As I said above, our experimental patch is completely unrelated to all that nonsense. Some may be interested still in the patch, so I'll just give some plain facts about it.
FCW is constantly releasing on almost daily basis, new improvements to all aspects of the platform. It's not related to anything else except improving the system.BACKGROUND:
For a few months, a project is underway to try to solve a sub-optimal situation. As a web game getting web traffic, 95% of potential new players arrive at a time when one of our ongoing games is not in Turns 1-3, and they want to play. The greater Freeciv community loses a huge number of new people this way. They arrive at a time when there is no fair start. What to do about it? We want to balance the first 10-12 turns to be equitable start for all. Also we want to grow community size and diversity of game types to such levels, that there will one day always be a new game to join whose turn # is less than 12...
This project will not apply to Team games and games with fixed number of starting players. These types of games will start happening as we hit some critical mass population. I believe we may have our first game of this type very soon! (Fixed number of players players on T1, no late-join gold or other types of T10 equality patches needed or in effect.) Yay!
Back to the other games. Others in freeciv administration committee, and other players not in committee, have been discussing to stop losing the majority of potential new players because of this issue, for quite a long time.
Let's talk about it. This requires several factors to be balanced. Lua scripting will allow us to differentiate these very soft minor patches for early equal start, to not be a factor in the team games. The motive is to tune a fair and equal start for all.
Ideally, if it were magically possible, the players in the first 10-12 turns of joining get some kind of compensation bonuses roughly equal to the turns lost, with no other side effects. Everyone would be perfectly equal and happy. This is currently set to 10 gold per missed turn. This is another area of the project that is being discussed for later optimisation.
The major issue though, is stupidly simple. Even a complete noob can combine late-join gold or other things such as scientists, ability to change settler production to horsemen, etc., and other factors I don't care to say, to make an undesirable scenario:
There is a problem that can be exploited with Stone Age horsemen raids, if one sacrifices different mechanics to the max. One can do a suicidal strategy that will never result in victory in a game of 50+ players, to strike against late-joiners around T5+ who have no way to handle it. It works in reverse too, regarding a late-joiner coming at T5, getting the tech in 4-8 turns, and exploiting that extra gold against someone who joined at T1. The wealth inequality isn't used as intended to catch up in time, but is rapidly exploited against a player who has not yet had the time to gain from his head-start of 5 turns.
In any case, it's a dual suicide-homicide strategy that takes both players out of the game. No reasonably good player would do it, unless PERHAPS the case of a good player who is malicious to use multi-account cheating to target some other nations. The timeline for executing it and getting the result is so rapid, it puts Gamemasters and cheat investigations under a lot of pressure to act fast for keeping game integrity.
Let's also anticipate the future a little. As FCW population grows and new players are now always finding a game to join, what do you think starts to happen? Well, time for a few prophecies! A greater majority of noobs and population at large will have a non-serious attitude when playing a game for the first time. "F- it, longturn is slow. Let's see if I can attack and kill!!" Bored experimental aggression to get some violent action right away! A greater number of games will be full of these bored aggressive noobs. I'll let you imagine games with up to 25% of the players being this way.
What to do? So far the solution has these goals:GOALS
1. Do not alter any in-game mechanics, values, costs, statistics. Don't mess up lots of other mechanics to patch a rare problem.
2. Leave ALL legit strategies in place. Don't create weird new strategies or exploits as a result of the solution.
3. Be soft and subtle in reducing/eliminating this problem while keeping all valid play intact.
4. Softly guide these games toward a balanced healthy games: all players making it past the first few turns before chaos happens.
6. A better overall quality game.
In this case, the super-fast rush of horses on a neighbor nation who may get enemy horses invading his nation a turn or two after he just joined the game around T5-T12, ... this is NOT an element we feel makes for better games, or will be greatly missed if very slightly discouraged. Note no actual rules have changed so everything is as possible as before. Mostly, we want to only discourage but NOT prevent, a psycho suicide-homicide strategy that takes two nations out of the game. The lua script is a very gentle way to fix this WITHOUT changing tech costs, unit combat stats, making any other heavy-handed changes with side effects much stronger than the minor and relatively rare problem that should be fixedPROPOSED SOLUTION:
* note this is experimental/alpha/test case developmental thing
- If a player gets horseback riding on T14 or sooner, Stone Age humans are wildly big-eyed and impressed. OMG! Those tribesmen are riding WILD BEASTS! News spreads fast and locational information about the country who discovered it is published in-game. In short, the first nation(s) to get Horseback Riding have made something like a Great Wonder, with same effect. Travellers talk and gossip about it. It's amazing.ADVANTAGES
of proposed solution:
1. No game mechanics, costs, values, statistics, or anything else are altered.
2. No other legit strategies are altered. T14 is specially tuned to avoid second tech discovery being announced in 90% of cases, while still catching the 90% of cases like someone joining at T5 and getting it in 8 turns.
3. The solution is "soft and gentle" -- it still allows all game play to be possible, just softly discourages this one exploit.
4. The problem situation should be greatly reduced but not eliminated. It might fall short a little bit here, but it can also be interesting to have advance warning of it and attempt to adapt. You are still at a disadvantage with Warriors vs. Horsemen, after all.
5. Let's face it. Stone Age horsemen raids à la Huns, Turkic tribes, Mongols, did not happen until much past the Stone Age. In most game strategies using horsemen, they are not meant to come this soon in a suicidal strategy, but slightly later at more historically real time period.
6. Gamemaster has advance information to look for multis quicker and prevent game damaging occurences.
7. Overall result: a very narrow case of super-early horse rush is not banned or restricted, just discouraged. All other game mechanics are left in place. A bit of excitement and drama enters the game to still allow the exploit and allow yourself to try to defend from it (albeit at a disadvantage.)DISADVANTAGES
1. Non-suicide horsemen-first strategies are somewhat discouraged/nerfed (but still possible).
Though these are rare, it deserves hypothetic thinking of these cases.
This proposed change has elicited some initial lack of consensus. We'll see if it passes approval after more debate, elucidation, education, possible modifications/improvements. Currently, most controversy is coming from people who don't play at FCW and are not part of any collaboration team. However, there are some in favour of it who still feel uneasy about it, and think of it more like a "lesser evil" and would prefer to find a "pure good" solution. Once again, this would not affect fixed-start games which we will be featuring.
As a reminder, this is all only in experimental test status. It takes time to think about and feel some inputs from others. A challenge is currently in place for a solution which better meets Goals 1-4. Those goals may change as greater insight on other factors collaboratively collects itself.One last thing: Expert early horsemen strategies are completely unaffected by this. Noobs who aren't good at early horsemen strategies might actually adapt toward more expert early horse strategies. The net result may therefore be, a greater prevalence of early horsemen raiding. Please don't believe non-expert players who say this is a conspiracy to favour or force people into a 'farmer style' of play.