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Trade stolen techs with No Tech Brokering?

Discussion in 'Civ4 - General Discussions' started by Bhruic, Oct 10, 2007.

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Should you be able to trade techs you've stolen with No Tech Brokering enabled?

  1. Yes, I don't see why not

    49 vote(s)
    30.1%
  2. No, that doesn't make sense

    102 vote(s)
    62.6%
  3. Not sure

    12 vote(s)
    7.4%
  1. Quagga

    Quagga Former Dictator

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    ^^ When in doubt, leave as is.
     
  2. KrikkitTwo

    KrikkitTwo Immortal

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  3. Roland Johansen

    Roland Johansen Deity

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    Among the various options you have, another second more detailed poll would probably be best.
     
  4. Bhruic

    Bhruic Emperor

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    What sort of details would you propose?

    Bh
     
  5. Roland Johansen

    Roland Johansen Deity

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    You want to know how strongly people feel about such a change. So add such an option to the poll.

    Something like:
    Should you be able to trade techs you've stolen with 'No Tech Brokering' enabled?

    1) Yes, of course they may be traded. It would be ridiculous if it functioned in any other way!
    2) Yeah, that seems ok.
    3) Nah, it's better to limit trading to the technologies that you've researched yourself.
    4) No, it's ridiculous to allow trading of stolen technologies.

    Probably, you should leave the reasons of the various choices outside of the poll as many people have stated different reasons for their vote.

    You could give a little explanation in the post accompanying the poll. Something like:
    There exists a discrepancy between the description of the optional game rule 'no tech brokering' and the actual way the option works in the game. The game allows trading of stolen technologies but the ingame game option says that you can only trade technologies that you've researched yourself.
    The poll ask about how this should work.
     
  6. Elandal

    Elandal King

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    I object to the choices in your poll, Roland :)

    I would still object to making exception of stolen techs. Did some natives really give Sailing to you, or did you rather steal it from them?

    Maybe a multiple choice poll where you can consider each technology category (including self-research and traded) separately (tick those which you think should be tradeable under NTB), maybe add one tickbox for "I feel strongly about this".

    EDIT:
    Argh, not good that way either :(

    I feel strongly about separating stolen techs from others. I would understand justification of "self-researched only" or "traded only" categories, but not really "traded and stolen" vs. "self-research and huts and Oracle / Lib and bulbed".
     
  7. KMadCandy

    KMadCandy giggling permanoob

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    the part i feel most passionately about is this:
    Elandal really did make me curious earlier about the mechanics of it, and i still am. would you make it just "the game knows you stole this tech with a spy, using espionage points, so you can't trade it", or "the game knows that you didn't research every beaker yourself the old fashioned way so you can't trade it" which would rule out the lightbulb / oracle / liberalism / goody hut type of thing that Elandal talked about however many posts ago? because the latter is what the documentation says isn't it? and that's kind of weird, i don't like it a bit. "uhoh, the villagers taught me mathematics, there goes my usual trading method through no fault of my own. i am totally screwed now" sort of thing. am i supposed to walk away from goody huts since they might teach me something good, which would put me in a bad situation? obviously mileage varies, oedali on page one does want those things to not be trade-able.

    the rest is just my usual blather.

    and there's a difference between "i couldn't care less" and people saying "i could care less" when what they mean to say is that they don't care. in that case it would be hard to care less :crazyeye:. one of my pet peeves, bless both your hearts for saying it the right way!

    you're not getting my home address buster! i hear what you're saying about "the documentation should be correct" but i've done the documentation for stuff. there can be a world of difference between what the words were trying to say and what actually got written down, and brilliant people can often read carefully with the intent to find errors but still miss them.

    what sort of "should be correct" do you mean?
    - your gut feeling is that the documentation is correct, that's what they meant to say?

    - that it "should be correct" as in "the doctor said i should get more exercise", the game would be better if it was correct?

    - maybe you just mean that we should treat the documentation as correct, and fix the game to match it?

    - or none of the above. i dunno what's in your head ;).

    aaaaaannnnnnnyway, i don't feel ultra-passionately. to me it's kind of the fun of a kid playing with the rules to get mom agree when dad didn't. "well i didn't trade for it, i stole it. i got it in a sneaky underhanded manner, why should i abide by the intent of the law after i already broke the accepted code of behavior?" makes me feel more spy-y.

    i do wish i understood the coding mumbo jumbo half as well as you do. but i'm not at all jealous of this side of the process, trying to appease all of us! i mean seriously, in the end you're doing all of us a big favor and being very generous with your time and effort. if someone really can't stand a certain change you made, then maybe they ought to learn how to change that part themselves. or they can go [insert a phrase i'd not say in front of my mother here] *giggle*

    don't drive yourself nuts. there are plenty of nuts out here already!
     
  8. Bhruic

    Bhruic Emperor

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    Well, in my mind, the Oracle or GP bulbing are both methods of "researching". You get a free tech of your choice, and while the research is given to you by an event beyond RP generation, it's still research.

    Huts, on the other hand, are a big grey area. I don't think I could make a case for them as "research", but on the other hand, I don't have a problem with them being traded with NTB on. I guess the distinction in my mind is, like the Oracle/GP bulbing, you aren't getting the tech from another Civ. Therefore, the closest explanation is "researching".

    Stealing techs, on the other hand, strikes me as a blatant violation of the "researched" rule. It's pretty obvious someone else researched it - you got it from them, after all. So I can't mentally justify allowing it to be traded with NTB. What's worse, is that it's horribly unbalanced when you consider just how easy/cheap tech stealing can be (I got Feudalism, a tech that costs 3000+ on Marathon for less than 1000 EPs from a neighbour). So in my mind, this is both a chance to correct a "bug" (in that it doesn't match documentation), and a game imbalance.

    So that's my viewpoint, hopefully fleshed out enough so people have an idea what sort of change I'd be making (basically a "if tech A is stolen, tech A cannot be traded with NTB enabled").

    Sorry, I meant that it should be considered correct.

    Bh
     
  9. Elandal

    Elandal King

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    I guess the difference in thinking is "what is researching". I consider committing beakers towards a tech research, while I don't consider lightbulbs, Oracle, nor Liberalism freebies research. Huts certainly aren't research - they're gifts (an AI can come to you to offer a tech, although usually only if you're really backwards), not something you've worked for yourself.

    I can understand explanation for Lightbulbing to be research (although not all great people have given full instruction in the history - notes in margin may be very frustrating). Liberalism maybe similar to lightbulbing - a spur of enlightment maybe. But if the Oracle gives you visions of theology, I don't for a second believe that there's a manual attached.

    Now, we ignore all the above and consider game balance issues only (that's the most important afterall). It's not easy to rationalize all game issues, and it's not even necessary always. Sometimes we just have a rule due to game balance and have to accept it as is.

    I guess if we go to game balance only, we go into considering economic models. Basically all economic models assume you put resources into use to gain access to new technology. NTB just means your trading opportunities are different.

    In this vein, espionage economy puts resources into generation of great spies and espionage points. Spies can be used to infiltrate (direct EP gain) or settled or to build scotland yard (these enhance EP generation). The model is very similar to cottage economy, except instead of slider on research and GP's on scientists we have slider on espionage and GP's on spies. Whether these are balanced (considering hammers to scientists, possible diplo problems, etc) is one issue, but it should be clear that they resemble eachother a lot. Way more than eg. CE vs. FE+lightbulbs or even simple CE vs. pyramids-SE.

    Where each economic model generates technologies in some way, usually the intent is to gain extra by trading them for more. If stolen techs can't be traded, then espionage economy has nothing to trade. To stay even with other economic models, espionage economy either a) apparently has to be as good as other model + trading together, which again implies that it's clearly superior without NTB or b) will never generate tradeable technologies due to stealing techs and thus not getting monopoly techs - implying that a tech already in hands of one AI is not worth anything for trading anymore. I doubt these are true, so then NTB option is also meant to either limit espionage economy greatly (from a position of "better than other economic models" to "not as good as other economic models" assuming it is indeed better than others beaker to beaker, or to "not possible or at least only as extreme variant") or trading should be possible with stolen techs just like techs generated by other economic models.


    So, what should the purpose of NTB option be, and how should we read the documentation? Letter of the law or spirit of the law, and who could pick Sid's brain to find out how he intended this to be? :)
     
  10. Psyringe

    Psyringe Scout

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    I think a valid case can be made for either opinion. And with the data currently available, we have no way of telling whether the ability to trade stolen techs is WAD or a bug.

    Personally, I'd prefer stolen techs to be untradable, because ...

    - If stolen techs are tradable, and stealing a tech is *cheaper* than researching it, then I fear the game might devolve into a contest of "who's stupid enough to research a tech himself so that the others can steal it", and I wouldn't like that. Research is an important mechanic that drives the whole game, and discouraging people from pursuing it won't improve gameplay imho.

    - If stolen techs are tradable, and stealing techs is *more expensive* than researching them, then the feature itself wouldn't make much sense. Who would take the more expensive route (espionage) when the cheaper route (research) yields the same result?

    So, in my opinion, making stolen techs tradable either defeats its own purpose or the purpose of own research, both of which aren't desired. Hence I'd prefer stolen techs to be untradable instead. Then, stealing could be cheaper than researching without so much detrimental effect on gameplay, because the more expensive route (researching) also leads to more potential rewards (tech trading).

    I don't feel passionate about it though, I can live and play happily either way. :)
     
  11. lulu135

    lulu135 Warlord

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    If you want to add some "features" to your patch/mod which could go either way, why not add some extra XML params to control it with the current behavior as default. This, and also the state property corp founding would be candidates.

    But theres also an advantage to having it first, like getting first crack at wonders or building the first advanced units. Also, since you have to target your spying at specific players you have to know who is getting the tech you want to steal. You don't really rack up enough points to steal tech spreading it too broadly.
    Because if you're going for a spy economy you get other benefits besides tech, like seeing all the other players cities, and you don't know in advance what you'll be able to use the EPs for.

    Having a spy economy can be a way to run an alternate style of gameplay. Why nerf it just because you don't use it?
     
  12. Arlborn

    Arlborn Legendary Noob

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    And again, I can only agree more and more with the arguments for yes - it should be traded. Way more solid, specially in a game-balance point of view.
     
  13. Psyringe

    Psyringe Scout

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    Well, this advantage of having a tech first is exactly what I'd like to preserve. This advantage is already diminished by the introduction of a game mechanic for tech stealing. It's reduced into non-existence when the player who stole the tech can then trade it around freely. This puts the research oriented player at the mercy of the spy player regarding the question whether he can actually have an advantage from his research. And this again makes it very risky to actually invest into research instead of just stealing the techs. And my fear is that this in turn leads to games in which players don't research much by themselves anymore, but instead just keep waiting until someone is stupid enough to research something by himself, which then gets exploited by the rest of the players.

    How often do you research a tech because its world wonder is crucial for your strategy? There are whole strategies based on getting a crucial wonder. When trading of stolen techs is allowed, then these strategies don't really work any more, because you have no way to control whether your investment will actually pay off in the end. As soon as you research the tech, it can not only be stolen, but also traded away to *all* other players (with a good possibility that one of them has a better production base than you). So the only way to make sure that your investment actually pays off is to have a Great Engineer ready for each wonder you want to build, which isn't feasible unless you focus your whole strategy on getting GEs (and even then it's difficult). Again, the player who actually wants to invest into research is at the mercy of the spy player.

    Imagine a multiplayer game with three people running a spy economy and three people running a research-oriented CE or SE. Do the researchers really have a good counter against the spy players? If not, why should they continue to research themselves? And if they don't how much fun will the game then be? Six spy economies stalking each other for the poor guy who loses patience first and researches something so that the others can steal it?

    I'd actuall very much want to preserve the possibility to run a successful spy economy. I think that the idea itself (focus a whole economy on espionage) is brilliant, and I like Civ4 especially for the fact that it allows so many totally different strategies.

    However, I think there should be a way to make spy economies a viable option without removing a key advantage from the other possible economies. (I do get the impression that the question "should stolen techs be tradable?" is just a surface of a deeper game balance problem regarding spy economies and the NTB option - I just haven't been able to pinpoint it yet. Perhaps it is not possible to balance spy economies for games with *and* without tech brokering.)
     
  14. Bhruic

    Bhruic Emperor

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    I can't agree there. If you've ever run a spy economy, or read some of the threads where people have, you'll quickly realize that they are horribly over-powered. The cost for stealing techs is dramatically less than it is to research them. Add to that Great Spies giving an insane amount of EPs early game, the 100% increase from Scotland Yard, and the base bonus from multiple buildings, and it's virtually game breaking. Now add the ability to trade a tech that you've stolen from someone else, and I think it's clearly over the top.

    Basically, as Psyringe says, if you research a tech and have it immediately stolen, that's bad. But if you have it immediately stolen, and then the other person trades it to others, that's much worse.

    Bh
     
  15. .Shane.

    .Shane. Take it like a voter Retired Moderator

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    /agrees

    10char
     
  16. Elandal

    Elandal King

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    Does the AI ever use counter espionage? Counter espionage mission is trivially cheap in EPs and doubles the cost of any espionage mission for some number of turns. Even if you would run continuous counter-espionage missions against all other players, you'd spend fairly few EPs on that.

    So, against human players who expect espionage-economy it no longer is possible. And even if a human player does not expect that in the beginning, he'll soon notice espionage missions, spies getting caught, or by other means detect the economy - and will start running counter-espionage and expand espionage spending to counter in that way as well.

    Against AI anything is possible as usual. But if the AI would spend on counter espionage when it detects or suspects being targeted (catches spies or detects missions - not sure what means the AI can reliably use) then espionage economy would have to be re-evaluated.

    So overall I don't think we have a clear yes or no for game balance. I would advocate for leaving as is for now, considering counters for espionage and, should such (eg. counter espionage missions) be found reasonable defense, rather AI tweaked than current option behaviour tweaked. I think espionage economy is limited enough in viable cases already for it to be further reduced (I feel that NTB + no trading of stolen techs = espionage economy reduced to extreme variant).
     
  17. KMadCandy

    KMadCandy giggling permanoob

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    thanks for clarifying. that's the way i'd do it too. one category for "you stole this tech using a spy" and one category for "techs you got any other way".

    when the AI offers you gifts, you have the option to say No. i remember a culture game where somebody thought chemistry might be useful to me. i turned it down, to keep the parthenon alive.

    huts aren't research, but they aren't gifts really either. it's more like [scary gangster voice] "an offer you can't refuse" [/scary gangster voice] because you can't say No after you see what it is. i've had times when i'm 1 turn away from writing, and i get it from a hut. if i have NTB on, that's worse than getting 10 barbs in the hut. i'd have saved myself 1 turn worth of research, and i'd lose the opportunity to trade a tech i wasted 10+ turns researching with the intent to trade it! :gripe:

    good explanation in that post, thanks!
     
  18. KrikkitTwo

    KrikkitTwo Immortal

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    The problem is we are getting into situations of game balance. (and also of a Variant)
    In a normal game, the Researcher (lightbulbing is Definitely a type of research it just gives you a lot of flasks at once), Trader, Huter, 'Enlightened' and Stealer are able to get the tech

    The NTB eliminates one of those options (Trader) in the mechanic, and the documentation implies eliminating 4 of them (Trades, Huts, Free Tech, and Stealing)

    Perhaps Espionage needs to be rebalanced, but that is a game balance issue. It could probably be rebalanced by the AIs just directing their Espionage Spending more towards players that have a high Espionage against them, and having those AIs increase their own Espionage spending if they are being targeted.

    I believe the Espionage v. Research is highly dependent on the bonuses.
    So if 1 player goes to an Espionage economy, then any player that is targeted by them can match them.. at least enough to make stealing their tech less worthwhile than researching it (because you Know how much Espionage points are there against you)

    Of course that slows down their Research, but it means the Stealing player would be better off researching it themselves (unless they are using something like infiltration)
     
  19. Bhruic

    Bhruic Emperor

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    Hmm, thread revival time... Interestingly, I discovered when looking into it that you can't trade techs that you obtained via huts. In my mind, that makes it even more clear that trading stolen techs is an oversight, and can be properly classified as a bug.

    Bh
     
  20. KMadCandy

    KMadCandy giggling permanoob

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    gak! if i ever play with NTB on i'm totally saving before i open huts. if i get a tech i'm 2 turns from self-learning it's reload time :lol:
     

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