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Ideas for better online game experience

Posted: Tue Aug 08, 2017 9:13 pm
by accomplishednoob
Recently there have been some debates on clones, fair play, technology trade, etc. The main theme of all these discussions is to provide more satisfactory gaming experience for players, and avoid the concept known as Cruel Interactions. Great! So let's put all the pieces together.

Similar to almost all multiplayer games, Freeciv includes cruel interactions: forming alliances against others, giving and taking cities over different servers, registering clone accounts, stealing tech, betrayal, etc. I would like to include an excerpt from an article, which is written by a professional game designer:

"The first important thing to think about when it comes to player-player interaction is whether the interaction is cruel or not. Are you encouraging your players to attack or hurt each other? Lie and betray each other? Are people going to walk away from your game holding grudges?

Cruel interactions aren’t worse than other types of interaction, but they are powerful, and they aren’t appropriate for all types of games. In particular, it’s important to realize that by including cruel interactions in your game, you’ll discourage many people from playing. Depending on the game’s target audience, that might not be an issue, but understand that you will be limiting your potential player base...."
(Source: Game Elements: Interaction)

A portion of the answer comes from players community: Which elements they find cruel? This can be resolved by polling. But that's not the whole story. It's very probable that only advanced game-addicts with long-time established bands care to read the forums and express opinions, while less active ones, and inexperienced players do not care (or dare) to express their opinions. The other portion of the solution comes from devs preferences and their views on the future of their game and possible audience of the game.

So I invite everyone (experienced players, less-experienced players, new players, devs, etc) to express their views here and explicitly name anything they find cruel or frustrating to their gaming experience.

Re: Ideas for better online game experience

Posted: Wed Aug 09, 2017 9:27 am
by Corbeau
The only thing I would call "cruel" (I'd call it "unfair" myself) would be creating multiple accounts for the purpose of gaining advantage and conquering others. (If you have created another account for experimentation or you are not using it to harrass weaker civs and if you generally play peacefully, I don't have much of a problem with it, but on the other hand, you can never draw a clear line between fair and unfair use of multiaccounting so I'd agree to call it all illegal.)

Banding together against someone is not nice, but not unfair. That's how life works and the cure is simple: get yourself into a bigger band. Besides, there is now at least one player who is demonstrating that playing solo doesn't have to be a handicap at all: he deliberately didn't join any alliances and now has one of the largest empires in one of the games.

Harrassing someone, wel, that's like having an NPC aimed specifically at you, and that kind of people usually have the brain of an NPC so they shouldn't be much of a problem.

Re: Ideas for better online game experience

Posted: Wed Aug 09, 2017 11:57 am
by pungtryne
In the sense of quote of OP, whole freeciv is "cruel". This is a non-issue for a game like Freeciv. Players who wants to just peacefully build their empire with no units are very few, and that's a whole different game.

Unfairness, like multi-accounting, is a totally different issue though.

Re: Ideas for better online game experience

Posted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 6:58 am
by wieder
The top two reasons why people are leaving longturn.org games? The games taking too much time or something unexpected happening too fast in the game.

Very few players enjoy a game where someone powerful enough eats them in a turn or two and there is just no hope. For some players this has been the betrayal of their neighbors (happened in many many games) or some some big alliance doing something nasty quick and fast.

Thee has been some settings and setups to make stuff less devastating for those players who can't really see what's happening in the world. However the best way for doing something like that is to encourage experienced players to team up with less experienced people.

Re: Ideas for better online game experience

Posted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 7:48 am
by Corbeau
I didn't get the impression that people are leaving Longturn.org games. The numbers were increasing and then there was a long break during which some simply disappeared. If you get games starting, say, every 4 months, I'm sure the numbers will increase.

But yes, blitzkrieg on a planetary scale is something that does create an anticlimax to several months of development. This is why I have been constantly advocating x2 movement instead of x3, but you guys seem to prefer x3 so...

Re: Ideas for better online game experience

Posted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 10:18 am
by wieder
It's not like people would have been leaving longturn.org recently. It's more like those are the main reasons people have left. As far as I know.

It's indeed not that rewarding to build an empire for months and then it's wiped out without a warning. It's much easier to to deal with if you understand that you are going to be wiped out any moment now if you can't do this or that. This is why encouraging veteran players teaming up with newcomers is important.

However the same has happened in different games with or without tech trading. Too much isolation and playing like you would play a single player game usually lead to bad gaming experience. If someone fails to understand how different multiplayer is compared to single player, this is almost certainly destined to happen. On longturn.org there are some playing tips on the public chat. Something to remind that it's against humans and not AI :D

At the moment we are running a two team game where new players can learn from the veterans. Games like that help to understand how important allying and human interaction is.

Re: Ideas for better online game experience

Posted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 10:50 am
by pungtryne
Interesting that you don't take with you this quote from the same article you are quoting: "Also, beware including only a few cruel interactions sprinkled in a game. The cruel interactions could easily outshine the game’s main interactions, dominating the player experience despite your intentions. If your game features cruel interactions, it’s often best to make them the focus of the whole experience."

Freeciv definetively is a game where "cruel" interactions is the focus of the whole experience.

Freeciv is not a nice building game like minecraft, and I think very few players want that. If someone get's wiped out in 1 turn it's not the problem of the game, but of their strategy.

On the other hand, I'm sure many new players get taken by surprise by the exponential growth with modified civ2 rulesets. In this aspect, it's interesting that freeciv is getting closer and closer to civ3, which is a lot more linear development. How this will affect online playing has not been discussed much yet. Longer games taking more time doesn't seem like a good thing now. And for me at least, the great fun about freeciv is exactly this exponential growth that let's you totally crush anyone who doesn't understand it. A linear civ3 game would just be too painfully slow without enough powerfull features. But I'm sure new players would enjoy being able to do a game for idk how many more turns than now, without being crushed.

A good game has the balance that the good players feel they have enough complexity, while the bad players feel they still have a chance.

Re: Ideas for better online game experience

Posted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 1:40 pm
by Corbeau
Actually, there is a way for people to play peacefully, as long as they join into an alliance and organise a joint defence. Everybody is talking about running people over as if it's the only way to move forward, but it obviously isn't.

Re: Ideas for better online game experience

Posted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 2:22 pm
by pungtryne
Yes, actually, all players could agree on turn 1 to ally, and this way, all would win peacefully.

However this is a very unlikely scenario, and probably not what most people want. No one with ambitions of staying in the game can choose to play peacefully. Being pacifist and having no defence will just get way too tempting for someone else. A country defending against an invasion is not peacefull, but in war.

Joint defence is actually agression. If not, why would Russia care about USA's missile defence in eastern Europe?

Re: Ideas for better online game experience

Posted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 3:23 pm
by Corbeau
pungtryne wrote:Yes, actually, all players could agree on turn 1 to ally, and this way, all would win peacefully.

You're not making sense. Firstly, what is "win"? Secondly, all can't "win" in any sense. Someone will alwys have more cities, territory, population, points and/or will build a spaceship.


However this is a very unlikely scenario, and probably not what most people want.

And what is it that most people want?

No one with ambitions of staying in the game can choose to play peacefully. Being pacifist and having no defence will just get way too tempting for someone else. A country defending against an invasion is not peacefull, but in war.

Pacifism has nothing to do with non-aggression. You can be peaceful and in war, simply because you were attacked and you choose not to roll over and die.

Joint defence is actually agression. If not, why would Russia care about USA's missile defence in eastern Europe?

You're oversimplyfying things to grandiose proportions. Yes, defence preparations can be SEEN as preparations for war, but it all boils down to intentions. And intentions can always be misinterpreted, either spontaneously or deliberately in order to justify an action.

And don't get me started on NATO-Russia relations ;)