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The "snowball effect"...

Discussion in 'Civ5 - General Discussions' started by Naokaukodem, Jul 28, 2013.

  1. Naokaukodem

    Naokaukodem Millenary King

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    I want to treat here about one of the problems of the Civ franchise : the "snowball effect", tranlated in Civ5 by "overexpansion".

    Indeed, everything in Civ is accumulated within cities : food, production, gold, even science and culture accumulate inside cities. The more you have cities, the more you will have everything.

    The result is that the more you will have everything, the more you will be able to have yet more everything. This is the snowball effect.

    Don't get me wrong, this can be a good mechanic : you have to manage your civ in order to get more of everything before your opponents.

    However, this has a major impact on the replayability not only of one single opus of the series, but from an opus to the other, it is to say the replayability of the whole franchise.

    Indeed, every civ has to grow best, and at the end it create blocks that shock themselves. Once again, it can be cool : it's just that the cold war seems to be recreated !

    The problem is that that, happens every time. The result is that the player may feel bored after playing a couple games, not to mention the ensuing problems like "the end game feels boring", which are just a consequence of the "snowball effect".

    How do you feel about this ? Do you feel this is a concern ?

    If you are interested by the topic, feel free to come in the Ideas & Suggestions forum in order to comment my longer post on it, and why not, give solutions to it !

    Cheers. :)
     
  2. CornPlanter

    CornPlanter Emperor

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    Well for starters the more you have the more you need. Culture, Golden Age and so on thresholds depend on the number of cities. Unhappiness raises with the number of cities.

    If you feel bored after a couple of games it may be because you play on difficulty level too easy for you.
     
  3. b7fanatix

    b7fanatix Warlord

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    Agreed. While there are things you can do to keep a large empire happy, it's a challenge for the player (on Prince and harder difficulty levels) all the same.

    Not so for the AI, who gets extra happiness - this is why you tend to get "runaway" civs..
     
  4. Windsor

    Windsor Flawless

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    You misrepresent what the snowball effect is. The snowball effect is that a small advantage early snowballs into a bigger and bigger advantage. This is only loosely related to expansion, but they're really two different subjects. In Civ5 settling more cities have often been a clearly suboptimal strategy because of all the harsh penalties.

    The opposite of snowballing is rubber-banding, where every early decision you make is made irrelevant in the end-game.

    So I'm actually confused on what you're trying to debate. To me it seems that what you're trying to debate is wide vs tall empires and not really the snowball effect.
     
  5. Falconiano

    Falconiano Prince

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    That is pretty realistic actually.
    More territory/cities means more resources, more trade, more population (and thus economy and military), etc.
    Still, there are penalties to balance it out; SP costs, tech costs, unhappiness.
    The AI gets more benefit from going wide just because they have such advantages that those penalties are irrelevant.
     
  6. Naokaukodem

    Naokaukodem Millenary King

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    Precisely, it's not ! How do you explain that France or England were the best countries past in the days ? They were small, but more powerfull than China or Russia. In the same vein, some city-states could resist to much larger invaders. They were not the "tallest" either.

    This is tied to gameplay mechanics, because the biggests in Civ5 will be the ones eligible to get bigger yet... (more cities, more production, more gold, more units) And those mechanics make the game simply redundant. There's not enough diversity in gameplay ! The only things that permit to vary a little are the other victory conditions. But, seriously ? Hitting enter 20 times in a row ?

    I'm realizing that it's a much more fundamental problem of the Civ series : its lack of depth. If everything is designed around territory acquisition, it's because it has not any other valuable gameplay to propose. Pretty thin for a game that prides itself on recreating the story of civilizations.

    Well, no. All in all it's pretty good as it is. It's a fraud, but it's fun. And it sells ! I'm just getting tired of it. The best I can do I guess is looking at other video games, but I will miss the 6000 years time span.
     
  7. ambill10

    ambill10 Chieftain

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    We must be playing different games. The game you are describing is not the one I'm playing.
     
  8. KGPurrs

    KGPurrs Chieftain

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    AI also gets pissed off when you do this and will denounce you, discuss declaring war on you with other civs, etc.
     
  9. the343danny

    the343danny Emperor

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    Agreed. The longevity of this game is far worse than Civ 4. After a few games, every game starts to feel the same. No matter what you do, the AI is always after you. Maybe you were too weak so they declared war, or maybe you were too successful so they all declared war. Not only that, the AI is dumb as bricks so its incredibly difficult to actually ever lose, other than to surprise diplo or cultural wins, which you could easily prevent if you actually payed attention to the game.

    And its not fun to win at all. It ends up being a domination regardless of your intent since everybody, including the poor SOB you just liberated, decides it should DOW you and pester you with terribly planned invasions until you wipe them all out. When that doesn't happen (as in you decided to not kill everybody after they declare war on you), I just end up pressing end turn until my spaceship is ready or something. This game could be so much better if diplomacy actually meant something and if the empire building aspect wasn't just garbage. /endrant

    I don't even come here to rant, only to see if the most recent of my favorite series of all time has become playable, but it always ends up becoming a rant. I suggest some of the Paradox titles if you want nation building games, and in particular, EU4 which is to be released very soon.

    Anyways, were you referring to how the AIs who fail early on or those who lose a war pretty much becomes a non factor or just an annoyance for the rest of the game?
     
  10. Naokaukodem

    Naokaukodem Millenary King

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    Actually your snowball effect is linked with mine, as time is linked with space. If, as I say, more everything gives you even more everything, then, an advantage of everything early will give you even more everything later, it's logical. If more everything would not give you even more everything, then an advantage of everything early would not give you even more everything later.
     
  11. paralistalon

    paralistalon Chieftain

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    I see this debate as being primarily about the "rich get richer and poor get poorer" dynamic that sometimes happens with Laissez Faire capitalism. In this game, I really only see that with religion, because once a religion starts spreading, it can be almost impossible to stop it. But luckily, religion isn't a victory condition in itself. Also, adopting the dominating religion isn't always a bad strategy.

    I kind of see the argument with science. As you get more science, that lets you build the better science-generating buildings and wonders, which keeps you in the tech lead. The counter balance to this is, if you're only building science buildings, other aspects of your infrastructure are going to be weak, such as growth or production or military, and that could put you in a bad place if you have a warmongering neighbor who wants to steam roll you. Unfortunately (or fortunately), the AI is the weakest in terms of combat and end-game strategy, and they can easily be bribed to fight wars that really don't help them. But what can you expect from AI? You can always play multiplayer against other humans!

    At higher difficulties, the game creates its challenge by starting you behind and then asking you to try to come back when the AIs all start with a lead.
     
  12. Naokaukodem

    Naokaukodem Millenary King

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    Actually I was more thinking about military : the more you have cities, the more you have production, the more you can build units, the more you can conquer, the more yet you have cities, etc...
     
  13. Pepo

    Pepo Prince

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    I agree with this topic-normally the wider you go the better.i like playing mods like legens of revolution (for civ 4 Bts)mainly because big empire normally end up figthing in civil war

    One thing thougth is that in BnW going wide is bad-in fact your empire will normally fall unhappy for many turns until your people get happier again.BnW makes your game harder at the start,until you finally get an empire and defeat the lame ia-agree here with danny

    I think that a mechanic of revolutions like in some civ4mods will make empire similar to real life-if it expands to much ,rebels will apear and the empire will fall on a costly civil war that may cost him the game
     
  14. Js_9001

    Js_9001 Indefatigable

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    That already happens. If you grow your empire too much, with cities and population, (especially from conquering) you'll get too unhappy and rebels will appear, wrecking your improvements and maybe attacking cities, also forcing you to make or send troops to kill them.
     
  15. joncnunn

    joncnunn Senior Java Wizard Moderator

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    Civ V has such harsh penalties for founding new cities that optimum appears to be founding few cities but using them as a base to conquer (and leave as puppet) a lot to avoid most of them.

    But BNW also introduced a science penalty for wide empires; if playing on standard size map, going past around city #12 owned would cause at least one of your cities to not be pulling its own weight and puppets are included in this.

    The real snow ball is get an early science lead and use it to get a bigger and bigger science edge. (Early NC; beeline to University; run all science slots, use first few for academies; etc.)
     
  16. primordial stew

    primordial stew Emperor

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    There is the Revolutions mod for civ5. It slowed down the game too much when I'd tried it, but it's been improved since then.
     
  17. DarthSheldonPhD

    DarthSheldonPhD Warlord

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    Pretty sure that by snowball effect you're pointing out that the civ series has always been games of exponential growth. Having a better start has a drastic effect on how the game plays out. So if game A has an "ok" start, we'll call it a 2, and game B has a great start, we'll call it a 5, as the turns go by the difference is not cumulative, it's exponential, so whereas 2^4 = 16, 5^4 = 625, there's simply no substitute for a good start (or base score in any exponential equation).

    Another point to elaborate on is that, like a business (and yet another capitalism reference), civilizations can become "too big to fail." Having all that pop in all those cities yields all that production/gold capability with technologically-advanced units, and if you play proficiently (and perhaps at too low of a difficulty level) there's nothing that can defeat you, or even trip you up for that matter. Even if someone cleverly DoW's you at just the right time and marches a sea of pikes at just the right spot, 2 turns later you have bought 2 infantry and nullified the strategically perfect move.

    So it's conceivable, or even likely, that the power differential between a runaway civ and the rest of the world can become so great that there's really nothing that can be done about it. If you view this as a "problem" rather than "part of the game" or "the way the game was meant to be played," and I can relate to both sides of the argument, then the way to address it would be to find a way to disrupt (or throw a monkey wrench at) the exponential growth patterns. I think the best way to disrupt that would be through MAJOR random events... Not like Civ4 random events, where a forest fire makes you lose a forest tile and a happy point in one city, I'm talking more like 1.) the black plague eliminating 90 percent of your population civilization-wide, 2.)the dark ages where a civ's capital is reduced to pop 1 and all medieval+ technologies are lost (sending them back to the stone age), and 3.)Godzilla all units and cities lost except for those on that one remote island. There's also positive major events like 1.)Tamahagane forging quadrupling the strength of all melee units until gunpowder (and that weak little guy everyone's been picking on suddenly starts wrecking shop on all) and 2.)Discovery of Atlantis - 10K gold and 1 free random technology from each era not yet reached.

    On the one hand, it would remove the safety net that you can make for yourself; no civ would ever be untouchable. On the other hand, it subtracts a lot from "skill" and adds a lot to "luck." Either way, would make for a wild ride
     
  18. Naokaukodem

    Naokaukodem Millenary King

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    As I say in the Ideas & Suggestions forum, you can solve it either on the root or on the downstream : on the root, it would be changing the system of accumulation. Example : your everything is global and is divided by the number of your cities. If you have a capital with 12 production and plant a new city with 2 production, your global production would be 7, not 12 as it were before planting. This is an example of root solving of the problem, with a special formula, but an extreme example. Of course, why plant new cities when it decreases temporarily your global production ? You can still imagine that the only Victory Condition would be Domination Civ3 style, but it would make the game poorer. Could be a MOD though. One can imagine more subtile formula, but I'm far of being a mathematician so I will let it to others.

    A downstream solution would be to treat the data not on the root, but afterwards, a little like global happiness, it is to say trying to limit the exponentiality. Social policies that become harder to acquire with the size of the civ is IMO a former step into that direction, even if the shyness of their bonuses fail to make it explicit. What I imagined is a social policy system where you can't grow culture points whereas the threshold to obtain a new SP still increases with number of cities. The bonuses of SPs would be great, depending on the size of the civilization. For example, a civilization of only one city could have bonuses like doubled, tripled or quadrupled production/gold/science or whatever you think. However there would be needed a number of cities cap where the bonuses don't apply anymore, or anyone would start off with 1 city, get the bonuses, stay at 1 city the time of acquiring the wanted bonuses, and expand afterwards keeping the bonuses for all of their cities, which is not the goal.

    Random events would be cool, forcing the player to adapt, or making civilizations confronting rebellions on a regular basis. Then the system would be a matter of adaptating and catching opportunities. Could be interesting.
     
  19. VengerBR

    VengerBR Chieftain

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    I understand your point. I think every player do, you're on to something, and it's a big, big discussion of what's right or wrong, and ultimately, what makes the game better over the long term.

    I'm not going to dwell too long on what causes that snowball effect, instead I think we should focus on what would solve it.

    In my opinion, the only answer is making small empires viable. I'd wish I could somehow blast a large-map game in high difficulties with a small empire, perhaps 2 city 2 puppets. But that would be no doubt hard to implement properly... so I guess we're all stuck.

    Random events would do good for the game's long-term viability and fun factor.
     
  20. Ninakoru

    Ninakoru A deity on Emperor

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    There's a lot of mechanics that prevent a true exponential snoball effect:

    - Happiness limit your growth and exansion by a lot.

    - Each new city increases your science cost and culture cost (while puppet cities are ignored my culture cost, science not).

    - Each new city increases the cost of the national wonders. There are 12 of them to build.

    - Grabbing too much land will upset the other civs.

    - Already researched techs by other civs will cost less to you.

    - You can steal techs to more advanced players (works great at the beginning lose usefullness quickly tough).

    Of course there are much benefits of being in the lead, but Firaxis has been working towards a balance between tall and wide, that directly affects the snowball effect.
     

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