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What if combat wasn't RNG dependent?

Discussion in 'Civ4 - General Discussions' started by TheMeInTeam, Jul 2, 2012.

  1. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    Why assume that someone's best game is always identical? Why assume the opponent's best game is always identical?

    One of the defining characteristics of the all-time greats is the consistency at which they performed a high level. There is a reason for that.

    Plenty. In that scenario under those exact circumstances, the stronger unit is always stronger. Change the circumstances and you could easily change the winner, even with 0 RNG input.

    This is quite similar to me asking you how it's realistic that a corn always yields 6 :food: or that cow is consistently worth the same amount...in fact that's even MORE of a reach than deterministic combat at civ's scale. Civ was designed to be unrealistically deterministic in virtually every non combat regard except for huts and in the case of BTS, events. I ask why combat must be the exception.
     
  2. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Deity

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    Because it adds a large enough random element to make the game enjoyable.

    Counter-example...the only game that has absolutely no random element is Chess. And chess against an AI opponent is no fun at all. You adjust the difficulty up until it wins, period. You then know 'if I set difficulty here I will win, if I set it there I will lose'. So there is no point to playing.

    It is conceivable that having the option to replace the RNG system with a fixed result system in multi-player games where all civs are human controlled would be a good thing.
     
  3. Izuul

    Izuul Level 86

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    Even the greats have turd games, their turd games are just better than other people's turd games as are their great performances. I consider all of the stuff you mentioned to be random, so i guess we just have differing viewpoints.

    I don't feel that just because " a stronger unit is always stronger" that it should always win.

    I'm gonna bow out of this little debate because i really don't foresee either of budging on this one.
     
  4. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    Why combat and not another mechanic though?

    First of all, this woeful attempt at an argument is tired. Claiming it's the only game with no random element is also rather flagrantly false. Everything from Connect 4 to Othello to Tic Tac Toe a myriad of other similar games also lack a random element. It seems you just want to use the word chess. Chess chess chess? What is this absurd insistence on bringing up a completely irrelevant game that is also completely irrelevant to the topic at hand?

    Please address something on topic.

    Before doing so, please explain why tile yields, tech costs, amount of turns passed between hitting "end turn", unit costs, building costs, maintenance/turn, and other factors aren't also all random. I'm curious. Wouldn't that be more fun? Wouldn't it be more realistic? What is civ IV to you? Maybe you'd like a mod with everything randomized?

    Random is definable though. An unexpected outcome is not the same thing as a random outcome.
     
  5. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Deity

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    Apologies, should have said 'a good example of a game with no random element is chess'...still serves as a good example though. Games without a random element are of little interest when played against AI opponents.

    As to why combat as the place to inject the random element, I'll give you the most tired argument of all time...why not?

    Seriously though, it is probably the easiest place to put in a random element that will really make the game unpredictable without reducing it to pure luck. Combat is an element that will be activated repeatedly throughout the game, probably more frequently than any other, so it will certainly make the game unpredictable turn to turn; but at the same time it will be extremely unusual for a skilled player to have a game turn completely on one or even a few low probability results.

    At risk of bringing in another game you don't approve of, a good example would be backgammon. Every turn in backgammon is totally at the whim of the dice, and a 'hot streak' can easily give a game to the weaker player. But since the dice are thrown so many times in each game and fast players will play many games per hour luck will inevitably balance out, and at the end of the evening the stronger player will almost always leave with the other player's money.

    edit...oh by the way...I think the reason chess came up so readily as an example is because I'd guess just about everyone who plays it has at some time or other experienced playing an AI opponent. Tic-tac-toe would probably have been a better example because the simplicity of the game makes it obvious that playing an AI opponent would be a waste of time. Of course tic-tac-toe between opponents with the first clue about the game is as well.
     
  6. noto2

    noto2 Emperor

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    Phil, there are many many random elements in the game beyond combat. Sure, grassland cows always give 2F, 2H, but every map is different, every start is different.

    Okay I won't bring up chess, how about Starcraft? In Starcraft the maps are just about perfectly balanced. The resources, the space, everything is balanced. In a mirror match everything is perfectly balanced as well. If 2 battlecruisers start shooting at each other, the one that landed the first hit is going to win. This balance is absolutely necessary for the game.

    Civ has some balanced maps, and your mod made combat non RNG dependent. Btw, how did that go? How were the games? Did you enjoy them?

    It just really changes the nature of the game. Civ is full of randomized elements and that is so painfully obvious in multiplayer. One guy starts with nothing in the BFC, another starts with horses. That's an enormous difference. The randomness of Civ gives it a lot of flavour and fun in SP, I find, but can be problematic in MP.
     
  7. yturk39

    yturk39 Warlord

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    Add "Flanking" and "Tactics" and (part of) "Guerilla III" as well. If the outcome is decided by strength alone and no RNG, these promotions are worthless because the very concept of withdrawal (from unit combat) gets removed from the game.
     
  8. Lone Wolf

    Lone Wolf Deity

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    Keep in mind that in system proposed by TMIT, the unit with 10 str will receive quite a lot of damage from that combat. This isn't Civ1.

    Um, that's a dubious claim. Chessmaster, for instance, has personalities on my play level against which I'm never sure before the game whether I will win or lose.
     
  9. Lennier

    Lennier Emperor

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    Not necissarily; they could let the unit retreat from a battle it would otherwise narrowly loose. The bigger the withdrawal "chance," the less close the battle needs to be for the unit to be able to retreat.
     
  10. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Deity

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    In human games no one is ever sure...even a master will blunder away a game now and then. Generally speaking, if you 'aren't sure who will win' when you start a game with an AI it boils down to 'will I play mistake free or not'.

    An AI can only be adjusted for skill, and will make no mistakes. So if you set it to a skill level higher than your own you will not win. If you set it to a skill level lower than your own and play mistake free you will win. While this is good for training discipline, it isn't much fun in my opinion.

    Chess between human opponents is decided by two things; skill and discipline. The player with less skill can win by making fewer mistakes, though if the difference in skill is too great that will require making significantly fewer mistakes.
     
  11. Lone Wolf

    Lone Wolf Deity

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    An AI that has less skill then maximum, by definition makes mistakes, since it deliberately plays sub-optimally. "Blundering pieces away" is not the only mistake available in chess.
     
  12. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Deity

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    Deliberately plays sub-optimally? Huh?

    Difficulty settings on a chess AI control two things; total positions analyzed and maximum depth. The mediocre human player routinely, but not consistently, analyzes three move combinations. So if this mediocre player sets an AI to limit itself to two move depth of analysis the AI will sometimes 'make the mistake' of walking into a three move combination. Is that what you mean by 'deliberately playing sub-optimally'?

    I'm not trying to imply that you are a mediocre player by the way, feel free to substitute five move combination and four level depth limit...or nine and eight if I've bumped into some passing grandmaster.

    In any event, the AI depth is fixed, so if you try combinations that are one step too shallow they are NEVER going to work. If you correctly analyze a combination that is one move beyond the depth setting it will ALWAYS work. So like I said, it's a discipline trainer. You figure out the depth associated with the difficulty setting, then demand of yourself that you go beyond that depth each and every move.

    The beauty of playing chess against a human is that the human can be counted on to sometimes analyze more deeply, and sometimes less. Sometimes a simple three move combination will work against even a good player, while most times he will eat up a three move combination and turn it against you. The game will ebb and flow, and the pace of that ebb and flow will be different every time, even between the same two players. That's what makes a game with no luck element a game.
     
  13. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    I would argue civ has no balanced maps, possibly aside from that script I downloaded from the RB crew which I've yet to test. Even "mirror" is definitely not balanced unless you're literally doing 2v2, 3v3, etc since while it mirrors land, it does it across one axis only and will not space land evenly between civs on a side (and certainly not resources).

    My preliminary experiences with the mod were positive, but I never got to test its potential rigorously (IE no PvP). AI doesn't handle it particularly well, though you can still lose if you get early DoW'd with an AGG nearby or someone runs away and can crush you in #'s on high levels...so not nearly as different as some arguments here imply. I wasn't sure about combat damage (fights generally caused a ton of damage unless the difference in str was very large). I mostly play forum games though, and thus heavily using a mod that meets such resistance forum side is a major snag.

    You'd be absolutely redlined, to the point where I'm not sure the 10 str unit could beat a scout afterwards, and it definitely couldn't beat a warrior.

    By the way, the reason chess is such an awful and ludicrous comparison even to deterministic combat civ are the other factors in civ. In chess, you are never forced to make decisions with incomplete information. In civ, you absolutely must do so unless you cheat. Imagine how chess would play with a fog of war, such that you couldn't see anything currently out of the range of a unit's movement potential! That would be a very, very different game from chess, even with identical pieces.

    But civ IV has far more potential moves, a variable board, and incomplete information beyond merely the location of opposing players. Taking RNG out of combat leaves the game absolutely nothing like chess, which is why the comparison gets tiresome (well, that and its sheer usage rate) :).

    On a side note, if you want to be a real jerk, fire up yahoo chess and chessmaster. Play as your opponent in chessmaster, and copy the chessmaster's moves into yahoo chess. AFAIK, that's the last time I willfully cheated in a video game, a good 10 years ago now. I had a bad end to a relationship, and I'm going to use that as my excuse lol. Obviously, even very good players can't handle the huge depth the AI can on a short timer :lol:.
     
  14. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Deity

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    My intent wasn't actually comparing the two, just citing an example of a game without a random element.

    By the way, I've actually played 'blind chess'...each player has a board to make their moves on, and a referee tells you 'that move is obstructed' if you can't make the move, and removes pieces from your board when they are captured. It's mostly pointless, but briefly entertaining.

    I haven't been involved in this long enough to know the comparison had become trite. Something to consider though is that if it is used so frequently it may not be as off target as you suppose.

    I still think removing too much randomness from Civ would make it not enjoyable against AI opposition, much like tic-tac-toe. While you correctly point out that there is still a huge random element in the start position, I submit that lots of players are already leaning on using that element to their advantage...ie restarting the map until they get a result that appears favorable.

    And then there is the reason I don't play on line except with friends. Well, one reason anyway. I accept your excuse though, as under similar circumstances I have done worse...much worse in fact.
     
  15. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    It definitely is though. Even the fundamental success driver is significantly different. You highlighted how the AI can be good at chess. Civ IV is much more a game of #'s, like one big weighted PV function with incomplete information. They're fundamentally different.

    The way the argument is typically used:

    1. Any argument complaining about RNG, regardless of reason --> go play chess
    2. Any suggestion to plan moves ahead and that good play requires it --> go play chess
    3. Any balance argument --> go play chess, chess is balanced

    You see how this works? It's like a beaten-to-death meme that most of the rest of the internet didn't even know existed. Maybe I should make an icon like that.

    Tic tac toe is unwinnable if both sides play competently and has no incomplete information. Surely there is a better analogy! Bad as the chess example is, tic tac toe is one of the few that are even worse :lol:.

    What makes up the majority of civ's gameplay is planning around yields and how to use them, which is a deterministic mechanic (excepting PV of units). However, deterministic civ is still not what you're alluding to, because unlike other games given as examples you are asked to work in diplomacy and work with incomplete information --> these things are not random elements, but vastly alter the dynamic of the game. Also, the AI remains a valid random element (the AI is a player of the game, it is not the game, and that is an important distinction most players and IMO even designers forget when making strategy games, since AI in pure single-player games or NPCs are part of the game and NOT players).

    Me too. Aside from massively cheating in the yahoo chess community, I turned emo for a semester + the following summer. That was absolutely and unequivocally inexcusable and I apologize to everybody everywhere for doing it. Me going emo is enough to cause strange distortions in the fabric of reality, so I put everybody at real risk for a bit there. It won't happen again.
     
  16. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Deity

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    Not an analogy. An example. Of a game with no random elements. And you clearly illustrated why it is no fun against an AI opponent...or a competent human.

    Which brings us back to the basic question:

    Given that Civ has sufficient random elements to make it fun to play, but doesn't seem to have an excess, is there a good reason to remove such a large random element?
     
  17. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    I instead pose the question of why random elements in any capacity are necessary for it to be fun to play. As a strategy game, what fundamental benefit does a random mechanic in the core gameplay bring to the table? Especially in a game with the tremendous pure numeric depth civ IV has, it is the kind of game that would theoretically be *least* random-outcome dependent. And for most of the game's mechanics, that holds true.

    The only non-optional mechanics that are random are combat and spawns, but even spawns can be disabled as a factor through using scenarios or possibly custom scripts.
     
  18. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Deity

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    Because without random elements we have a question, not a game. Can I crunch numbers well enough to overcome the AI production advantage factor at this difficulty level, yes or no? The game falls flat, is my guess.
     
  19. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    How are you going to crunch numbers with information you can't even see? Even deity players struggle with that question. Also, unlike chess the #'s change very drastically depending on diplo and AI behavior, neither of which is a core mechanic.

    PV changes constantly depending upon the environment one is assuming to calculate it. You might get the perfect :science: possible and still lose if you build too few units, or overbuild units and lose. How can you tell exact enemy unit usage?

    I'll also point out that right this instant, the vast majority of the game after the first 70-80 turns on normal speed is *functionally* deterministic; after that collateral starts to flatten any outliers in combat in a hurry and it does turn into a micro calculation spreadsheet with incomplete information. Once you have 50 cavalry, you don't care about the occasional 80% odds loss and the possibility of losing enough to impact the war is close enough to 0. When that barb archer kills your two archers and you lose 20 turns from it, however, it can alter the game pointlessly.

    Deterministic combat favors the latter situation without having a material impact on the former; I'm not seeing how the RNG changes the situation as you claim it one bit; that is precisely the AI limitation currently. Based on its land, if you get x by y date, you're almost certainly going to win, and if you get it by z date you will definitely win and it becomes a question of what turn. That is civ IV's design, broken early in early game scenarios or in situations where military sample sizes are needlessly tiny later on (IE only early on or in bad play).
     
  20. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Deity

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    I suspect that what you consider 'bad play' is what I consider 'self imposed limits to keep the game entertaining'. I don't build overwhelming numbers of units, in any era. In my opinion, if you want to improve the game find a way to mod in 'war prep weariness', causing your citizens to get just as unhappy with endless production of units as they do with losing wars. They're just folks, and they should demand civic improvements, even if the hammer-cost isn't 'justified'.
     

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