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The Slippery Slope

Discussion in 'Civ5 - General Discussions' started by Scramble, Sep 28, 2010.

  1. Scramble

    Scramble Warlord

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    This is a discussion on the Civ V and the phenomenon I refer to as: The Slippery Slope

    The idea behind The Slippery Slope is that the winners keep on winning and the losers fall further and further behind. The gap between the winner and the loser becomes so great that there is no way to catch up whatsoever.

    I am looking for other peoples' input on how you think the Slippery Slope phenomenon works in this game.

    I love Civ V. I think it does a lot of things right, but I have been noticing a strange issue, where while one or two AI or human players tend to do pretty well, there are always a few that are stuck in the middle ages. I wonder if that is an issue with the AI or with the game, or both.

    We all know the dreaded "Mario Kart Syndrome" where the players in last place are given artificial advantages and cheats in order to make the game more competative. Now don't get me wrong I know, as everyone does that Mario Kart lacked subtlety and was generally over the top, but it had the right idea... The game needs to be interesting for everyone... even those in last place need to have a hope... a glimmer of light at the end of a dark tunnel, otherwise what is the point, right? They won't stay, they won't have fun and the game lacks any of the fantastic comebacks and incredible underdog plays that make gaming as a whole fun.

    Now I hate to compare Civ V to Civ IV, as that is what all the whiners have been doing it lately, but here goes:
    Even Civ IV had a terrible Slippery Slope that caused no end of problems... But Civ IV had some interesting systems in place to counter the Slippery Slope, lessening it's effect.
    Techs would become a teeny tiny bit cheaper for every Civilization that had already researched the tech. Not only was this pretty realistic, but it allowed the Civs that were behind to keep up with tech to some degree.
    If you got HUGELY behind, the AI would gift you "pity techs". Usually by that time it made little difference, but still...
    Clever Tech trading and tech brokering could give you a chance to catch up in tech. It also rapidly sped up tech development in the game by lesser civilizations as a whole, often making it very difficult to stay ahead at all, especially as a human player, where computers were pretty much working against you from the get go.

    Civ V is very new, so we don't know all the mechanics in place yet, but already we can see that some mechanics are gone... With Tech Trading gone, there is very little way one can get caught get out of a behind position. Once the industrial age hits and riflemen and especially Infantry make it onto the field all other units are not only obselete, but completely worthless.

    One counter to the Slippery Slope in Civ V that I have noticed is:
    Crossbowmen and Ranged Combat. Once Gunpowder is reached, there are very few ranged units on the map, giving Crossbowmen an edge. But again, Crossbowmen are weak, so they still rely on a positional and often a promotion advantage in order to win against riflemen to a significant degree. This makes assaulting a lower tech person in his own lands can be more difficult, however in all reality, this can easily be overcome by simply not being careless when invading.
    This is a bit more dynamic and a bit less subtle than other slippery slope counter methods.

    Do you all think the game has too big of a Slippery Slope? Or do you not think one exists in this game? What kind of methods are there in Civ V that counter it? What methods would you like to see in the game to help?
     
  2. Ymir9

    Ymir9 Warlord

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    One of the things that bothers me about all Civilization games is reaching that point where victory is virtually assured.
    Once you're there (usually no more than 3/4 the way into the game) it becomes hard to find the will to continue playing. And so I actually find these days it's more fun to play on Deity+ (modded) difficulty levels with less of an aim of winning so much as to see how long I can survive.

    I generally wish the game could be more dynamic in realistic ways. I found that while limited, the revolution mod for Civ IV really helped bring some excitement in the late game. I've seen giant AI civs get completely torn to shreds and balkanized after over-expanding and eventually succumbing to many local revolts in their empire.
    For the player it meant that even when completely safe from external attack or confident in military or technological superiority over any other civ, there was a domestic threat either from happiness or religious mismanagement that always had to be watched out for, since rebels in a civil war would match the player's technology level.
     
  3. Ymir9

    Ymir9 Warlord

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    whoops, double post
     
  4. kismet28

    kismet28 Chieftain

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    Ideally players 2, 3, and 4 will gang up on the person who is ahead. I think there are a number of things we can do that are not totally obvious. Stop trading them happiness goods, team up to buy out their ally civ states, Gang up on their city that has important happy goods, etc..
    Doesn't take much to upset the kingdom balance in the game. I think it should be fairly easy to slow people down without having to wipe them out.


    The way good multi player strategy games work is giving losing players ways to gang up that will seriously dent the stronger players.

    I see lots of potential here once they get the AI up to par and multiplayer working well
     
  5. Scramble

    Scramble Warlord

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    I find multiplayer probably isn't the biggest issue, because lesser nations will almost invariably beat up the bigger one.
    I played a Marathon map where Ghandi and I were fighting the whole game over victory. Into the late industrial-early modern, I got scared that Ghandi would win and overcame him. From there it was really a straight shot to the end... I had no real opposition. The other Civs were so far behind there was no threat, other civs would willingly trade me resources and research agreements that would further solidify my position.
    I would like if the AI had this "gang up on the leader" kind of mentality. Seems like it makes sense, given that the AI are now trying to win the game themselves. This is not a reality simulation of a world where there is no victory... this is a game with a very clear win point.
     
  6. WuphonsReach

    WuphonsReach Prince

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    There's a lot of ways that you can slow down an avalanche type win in Civ, but they've tossed out a lot of the past solutions from the previous revisions. Things like:

    - Older techs becoming devalued (easier to trade, easier to research)

    - Costs that ramp up exponentially as you get more powerful (first item costs X, second unit costs X*1.5, third costs X*1.5*1.5)

    - Brakes on unconstrained growth, like having to stop and consolidate territory and get the newly conquered cities productive. (There were half a dozen ways to do this in prior Civ games, besides "build a courthouse".)

    - AI that would refuse to enter beneficial deals because "you are too powerful" or "we are scared of your enemies". It was possible to become a pariah that nobody would trade with.

    - Random events.

    - Distance based adjustments to economics, production, military strength.

    - War weariness.

    - The key is that the game should not rely on one single factor to control growth.

    Everyone says "health was dumb and should be removed". So they removed it, and now we have one less thing to worry about. Except that you removed the choice from the player of whether they focus on food or health in a particular turn.

    With multiple factors to balance, you are forced to make decisions. If there's only one factor to balance, then there's no gameplay there. It becomes completely linear (choose ABC, in that order) and the improvements that you can pick are just arbitrary values. In prior Civs, you had to balance out health, food, commerce, hammers, culture, science along with keeping vassals happy and other AIs happy (or at least not ticked off at you if they were bigger).
     
  7. Auncien

    Auncien Prince

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    I think the phrase you're looking for is "zero sum game."
     
  8. dannythefool

    dannythefool King

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    One problem in Civ is that the AIs do the exact opposite, they gang up on the weakest civ.

    I've been conquering enemies that were instawardecced by every single AI the moment my forces advanced on its last city... that really doesn't make a lot of sense, my enemy clearly wasn't the threat in that game.
     
  9. BlackSpy

    BlackSpy Chieftain

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    Zero sum means everyone loses, as in a full nuclear exchange, I don't think that's really what's being suggested?
     
  10. BlackSpy

    BlackSpy Chieftain

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    I think the variety of advanced buildings that require a prerequisite building in every city is quite a good catch up mechanism. The player needs to work for it, but it's an option that's not open to the mega empires.
     
  11. Takeda

    Takeda Warlord

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    no it doesn't. A zero-sum game is a game in which nothing is ever created. Thus one players gain is by definition a loss to every other player, etc. Which isn't quite what the OP was describing either. Everyone loses
     
  12. CaptainBinky

    CaptainBinky Warlord

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    One thing that sometimes works really well is when there are a good number of city states that survive to the end who will then gang up on the most aggressive player. I've just finished a game where I was focussing on space tech and only had a smallish army since I was dominating my own island while Caesar was building a huge invasion force on another continent. I was miles behind him on score and military tech. By the time that I was the only remaining Civ and he sailed across to invade, the city states I had been pumping money into were sat there waiting with artillery and took out about 2/3rds of his units before they could even land :D

    Guess I was lucky that all the city states formed an awesome defensive perimeter around the coast. It was quite hilarious, to be honest :D

    When that sort of thing happens, and the game just 'works', it's amazing.
     
  13. The_Reckoning

    The_Reckoning Prince

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    No, it doesn't, I don't know where you're getting that information from if you're not making it up.

    A zero-sum game or situation is one where every gain one player makes is balanced by and equal loss from another player.

    Expressed as a game, a nuclear exchange is not zero sum. It would be if every each player had the same number of nukes and every nuke detonated brought back to life the same number of people it killed.
     
  14. AlpsStranger

    AlpsStranger Jump jump on the tiger!

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    Sadly, they return as radioactive zombies... :nuke:
     
  15. WuphonsReach

    WuphonsReach Prince

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    You've been playing Fallout, I see. ;)

    (Looking forward to New Vegas myself.)
     
  16. duxup

    duxup Prince

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    Every game has a point where victory is assured, or at least exceptionally likely. The question from a design point is IMO:

    1. How soon does the user realize the inevitable. Hopefully this will be after some long fulfilling gameplay?
    2. How much fun did user have before and after they realized the inevitable?



    Civ IV's unit heavy combat made the inevitable on large maps a PIA for me. Vassal states helped a bit but sometimes that didn't even help. I'd just quit while ahead.

    I've no idea about Civ V yet.


    I wouldn't mind an optional "Rubber band" option where lesser civs are occasionally given sudden discoveries / techs to keep them somewhat competitive. One could also argue some tech is going to leak out over time and keep some neighboring civs in the game.


    Also we could get all weird and philosophical and note that:

    "Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory."

    -Sun Tzu
     
  17. AriochIV

    AriochIV Colonial Ninja

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    I have definitely noticed that second-tier empires seem to have trouble getting out of the medieval era, which means that once you've defeated the other superpower, the game is pretty much over. Lack of tech trading I think is the main culprit.

    I think that the Research Pact was meant to offset the lack of tech trading, but the way it's done isn't very satisfactory... the high entry cost makes it useful only for the civilizations that are ahead. Frankly I think they need to totally revamp the diplomatic system... in my opinion it's the weakest part of the game. But perhaps some Science related bonuses from city-state could help.
     
  18. ExCivFan

    ExCivFan Chieftain

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    OMB, zero sum does not mean everyone looses! It means that if one player gains 5 points, some other player or combination of players loose 5 points. If everyone looses, nobody wins and therefore the game cannot be described as zero sum.

    The slippery slope talk is crap. A player that has more resources (ie research capacity, physical resources, etc) is considered to be winning and is ahead of the other players. That resourse lead will make it easier for that player to acquire more resources and therefore that player has an easier path to victory. The oly games without this slippery slope crap are games with a finite number of short rounds where each player accumulates points by winning short mini games that reset themselves during the greater game.

    Smart players will halt the leading player through diplomacy as anyone who has played the board game Diplomacy would know. But civ 5 is broken: the ai is horrible, diplomacy is random, etc (you can find that stuff in other threads). I don't care if you "like" the game, it's broken and will never be the game civ 4 is. Civ rev is better than this piece of trash
     
  19. r_rolo1

    r_rolo1 King of myself

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    @AriochIV

    I have to agree with the research pacts part. As they got out ( from the who knows how many versions we seen during development ), they are far of being the equalizing tool that tech trading was in civ IV ( for good and bad ). In fact they are the oposite: they give bigger rewards to people that are more advanced ( say they get optics and i get metalurgy ... already seen something similar to that happening in my games ) just because they are more advanced. Worse, the AI will still be eager to do them with more advanced foes until the "red eyes" rage against whoever is powerful kicks in ...

    The worst is that I had said exactly that maybe a couple of weeks before release ... sometimes i hate to be right :( If atleast the research pacts costed diferently to diferent civs things would be less lopsided.
     
  20. Ahriman

    Ahriman Tyrant

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    Agree with this in general. The research pact in fact helps the players who are ahead, because it gives a single tech to each player, and so a scientifically backwards player gets a cheap tech while a scientifically advanced player gets an expensive tech.

    However, in lots of ways the tech slippery slope is not as bad as it used to be. Units can still get slaughtered by other units that are a tech era behind (particularly with open terrain penalty!). There are very few passive benefits from techs, so its not like my mines are massively better than yours just because I'm higher tech.

    I think the main slippery slope one is the military; because military production times are so long, once a civ loses its army, its effectively out of the game, and is unable to stop others from gobbling up its cities very rapidly.

    I think to this we'd need to slow city conquest somehow, either by making it take longer to capture a city, or add much larger temporary penalties for doing so. Eg: add a large happiness penalty while a city is in resistance, and increase the costs of negative happiness (eg: empire wide production/gold/science penalties, as well as growth).
     

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