1. We have added a Gift Upgrades feature that allows you to gift an account upgrade to another member, just in time for the holiday season. You can see the gift option when going to the Account Upgrades screen, or on any user profile screen.
    Dismiss Notice

Progressive Production Rates

Discussion in 'Civ - Ideas & Suggestions' started by Ision, Jul 4, 2004.

  1. Ision

    Ision Master

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2003
    Messages:
    452
    Progressive Production Rates

    Of all the innumerable problems with CIV there is a single one that in my opinion overshadows all other issues; that problem being the manner in which the game designers address the issue of difficulty levels. From Monarch level on the AIs are given production bonuses to compensate for superior human play. The bonus is a flat rate and is constant throughout that level of play. The result is that with each progressive level that a player advances beyond Regent the fundamental dynamics of the game change, eventually resulting in a game that resembles CIV III, but has evolved into a game unto itself. By demi-god level you are no longer playing CIV – not in the sense in which the game was ever intended or the players expected it to be. In fact I have written 2 well received articles on the issues of ‘Great Wonders’ and moving from ‘Monarch to Emperor’ for just this reason – BUT, I should never have had to do so - the articles should not exist. Beyond Regent/Monarch the game becomes; ‘Catch Up if You Can: loosely based on the CIV 3 model’. Your options become ever more straight jacketed, the strategic options ever narrower, and your focus becomes increasingly an exercise in attention to minutia.

    In spite of all this the inherent strength of CIV III as a game allows players to move up to deity level and still enjoy the game with some room for innovation. This is a testament to the greatest game concept ever made! But, it could have been better – and easily so. Let us not digress into an argument about ‘what the game needs is a better AI!’, IMO this is a complete waste of time. Suffice it to say that to this date in history the ability for a small game company to create a superior AI for a game of this scope is limited by the cost factor and the general level of technological advancement. In all comp-games the AIs will continue to be improved over the coming years – BUT, for the foreseeable future difficulty levels will continue to rely (to varying degrees – depending on the game) on giving the AI built in ‘advantages’ the human player will not have.

    Because production rates are set at a flat rate for the entire game, once you master a difficulty level, as the game progresses your position of dominance becomes ever more cemented and the final outcome assured by mid-game. While there are other bonuses given to the AI as you move up in difficulty level – the production bonus is THE most important one. So you move up in level and face a higher AI production bonus, but what occurs now is that the CIV ‘flavor’ begins to fade and is replaced by a game of ‘catch up’. Imagine for a moment a CIV III that had ‘progressive production rates’ triggered by the human the moment he moved into another age! Imagine a Regent level where the AI production rates where as follows: AA=11, MidA=10, IA=9, ModA=8 or a Monarch level as follows: AA=9, MidA=8, IA=8, ModA=7. The exact rates are not important, and I do NOT wish for this thread to be a debate on a non-existent ‘what if’. Had the game been designed in this fashion it would have been a great leap forward in being able to enjoy the ENTIRE game and not just half of it. The trigger for greater AI bonuses being the human player and his game mastery, and the flavor of the game would have remained more constant even at the higher difficulty levels – at least partially so. In a perfect world there would be an editor, which would allow you to set the AI bonus rate for each Age. But lets take this one step at a time and not get too greedy –lol.

    CIV 4 will have much in common with CIV 3 – I have little doubt that moving from ‘age to age’ and ‘AI production bonuses’ will still be a part of the new game. What I would like is for those of you that agree with my central premise to email the game designers with a cut and paste of this post – along with your added comment of, “I would like to see something like this too.”

    Sincerely,

    Ision
     
  2. Ision

    Ision Master

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2003
    Messages:
    452
    btw -

    I fully realize that their are no PERFECT solutions, and that mine would not solve the fact that as you move up in difficulty level your options become fewer and the game flavor changes - I KNOW THAT already. My suggestion is NOT an attempt to create unrealistic 'perfect game' this cannot be done. No matter what - as you move up in level, play style will have too change and adapt.

    BUT - This will 'help' ! - and IMO to a great degree.

    To whatever degree the games overall flavor can be retained for as long as possible through your game - and perhaps for at least 1 more difficulty level - I think its worth it.

    Ision
     
  3. strollen

    strollen Chieftain

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2001
    Messages:
    147
    Gender:
    Male
    I think this is a very good suggestion, but it should be only part of the progressive difficulty that CIV4, will hopefully employ.

    I'd suggest 3 different approaches.
    1. The corruption/civil war model. As your empire gets larger and more populous there should be increasing difficulty in running it and making the citizen's happy. I am optimistic that Religion will play a part. E.g. your countries predominent religion is Catholic but there are a lot of Protestants.
    Not matter which religion your policies promote some group will be upset.

    2. Gang up on the leader. The larger your empire the more hostile other countries will be. (On the other hand there should be some respect paid to your military power.) I also hope that AI nations are ganged up on.

    3. Progressive Production handicap rates by eras.
    BTW, I had actually argue the difficult levels are not flat but are much worse at the beginning. The additional units and especially the settler the AI gets and higher levels are big factor in putting the human player is such a huge whole to start out with.

    For those who don't like the idea of penalizing the human player over time, think of it this way. I find the CIV3 AI pretty good in the Ancient or MA era, because things are simple you got 1 or 2 move units, which are offensive or defensive. Catupults aren't in big factor and the lack of rails and sometime roads keep the human from reacting to an AI attack with a boatload of defenders. However, by the end of the Industrial era, the human has artillery, railroads, airplanes, paratroopers and Marines, and the AI just isn't sophisticated enough to know how to employ them properly. (Heck, I am not even sure I'm creative enough with paratroops and Marines...)
     
  4. scoutsout

    scoutsout Minstrel Boy

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2002
    Messages:
    4,263
    Location:
    Check Six!
    Ision - I am having a little bit of a time "getting my arms around" your suggestion - and need to re-read some things... but one thing is readily apparent to me:

    You are striking at the very heart of a very basic, yet vexing problem.

    As you correctly point out, the game that is "CivIII" is a fundamentally different game as one progresses through the levels. While "tactical" elements remain the same (lobbing artillery is still lobbing artillery at someone) the "strategy" fundamentally changes. Build orders that work wonderfully at Regent level will simply get you erased at Demi-God or Diety.

    You may very well be onto something here - something that might bridge the gap nicely between the status quo and a truly "intelligent" AI opponent.

    Let me see if I can get this straight conceptually - a "Regent" level game would give you a "Regent" level AI in the Ancient Age, but become a "Monarch" level AI in the Middle ages, an "Emperor" level AI in the Industrial, and a Demi-God level AI in the Modern Era? Am I getting this?

    Wow - this has intriguing implications... I like it.
     
  5. Ision

    Ision Master

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2003
    Messages:
    452
    Not quite - but close. The actual rates of production per age are not nearly as important as the general concept of starting out low and becomeing progressively higher by each age. The rationale is that right now the game for the human starts off hard and becomes increasingly easy as he goes. The result is that unless one plays at the very highest levels (demi/deity) there is NO last 2 ages - not in reality - and if you DO play at thos levels as I do - you have lost much (not all) of the CIV 'feel' by doing so. My example for regent was based on the fact that you have just moved from a level in which you recieved a substantial production bonus yourself (warlord) - so a mild bonus to the human would still be present in the initial age - a flat line in the next age - and a mild production increase to the AI the following 2. The intended result is to ease the player into the next level, while increasing difficulty with each passing age - the hoped for results being 'an averaging out' to a true mid-level difficulty level. At Monarch the same process is repeated with the goal of an 'averaging out' to a slightly more difficult level than the previous... so on and so forth. The reason for this method over the present one should be obvious - it eases players into the next level more smoothly, retains the general civ flavor for a longer period of time, and retains that flavor (to diminishing degrees with each level) at ever higher levels of play.

    IMO this method would retain the current complexity progression from level to level - while slowing the game altering dynamics that occur with that progression. I want Deity to be as hard as it is with a game play 'feel' of demi - demi as hard as it is, with a game play 'feel' of emp - i think you get the idea.

    Ision
     
  6. scoutsout

    scoutsout Minstrel Boy

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2002
    Messages:
    4,263
    Location:
    Check Six!
    @Ision - not only do I think I understand, but it may actually be possible to test your idea in C3C. Don't take too many specifics from the following, but...

    I'm in a SG... "Ancient All-Stars", hosted by grahamiam, in which the emphasis is on ancient age units/combat. The wrinkle here is that the tech price has been doubled in the ancient age, and Middle Age techs have been made ridiculously expensive.

    I wonder if some similar (though intricate) "rule editing" might be possible in C3C... to test your ideas, and see how "playable" the game is.

    Fair warning: I know exactly SQUAT about map editing. I wish I knew more, then I wouldn't have had to play 3 epic games just to test partatrooper tactics...

    I'm going to forward links to this thread to some people who might be interested. I really do think you're onto something here. Unfortunately, it's something that's just a little bit beyond me.
     
  7. Jon Shafer

    Jon Shafer Civilization 5 Designer

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2002
    Messages:
    2,102
    Location:
    Maryland
    Brilliant idea.

    Even on Deity once you overcome the intial (huge) challenges, the game is won. Once you get to the point where you're on equal footing with the AI victory is yours.
     
  8. Ision

    Ision Master

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2003
    Messages:
    452
    It cannot be done. the editor allows only for a set figure for the ENTIRE game.

    I made the error in my intial post of assuming that people would know what the hell I was talking about. Let me explain for those that may be wondering.

    At warlord level the production level for the AI is at at '12' what this means in practical terms is that it takes the AI 12 turns to build whatever it takes you 10 turns to build - you have a 20% advanatage. At Regent the AI is set to '10' - this is the base line standard - so you and the AI build at the exact same speed. At Monarch the number is '9' - so the AI will build in 9 turns whatever takes you 10 - the AI has a 10% advantage over you. At Emp its 8 (AI +20% over you) at demi its 7 (ai +30% over you).........................

    In practical terms this translates out to players struggling to cope with the game whenever they FIRST move up in level - but within a handful of games dominating the AI from the very moment that they achive any sort of 'parity' with the strongest AI. The moment that occurs - the game is over, you cannot lose except through stupidity. Every long time Civ player knows that once he finds a level he likes playing at - he will be playing a game of half-CIV. At the mid levels it means that you enjoy the first half (it feels like civ, you have a myraid of options, the AI early bonus makes it competitive for awhile) - but, by the mid to late Middle Ages - the game is over. At the higher levels it works in the inverse - you are robbed out of the first-half of the game. no matter how good your start location or play - you will be in last place playing catch-up with a very limited set of options - upon finally achieving near parity with the top 2 or 3 AIs you will now enjoy a CIV-like mid-game, and then you may or may not have a competitive early late game depending on how much you struggled early. In both scenarios the players either do not get to play the whole game at a competitve level - or they resort to play styles that depart so far from the norm of the intended game design that they lose alot of the games flavor.

    The mid-level player (reg/mon/emp) is forced to choose - continue to play at the current level and get only half a game with the full civ flavor, and the outcome a foregone conclusion - OR move up (emp/demi/deity) in difficulty (after reading 20 articles!) and play a semi-full game, get half of the civ flavor, with a complete reworking of your playstyle. As it stands now, it's an 'either-or' proposition. In my case going back to mid-level is out of the question - so I continue to play strictly deity/demi level - BUT, I know I am missing out to a certain degree (just as the perrenial mid-level player knows he's missing out as well).

    Progressive production rates while not producing any miracles - would mitigate this greatly by keeping a greater sense of parity between you and the AI throughout the entire course of the game.

    Ision

    PS: In the editor the AI production rate is called a 'cost factor' -.
     
  9. DreadCthulhu

    DreadCthulhu Chieftain

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2004
    Messages:
    189
    I agree - having the difficulty level raise as the game progress would make things more challenging, but not too much as to be frustrating, especially in the later parts of the game, so even when you do manage to create large empire, the AI can then start producing units faster to compensate. This would probably be simpler than programing a new AI.

    One idea may be to make the difficulty level manually switchable mid-game - for example, you might start at Monarch, but by the late middle ages, when you are finishing securing your continent, things start to get boring, as the AI falls behind - so you then flip an option in the preferences, and move the AI up to Emperor or Demi-God difficulty, so they can keep up.
     
  10. TedJackson

    TedJackson Cunning old Celt

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2003
    Messages:
    2,393
    Location:
    UK
    An intriguing idea...

    the only downside I can see at the moment is that it would further encourage early military campaigns (before the bonuses came into play) as the "best" way to ensure a win.


    Ted
     
  11. yankees

    yankees Chieftain

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2004
    Messages:
    48
    this is a brilliant idea!!!

    it would do so much more for the game than the changes to this unit or that unit or adding new wonders and stuff. any idea that maybe make the game better for everyone at all levels must be listen to. i also feel that the game change too much at high level but is too weak at middle level to play after the middle/ages. for firaxes/atari to do this should be easy. same as when a great wonder trigger things or when the game aperance change when you go to next age. i even believe hat this could be done easy for civ3 in a small patch i wish so much it was.

    great idea ision!

    Y
     
  12. Arathorn

    Arathorn Catan player

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2002
    Messages:
    3,778
    Location:
    Illinois
    I echo TedJackson's point, but only more strongly. As soon as a really good human player gets any kind of advantage anywhere, that advantage will be tremendously exploited and will increase in size exponentially fast. Any advantage becomes overwhelming very rapidly, as Trip notes, too.

    If the human starts anywhere near equal with an AI, that state will not last long and the human will be so far ahead when the time to change ages comes (if it ever comes) that no change in rate will be enough. That is, give SirPleb (as an example) a start with only Emperor level production and he'll have it dominated long before the middle ages come into view, so that even a reduction in cost factor to 1 (10%) at that point won't matter.

    Without the huge early bonuses (in units and everything else), the AI has no chance of keeping up. Heck, it's not even that likely to survive.

    Yes, I like the idea in principle and have wished for it myself a few times. I'm just not sure it will really resolve the issues of "once you've caught up, you're going to win". That's just a truism of the superior ability of the human vs. the AI. If you're moving faster from an inferior position (the only way that "catch up" makes sense), you're going to continue to move even faster once you have caught up and achieved equal power.

    Arathorn
     
  13. Ision

    Ision Master

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2003
    Messages:
    452
    Arathorn,

    I am not seeking to resolve issues, but rather to mitigate, even if only slightly, against existing issues. To use Sir Pleb, you, or perhaps even myself as examples is somewhat unfair in that it is not representative of the overwhelming majority of the Civ community, the regent to emp players. Nevertheless, let us assume for a moment that it was you or I playing - I maintain that we would benefit more often than we would not - and if - a big 'if' I admit - there was a manner for players like yourself to actually set the production levels for each age in the editor - your enjoyment of any particular game would be greatly extended.

    Also, my reccomendation that the human entering a new age be the trigger mechanism for increased AI production was an arbitrary one - the game designers along with the beta testers would no doubt find the proper 'trigger' moment or event -

    Players new to the game would find a far greater comfort level in moving from one difficulty level to another in that the the intitial game 'feel' will be similar to the the feel of the level thay have just mastered - while at the same time their accustomed 'domination' points will no longer exist. The 10% of us 'civfanatics' that insist on deity level will, IMO, enjoy a deity game more that begins with the demi level production rate of '7', and then moves to 6 the next age (or whatever trigger point) and then on to '5' as the last trigger point. The game will still play out greatly as it does now - but will last longer competitively. perhaps 3 trigger points each set not at parity at all - but perhaps upon coming within a certain 'score' of the highest AI -

    I admit that my idea may do little to actually improve the game play at the very highest levels (I think it will) - BUT, I could foresee a greater number of players moving into the higher levels or at least trying as a result of it.

    Thank you for your insight and input - always appreciated.

    Ision
     
  14. Zardnaar

    Zardnaar Chieftain

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2003
    Messages:
    4,892
    Location:
    Dunedin, New Zealand
    I sort of understand it- AI gets better as the game continues. it would be interesting to see something like this. At Emperor I can win virtually every time. I don't really have the time or patience to play deity/demi deity and when I do I don't really enjoy the game - Civs wearing thin for me now.
     
  15. Arathorn

    Arathorn Catan player

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2002
    Messages:
    3,778
    Location:
    Illinois
    The more I thought about this idea, the more I liked it. Even if the default levels were fixed across eras, having the ability to mod it would be incredibly cool. Think of the possibilities:

    - Newbies struggling to keep up in the IA could get a feel for the whole game and move up partial levels (10/10/11/12 is easier than regeant but harder than warlord), to gain experience.

    - Modders could have a field day, especially if you could change the human player's cost factor, too, or add/subtract a certain value to the default (Age 1 Elves in the Lord of the Rings mod have a -2 factor to their costs, but it's +8 by age 4, to simulate their fade, or something -- so the human cost factor would be 8/10/12/18 or a Sid cost factor would be 2/4/6/12, all with the same mod)

    - Has definite potential for stretching the "tipping point" from being behind to being ahead to the whole game, despite my dubiousness early. It certainly won't hurt to try a 5/5/4/2 AI or something.

    - It would be extra sweet to have different values for food, shields, tech, so that one could play, for example, with Sid-level growth and shields from the AI, but only regeant-level tech prices or something similar. If they put this out into an area where it can be modded, this would be a very nice addition. Possibilities for interesting variants were occurring to me quite frequently yesterday, with this scenario.

    Arathorn
     
  16. yankees

    yankees Chieftain

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2004
    Messages:
    48
    absolutely!

    the possibilities would be endless!

    Y
     
  17. Ayatollah So

    Ayatollah So the spoof'll set you free

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2002
    Messages:
    4,388
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    Awesome idea. I suggest that the trigger which advances AI production rates could be the player's relative standing in the power/culture/score graphs.
     
  18. Ision

    Ision Master

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2003
    Messages:
    452
    On a related note, while my post was not intended to examine the 'mod' aspects of being able to set production rates, but rather an attempt to address the stock game - there is yet another area where progressive production rates could be used very effectively - the scenarios. By setting them to different rates within specific scenario one could better recreate an overwhelming power like the Roman Empire at its height - or conversly lowered Rtaes to reflect the declineing stages of a crumbling empire.

    Ision
     

Share This Page