrong)

Random stability maps....it's hard to tell. Having cheat code enabled, you can have some info on the overall AI found value. Maybe I could add a rate (good/fair/bad), specific for stability, that can be shown when passing the mouse over a plot, without the cheat code. That would work for classic RFC as well.
What do you think?
 

Fierabras

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... Actually, I'd take it a step further and say that UHVs should be removed from RAND because they are simply based too much on luck, but I'm sure I'd get a bad response from the rest of the RFC community.

That sounds like RFC blasphemy!... I like it :)
I realized that I wanted RFC Rand to be like RFC without pre-map knowledge. It's time for me to look at RFC Rand without comparing it to classic RFC.

Random stability maps....it's hard to tell. Having cheat code enabled, you can have some info on the overall AI found value. Maybe I could add a rate (good/fair/bad), specific for stability, that can be shown when passing the mouse over a plot, without the cheat code. That would work for classic RFC as well.
What do you think?

I like the idea of this non-intrusive addition. I like it better than some sort of graphical overlay.

@Arkeayn:

For me, RFC has always been about achieving the UHV. I have generated a interesting map playing as India. I failed the UHV, but I'm going to play it again without trying to achieve the UHV. I realize I have been playing RFC very narrowly (UHV focused and mainly early civs) and not enough to make any comparison. I'll leave the discussion to the more experienced RFC players...
 

Metal Alloy Man

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How about we leave the UHV as an option in custom game that can be turned off? I personally wouldn't play RFC Random without the UHVs.
 

Arkaeyn

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Flipping is going to be improved.
Spawning locations too, if you provide necessary feedback (I had already improved them, I need to know what's still wrong)

The two major problems are cramped locations and poor locations. Cramped locations being between another civ and a hard place, poor locations being filled with jungle and desert. I'll see if I can take some screen shots.

Random stability maps....it's hard to tell. Having cheat code enabled, you can have some info on the overall AI found value. Maybe I could add a rate (good/fair/bad), specific for stability, that can be shown when passing the mouse over a plot, without the cheat code. That would work for classic RFC as well.
What do you think?

I think that seems like a good general idea, at least to test out. There may be some side effects in various players' hands, but I can't figure out what they might be without testing.
 

Arkaeyn

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How about we leave the UHV as an option in custom game that can be turned off? I personally wouldn't play RFC Random without the UHVs.

I don't think they need to be taken out, though I wouldn't mind it. I'd just rather have the game balanced for endgame right now.

For example, if we're aiming for historical accuracy, China and Japan would be major powers in the real-world game of Civilization. In RAND right now, Japan pretty regularly manages to stick around as a major power (and I have no idea how!) where China, if it does survive, is rarely relevant. I'd rather see tweaks to the Chinese help them survive and thrive into modern times before helping them achieve their UHV.

Once that's achieved, I'm willing to worry about the UHVs. But that's me personally.
 

musicfreak

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Random stability maps....it's hard to tell. Having cheat code enabled, you can have some info on the overall AI found value. Maybe I could add a rate (good/fair/bad), specific for stability, that can be shown when passing the mouse over a plot, without the cheat code. That would work for classic RFC as well.
What do you think?
I think that would be fine for now. I still think the actual stability maps need tweaking, but it's hard to say anything else if I can't actually look at them.
 

Arkaeyn

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Here's a cramped spawn.

Granted, here I'm suffering a bit from having two squares between cities. But the Vikings have me thoroughly hemmed in. Stockholm probably should have flipped, but then I'd have them pretty trapped.
 

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Fierabras

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Ok, I didn't think it was possible, but I got the UHV for India on Monarch/Huge/High. In my first try I only just lost the population condition in 1200 AD, but in the second it was easier.



I spawned in Indonesia. To the south is Australia. In the first session the Khmer spawned on my island in the south and flipped Chittagong. I did take back my city later and conquered the Khmer, but some of my other cities went independent. In the second session, the Khmer spawned in Asia to the north and I could build massive cities. Plague kicked in just before 1200 AD (about 3 turns before), but I was ahead enough to clinch it.

Early gold from my 2nd city and settling my 3th city on the marble to the north-east (all connected without roads) made it easy to get the 5 religions.

So, keep the UHV's in :)
 

Arkaeyn

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Here's a fairly poor spawn for Portugal. I was playing as another civ and switched over, so Lisbon had already been founded.

Lots of desert and desert hills, and the wheat and cattle are within reach of Sevilla (which fortunately flipped).

This looks playable, as I can send my army after the barbarian city to the west and try to send my extra settler somewhere more interesting by sea.
 

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musicfreak

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Rhye, I think he was referring more to the actual start location (the squares around the capital) than its position relative to other civs.
 

Arkaeyn

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I won my first UHV today. I played as Germany, and managed to flip three superb Roman cities at the start, including the holy city of Christianity, which allowed me to stay stable for almost the entire game. I've attached a screenshot of them.

The Dutch spawned next to me and my Neapolitan powerhouse, and I ended up founding a city on the other side of Amsterdam, which led to them 1) becoming my vassal and 2) being so surrounded by my culture that Amsterdam had no squares to itself.

The Romans collapsed around 1300, and I moved in on their cities (including Rome), slowly building up until about 1700, when I attacked the Vikings to the south. It was a slow war of all Riflemen until my production managed to win out and I seized Trondheim, giving me my three controlled European cities.

By this time, I was far and away ahead of everyone else in every category. The difficult part was trying to decide what sort of victory to aim for. I decided to go for a Domination victory, which coincided with the UHV. I nibbled at independent cities, including Niwt-Rst until around 1900, when I started half of a world war by attacking the Arabs (who had Babylon and Mecca), and the other half started a turn later when a Congress gave the Turks a city of mine I decided I'd rather keep.

I got Babylon quickly, and picked up both Mecca and Sogut in 1939-40. My Panzers kept rolling over the Turks and Spanish, and towards the Russians, which something kept telling me was a bad idea.

The odd thing was that the Dutch had claim to most of the Turkish cities I conquered, which was killing my Expansion rating. Around 1965, after Greek and Egyptian revolts, I had to decide whether to go for the Domination victory or pack it in and just focus on research. My -47 stability rating made the decision for me. I Liberated a few cities to the Dutch, and started voting against myself in Congresses to get rid of cities more easily. I won the race to the Internet, which allowed me to beat the Portuguese by two turns to the tech victory in 1995.
 

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Arkaeyn

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So what did I take away from this? Well, there was some frustration at the relative ease of my victory. I didn't feel like I had to make terribly hard choices at any point in the game, with the exception of my collapsing stability in the 1960's. Part of that was the flip of such excellent cities, including the holy city. Capua's Christianity gave me such a boost to stability and money that the usual RFC/RAND challenge of going up against your own stability was generally moot. So there was a feeling that I got really lucky at the start, and then mostly coasted.

Second, other than the Romans making a half-hearted attempt to get their cities back after I spawned, nobody declared war on me. By the time I wanted to take their cities, I could do so at my leisure, with time the only enemy, especially as Holland and America had my back as vassals for most of the game.

The game took place on a Large map, not Huge, so there were no French, Persians, Indians, Malinese or Maya. Having slightly fewer civs led to, in my estimate, weaker alliances. I got the English and Portuguese on my side with Defensive Pacts, so I was able to isolate the other powers pretty easily. Turkey should have been my main competitor, and if they had alliances with any of the other major powers, I might have had at least some trouble. Never happened.

I got more RAM in the mail today, though, so I'm going to start playing with more Huge maps.
 

scu98rkr

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The user really needs to be able to choose the total number of CIV in RAND.

Personally I think you could fit them all in on a standard map
 
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