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PolyCast Episode 94: "Let's Take a Step Back Here"

Discussion in 'Civ4 - General Discussions' started by DanQ, Jun 20, 2010.

  1. DanQ

    DanQ Chieftain

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    They went there. The ninety-fourth episode of PolyCast, "Let's Take a Step Back Here", features regular co-hosts Daniel "DanQ" Quick, "Makahlua", Philip "TheMeInTeam" Bellew and Lisa "qnl" Bang with returning guest co-host Joel "colonelmustard" and first-time guest co-host Morgan "King Morgan".

    The summary of topics is as follows:

    - 01m03s | Forum Talk
    On Terra maps in Civilization IV: are they racist?.
    - 09m34s | Time Machine
    Previous Civilization title naysayers.
    - 16m30s | Research Lab
    Doing away with the Settler unit, and beginnings and endings.
    - 28m33s | News
    Civilization V background info reveals some details.

    - Intro/Outro | Miscellaneous
    Talking to one's self while recording, and how that leads to narrating one's actions in everyday life.

    PolyCast is a bi-weekly audio production in an ongoing effort to give the Civ community an interactive voice on game strategy; sibling show ModCast focuses on Civ modding and RevCast focuses on Civilization: Revolution.

    As always, enjoy. :cool:
     
  2. Yared

    Yared That Guy

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    I laughed at the Goldfish joke. :lol::lol:
     
  3. TheDS

    TheDS Regular Riot

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    You're bound and determined to make me listen to all the episodes, aren't you? But you messed up this time, Dan. You didn't PM me you were featuring one of my threads. In fact, now that I think of it, you've never done that. One would start to think I'm not special enough to you just because my name's not Ed.

    Hmmmmm...... DLing now...
     
  4. TheDS

    TheDS Regular Riot

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    Comments made about my Beginnings and Endings post, and some responses.

    QNL: I like it! TheDS is so frickin' Apostolically awesome I can't even pronounce Apostolic!

    Caffeine-monster: Our Polycast Saturday games often end up needing a 100-turn army build up to get the game ended, and this could eliminate that boredom.

    TMIT: Youz suxxorz, Malaki. I am yor Gawd! Bow to me, noob! I r 1337!!!!11oneoneeleven [jabbalaugh]Ho ho ho! [/jabbalaugh]

    Hmm... You know, I probably shouldn't give a blow-by-blow, I should just list the points that were raised.

    The applicability of these options:

    Yes, these were intended to be things you'd set at the beginning of the game. They're victory conditions. Sort of. They're like setting a timer, and when it goes off, the game ends and everyone goes home. Like when you have your own boardgaming group.

    Some of these ways would end the game very quickly, depending on the way the options were set (Ending at a score of 1000 would be far shorter than ending a game at 10,000 score), others wouldn't necessarily have an effect. Think of the Advanced Start, and how you get to adjust your starting points. Think also of the Era start and how you select which Era you start in. You'd adjust these other options in the same way. By default, they'd be out of your hair, like Advanced start is off and Era start is Ancient. They're just used if you want to end the game sooner and could be implemented in a number of ways.

    About Scoring and Difficulty levels:

    TMIT brings up the point that, at higher difficulties, the AIs start out with a ton of advantages and you spend the whole game trying to catch up. If the game ended at a score of 1000, which should normally be reachable by 1 AD (let's suppose that's true even if it's not), few if any humans would be able to get their score up high enough in that amount of time.

    Then don't set the score cap to 1000! If you're playing a Deity game, you're probably NEVER going to have a top score unless it's done by conquest. Either you shouldn't activate the score victory, or you should really devote yourself to kicking some major axeman!

    By the same token, Settler-level players will find it hard to have any other kind of victory; they'll probably win 18 turns into the game, and so shouldn't activate that type of victory, or at least not set it too low.

    But TMIT's got a point, and I have an alternate solution.

    One other way I thought of implementing this would be to have a score-differential Victory condition. If the leader's score is (say) double that of the next-highest player, he wins. (Assuming a minimum number of turns has been played, too.) Or if his score exceeds all other players combined.

    No matter how well-matched you are to your level, at some point you're going to have an easy game happen to you and want a way out of it without having to just quit and allow those nasty computer players to think they've beaten you. They talk behind your back, you know. They say TMIT stands for Too Much Information, Turkey, in reference to what you said at the beginning of the 'cast. Having the ability to end the game if your score exceeds that of everyone else put together would be a good way to get out of such a runaway.

    When it's obvious who's going to win, end the game. Unless you like fighting about it, of course. :)

    ColMustard asks, if you achieve these victories, are you still as satisfied?

    As TMIT says, it depends on the player, and it depends on if you turn them on at game start.

    I'd also suggest that you wouldn't necessarily turn all of them on at the same time, or use them with other victory conditions. The 51% score suggestion I've just made could be an exception; it could be something that fits in as a regular victory condition along with the other 7. (Or is it 6?)

    The weekend Polycast games are mentioned, and how they're resolved when they can't be finished (which is often).

    Dan says there are some problems with score-based victory conditions. He then says the human player with the highest score wins.

    Umm... No. That's inconsistent. Which is it, dude?

    Score doesn't take into account the relative position of the civs.

    I totally agree. That's one reason I also suggested using Power as your metric, but even that isn't a perfect measuring stick.

    Score is kind of an arbitrary value, I agree, and it has little bearing on how you're really doing, but in general, a civ with twice your score is one you don't want to pick a fight with, so it still works, sorta. The score, as you said, is made up of things like Wonders. It gives you a sense of how much effort you've put into your civ, rather than how strong you are. The makers probably thought it was a good measure of how good you were doing, and IIRC it does affect AI attitudes. (Or was that just Power?)

    There IS a victory condition already built in that uses Score as the victory determinant, but it doesn't check the score until you're dead of old age. Few see it except when they do so intentionally, by dragging out the game and losing some of its fun.

    I had a game a while back where I was going to win by Culture in about 50 turns or so, but I also had enough military force that I could conquer and vassalize enough enemy land to gain a Domination victory, but I'd have to hurry. I could've coasted to a win, but I chose to try to win the more difficult way, to end the game sooner, my way, instead of by accident. I fell short of my goal by a single turn because I moved one of my stacks the wrong way and was just a couple units short of taking over one last city to force a vassalization and win by Domination. It was an exciting game, even though I didn't win the way I wanted to.

    By the same token, if you know you're going to win (or lose) one way if you do nothing, maybe you want some kind of motivation to push yourself and try for something a little harder. This could provide that same sense of excitement as it did for me. I often set up three cities to do a Culture win as a way to give myself a shortened game, so that I don't have to play out a boring endgame. The score-based end is just an extension of that idea.

    Thanks!

    Thanks for your interesting comments, guys. If you liked this idea, I've got a few other threads in the Suggestions forum you'll like too. More interesting than trolls about imagined racism, anyway.
     
  5. vicawoo

    vicawoo Chieftain

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    Was there discussion of civilization iv at all, other than Terra maps being racist?
     
  6. TheDS

    TheDS Regular Riot

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    Dude! OMG, I can't believe you said that after all that I just posted. O.M.F.G.!!! Like, DUDE, that was so uncool to the max! That's it, no more free meatballs with your spaghetti. It's so over, rover.
     
  7. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam GiftOfNukes

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    Axe rushing on deity without an ultra-crowded map and marathon speed is ill-advised. I bet if you tried it 10 times on deity/normal/fractal/standard size, you'd fail every attempt.

    Nevermind that successfully axe rushing one or even two civs on immortal (which I have done) will still not put you at #1 score. Just saying.

    Double score is pretty rare in my experience. I routinely complete conquest or domination before clearing that objective. Of course, by that token I then agree with you; that big of a score differential generally = win, especially the case of "exceeds all others' score combined". Unfortunately, this is not a relevant objective since one can generally win any victory condition except time more easily before this occurs.

    Besides, if you're really blowing things out like that, things like waypoints, stack move, and stack attack are in the game for a reason. We're talking like 10-20 minutes of cleanup here. If even that is too much for someone, they can just quit. If it takes them longer, it's their own fault and they should learn to play the game more rapidly or accept extra time, not cry over "having" to take a long time or quit.

    I'm not superhuman, many RTS players have a higher APM than me (actions/minute). If I can complete games start-to-finish in 2 hours, virtually anyone else can too. Even if they don't want to hurry most of the game, they can certainly hurry up a blowout if they choose. If they don't choose that, there are no excuses.

    The answer is "obviously both". In a game where you are not allowed to attack other humans, what is the best alternative metric? Force a space race or culture? A size advantage + espionage abuse can easily cripple someone. If you ban attacks, where do you stop, what arbitrary rules do you impose?

    There are actually a tremendous amount of problems with the format the polycast crew uses, such that these games can only be considered a social experience, which I believe most of us accept. There are serious issues regardless, though:

    - Negotiation of settlement: FWIW, this is completely ridiculous. First of all, settlement towards other humans has no protection requirement because of the attack ban. On top of this, that land is gone forever to others once settled. So, what's fair? I think a lot of our players do not realize this (I can say 100% for certain they do not think it through), but early game expansion, war, and wonders are all about tradeoffs. Slower expansion, if managed properly and not dumping hammers into inefficient returns, will lead to a better tech rate in the short term, which can be useful if it gives some kind of long-term leverage. Faster expansion yields better production and long-term potential. Wonders offer some unique benefits and directly contribute to score. A player building a wonder has to accept that doing that forfeits city sites (this is routinely a sore point). This reality is important to grasp for both our games and in more competitive settings (SP, or PvP MP). Of course, the ONLY optimal course in a typical game is heavy expansion because...

    - Tech Trades On: This is a typical setting. And a bad one. I do what I can to host games without it. I covered my opinions on this in my youtube video of one of our multiplayer games, but I'll reiterate. With trades on, humans form a completely punishing and game-breaking tech alliance - trades are essentially compelled. This allows one to pay for what would otherwise be overexpansion...but those that do so eventually have enough territory developed to out-tech everyone and contribute more beakers to the tech alliance. In other words, anyone pushing mass expansion/conquest will essentially sponge off the rest and then give handouts to everyone once they're monstrous. Not good. Trade-whoring the AI also creates an unrealistic tech disparity relative to difficulty level and makes the game very, very easy compared to how the difficulty would otherwise play..under these settings we should realistically look to be playing probably 1-2 levels above comfort zone.

    Culture press/espionage: Without the ability to attack, these things really show up. The question then becomes: when someone settles city #2 near your city #2 and heavily chops to get say oracle in there, later engineer-rushing sistine chapel in the same city, how exactly does that not constitute an attack? It is a deliberate effort to capture a city, and it remains an non-policed weapon for score padding. Declaring on the person and capturing this city isn't allowed, but this city was designed for an equivalent purpose. Artist bombs are arguably even worse, as they add no value to tech rate and alternative uses of the artist (especially the music artist) are generally superior. I've adapted to this and generally win the culture press (I flipped a human's city in a very recent game actually, although since it was my capitol's culture it's hard to argue that's my fault...), but it remains a serious issue.

    Negotiation of attacking AI: Obviously, whoever kills the AI gets the land, score, etc. Obviously, whoever does not build military first put those hammers somewhere else. Wonders? Expansion? Where did they invest? The essence of this argument is very similar to early expansion, only here the variance in outcome is even more obvious. When the 20 city empire that already killed an AI has enough force to move into yet another AI before the empire that's yet to fight a war, who is at fault? Many, possibly most people will say the 20 city empire player is being greedy/selfish here, but then what was the smaller empire doing all this time? Their choices influenced the game to this point also. Their building wonders or artist bombing or under-expanding to feed a larger AI all impact the final score outcome. In some ways, they have already hampered the larger empire to an extent. If they can't even build up military in time to cover being spotter 20-40+ turns, what's the complaint? I know what it is, but the reality is that we are *all* playing the game for fun, and the decisions made leading up to this situation have already influenced it greatly.

    Tile improvements: Think about it, because it can have a big impact on score ;)!

    The fact of the matter is that we have NO measure at the end of the game to quantify play contribution, and so we can not take the "winner" seriously. The end-game vassaling is really just to see the replay.

    The skill disparity and start imbalances are so great that these game *have* to be social, so really the above is just addressing issues that come up in-game regarding how players should act. Unfortunately, a lot of the issues are misunderstandings based on variant understanding of how things work in civ IV, but hopefully the thought process above has value of some kind - most likely for critical thinking purposes as to how different situations change optimal behavior, but also so that people see the implications of their actions that are likely not even considered.

    OK, back to TheDS points:

    I'd like to point out this is moot on high difficulties. If you don't find a way to win or block a win by the late 1800's or early 1900's AD, you *will* lose. None of this "time victory" stuff. You find a way to win 100+ turns before that or you lose every time. On deity, you rarely have until 1900 and could lose culture pre-1800 AD unless you do something to stop it. I had a deity game where Justinian founded mining inc at 1715 AD...using the engineer you get from reaching fusion first. How far do you think he was from launching the ship at that point? Needless to say, I lost badly, but obviously there hardly needs to be any consideration of score victories on these difficulties - there is plenty of pressure.

    Culture is *not* a fast out. Especially if you were not gunning it from the very early goings. You can win faster, both using in-game turns and real-time played, by using military. If you wanted domination, you would have had it if you didn't set up those culture cities. If you plan it out, domination is consistently possible before 1800 AD on any difficulty, although only the best can do that on deity (and I'm not one of them, but I've witnessed it enough times). This of course comes back to learning how to micro to play quickly.

    I have no sympathy for those who do not wish to learn the hotkeys and methods of playing quickly. I do have a guide on it, but the real reason I have no sympathy is that the dearth of players who look to play quickly is partly the reason Civ IV's developers spent so little time/effort optimizing the game to that end. Unit selection and several other control issues have been BUGGED - since vanilla. How many 100's of subtle changes have we seen across 20+ patches without fixing the controls? Obviously, the company foots the majority of the blame here, but they *are* catering to their dominant demographic, and I'm an obvious minority in terms of play speed. If I am not mid-war, I spend more time WAITING for the damn game to get to the next turn on large+ maps than I do playing the turns, and that's on a machine that is far, far beyond the "recommended" specs for civ IV in every category. Most people...don't care about this.

    So I'm not going to care when people argue that the late game (or finishing games in general) takes too long, other than being a little annoyed in that most of the people making that argument could probably play 4-8 times faster or so...in some cases more.
     
  8. vicawoo

    vicawoo Chieftain

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    If I understood it correctly, the context of their beginnings and ends had more to do gameplay modification, which has more to do with hypothetical civilization V win conditions (tech wins?) than civilization IV. Especially since it followed a bit about removing the settler. Did they mean remove the settler in civilization IV or V?

    Why does gameplay modification have more to do with Civilization V than IV? First of all, as a human or a humans playing by a set of rules, you can always declare that you've won at the fulfillment of any arbitrary set of conditions. Take competitive RTS games, technically you have to destroy every building or unit, but almost no games actually end that way; they end because one player has an insurmountable advantage ~ your alternative win conditions.
    So with a good judge of gameplay, you can just declare you've won in civilization IV. If it matters that you actually finish like in Hall of Fame, then since it affects your score, you have to finish anyway so it doesn't matter.

    Therefore the only reason it would matter would be if it were adopted by a large majority of players. This is more likely to happen in Civilization V, since it's subject to official change, or if there's a consensual adoption. The latter isn't highly necessary, as explained in the above paragraph, and hasn't even happened for better AI. It's happened mostly for bug exploits. And to reiterate my main point, what's a more interesting discussion, should civ V have faster score/tech based ways of winning or civ IV?
     
  9. DanQ

    DanQ Chieftain

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    It's both.

    Further to what Phil said, in the weekly co-operative PolyCast games, "winning" is very subjective. For the sake of simplicity and consistency, we go by score: we use it as a determination for whom the other human players should vassalize to formally end the game to review the replay. It's the getting to that reply that drove us to this score determination. (In some cases, where games have gone long enough and the option is accordingly enabled, you could be looking at a combined score of two Permanently Allied human civs in-game.)

    :D. Do you mean the one in Episode 93? Off the top of my head, I can't recall one in this outing.

    :lol:

    Did you want your name to be Ed? ;)
     
  10. Yared

    Yared That Guy

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    I must've pressed the last episode :lol:
     
  11. DanQ

    DanQ Chieftain

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    :D, no worries.

    Hope you've enjoyed/are enjoying both. :king:
     
  12. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam GiftOfNukes

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    I think "rare" is a more fair term than "almost no". Base destruction was a viable threat in both starcraft and warcraft III (especially warcraft III) for example, and occasionally even league-caliper players would surprise each other that way. The threat of that factored in reasonably often as well, such that while it may not have decided the outcome outright, it affected play decisions and the failure of that attempt is essentially what ended the game. When the siege engines or chimeras or whatever succeeded, however, it created some pretty funny outcomes.
     
  13. vicawoo

    vicawoo Chieftain

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    I can't think of a single pro-league game that's ended in base destruction in the last 3 years. The closest is zerg vs zerg, where entire armies disappear in 5 seconds, but it's really killing a large number of drones that ends it.
    Once the really talented players started to play Warcraft 3, it became an even more absurd game of ignoring the win conditions. Let's say you're playing in the last game of the finals of a 5 figure prize international tournament. The opponent's demon hunter gets level 6. You quit immediately, you don't even try to kill it.
    In most competition games, you lose your first hero at level 3, you quit the game. If you lose a few tier 1 grunts, you've given the opponent a "massive" experience advantage. They spend 95 gold on a dust of appearance to prevent blademasters from stealing the experience of creep kills.
     
  14. AlphaShard

    AlphaShard Chieftain

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    When I dled this episode the first ten minutes repated it'self. How do I fix that?
     
  15. DanQ

    DanQ Chieftain

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    Odd... I could ask a number of questions for clarification, but in lieu of that to start with anyway, try downloading the episode again. If the problem persists, do follow-up here.
     
  16. ParadigmShifter

    ParadigmShifter Random Nonsense Generator

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    Yay KMadCandy is back for episode 100 according to the news?
     
  17. DanQ

    DanQ Chieftain

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    She is to be, yes. :yup:

    (For more and/or continuation on this discussion, readers, onto this thread as PS has already done.)
     

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