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What's up with starting locations?

Discussion in 'CivBE - General Discussions' started by Veristek, Mar 8, 2016.

  1. Veristek

    Veristek Chieftain

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2005
    Messages:
    40
    Hey all,

    I just bought Rising Tide, and I've struggled to get a decent starting site the past couple of days. I set up the map in advanced options as:

    Terran
    4 billion years
    Medium sea level
    Temperate climate
    Temperate rainfall
    Lush biome
    Massive map size
    10 Sponsors
    Resources: Sometimes Standard, sometimes Abundant

    I left everything else default.

    The problem is that the game keeps dumping me in starting places like tundra or 2 - 3 tile islands, or on a couple of occasions directly on the South Pole on a single grassland tile. That's some really messed up placement compared to all the Civ's I've played. Civ 1 through Civ 5. I have never gotten placed at polar regions or on a 1, 2, or 3 tile island before.

    A few other times, the game dumps me in an area with lots of canyons, but I did not pick the mountain + canyon exo planet. Other starts do place me on grassland or plains, but very few resources.

    Is there any XML editing tips to make these starting locations much better? A more consistent start placement in line with terrestrial planets? More like starting spots in Civ 3, Civ 4, and Civ 5?
     
  2. Ghost_Nappa

    Ghost_Nappa Chieftain

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2014
    Messages:
    30
    I always felt that BE was different from V when it comes to starting positions. I barely ever restarted as I rarely got uber-good starting positions when doing so. Loading times are a factor, too. BE favours a wide playstyle. With RT and moving cities the starting position became even more irrelevant imo.

    edit: difficulty might make starting positions a bit harder, too. Might also be sponsor dependent for balancing reasons. But these are just guesses.
     
  3. Ryika

    Ryika Lazy Wannabe Artista

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2013
    Messages:
    9,396
    The "problem" is the water in Rising Tide.

    The map generation does not differentiate between a land- and a sea-start when it comes to determining the value of a location and water itself has a medium "value", so 1-tile islands often end up being seen as quite nice starting location if there's some water-resources around.

    So you end up with a pseudo-water city that doesn't have the bonus-food from trade routes and thus will have lots of problems growing (which isn't THAT bad, but still).

    The same problem seems to occur in Tundra starts. Normally the game generates extra resources around if it has to place you in a location that is below a certain threshold, but with water tiles being somewhat overvalued that sometimes just doesn't happen.

    No idea what's up with these 1-tile ice starts that we keep seeing though. I has a big penalty for a starting location, so those tiles should normally not end up being chosen. However, for some reason they still are. I assume it has to do with how the game lays out regions, but I haven't looked into that too much.
     
  4. Veristek

    Veristek Chieftain

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2005
    Messages:
    40
    I'm not sure if I'm missing something here, but from what I've seen in the few games I managed to get going is that aquatic cities seem like they need more investment to get up and going. Tech research and buildings and stuff, compared to building farms and mines at the get-go for land cities.

    I usually end up needing at least 3 land cities to get the science and energy going to research aquatic city stuff, build boats, and energy to rush the aquatic buildings.

    I probably sound like a newbie here. Aquatic cities are very new to me. The only other Civ game I ever played that had aquatic cities was in "Call To Power" and that was over 15 years ago. Aquatic cities there was a late-game thing instead of early-game or mid-game.
     
  5. CelJaded

    CelJaded DENOUNCING!

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2015
    Messages:
    121
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    That is interesting (if a little depressing) to hear, thanks for sharing.

    I have to set my maps to strategic balance in order to get a decent starting location these days and it makes Kozlov's unique ability completely redundant as opposed to just mostly redundant.

    Is there are similar problem/foible with the generation of canyon tiles? Land terrain often looks ugly and is frequently awkward to navigate because of the number of canyons scattered everywhere.
     
  6. Sirian

    Sirian Civ Map Programmer

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2001
    Messages:
    3,651
    Location:
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    Sounds likely. The addition of waterborne cities presented several new map design challenges that the franchise never encountered before.

    Although I handled maps for Civ for over a decade, including in BE, Firaxis opted not to use my services for Rising Tide.


    - Sirian
     
  7. Acken

    Acken Chieftain

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    Cant the lua code be modded like for civ5 ? Not the easiest thing to mode for sure though.
     
  8. Barathor

    Barathor Chieftain

    Joined:
    May 7, 2011
    Messages:
    1,202
    Which is most unfortunate and why the maps have these issues now! :)

    - - - - - - - -

    Those horrible 1-tile starts within the ice can easily be fixed, until the root of the problem is resolved (as Ryika said, part of it is probably the value given to coast/ocean during region generation).

    The 1-tile starts are due to a fallback within FindStart (and the other, similar functions). Big clues to this are that the tile is always a grassland tile (where there naturally is never grass) and you always see players posting these images with it happening at the southern pole -- never the northern. Heck, even Firaxis posted an image of it, haha:

    https://twitter.com/CivGame/status/701117212514340864
    https://twitter.com/Barathor2281/status/701244276718628867

    The fix is to simply check if you're north or south of the equator within the fallback chunk of code. If you're south of it, place the 1-tile grass tile in the northwest corner instead. :D It would still be crummy, but it would be a lot more playable, haha. (Players never notice the fallbacks placed north of the equator... well, perhaps now they will!)

    Once I get a little project of mine rolling (going to reveal it soon, before the next expansion beats me to it!), I'm going to dive back into my map script and try and tune everything better to Rising Tide, and create more control again over plot assignments for resources and things like Sirian originally designed -- RT just made things way too random and it can hurt gameplay at times, in my opinion.

    EDIT: For those not familiar with it, to clarify things a bit more, when I'm talking about the "corner", I mean the corner of that particular region (which the map is divided up into). The fallback places the grass tile in the southwest corner of the faction's region if it can't find a place for it -- it's a last resort to get them on the map. So, my cheesy solution is to flip it to the northwest or northeast corner when the region's bottom is along the bottom of the map to avoid all the ice.
     
  9. Gorbles

    Gorbles Load Balanced

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    Even before I saw Barathor's post I knew people were working on it.

    Problem is most of the map generation code is a messy mess. Nevermind AssignStartingPlots.lua (arguably the worst mess), the whole shebang is tied together like that. Most of the advice I've seen involves trashing it all and rewriting it, which is probably why we haven't seen much on the subject.

    Small tweaks are definitely possible, but as a modder I'm sure you're used to just "one more thing" too, heh. I spent some time working through the AssignStartingPlots.lua back in the early days of BE trying to get new Strategic Resources working. I settled for reverse-engineering the specular map on unit textures (using GIMP, not Photoshop) instead because that was easier. And I'm a programmer, not an artist!
     
  10. Sirian

    Sirian Civ Map Programmer

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    Ya. Everything needed to fix the issue (in a mod) should be exposed.
     
  11. Sirian

    Sirian Civ Map Programmer

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    Yeah. That error handling has two purposes: 1) Prevent the game from crashing or locking up (which is considered a more serious issue by the publisher than even an unplayable map situation). 2) Alert the map programmer to a failing case, so it can be fixed.

    The fallback is never supposed to see the light of day. It's there as a "just in case", but no such cases are supposed to be possible in a release version. Either the person doing the work didn't test enough (and some edge cases slipped through) or they didn't understand what was happening when the error handling was engaging, or what to do about it.

    I purposely did not spruce up the error handling output because I tested a lot and would find nearly all of the edge cases -- but even if I missed something rare, someone on a community board would report a case and I'd hear about it and go back in to find whatever was missed. I would identify the reason the code was getting to that point in the first place and fix the root cause.


    If you're going to work on it, and you are unable to identify the root cause, then sexing up the error handling would at least improve upon the problem cases. You could do a lot more than just moving the single tile around. You could construct an entire "normalized" start location, Civ4-style, add whatever you think is needed for a viable start on an isolated island.


    - Sirian
     
  12. Callonia

    Callonia Chieftain

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    Wow, I thought you were gone Sirian. Its good to know that you're still alive and kicking.
     
  13. roadmaster

    roadmaster Chieftain

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  14. LORD ORION

    LORD ORION Chieftain

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    Pssht... you totally could have got a spy agency. Recruit defectors and/or coup to improve your position.

    ;)
     

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