Longturn rulesets and community

Planning and discussing Freeciv Longturn gaming
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Corbeau
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Longturn rulesets and community

Postby Corbeau » Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:54 pm

This discussion started on the Longturn forum, but somehow I feel this could definitely use some more opinions and audience.

I will try to avoid names beacuse the discussion is more about names.

I'll skip the start that was a bit unconstructive and get to the interesting part.
A couple of months back, when some new LT games reared their heads, I wound up discussing strategy to hopefully get better myself. Current versions of the rulesets for those games were already up, so we took a look at those. Now, at this point, I can't make any calls as to the actual quality of various strategies and truthfulness of certain theses, but the basic gist was that while the multiplayer ruleset (as shipped with Freeciv) is delicately balanced (for the most part), so that at most points there isn't a single best solution, but multiple different courses of action with different strengths and weaknesses, the rulesets used here basically reduced diversity in different viable courses of action, penalizing certain game paths and favoring others, as well as reducing depth by removing entire features (such as rapture). The first part of this statement (multiplayer ruleset allowing for different viable strategies) is evidenced by the fact that the person saying it is one of the top players over there; the second part is for the experienced players here to judge – are there actually completely different completely viable courses of action at multiple points throughout the game?

In general, I think it's quite possible that at some points, a certain change was made. However, that change led to an exploit, or simply something counter-intuitive that the majority of players didn't like, so it was made impossible, thus reducing the amount of possibly courses of action. This might have happened multiple times, in general giving more power to things the majority of the players liked and weakening or disabling things a majority of players disliked. Any players that disagreed eventually lost interest and left, further increasing the power of the majority; thus leading to a form of "inbred culture". Undoing something like this seems hard, since multiple changes have to be made at the same time to add that complexity back in without creating imbalance.
This is, of course, only speculation, but it seems plausible in its own right.


Direct reply:

One of the biggest problems with the multiplayer ruleset and with the LT rulesets comes in the form of people allying and making one of them the science engine. The science person is protected by the others and will build no military units of very few of those during the mid game. This may allow that one player to become super powerful compared to the others and you know how that will end. Of course this strategy is not foolproof and it's not that easy to implement. However if it succeeds...

With the LT rulesets there are less of ways to get rich fast. At least compared to the others.

With rapture growth and tech trading doing that is so much more easy to do. And also start. To simplify this: Create an alliance, let one of the players rush for republic and you are on the route to rapture. 10 turns after getting republic you may have 2x powerful nations compared to those who played well but didn't have allies.

The idea kind of was to make it less about trading and more about managing the nation. That's for the tech trading part. Something is of course lost when this happens, so now we have another attempt with a new idea for tech trading with LT40. Standard Freeciv mechanics are not used but there is a way to trade techs.

Now rapture is another beast and was simply removed because it made the rich even more rich and the poor... well it just left them poor. But in the early game. It takes not that much time to get to republic. Instead there is rapture like but less powerful method of growth with granaries. There are similar downsides to using celebrations. There is also the need to use lux and figure out how to use lux if you want big cities.

Those were at least the ideas for how it was supposed to work. Was there some strategy that was not possible or usable with the LT rulesets? I've considered food/celebration growth like the same strategy but with a slightly different implementation. Someone might have a different view on this.

Some players have succeeded with focusing on military, some on science and some on economy. Using the lux was usually included on all those strategies, at least when someone was trying to maximize military or economy. Celebration trade bonus with high lux is available on LT games and also probably one of the hardest ways to win and it's rarely used while really powerful.

There is actually one thing about LT40 and rapture that was briefly talked about but not added to the game. There was this idea of adding celebration growth with the new LT40 government nationalism. There would have been some historical background to that and it might have provided a new approach to the rapture feature. For several reasons this was at least postponed and not included to the game. If implemented nationalism would have been the only government with the rapture growth. Several reasons why not added for LT40...

Maybe best to say never say never. Some of the features may return and probably will return but the games are really different if there are 5, 30 or 150 players.

Anyway, if there is some strategy that can't be used, please let us know and we will try to figure out how it might work without breaking the game

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Re: Longturn rulesets and community

Postby Corbeau » Wed Jan 24, 2018 12:56 am

And now my opinion. Firstly, I am strongly repulsed by some people's religious zeal regarding the flawlessness and perfection of Sid Meier's original game. Basically, yes, it was flawless and (almost) perfect... for a single player game. You run a nation, you have a goal, you reach that goal or don't. Basically, you have just one opponent, computer, and you are competing against yourself. In multiplayer, however, things are drastically different. It's not a 1vs1 game anymore and things can go wild pretty quickly.

This is best seen in Wonders concept. In a single-player game you are basically racing to do "game achievements" that give you bonuses before your enemY (singular) does. Those achievements give you bonuses, you grow some more etc.

In a single player game it is perfectly fine that the equilibrium is unstable. It means that, once you get the upper hand, it's basically over; the gap widens and all you have to do is mop up the remains. Again, perfectly fine, as Kurt Vonnegut said, mopping up "gives many war enthusiasts a sort of post-coital satisfaction. It is, in the imagination of combat's fans, the divinely listless loveplay that follows the orgasm of victory".

However, when you play against humans and, on top of that, wish to create a feeling of realism, things change a lot.

First, regarding realism, social and combat dynamics in real life are much more stable than in linear/exponential computer games. In Civ, you get stronger and can only profit from gaining more territory. In real life, grabbing more than you can chew may lead to a collapse.

Regarding gameplay, if one opponent gets disproportionally superior to other players and they don't get a chance to get back, the game is over much sooner and basically becomes only about who will be first to strike a death blow to the opponent. Much like a samurai fight (from back in the days when those were filmed by the Japanese, instead of Hollywood): a lot of circling, contemplating, planning, and then it's all over in a blink of an eye.

Not what a game of Civilization should be about.

So, no. Sid meier's concept can be perfect for the single player, but is far, far from it for multiplayer.

And now to the most significant dispute points.

The first is rapture.

Wieder said it best: the main, and probably only problem with rapture is that it is a must. It's not a matter of choice. You don't get to choose and make a short-term sacrifice for a long-term benefit. In order to survive, you must do rapture. If you don't, you're dead. That is the rule, that is how things are. So, if you are advocating diversity of winning strategies and then say that rapture is a good thing, you got something very much wrong. Rapture is a bottleneck and you don't even have to sacrifice much. The only risk is a quick rush towards Democracy and then just moving the Luxury slider to the right. Not much planning, not making the effort. Just rush. And if you don't make it, oh, better luck next time, there will be other games. Not much of a strategic choice. If it was a concentrated effort of building dozens of buildings, choosing your path carefully, then maybe it would be fine. But it isn't. It's about a race who will run to the button to push it first.

The second issue may be tech exchange: I myself have been very schizophrenic about it: first I was 100% for allowing tech exchange, then was 100% against it, then tried to do something with tech upkeep, again allowing tech exchange... And all this because tech exchange in itself is a very schizophrenic issue.

Firstly, if you are playing a nation-building multiplayer game, it is ABSOLUTE MADNESS to believe that sharing technologies should be completely prohibited. I can't stress this enough. If you want every nation to grow alone with no insight into knowledge of others, you should see a doctor. Now. Please go. Why are you still sitting reading this?

However, the other option, the trivial transfer and implementation of traded technologies leads to limitless abuse and is, as a feature, completely broken. On top of what Wieder said, once everybody starts creating embassies, getting most bulbs and biggest research pool turns into a popularity contest. No quality needed, only quantity, no cost, no sacrifice, just get into the right gang and you're secured for life.

So, in that regard, I believe we are nearing the best possible solution, and a pretty realistic at that. The relistic problems with tech transfer is, you never get it for free You have to train scientists (or he has to train them for you), you have to send them to your ally, they have to spend time studying it and, once it's ready, you have to implement it throughout your empire. Not a problem for Singapore, but Russia will have to invest a LOT to spread, say, Electricity to every part of its empire. And it will take experts and experts need to be educated.

So, the idea is to have to spend resources to train diplomats to "steal" a tech from your ally (which he will allow and tell you where to send your diplomats for the best chance of success). Then, for a realistic rate of spread of new tech through your nation, there is tech upkeep based on number of cities.

I'm not going to go into more detail here because the post is already too long and this is not the topic, so onto the next issue: Restrictinfra.

For those who don't know, it's a setting where you can't use roads, rails and rivers on enemy territory. In other words, there is no bonus movement for you, it's as if roads were not there.

I'm not going to go into details because there already was a discussion here about it (I think Wieder and I vs. Pungtryne, we pulled out various examples from WWII, if you're intrested, look it up). Also, another argument in favour of restrictinfra is: not having it allows Instant Death which is bad for strategic games. There were very, very few examples in history when a nation fell to the invaders very quickly and it's actually very debatable what you consider "quickly". Also, it tends to have a very anticlimatic effect that destimulates people from playing more games: after months of planning, your empire gets wiped out within minutes. Nope, not the kind of game I wish to play.

Ok, I believe I said enough. now, it would be nice to hear other opinions.

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Re: Longturn rulesets and community

Postby GriffonSpade » Wed Jan 24, 2018 7:58 am

First, I'll start by reminding everyone that /Nationalism isn't a kind of government!/. You dishonor your house.

Corbeau wrote:I'm not going to go into more detail here because the post is already too long and this is not the topic, so onto the next issue: Restrictinfra.

Restricting Rails makes sense, as you need a /train/, but restricting Roads and Rivers doesn't. At the same time, Roads probably shouldn't make units able to move faster, just /less slowly/. ie, only reducing it to 1 movement cost.

Corbeau wrote:First, regarding realism, social and combat dynamics in real life are much more stable than in linear/exponential computer games. In Civ, you get stronger and can only profit from gaining more territory. In real life, grabbing more than you can chew may lead to a collapse.

I've always felt that the mechanics limiting number of cities were too high.
Yes, the penalties for having more cities are rather weak. There isn't even any real risk of civil war!

Corbeau wrote:Wieder said it best: the main, and probably only problem with rapture is that it is a must. It's not a matter of choice. You don't get to choose and make a short-term sacrifice for a long-term benefit. In order to survive, you must do rapture. If you don't, you're dead.

Yes, I've always hated that mechanic for just that reason. At the same time, I also kinda hate the 'oh, hey our food stocks are full, BREEDING FRENZY!'. Something in between them...some kind of Population Fragment mechanic.
Like say there are 100 population fragments.
-If you have less than half of your maxfood, you will lose population fragments until they are at 0.
-If you have more than half of your maxfood, you will gain population fragments until they are at 100, at which point your city will grow.
--If you do not gain additional surplus food that turn, you do not gain population fragments.
-If you have half of your maxfood, you will neither gain nor lose population fragments.
-How many population fragments you gain or lose scale with how far they are from the half-mark.
--i.e. X/Y food yields ( X - ( Y / 2 ) ) * Y = Z population fragments.
--e.g. 7/10 food would give ( 7 - ( 10 / 2 ) ) * 10 = 20 population fragments.
--e.g. 10/10 food would give ( 10 - ( 10 / 2 ) ) * 10 = 50 population fragments.
--e.g. 80/100 food would give ( 80 - ( 100 / 2 ) ) * 100 = 30 population fragments.
--e.g. 2/10 food would give ( 2 - ( 10 / 2 ) ) * 10 = -30 population fragments.

Corbeau wrote:The second issue may be tech exchange

The problem is that it's FREE. No cost whatsoever. Just free bulbs out of nowhere. Imagine if you could give someone gold without losing any yourself. That's pretty much what's going on. Make giving someone a tech consume gold from the giver equal to the amount of bulbs the tech is worth, or even just 1/10, and then it will lessen a great deal. Likewise, you could demand gold in compensation.

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Re: Longturn rulesets and community

Postby Corbeau » Wed Jan 24, 2018 9:33 am

GriffonSpade wrote:First, I'll start by reminding everyone that /Nationalism isn't a kind of government!/. You dishonor your house.

Actually, I agree with that :) But take into account that there is something seriously lacking from the Government mechanic and people are trying to compensate. I personally would have a different approach, but that is not the issue here :)
Corbeau wrote:Restrictinfra.

Restricting Rails makes sense, as you need a /train/, but restricting Roads and Rivers doesn't. At the same time, Roads probably shouldn't make units able to move faster, just /less slowly/. ie, only reducing it to 1 movement cost.

Seriously, find the discussion. In a nutshell: a military unit advancing threough enemy territory doesn't use only roads. It has to spread out. If it takes only the road, the first ambush would slaughter it. And it it's spread out then, of course, the road section has to wait for the flanks to catch up. Also, scouting needs to be done and it takes time. Maybe there are no enemy units ahead, but the advancing army has to exercise caution because they don't know that.

Blitzkrieg and Patton's reconquista were said to be the quickest military advances in history. however, they were (very roughly) ten times slower than walking speed.

Corbeau wrote:First, regarding realism, social and combat dynamics in real life are much more stable than in linear/exponential computer games. In Civ, you get stronger and can only profit from gaining more territory. In real life, grabbing more than you can chew may lead to a collapse.

I've always felt that the mechanics limiting number of cities were too high.
Yes, the penalties for having more cities are rather weak. There isn't even any real risk of civil war!

I think the penalties are introduced the wrong way. It' not about having a lot of cities. There a re many nations having A LOT of cities and they function normally. It' about conquest. It takes much more time to put the conquered land to use than is depicted by rules here.

Corbeau wrote:Wieder said it best: the main, and probably only problem with rapture is that it is a must. It's not a matter of choice. You don't get to choose and make a short-term sacrifice for a long-term benefit. In order to survive, you must do rapture. If you don't, you're dead.

Yes, I've always hated that mechanic for just that reason. At the same time, I also kinda hate the 'oh, hey our food stocks are full, BREEDING FRENZY!'. Something in between them...some kind of Population Fragment mechanic.

Well, it's a game, and when going into details you have to stop somewhere. The issue is if making it more complicated would significantly change the game.

Corbeau wrote:The second issue may be tech exchange

The problem is that it's FREE. No cost whatsoever. Just free bulbs out of nowhere. Imagine if you could give someone gold without losing any yourself. That's pretty much what's going on. Make giving someone a tech consume gold from the giver equal to the amount of bulbs the tech is worth, or even just 1/10, and then it will lessen a great deal. Likewise, you could demand gold in compensation.

My points exactly.

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Re: Longturn rulesets and community

Postby GriffonSpade » Wed Jan 24, 2018 11:55 am

Corbeau wrote:
GriffonSpade wrote:First, I'll start by reminding everyone that /Nationalism isn't a kind of government!/. You dishonor your house.

Actually, I agree with that :) But take into account that there is something seriously lacking from the Government mechanic and people are trying to compensate. I personally would have a different approach, but that is not the issue here :)

Heh. It's mostly the name chosen, rather than the concept of it.

Corbeau wrote:Seriously, find the discussion. In a nutshell: a military unit advancing threough enemy territory doesn't use only roads. It has to spread out. If it takes only the road, the first ambush would slaughter it. And it it's spread out then, of course, the road section has to wait for the flanks to catch up. Also, scouting needs to be done and it takes time. Maybe there are no enemy units ahead, but the advancing army has to exercise caution because they don't know that.

Blitzkrieg and Patton's reconquista were said to be the quickest military advances in history. however, they were (very roughly) ten times slower than walking speed.

It's true, though, they have actual defense perimeters set up in real life too, rather than leaving it all in the city. (And if you've sent scouts ahead you actually CAN know there are no enemy troops) Have I mentioned that I hate Diplomat leapfrogging too? It seems like an exploit to get around defensive perimeters. You shouldn't be able to roll your entire army between someone's units by exploiting diplomats/explorers/etc. like that. (Or does Longturn remove their IgnoreZOC trait?)

Corbeau wrote:I think the penalties are introduced the wrong way. It' not about having a lot of cities. There a re many nations having A LOT of cities and they function normally. It' about conquest. It takes much more time to put the conquered land to use than is depicted by rules here.

True. Most improvements should probably be destroyed at the least (Not just the standard 20% server option). Though, future (2.6+) versions allow enemy nationality unhappiness effects. Sadly, no ability to directly affect other things that I can see, like outputs or corruption except by forcing them to add luxury to keep enemy nationalities complacent. And again, no possibility of civil war (Or at least that city from seceding or barbarianizing) from Rioting.

Corbeau wrote:Well, it's a game, and when going into details you have to stop somewhere. The issue is if making it more complicated would significantly change the game.

That's true. I'd be satisfied with just having better control of the food on growth and shrinking. Current setup causes some really weird behavior, like instant regrowth after losing population from disasters or building settlers, mass cannibalism after starvation from owning granaries, and the inability to actually keep the same amount of food before and after growth.

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Re: Longturn rulesets and community

Postby Corbeau » Wed Jan 24, 2018 12:48 pm

GriffonSpade wrote:(And if you've sent scouts ahead you actually CAN know there are no enemy troops)

The thing is, in real-life situation, large areas represented by Civ tiles are never empty. Civ units are a representation od large-scale armies and. It's just that the units are too small to be depicted, but in a realistic situation they are there and contribute to slowing down the invading force. Two angry citizens barricaded in a house with a machinegun can stop a brigade for two hours (or something like that). In military terms, two hours is usually not that much, but it adds up and definitely prevents the advance from being "a walk down the road".

Have I mentioned that I hate Diplomat leapfrogging too? It seems like an exploit to get around defensive perimeters. You shouldn't be able to roll your entire army between someone's units by exploiting diplomats/explorers/etc. like that. (Or does Longturn remove their IgnoreZOC trait?)

Yeah, the whole ZoC thing isn't really well thought through. No, Longturn didn't change it, but I've been thinking about it for a while. No satisfying solution for now. Ideal would be that units *can* pass through ZoCs, but much more slowly than through uncontested terrain. Ideas how to implement it are welcome.

Corbeau wrote:I think the penalties are introduced the wrong way. It' not about having a lot of cities. There a re many nations having A LOT of cities and they function normally. It' about conquest. It takes much more time to put the conquered land to use than is depicted by rules here.

True. Most improvements should probably be destroyed at the least (Not just the standard 20% server option).

That 20% is a ruleset/server thing and can be changed. The problem is, it doesn't reflect the amount of combat that happens when you conquer a city. The percentage only applies when a city changes hands, not when combat occurs. In real life situation, army can withdraw and the attacker can capture the city intact, and then again, the defenders can resist and the combat may reduce the city to rubble. None of it can happen in Civ.

Though, future (2.6+) versions allow enemy nationality unhappiness effects.

There is stuff like that in 2.5, but I don't think anyone ever tested it. Maybe we should.

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Re: Longturn rulesets and community

Postby wieder » Wed Jan 24, 2018 12:57 pm

Nationalism was chosen for the name of the new government because it's kind of upgraded tribalism. Originally there were talks about making a small wonder or something to upgrade tribalism but it ended with creating a new gov. Nationalism also kind of sounded like tribal stuff. There are lots of negative aspects related to nationalism but then again we also have fundalism and that's also not really a form of government. At least I don't see it as one.

Civilization 3 has facism as one of the governments but in the case of LT40 it was not the plan to take it that far. Nationalism was intended to have some similarity to the more evil forms of governments of the past but also keep some of the stuff normal nations have. I would say it was more inspired by the current US regime and also the political events of the modern day Europe.

Since changing the governments to work like they do on Alpha Centauri is not possible, there were plans to add more govs if there would be good ideas about how the new stuff should work. Civ3 has feudalism as a gov while LT40 has it as an advance. Feudalism is also kind of present in the modern world but it has evolved into something new with the economical system of the modern societies.

LT40 is the more experimental ruleset anyway and almost all the ideas were added there. Everything people though might work and might be fun trying out. For the next game there will be even more new stuff and ways to play with. There is also another game, LT39 with more traditional ruleset and with more tested features and the new stuff is not added there.

On the LT40 government side there is also an attempt to bring some of the nation specific stuff of the commercial civ games to the multiplayer games. It might have been too difficult to give all the nations special features so instead there is now governments specific units. Pretty much all the govs have one or two special units only they can build. The early units. For example someone playing as a monarch could build the Early Spy with communism. One step before the others can build spies. This is probably not balanced well enough since it was never play tested but the govs have stuff like that. After all, everyone knows it's more experimental game and a more standard game was started at the same time so people were able to choose what they want to play.

Maybe I'll reply about the rest on another post.

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Re: Longturn rulesets and community

Postby wieder » Wed Jan 24, 2018 1:37 pm

Disclaimer: I don't hold the ultimate wisdom for creating rulesets or defining how they should work. The following is, as usual, opinions based on some experience from playing the game and planning new features and stuff on new games.

Restrictinfra:

In short I see the restrictinfra as a tool to fix the lack of RTS features of Freeciv. Yes, you can play RTS and kill the attacking units in real time but this is maybe not how the game should be played. Most players on longturn.org attack when the opponent is not online and that makes it more easy. In real life the opponent is always "online" and you can never be sure that the advancing units can just use the roads as if there was no war. Restrictinfra kind of simulates this and makes it harder for the enemy to enter enemy territory.

From in-game point of view this is also used for making the more advanced units even more powerful compared to the early units. Alpines can move ignoring terrain and so can airplanes and missiles. Now this is if course highly questionable how realistic it is for alpines to do this but tiredattack compensates at least some of that. And so does citymindist = 5 when the cities need to have some space between them. Citymindist is another highly debated topic and it may change but currently it's 5 for LT40.


Tech trading:

Giving gold without losing any is a good example how the standard tech trading works. A really good one!

The new way for tech trading we now have with LT40 required a small server modification. Thanks mir3x for telling us how to do that. The modification is working great and really changed the game. The idea was to remove the ability to get techs while conquering but allowing the diplomats/spies to steal them. With this the players need to use resources for getting techs and they will also need to move units for the actual stealing. A diplomat costs 30 and a spy 80. Base chance to succeed is 50% and the probability to transfer techs is 50%.

I'm sure this could be improved but it might need more code to work. At least it's not free techs making the end game super fast.


Conquering and the number of the cities:

There is currently no that great ways to fix this. Empire_size_step can be changed and more lux required but in addition to that 2.5 doesn't seem to make it too easy. With LT40 we are also testing to see if there is some other fun way to win instead of killing everyone and taking all the cities. The empires have city limits for 22-29 cities and the empire_size_step is 1. Anarchy is the loophole with no such limit.


ZoC:

Really hard to come up with a solution. Airplanes will need to work without ZoC and they could also break the ZoC. Ignoring ZoC was removed from the archers. Also there was an attempt to add ZoC for ships but that never worked. Naval blockades would be nice to have.