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Policies

Discussion in 'Communitas Expansion Pack' started by Thalassicus, Sep 29, 2010.

  1. Thalassicus

    Thalassicus Bytes and Nibblers

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    The goal is to increase our options for strategies and decision-making. Slowing down culture and moving policies later reduces our options.
     
  2. Txurce

    Txurce Warlord

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    And making the changes you made gives too much choice, too soon. For openers, those three policies are now competing with rationalism, to boot. Given that...

    What about the other 75% of my post?
     
  3. Thalassicus

    Thalassicus Bytes and Nibblers

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    I think the player is a better judge of what's valuable than a game programmer like me. This is why I avoid blocking player choices without a very compelling reason. This applies to many things:

    • Policy tree exclusions.
    • Policy saving.
    • Building resource requirements.
    • 3-tile minimum city distance.
    • etc...
    One example of where I did block player choice are the Circus and Stoneworks. I left those with a resource requirement because happiness is much more powerful than the other yields.

    Backloading policy trees is a good goal and I try to do so whenever possible. Rationalism is already set up this way... the sci bonus and free techs are more powerful than a free great person. I'm not as sure about order/autocracy, since they rarely have an influence on games.

    It's true that too many choices can overwhelm a person. I'm not sure we're in that realm yet. Instead of these more complicated solutions, I'm starting to feel it's simpler to just solve the problem directly and remove the obsolete ban. It doesn't serve a purpose anymore now that its original reasons for existence were solved and forgotten months ago (cost reducing policies, and weak early policies). I'm more familiar with UI editing now than I was over the summer, and think I know how to fix this problem now.
     
  4. Txurce

    Txurce Warlord

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    There's a reason why each tree is available when it is in vanilla. The amount of choices available now in VEM aren't overwhelming - they just flatten the decision-making process , and obviously diminish Rationalism. I wouldn't be overwhelmed if all policies were available in the Ancient era... but I would always skip certain policies as a result.

    As to your other point, there's nothing "obsolete" about the no-policy-saving rule. "Weak" early policies weren't a problem - policies are meant to scale up in power along with civs and eras. Two reasons stand out to me to keep the ban on policy saving:

    1. It's a huge advantage for the human player. In fact, there is no bigger one.

    2. It makes no sense from an immersion standpoint. Civilizations advance culturally over time in ebbs and flows... but they don't save it and then splurge the way they might on infrastructure.

    The only argument for changing it is "more choice," but there's plenty of choice. A much bigger issue with regard to SP's is that they are too easy to get, resulting in out-of-whack Cultural Victory finishes. This has been brought up over and over by several players, for months now. Doesn't it make sense to take that into consideration first?
     
  5. Thalassicus

    Thalassicus Bytes and Nibblers

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    At the release of Civ there were two problems:

    • Christo Redentor and a Freedom policy reduced cost of future policies.
    • Early policies provided very little benefit.
    This allowed for an exploit in culture games. For that particular victory condition, it was most effective to spend no policies until the late game, then acquire all at once after the cost-reductions were in effect. The best solution to this problem was twofold: 1) eliminate the late game cost reductions 2) improve early policies. I did this in the mod.

    Until this more comprehensive solution could be done in vanilla, Firaxis implemented a temporary hotfix by simply removing the choice to save. It block the exploit, but also reduced legitimate strategy options. Since the exploit has now been solved, the temporary fix is an unnecessary detriment to gameplay, especially for warmongers. I haven't found a compelling gameplay reason to keep the temporary fix with the more permanent solutions now in place.

    Low priority policies are addressed on a local per-policy basis, and do not generally influence broader balance decisions. I don't have a problem with human advantages over the AI when they can be counteracted in other ways. Gameplay is more important to me than immersion here since policies are very abstract.
     
  6. Txurce

    Txurce Warlord

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    I'm very curious to learn how you would counteract the major advantage human players would get by saving policies.

    As for gameplay, there have been many more complaints about too-easy policy acquisition than about the policy-saving ban. And it's a huge change that will need subsequent rebalancing (big human advantage aside). Finally, it's needless, since it can be enabled in the Advanced Options by anyone who wants to play this way. To make it anyway is obviously your prerogative, but it's pretty clear that you're doing it because you want to (as with the creation of the Vanguard line) rather than because it's the best solution to an existing problem.
     
  7. Thalassicus

    Thalassicus Bytes and Nibblers

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    Consider other decisions we can defer:

    • Saving a Great Scientist for a later technology can have some benefits, but that interim period has the opportunity cost of not getting an Academy or other tech we could have chosen to research right away.
    • Saving barbarian camps lets us farm for experience, but also means we don't get the gold from clearing the camps.
    • Saving money for upgrades or buildings unlocked in a few turns, but lose out on potential gains from immediate purchases.
    Now think about two outlying strategies:

    • Save all gold, culture, and great people until the end of the game. I think we can agree this would not be a good strategy. If the game ends before our resources are fully used, they go to waste. Civilization games are also exponential, so using things early is typically more valuable than using late.
    • Use all gold, culture, and great people immediately. This is obviously not a good strategy if one turn later we would unlock a new type of building to spend gold on, or a new World Wonder to instant build with an Engineer.
    These examples show we cannot say "saving always helps" or "saving always hurts." The outlying situations of A and B are both bad for the player. There's a middle ground where the good strategies do exist. Saving is an obvious disadvantage in the short run, but can help in the long run in special circumstances.

    In situations like this and others where we can defer decisions, humans do not gain an overwhelming advantage. Saving has disadvantages and can actually harm us more than it helps. Most of the time I use things right away instead of waiting for later. One year ago, the advantages of saving policies outweighed the disadvantages too much, mainly because of the two problems I described earlier. Those problems were solved long ago. Immediate policy acquisition is now better than saving in the majority of situations, and provides no significant human advantage, so the temporary fix is no longer necessary. :)
     
  8. Jorlem

    Jorlem Chieftain

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    Just to toss an idea into the open, what would happen if you could save policies, but could not advance towards the next one so long as you haven't acquired the most recent one? That is, whatever culture points you should be getting would go to waste instead. If you just want to hold off for a turn or two, this wouldn't have any major effect, except maybe on the highest difficulties, but if you hold off for twenty turns, it will hurt you no matter what.
     
  9. Seek

    Seek Chieftain Supporter

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    Sorry if I wasn't clear: Let Order and Autocracy be available at Renaissance while delaying Freedom til Industrial.

    Well, by this logic all SP trees should be available from the ancient era - I'm sure everyone can agree this is not a desirable option! One of the central appeals of Civ (and RPGs for that matter) is the progression towards bigger/better/what-have-you game effects, and making all the late-game SP trees available earlier removes this somewhat. (There is something to be said for delaying the best for last: it's more gratifying.) Moreover, limits often make for more creative and interesting play - removing them could not only be overwhelming, but leave the player feeling like decisions are less important and thereby make the game less fun.

    Beyond this - in terms of game balance - we will now be seeing even faster finish times and even easier late-games, especially if policy-saving is implemented also.

    The way I see it is that the different mechanics involved with each are a part of what make the game interesting - I like that culture has a different method of use than gold or GPs. My worry is that the game would both be made easier and that flavor would be reduced in one fell swoop. I'm not convinced that make policy-saving standard will make for a better game, but I'm willing to test it - maybe in the next GotVEM we can turn on policy saving and see how people fare (and feel about it). Btw, are you thinking of implementing this while leaving the changes to the SP era unlocks?
     
  10. Thalassicus

    Thalassicus Bytes and Nibblers

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    No, these are two possible solutions to the same problem, so doing them both would be excessive. Either one would also be accompanied with balancing adjustments to the individual policies. :)
     
  11. Ahriman

    Ahriman Tyrant

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    I prefer moving Freedom to Industrial than enabling Autocracy and Order in Renaissance.
    Renaissance is achievable pretty early, and those late-game trees are pretty powerful, and so with policy-saving enabled I think the human gets a very big advantage.

    Freedom is already very powerful, so I think it could use this nerf.

    But Autocracy and Order in Renaissance are too strong, and are very bad in a flavor sense.
    Think about what these are modeling in a historic sense; fascism, socialism/communism and liberalism. All 19th or 20th century.
     
  12. Seek

    Seek Chieftain Supporter

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    This would result in the lack of options for policy choices in the midgame, as Thal noted. I would expect the above would make Freedom even more of a no-brainer, since with limited culture at this point going Autocracy or Order would be suboptimal in almost situations.

    I agree with the flavor argument - my original suggestion was to swap the era unlock for Order and Freedom (and revised it to include Autocracy) for purely gameplay reasons: Freedom is so strong that (as Thal also noted) Order and Autocracy might as well not exist at this point. Given that the suggestion has mired us to such an extent, perhaps indeed the best move would be to just nerf Freedom and call it a day - it's certainly the simplest solution.
     
  13. Ahriman

    Ahriman Tyrant

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    I don't see this as a problem. There are still 7 trees to choose from by then. If we're getting too many policies too soon, then arguably the problem is with policy cost, and I'd change the policy cost formula to increase the costs of policies 13-24 and then slightly reduce the cost of policies 25-36, keeping overall policy cost the same.
    I also think we'd be better off reverting to 5 policy trees for a cultural victory, and generally increasing the costs of policies 13-30 to keep the overall cost similar.

    Freedom is strong in part because specialists are too strong. I have consistently argued that the current specialist yields are too high, and that they are boring,
    I think the right solution is to fix specialists to max them into actual specialists, who are about generating great people, by reducing their resource yields and increasing their GPP yields.
    I think the whole idea of being able to run a pure specialist economy that gets resource yields competitive with working tiles is broken, and is particularly broken when combined with the half food and half unhappiness policies.

    If you want to keep the base specialist yields as they are, then yes, I would just nerf Freedom, by reducing the bonus from -1 food consumed by specialists to - 0.7 food consumed by specialists, and by reducing the happiness bonus by a similar amount.
     
  14. Seek

    Seek Chieftain Supporter

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    I agree wholeheartedly, and I've argued that overall policy cost is too small as it is now: I think an overall increase to policy costs at around the 18 mark would be a good move. However Thal seems extremely reluctant to do so, primarily because of the "lack of choice" argument as far as I can tell. I don't really have an opinion about the number of trees required - but in this I'm quite certain Thal will not change without overwhelming arguments and complaints (neither of which we've seen much of).

    I see no problem with the idea of a specialist economy, the biggest gripe I have with the current setup is the ease of setting it up (re: cheap later policy costs/Freedom available at Ren). Before Freedom (and the lategame specialist WWs) specialist yields are not overpowered in my experience, and I've found the lower GPP makes GPs *more* valuable due to scarcity.

    One of the main problems with Freedom is the rounding involved - happiness can only be integers, and I'm pretty sure that just one specialist in a city will count as -1 unhappiness due to rounding errors; so I don't think that changing the percentage would make much difference. (I would be very pleased to hear this disproven, of course: it would be great to have some flexibility here.)

    Food is very plentiful in VEM, I could see nerfing the food SP to -1/2 per specialist or somesuch, in conjunction with reducing some of the other bonuses in the tree and a rearrangement of the policies to backload it a bit more.
     
  15. Ahriman

    Ahriman Tyrant

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    This doesn't really make sense to me in this context; it seems like "lack of choice" is being used to mean two contradictory things simultaneously. "Lack of choice" is being used to say that we have lots of policy picks (because policies are cheap) and we have lack of choice if there aren't enough policy trees available to choose from, but "lack of choice" is also being used to say that if we don't have many policy picks (because policies are expensive) then we don't get to choose many different policies.
    We can't have both of these at once.

    My problems with the specialist economy are:
    a) It makes "good" terrain and improvements less important, because you're generating yields from buildings that are available in every city no matter how bad the local terrain is
    b) It makes having lots of tiles (and tiles covered by culture) less important, because each city doesn't need to work may tiles. Similarly, it lets you pack in lots of cities if you want to; you don't need much land for a big empire.
    c) It makes the type of terrain (eg: need hills for production city) less important, because any city can get any buildings and support any kind of economy
    d) It makes specialists boring, because they fulfill the same role as working tiles; instant rewards, as opposed to a system like in Civ4 where using specialists was an investment; you got lower rewards now in exchange for high rewards in future
    e) It is too abuseable with mass policies that boost specialists.
    There are no policies that boost the yield of every citizen who is working a tile; they only boost specific improvements. And there are no policies that give food or happiness to citizens working tiles. These things are far too strong when you can devote a large portion of your empire to be specialists.

    Are you sure? I thought that rounding took place only at the empire level, not the city level. [But I am not sure here.]
    Even so, reducing the yield would make a difference, if 6 specialists in a city gave -2 unhappiness rather than -3.
     
  16. Txurce

    Txurce Warlord

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    There has been consistent support for slowing down policy acquisition for a long time now. My meta-preference is for the policies to be staggered more than they are now. I'm already on board for a number of alternatives to the present policy tree, and remain in favor of moving back Freedom and nerfing it - cutting food and happiness sounds good.
     
  17. Atlas627

    Atlas627 Chieftain

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    ^^^This

    As Thal said, being able to have all civs use the policies is a good goal, so somehow making picks more flexible for non-culture civs is good as well. I think we can agree on this. But what I don't agree with is making it more flexible by simply allowing the player to choose more policies (and therefore requiring cultural civs to have even MORE policies). More picks makes each pick less significant and makes synergy too easy to achieve. If we want to be rewarded for planning well and picking things that synergize well, then to make those rewards significant you should make them difficult and exclusive. You have to TRY to get those rewards, and you can't get all of them. So more picks overall is terrible in my opinion, and I would much rather go back to the old system of less picks and 5 trees for cultural VC. I have also mentioned that 6 branches is a pain, as there aren't really many choices in that area. There are 10 branches. You will never go Autocracy or Rationalism, as those conflict with Freedom and Piety, 2 of the most important branches for a culture VC. So that leaves you with 6 of 8, 2 of which (Freedom and Piety) are definites. So you choose 4 of 6. And you HAVE to grab at least one of Tradition, Liberty, and Honor. So that's choose 3 of 5. And if you actually go for a culture VC, you will have many picks early and fewer late game (you can't/shouldn't save for Order) so its really choose 3 of 4. And that isn't a choice.

    As for the Freedom branch and specialists in general, I agree very strongly with Ahriman. Specialists should be about something special, aka Great People :c5greatperson: . As he said above, as is they are just like any other citizen: they produce yields directly. They should be different, producing few yields now for large yields in the future from specialization (GP). If they just produce yields, then they can replace normal citizens, making city placement much less important. Tile improvements have to be strong to make working normal tiles worth it, and even when they are as strong as they are, it is still almost always better to have and engineer than a miner.

    On that note, I think the improvements are too strong. I build a mine and it adds so much production :c5production: to my city. I think improvements should matter, but right now I just think there are too many yields flying around. The game is much, much faster than vanilla, and I feel that I always have boatloads of all the resources, making the game too easy. Or at least too fast!

    EDIT: Forgot to mention how to allow normal civs to use the policy system without giving them straight up more picks. We can make trees less linear and more accessible (as has already been done). We can also front-load policy trees, but I don't think that is as good a method. We could front-load trees while also making finishers more powerful.
     
  18. Txurce

    Txurce Warlord

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    Obviously I already agreed with this position, but found this very well explained.

    I disagree with this, just because I like a specialist economy. Overall I think it's a particularly subjective issue, in that it doesn't make the game notably easier or harder - just offers another, quite different approach.

    My sense is that vanilla is much faster than VEM, mainly because of GS's. It's certainly easier - just look at the performance of Deity players in vanilla vs VEM. Science is what makes the game move fast, and while hammer yields do contribute to beakers, it's not a direct contribution. But the real problem with, for example, nerfing mines is that it will make the early game boring. That was considered a fact of life upon the release of Civ 5.
     
  19. Atlas627

    Atlas627 Chieftain

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    I think Ahriman said it better, and as such I just quoted him and said it again, sloppily.

    Also I am not talking about specialists being OP, I'm talking about specialist economy not being special. It's the same thing as normal yields. It also isn't similar to vanilla in my opinion, which I thought was the goal of VEM.

    Well yes, early game would be slow. But isn't that what quick speed is for? And I was just using mines as an example. Perhaps I should try playing on Epic speed to get the normal feel?
     
  20. Thalassicus

    Thalassicus Bytes and Nibblers

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    In v117.1 beta I rearranged Freedom and Autocracy to provide more flexible strategies. For example, since we cannot reduce the numbers of the food/happiness modifiers for specialists, I split up those effects as an indirect nerf. I also set up Autocracy so we have a choice between the gold, healing, and happiness paths.

    Several policy names were also changed and moved. I've put a lot of effort into balancing gameplay and realism, with names, prerequisites, and effects that reasonably match real-world counterparts.

     

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