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The empirical game-balancing thread

Discussion in 'Rise from Erebus Modmod' started by Tsathoggua, Aug 5, 2010.

  1. Tsathoggua

    Tsathoggua Warlord

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    So, I had an idea.

    The devs are clearly making strong changes to the core mechanics of the game based upon a vision of how the game ought to play out by turn X.

    There's absolutely nothing wrong with this as a design philosophy, because it's really easy to think back to the games that played out in the most exciting fashion and try to strive for every game to be that way. The problem comes when actually balancing the changes that are made -- feedback is necessarily subjective, we don't really know every motivating intention the devs have and we don't really know what they have accounted for, or failed to account for, in terms of the consequences of changing core mechanics (witness: the health changes).

    While a lot of the proposed tweaks to the new health system are good, let's face it, with eleventy-billion civs and leaders to balance, anecdotal evidence just isn't going to cut it.

    So, I propose that in *this* thread, we post our save files right before the game is done, or at least at the point where we pretty much know the game is over. *In addition* we post the save file from Turn 1 of that same game.

    Accompany those files with a general description of how the game played out for you -- details should not be necessary because the end effect of all the micromanaging is going to be represented by the end state of the game, in comparison to the beginning state. Just flesh out any key strategic decisions you made -- especially whether you did something because it fit your leader's alignment or because it put you one step closer to your chosen victory conditions. If you got an Assassin from a lair on turn 50 and changed your winning strategy from an Altar victory to a Conquest victory, mention this.

    The devs can then look at the world on turn 1, look at it again on the final turn, and actually use the expansion vid on game completion as well as the graphs to get a sense of which civs are underperforming and why. Key here is the fact that they can see the resource layout, city placement and city management of the AI to understand how the AI adapted to its circumstances.

    This is about as close to empirical evidence I think we can get, given the nature of the development process of a project like this.

    Devs, sticky this if it's a good idea... let it get buried if it isn't. Remember that you don't have to look at *every* game to get value out of the process. :p
     
  2. Tsathoggua

    Tsathoggua Warlord

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    To start us off, here's my D'Tesh game with two weakling civs left to wipe off the map before victory is mine.

    My strategy initially was, turtle up and spam scouts. Eventually I got a Chosen (rank 2 magic user) that I was able to immediately promote to Fireball, and an Assassin shortly after that which became Aeron's Chosen (at this point in the game, synonymous with Death itself). I proceeded to walk all over my neighbours with basically just those two units.

    I razed all cities except capitals. I adopted an arbitrary system where for every 5 pop in my capital, I could settle a new 5 pop city provided I had the vessel and slaves ready to do so -- and once the killing started, this requirement was always met.

    At some point early on I also got a Great Commander, and abused the heck out of it.

    Oh yeah, and once I could build Pyres I literally burned everything in sight. You can see how broken it would be if I had gotten around to burning all the Kelp I could... and you can see how broken it is even though I did not.

    EDIT: Game speed is Epic.
     

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  3. Jarwy

    Jarwy Warlord

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    If someone is going to nerf D'Tesh, as least include a buff for their spellcasters so that the gain xp over time like collegues. Who seriously wants to xp them up by doing hand-to-hand combat?

    D'Tesh doesn't fit into my playstyle as it is now, but it certainly is unique.
     
  4. Tsathoggua

    Tsathoggua Warlord

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    This isn't a 'nerf D'Tesh' thread. I don't even mean for it to be a discussion thread. If it works out how I intend, it'll be cluttered enough with people posting games and narratives.
     
  5. Valkrionn

    Valkrionn The Hamster King

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    Seems like a good idea, honestly.

    Well, with D'tesh as the leader your Arcane units are able to sacrifice a melee unit for a nice buff. Also keep in mind that the Arcane line is essentially the backbone of their army... you WANT to be attacking with them.
     
  6. Venir

    Venir Chieftain

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    Might want to state your game speed when you post them, not sure there's an easy way of seeing in-game. I'll try to post my Mazatl conquer the world game tomorrow. Had to play them for the first time just to see what was up with their city sizes... Now I know. :D

    Edit: And Difficulty level
     
  7. Tsathoggua

    Tsathoggua Warlord

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    Evidently, we're the only two people who think this.
     
  8. Steven Aus

    Steven Aus Teach The World To Fish For Life

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    Could you perhaps get this thread stickied so it doesn't fall off the radar? And maybe a more intriguing title? :)

    Best regards,
    Steven.
     
  9. dunedainjedi

    dunedainjedi Warlord

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    Maybe this is just me personally, but I've always been under the impression that civ players are bad about finishing their games. I probably only finish 9 games out of 10. The rest fall into that I don't feel like spending another hour on a protracted war I can't lose/the alter is going to take HOW many turns??? category. I don't think incomplete games should be used to balance.

    Honestly the only reason I finished my last game is because I got a quick cultural victory while I wasn't paying attention. :mischief:
     
  10. inuyashasama

    inuyashasama Warlord

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    You mean 1 game out of 10? I know what you're talking about, which is why I use quick victories, and quick play speeds.

    I'm equally sure there are plenty of players who love long games, judging from all the players talking about playing marathon/epic games. Insane...
     
  11. Torugu

    Torugu Prince

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    I love long games, but I don't love spending hours on a game I have already won, which is why I almost never finish them, especially since most of my games are multiplayer games. Don't have any savegames to post, sorry. :(
     
  12. Castar

    Castar Warlord

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    This. It's actually a really really good idea, but the amount of games I actually finish is very very small.

    Plus, my second to last game I just tried exactly what the OP did in his first post (Aeron's Chosen is completely ********), and it basically went exactly as he described. One assassin was all it took to wipe out everyone (this was on Noble). Also, this got me wondering about something else. I always thought of how in hell the Bannor were ever supposed to get a General, and this game reminded me of that when I managed to keep my turn 1 scout alive while exploring, having him upgrade to hunter, exploring further, having him upgrade to assassin, then having him litterally singlehandedly wipe out 5 entire civilizations, and ending the game at level 18. A General requires level 20. I just don't see how you're supposed to get there :p

    I also noticed something interesting in my last game (I do not have a savegame, but it's easily verifiable). I discovered that Cardith Lorda starts with a whopping 14 health (or something like that) and without doing anything special I basically got to the point where my pop was capped by happiness, without ever encountering health problems. Civilization trait: ignore health balances.
     
  13. EugeneStyles

    EugeneStyles Prince

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    Not to mention you waited all of, what, one day? One day between posting your idea and then deciding that no one was doing it. I don't know about you, but I have never in my life started and finished a Civ game in one day. Not any version, any mod, ever.
     
  14. Koravis

    Koravis Chieftain

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    Hrrm, I actually don't think this is a very good idea.(Though giving descriptions, post-game of how the game went is) I don't see this working very well unless you got hundreds of games for each race heh, since there are so many variables that will give vastly different results(terrain, skill of the player, which AI factions were in, how well they did, luck, if the player reloaded any time it went bad or even used the world builder, getting the right wonders/religions in before the AI, and so on, these being nearly impossible to tell from imbalance when just looking at the end save game. Unfortunately, I think anecdotal along with looking at the hard numbers(such as the mazatl's and elves ability to get +10-15 happiness in their cities from their tiles without any loss to anything else just to use as an example) Anyhow, if the RifE team does find it useful, I guess I can be encouraged to actually finishing my games :p

    Already here we have lots of anecdotal things that to me at least sounds more useful than the actual save game(For balancing purposes that is), As well as Tshathoggua's description of his game. Anyhow, it would only be for balancing end game anyways, a late booming civ would look more dangerous than say, the Clan of Embers, giving a false picture of the actual story.

    Anyhow I should probably not have posted this, not being a modder myself, and cluttering up the thread further but I felt the need to point out some problems that I see heh.(And the vital need for good information and explanation of how the game played out, and what you did.) AARs and post-game descriptions in general I'd think is the best way, adding savegames to it doesn't hurt of course. Also, difficulty, game settings(wild mana and so on) and gamespeed are all of course very important to note in any case :)
     
  15. Tsathoggua

    Tsathoggua Warlord

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    Just sayin', guys.

    As for "incomplete games" not being used to balance... that really isn't the point. As several have needlessly pointed out, there is a clear tipping point in games beyond which, continuing to play is essentially beating a dead horse. The devs are trying to balance the play experience *up to that point* -- I mean, it's not as if they're trying to somehow make the AI capable of coming back after the player has decimated the world population with military might. That is simply unrealistic.

    I thought the idea was pretty simple -- post two data points and draw the line connecting them. That is, briefly describe important play decisions that can't be gleaned from world builder or the end-game animations and graphs. There's absolutely no reason why hundreds of saves would be needed before the devs could get any use out of this... and if that were truly the case, by the way, then why have feedback/balance threads at all? Answer: the devs aren't sociologists, they aren't looking for a statistically viable sampling of feedback comments.

    I guess people think boiling a 400-turn game down to three paragraphs of complaints based on a limited (sometimes totally absent) understanding of the mechanics they're complaining about is more useful than this. So be it.
     
  16. Tsathoggua

    Tsathoggua Warlord

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    The powers that be are welcome to re-make this thread with a new and exciting title, and sticky it. If that happens then I'll repost my D'Tesh game.
     
  17. Castar

    Castar Warlord

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    You are ignoring the fact that it will take time for something like this to take off. As someone already said, Civ games often take days to complete (or get to that point where you have basically won). Just wait a bit, and continue posting your own games with your experiences. Soon, you'll have another person who uploadse the saves, then some others and there you go, your initiative took off.

    Posting one example, waiting two or three days for anyone else to do something, and when this does not happen, concluding that nobody likes your idea, and even resorting to smugly superior sarcastic comments like the one above, is not the way to win people over for your idea.
     
  18. Tsathoggua

    Tsathoggua Warlord

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    I'm not really ignoring that fact. Let me point out that this thread is on its way to 400 views. Not to say I'm not being impatient, of course... I can admit to that.

    My smug sarcasm was directed at the people who see no value in the idea. At least one of whom brought up several issues that the idea is literally tailored to address, which suggests they're criticizing the idea without having read its description at all. I don't think I have to apologize for being annoyed by that.
     
  19. dunedainjedi

    dunedainjedi Warlord

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    I meant 1 in 10. I shouldn't be allowed to post after midnight....

    On the bannor and needing to reach level twenty. That is why you play with Sabithel. CHM lets you level faster. Also, and I rarely play as bannor so I might be wrong, but I think you could give your officers leadership promos to add another 25% gain to exp.

    And Aeron's Chosen is super overpowered if you rush poisons....
     
  20. dunedainjedi

    dunedainjedi Warlord

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    Here is my lastest Svarts game(warlord cause I'm lazy). I won a religious victory mostly without trying. My basic strategy was rush the hell out of everything. Beelined deception and then poisons. Pop two champions and a mage early on. There were the backbone of my army til Aeron's Chosen showed up. I won after spreading Esus to a Khazak city with a hawk. :mischief:

    Elephants are everywhere. I was more focused on warmongering, but I think I could have easily ended up with a few war elephants if I had hunted them. I dislike the big deserts that World of Erebus seems to always create.... Maybe the Great Plains option will fix that. Need to try that one. Sand Wurms are annoying...I lost Gibbon a Great Commander and a few other units to one.
     

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