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Stalker0's State of the Mod - 1/25/2021

Discussion in 'Community Patch Project' started by Stalker0, Jan 25, 2021.

  1. Stalker0

    Stalker0 Baller Magnus

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    For those long term vets on the board, you know that I periodically write a post summarizing my thoughts and feelings on where the mod currently is at, and what areas I think are still left to look at. Its been quite a while since I wrote my last one, and I have recently become a deity player, so lets see where things now stand. I am including the 1/15/2021 version in this assessment.

    First, and its important to stress this, the VP mod remains one of the truly great civ mods. Any criticisms I have are completely overshadowed by my unabashed praise. To put it simply, I do not play Civ 5, I play VP. Civ 5 is an okay game, VP is a wonderful one.

    The Place for Mod Mods - Preference vs Issues
    Spoiler :
    With the mod having been developed for such a long time, a lot of arguments and debates have been had over the years and have been mostly "settled". Settled does not mean we all agree of course, but the arguments have been laid out, we chose a direction, and that's that. You can't please everyone all the time.

    This is important because its easy to mistake an "issue" for a preference, and therefore feedback has to be guided to the notion of what is actually making the mod better, as opposed to simply making it more the way we want to play. For someone like myself who has played the mod for so long, its doubly important that I keep this in mind. Mod Mods are the answer to preferences, not core changes.


    Happiness
    Spoiler :
    Hehe, my favorite topic to complain about! Its no secret that I have never liked the happiness system, I simply go through periods of rage vs tolerance about it.

    Balance wise, I'm at tolerance in 1/15. Happiness is doing its job, I find that it really does limit my expansion (I find it tough to push past 4 cities without going into happiness issues until I address my infrastructure). However, once I address infrastructure, staying above 50% is a reasonable task. Sometimes I build a public works to stay a float, but that's a rare occasion. Funny enough my biggest issue with happiness is actually with Tall Tradition, at least with local happiness. My capital is always perfectly happy but I struggle to keep my tradition satellites happy. That's only really a problem with military unit development, my satellites build military units like molasses and my capital is often so busy its hard to squeeze in units. But this could also be a player problem as I am getting used to higher difficulties.

    True changes to happiness mechanics I think are at mod mod territory at this point, most of the feedback (mine included) is preference at this point. The one point that seems to have near universal agreement is that the happiness system... is very opaque. For a new person using the mod, its nigh inscrutable. Even for a veteran, its exceedingly difficult to understand what is really going on.

    I always would argue that the UI "lies" to the user. The UI implies that if I build a building that gets a -1 distress, or gain 3 gold when the poverty UI says I need 2 more to lower it....that I will lower my unhappiness by 1. But under many circumstances this is not the case, as a new source of unhappiness simply fills the bucket. It has gotten to the point where I really don't use the UI anymore, I just keep on building until happiness is good, with little rhyme or reason.


    Religious Spread
    Spoiler :
    First, there still seems to be bugs with Inquisitors. As far as I can tell they block nothing at the moment, they don't seem to block active or passive spread at all, so either its not or the UI is suggesting its not.

    Beyond that, I think the common consensus is that Orthodoxy spread is too strong, and is ready for a nerf.


    Naval Ships and Naval Warfare
    Spoiler :
    In general I am happy with the stats of naval ships and their promotions. The promotion lines have been polished enough that I use both lines for both types of ships. Subs are now in a decent place. I have a few complaints (I still think destroyers are a bit too good), but in general I am happy.

    The more lingering question is around Naval Warfare itself. Naval Warfare is a very different beast than ground warfare, the absence of movement control and terrain means that naval fights tend to be less of the "dance" of ground combat, and more of a massacre. Large fleets throw themselves at each other, and 5-6 ships a round can be lost. While the human with smart tactics will lose less than AIs, unlike ground combat its nigh impossible not to lose some ships. So attrition is a much bigger deal in naval conflict.

    I don't have a problem with naval fights going differently, but it has led to an "all or nothing" mindset when it comes to navy. I play in two states right now: I either create a large powerful navy and try to project force on the water....or I never build a single naval ship (outside of exploration caravels), keep my cities inland...and just ignore the naval part of the game. Aka there is no middle ground.

    That lack of middle ground does bother me, and I would love to spend some effort to address it. Its not the end of the world, but it does feel like a sore spot.


    Air Combat
    Spoiler :
    We have seen the introduction of limiting aircraft slots, the removal of air supply, interception stopping the aircraft attack, interception promotions working as a "percentage" of interception chance, and the airsweep mechanic that does damage to aircraft if its not intercepted. Aka a lot of air changes in the last year or so.

    I have liked most of these changes, and I think they have improved the game overall. I do have some sore spots:

    1) Interception %: I have never liked that interception can work as a % chance, I still think its too confusing to the user when you have multiple intercepting units, but I have come to accept it. However, I do not like that a fighter cannot get 100% interception...that to me is a balance issue and should be fixed.

    2) Air Sweep Damage: I think the air sweep promotion concept is working but the damage is a bit too low still. I would like to see a +10 dmg bump to the air sweep line, which can be spread across 1 or more of the promotions as people see fit.

    3) Guided Missiles: I would like to see them get their evasion back, regardless of what their text says, GMs are not cheap units, and losing them to interception feels horrific.

    4) AA Guns / Mobile Sam: Pure balance issue, they are simply over tuned at the moment, and rip air sweeping fighters to pieces. They have too much range on their interception, do too much damage, and do not have enough good counters. I don't build fighters right now, I build AA Guns.

    5) The role of Fighters: When we had the long standing debates about naval ships, one of the things that kept coming up.... naval ships that don't effect land are worthless. The same statement could potentially be proposed of the fighter. The fighter was redesigned as a pure anti-air unit, that does so little to ground you could effectively discount that as a use. That redesign, the current strength of AA guns, and the limited air unit slots....has put the fighter line in a very weak place.

    Why put a fighter in a city that has 2 air slots? I am giving up half of my bombing power for the chance at blocking someone's elses? That's a huge cost, and often not worth it when I can just plop down some cheap AA guns that don't cost oil (and are tanky enough that they actually can serve defensive purpose in a pinch if needed).

    6) Bomber city damage. Stealth bombers are decent city hitters because of their Air defense damage reduction, but regular bombers even with siege III promotions just don't do that great against cities imo. All of my bombers are used to attack units....I let artillery take care of the cities.


    Victory Conditions
    Spoiler :
    So how are VCs faring?

    DV: My only note here is around vassals. DV remains a vassal victory at the moment, getting 1 vassal gives you an incredible leg up on DV, and 2 vassals effectively puts it on autopilot. CS are actually not that important to a DV unless playing completely peaceful. I would like to see the strength of vassal votes weakened for Hegemony in some way.

    CV: In general I am pretty happy with the "gameplay" of CV. I think the biggest issues of the past have been addressed, and the way to win CV is mostly right. I think the main outstanding question is whether late game techs and buildings generate too much tourism (aka is CV still more of a science victory?), and just raw number tweaks (building X generates too little tourism, policy Y generates too much, etc). As I get used to CV on deity I may have more detailed thoughts here.

    SV: A solid condition, I have some notes on science itself that I will detail later.


    Science - The Role of the GS
    Spoiler :
    We all know that techs in the late game tend to fly by on Standard speed, and I think the main culprit are GS. The great scientist scales incredibly by the late game, generating a large portion of your overall science production (I may attempt an experiment one day just to see how much it generates).

    The GS is so powerful, I would argue that the ability to faith buy GS is 70% of rationalism's power. Each GS is basically a tech, and faith buying generates about 4 GS in the game (1000 faith, 2500, 5500, and 10000...the one past 10000 I generally find untenable unless your faith is crazy). So Rationalism (or the glory of god) effectively gives you 3-4 techs....that is incredibly powerful.

    But all of that said, is the GS too powerful? Is this simply the role of GS in the game, and is that perfectly fine to how the game operates? I personally would like to see GS toned down a bit in terms of their frequency (the research labs +33% may be too much), but I am curious what others think here.


    Tactical AI
    Spoiler :
    The AI has seen a brilliant improvement in military strategy for the last year. While there are always improvements to make, the only time I feel the AI is truly "dumb" now is in its reaction to Fallout. The AI does not understand fallout, it won't clean it up for 30 turns, it will just leave units sitting in it, or it will shuffle units around aimlessly. The only area I feel needs a real look is there.


    Diplomacy / Deal AI
    Spoiler :
    Another huge improvement here. Most of my Wishlist is being looked at one way or the other, but the AI is much more engaging than it used to be and I'm getting less impossible deals. My only beef is a usability issue, I really wish the "what would make this deal work?" button was smarter and just match GPT until the deal was sound. I also would like to know if the fact that I can adjust almost any GPT deal by 1-2 GPT is intended "bargaining" behavior or if that is a bug.


    Combat Screen
    Spoiler :
    The poor mods are probably sick of all of my bug reports about the combat viewer. G has even admitted, its a real mess, lots of mistakes in tracking CS strength, bonuses missing, bonuses in the wrong place, etc. So for me its more of a question of, is this on the roadmap for adjustment....or it is what it is? Aka should I keep looking at the viewer and sending bug reports or just accept that's how it is and leave it be?


    City Governor
    Spoiler :
    The governor is in a bad place at the moment. It makes some objectively dumb decisions, such as choosing plots that are literally worse in every way than another tile. It also does not seem to understand unhappiness' effect on food. I have seen a work working lots of food tiles because growth is at "-100%", not realizing that it could shift 5 tiles off food and barely move the food amount.


    City HP Recovery
    Spoiler :
    I think with the recent passes city strength is in a good spot. Some would still argue that navy does too much damage but if I commit to the later defensive buildings (arsenals, military bases, mine fields)....I generally find my coastal cities can hold with support.....at least for the length of time I think they should.

    However, city HP recovery remains abysmal in the late game. Cities heal so slowly that its almost trivial. The best idea I saw for this, is make it where if a hostile unit is not within 3 of the city that its healing rate triples (activated by arsenal or military base, depending on desired preference). This allows for a chance at recovery while not effecting city sieges.


    Late Game Buildings
    Spoiler :
    A lot of buildings have received good polish over the years and are in fine place, but I do think some of the later era buildings could use another pass (which makes sense they would be the last ones to finish balancing). There was a push a while ago to replace a lot of the ongoing bonuses with immediate bonuses (such as the medical labs instant +2 pop). I think that was a great idea and would like to see a bigger shift there....stadiums giving 1 turn of GA, stock exchanges giving a big lump sum of gold, etc.


    Culture Rubberbands
    Spoiler :
    As I've gone up in difficulty, more and more I have found culture the limiting factor in terms of strength, especially in the midgame. With science, there are lots of rubberband mechanics (TRs, WC policies, spies). With culture far less so, which is why its the most important yield until the very late game.

    Conceptually it begs the question, should there be more ways to equalize culture in the game? Would that be too painful for CV?


    Communitas_79
    Spoiler :
    Currently my favorite map, so it goes hand in hand with VP feedback for me. In general I really like the map, especially how it generates close subcontinents that are accessible by fishing, make that tech path more attractive.

    My main concerns:

    1) I would like to see slightly larger islands with bigger resources and ability to defend. Some islands are nice but they are simply too vulnerable, and it takes way too much naval commitment compared to the resource payout.

    2) The map commonly creates these gorgeous flood plain scapes.....and then puts so few hammers near them that they go to waste. I would like to see a bit more stone or hills or horses or something there to round them out, not a major increase but a bit more than now.


    Engineers and Merchants
    Spoiler :
    I think there is general consensus that Merchants are a bit weak still, at least weaker than the other specialists. Also the town I think still doesn't scale well enough, and I find it difficulty to justify more than 2 of them even on railroads with TRs.

    Meanwhile Engineers have some late game scaling issues to me. The base production is weaker than late game mines, and their insta build tends to fizzle out unless you have built a LOT of manufactories.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2021
  2. youngsteve

    youngsteve Warlord

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    That is my main concern about this map. It is a lovely map maker, but you never seem more than a few tiles away from the sea, & end up building a large navy to counter AI, whoever you play. I did manage to get around that abit when playing America by having low sea levels & removing the oceans to get loads of land. Despite this I still had 8 of my nine cites with access to water, though two had lakes which got to the ocean using forts. So again I had to build big navy to counter the likes of Austria & Portugal.

    I also think cities should be alot stronger against navies. It is a bit ridiclous seeing melee ships throwing themselves against cities with little damage. Try doing that in real life. Cities were extremely strong standing up to naval & land forces throughout history. I have always thought only siege weapons, on land or sea should be able to damage cities. Range & melee ones damage troops.
     
  3. stii

    stii King

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    I think air combat is mostly fine. Maybe slightly weak but much better than the comically overpowered that it is in the base game.

    Airs units main advantage is they can hit anywhere, so lower damage makes sense, being able to pick off anything is very flexible. They are also very hard to kill if you are careful. AA units probably should be better than fighters because they take up space you could use for other units and supply. The counter is just picking off the AA units with your ground units first. It doesn't always work but you can generally attack somewhere with your bombers. While two slots does make using fighters hard the autocracy finisher gives you 6 everywhere and deals with the problem.

    Guided Missiles should probably be buffed or just removed as they don't really serve a purpose. The only use for them is winning slightly faster when the game is just over, which is hardly worth a whole unit.
     
  4. 2506

    2506 Warlord

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    I just played two games on this map with Korea where I role-played "hermiting" by building no coastal cities. (My scout logged a lot of nautical miles.) This was the first time in years that I hadn't built a large navy. It worked, and was a nice change of pace as well.
     
  5. phantomaxl1207

    phantomaxl1207 King

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    Stock Exchange: I would like to see its Town bonus boosted from +2 :c5gold:. Instant Gold seems nice.

    How do AA Guns defend vs land units? This should be where they are weak. They should not feel like Infantry replacements.

    Being behind in policies is hard to make up. I wouldn't have any ideas on were to find new comeback mechanics for this.

    I have 2 suggestions for slow city healing: 1. decrease the health later defense buildings give and have them give city healing, 2. upgrade the defense city process later in the game to give more city healing.
     
    vyyt and smorgasborgas like this.
  6. Ragic

    Ragic Chieftain

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    What if fighters weren’t there own unit but rather a built in attack/defense ability of cities and carriers.
     
  7. azum4roll

    azum4roll Emperor

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    1) It's impossible to control exact land shapes. It's easier to not give in to temptation ;)

    2) I'll still suggest adding a new bonus resource that gives production but not wonder production. Hills is viable to add, but it affects farm triangles.

    Subs are currently too good at damaging cities with the innate +75% attack bonus (that offsets the -75% city penalty) plus Wolfpack promotions.

    By the way, if you missed the notification, can you help test this modmod for me? You complete games 30x faster than me.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2021
  8. Little Billy

    Little Billy Chieftain

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    Long time lurker here... VP is amazing. I probably couldn't tell you at this point what was actually in vanilla versus what was added.

    Spying doesn't seem to be in a great spot at the moment.

    The general feeling I get is that it's an unintuitive and (relative to other things) uncontrollable part of the game. The "[City] is increasingly vulnerable to foreign spies" message implies that there is more you could do to protect your city, when for most of the game all you can do is put a level 3 spy and constabulary in it. Telling other people not to spy on me or forgiving/not forgiving spying has no perceivable effect other than making them a little mad at me, regardless of whether or not they agree to stop. Are Advanced Actions supposed to be more controllable than just putting a spy in a non capitol as a thief? I can't find out how if so.

    I can't remember the last time the AI has stolen a great work from me. They clearly put spies in non capitol cities because stuff gets sabotaged in there all the time. I guess they value techs way more than GWs? Or you just don't get a notification when one gets stolen, which would seem to me to be unintended.

    I don't recall seeing a note on this: is gold stealing now related to the gold output of the city? Before I was used to having my entire treasury emptied every 5 turns or so and would deal with it by simply spending all of it on anything I could. Now it seems like I might be able to carry a balance of more than a thousand gold and reasonably expect to keep it for a while? It used to feel terrible. Now it feels less so.

    A couple other things that matter less:
    1. Are city states dumber than major civs militarily? I often watch my city state ally embark ranged units for no reason when they could easily use it to heavily damage or kill an opposing unit. The military AI has improved so much that I rarely see it from a major civ nowadays

    2. What's with people using siege units to do recon on my land when they have open borders?
     
  9. azum4roll

    azum4roll Emperor

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    City state units can't enter other borders unless at war. They have very few spots to maneuver their units, especially if you start to gift them some.
     
  10. 2506

    2506 Warlord

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    Great post. Spying sucks. That it's not central to the game meakes it not stand out so much. But if anything needs a reconception in VP, as opposed to adjustments, it's spying.
     
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  11. pineappledan

    pineappledan Deity

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    Healing increasing speed if no enemy units are around you would involve looping through all units and checking their coordinates, or looping through all tiles in workable range from all your cities.

    it would be far easier to just have some building that increase healing rate, and maybe that rate is increased further if your civ is at peace.
     
  12. Little Billy

    Little Billy Chieftain

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    Sure, but why do they feel the need to move them at all? Doing nothing in some cases would be an objectively better decision because they could at least heal/fortify
     
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  13. azum4roll

    azum4roll Emperor

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    This shouldn't take too long. Map generation does this multiple times per starting location (and Communitu_79a does this for every coastal tile), after all.
     
  14. pineappledan

    pineappledan Deity

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  15. Stalker0

    Stalker0 Baller Magnus

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    So currently the game does some kind of loop to check if enemy units are within firing range of the city. My guess is it would be simple to piggyback off that, if the algorithm that says "don't have the city have the option to fire" is engaged, then also add some healing to the city. So my guess (not having looked at the code) is that would be a trivial speed difference since the game already has to do some kind of check anyway.
     
  16. tu_79

    tu_79 Deity

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    Anything you add to flooding plains is going to hurt farm triangles, unless it is wheat, not a production resource.
    Instead of adding resources to the flooding plain itself, I'd go for the desert tiles.
    There are two things we can do.
    1. Give desert tiles adjacent to a flooding plain the chance to become a hill. A 10% chance would suffice. But then the climate won't be accurate.
    2. Let horses spawn in desert. I mean, camels exist.

    About islands generation, the only way to create the desired shapes and sizes is to add a routine that creates such islands after the random generator is over. The problem with this approach is that all these fabricated islands will look the same over and over.
    In fact, Oceania islands in the original script were like that. It had a script that looked for big masses of water and populated them with 8 to 12 tiny islands. I removed it completely.

    If you need more inland locations, other than making the scattering more blocky, the amount of water can be reduced and the oceans can be enlarged. This way there will be more compact land and fewer small continents.

    But I believe the problem of settling in coastal locations is more a balance problem with navy than a mapscript fault.
    If you want some terrain differences for the ships, so the human can outsmart the ai in the seas, then I suggest to take the "brown water", "blue water approach". Let ships behave differently on sea and ocean tiles. In sea tiles, they can be more resilient since repairing can be done, while in ocean tiles they might move faster. Or something like that. Maybe have some unit very good at the shores, another very good at high seas. Tanky and squishy.
     
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  17. azum4roll

    azum4roll Emperor

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    Camels can be a new bonus resource adding production.

    Ships will be fine if we nerf them all so they can be hurt by land ranged, especially melee ships.
     
  18. tu_79

    tu_79 Deity

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    So, they are like sheep and cattle, but on a different terrain? I'd rather use a generic cattle resource for all terrains. What would be next, goats?
     
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  19. InkAxis

    InkAxis Prince

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    We were talking in the thread about diplomats (the spies, not the GP), saying they should give some sort of bonuses.

    What if they gave X% of culture (could be unlocked with a tech or a building like the chancery)? It would be a good buff to them, and help this issue with catching up.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2021
    Kim Dong Un, 2506 and phantomaxl1207 like this.
  20. Stalker0

    Stalker0 Baller Magnus

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    I added a section of Engineers and Merchants to the end of the OP
     

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