Ruleset complexity discussion

Planning and discussing Freeciv Longturn gaming
qrtv
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Re: Ruleset complexity discussion

Postby qrtv » Thu Sep 13, 2018 11:17 pm

Well said Lexxie. Reducing the impact of strategic choice is pr. definition "dumbing down".

Corbeau wrote:Please explain what is a "strategic choice"? (No, not what the term means, but how it applies to this situation.)


I mean what strategy one decides to follow, which can be broken down to each single action in the game. Examples of these strategic choices in early game is how fast to settle, where to settle, what tiles to improve, what to research, were to explore. Each action is a choice. Reducing the consequences of these choices "dumbs down" the game. In the extreme case where choices doesn't matter anymore and all choices are equal, we can't talk about strategy anymore, because the essense of strategy is to make decisions that give superior results.

Corbeau wrote:So, "not reading the manual" is the only reason why someone makes early mistakes? Are you saying that early game has an absolutely straightforward winning path and the only way you can diverge from it is because you "haven't read the manual"?


I wrote "reading the manual, reading guides and practicing the start until they nail it.", not only "reading the manual". The serious mistakes comes from lack of knowledge of the game, the minor ones are unavoidable even for experienced players.

In the start there is basically two goals. 1. Getting more cities and 2. getting out of despotism. This can be said to be the "winning path" because if you don't do this, you won't win the game, but that does not mean that there isn't different ways of achieving this goal. I doubt anyone would say it's a bad thing that you have to expand and get more effective goverment to win the game. A very good way at becoming better in the game is to practice alone until one can reach certain measurable goals by a certain turn, and learn how different decisions affect reaching these goals.

Corbeau wrote:
qrtv wrote:Because these pure strategy games aren't made anymore, and freeciv-web and now isotrident being the only online mulitplayer communities for such games, these two communities become special niches that are absolutely needed

I hope you have attached weights to you feet, I'd hate to see you float into stratosphere and suffocate for lack of oxygen. When your self-complacency bloats like that, uplift can become a real problem.


It would be nice if you could do a real argument instead of doing an ad hominem (are you sure you aren't projecting?). If you disagree that the strategy games haven't changed since mid 90s, or that freeciv-web and isotriden aren't needed, please state so and state you reasons for believing so.


I doubt there will come anything good from this thread so I will abandon it, unless you actually contribute to something productive. As I mentioned earlier, "you would be better off to criticize the principles, propose own principles for game (or ruleset) design, criticize the use of design principles for games or explain what is wrong with the strategy vs simulation-dichotomy rather than to just state it annoys you."

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Corbeau
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Re: Ruleset complexity discussion

Postby Corbeau » Fri Sep 14, 2018 7:17 am

You guys keep repeating how qrtv defeated me, I think this is at least the fifth time. If that is your only argument, I rest my case because your whole idea is hanging on repeating how *I* don't have experience and *I* can't play the game properly. Seriously, is that all you can do? Ever heard of the phrase "addressing the topic"? Well, I hope repeating my name gives you some sort of sexual pleasure because if not, you are wasting a lot of time on someone who apparently has no clue and is generally irrelevant.

And I suggest you create a shortcut on your keyboard, have one or two keypresses paste the word "Corbeau", it may save you a lot of typing.

I do admit that the fact that qrtv joined at turn 27 and ended up second is a good indicator, but far, far from proof. Simply because:
1. it was a test game
2. it was a slow start with people trickling in very slowly, with a lot of empty space and many idlers
3. it happened only once, so, the official phrase is "proof is anecdotal"
4. in a game like multiplayer Freeciv the key thing is actually getting good allies and securing your back so that you can defeat your enemies one at a time; starting early is actually secondary

Anyway, after all this calling out, Lexxie managed to make her point clear (I think) with "attempts to eliminate Golden Path by making 'all possible paths more equal' almost always has the effect of reducing 'strategic ceiling'". Unfortunately,
1. I don't think this has any relevance to discussion because no ruleset is trying to "make all possible path more equal"
2. With no real explanation, the claim that "this reduces the strategic ceiling" is just an opinion, everyone has one and we know what other thing everyone has, and in this case I believe this other thing to have more depth than the quoted opinion. Simply, if only one path requires strategic thinking, then I don't see how more available paths can reduce the need for strategic thinkging. On the contrary, you need to adjust it for the given path, meaning, you have to know the path you're travelling just as if there was only now. Only, now you need to know more because your enemies may be using the other paths so it's good taht you know their weaknesses. Sorry if this sounds like explaining things to a four-year-old, it seems to be necessary here.

Now to qrtv's answer, which has slightly more content:

qrtv wrote:Reducing the impact of strategic choice is pr. definition "dumbing down".

And we all agree on that because it's a no-brainer. I'd even call it a truism. Yes. Also in the news: sky is blue. Except when it isn't. Thank you. Can we move forward already?

Corbeau wrote:Please explain what is a "strategic choice"? (No, not what the term means, but how it applies to this situation.)


I mean what strategy one decides to follow, which can be broken down to each single action in the game. Examples of these strategic choices in early game is how fast to settle, where to settle, what tiles to improve, what to research, were to explore.

THANK YOU. Now, how do different rulesets have more or less choice in this regard? Are you saying that civ2civ3 rulesets are reducing options with "how fast to settle, where to settle, what tiles to improve, what to research, were to explore"? How so?

I don't know if "settler cost is 2 population" is core civ2civ3 feature, maybe even not, but it's used in Longturn. I'm not a real fan of it, but my objection is that it actually slows the game donwn, not reduce options. It actually forces you to make another decision, makes more paths equally feasible and actually forces you to make an additional choice, requires additional thinking, so quite the opposite of "dumbing down".

Corbeau wrote:So, "not reading the manual" is the only reason why someone makes early mistakes? Are you saying that early game has an absolutely straightforward winning path and the only way you can diverge from it is because you "haven't read the manual"?


I wrote "reading the manual, reading guides and practicing the start until they nail it.", not only "reading the manual". The serious mistakes comes from lack of knowledge of the game, the minor ones are unavoidable even for experienced players.

Fair enough. But, again, this has the same amount of practical content for the purpose of this discussion as saying "sky is blue". So you either elaborate or... you don't.

In the start there is basically two goals. 1. Getting more cities and 2. getting out of despotism. This can be said to be the "winning path" because if you don't do this, you won't win the game, but that does not mean that there isn't different ways of achieving this goal.

And, again, the LT games have added another path: Despotism -> Pyramids -> Republic, which actually increases the number of choices. And, same as always, once you make the choice about the path, you have to go down that path well. So you'll really need to elaborate a bit more how is this "dumbing down".

Corbeau wrote:
qrtv wrote:Because these pure strategy games aren't made anymore, and freeciv-web and now isotrident being the only online mulitplayer communities for such games, these two communities become special niches that are absolutely needed

I hope you have attached weights to you feet, I'd hate to see you float into stratosphere and suffocate for lack of oxygen. When your self-complacency bloats like that, uplift can become a real problem.


It would be nice if you could do a real argument instead of doing an ad hominem (are you sure you aren't projecting?). If you disagree that the strategy games haven't changed since mid 90s, or that freeciv-web and isotriden aren't needed, please state so and state you reasons for believing so.

I wouldn't dream of performing a full analysis of how a whole game genre changed in 20 years. Also, if you can't read properly, then best if we put this discussion to an end. Projecting? I didn't claim that something I've done is "the only existing X in the world". And I'm on a high horse?

I doubt there will come anything good from this thread so I will abandon it, unless you actually contribute to something productive. As I mentioned earlier, "you would be better off to criticize the principles, propose own principles for game (or ruleset) design, criticize the use of design principles for games or explain what is wrong with the strategy vs simulation-dichotomy rather than to just state it annoys you."

How about "criticising the mental acrobatics performed while trying to use general truisms to prove a particular point"?

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Re: Ruleset complexity discussion

Postby Wahazar » Fri Sep 14, 2018 10:39 am

Overall discussion is very interesting, pity that it is cluttered by personal stuff.
As a newcomer which doesn't know who i who, let me jump into meritum.
qrtv wrote: Each action is a choice. Reducing the consequences of these choices "dumbs down" the game. In the extreme case where choices doesn't matter anymore and all choices are equal, we can't talk about strategy anymore, because the essense of strategy is to make decisions that give superior results.

I think we should distinguish between "any decision is good, thus it is sandbox game" and "there are some alternate routes to superior results, not just one golden path".
The game which force only one obvious decisions path, seems to be boring for me.
Of course, even if all decision routes are equal, some are more equal than others ;)
Albeit it should depend subtle on seed of local conditions, for example given map yield smallpoxing to be more equal than others strategies, whereas other resources distribution induce megacities to be best choice.

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Re: Ruleset complexity discussion

Postby Corbeau » Fri Sep 14, 2018 10:58 am

Wahazar wrote:I think we should distinguish between "any decision is good, thus it is sandbox game" and "there are some alternate routes to superior results, not just one golden path".
The game which force only one obvious decisions path, seems to be boring for me.
Of course, even if all decision routes are equal, some are more equal than others ;)
Albeit it should depend subtle on seed of local conditions, for example given map yield smallpoxing to be more equal than others strategies, whereas other resources distribution induce megacities to be best choice.


I... Why are you summing up my point of view so perfectly? It is making me look stupid for not being able to do it myself! :shock:

Now go away with your reasonable approach, young one, and let me insult my foes in peace! :D

bard
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Re: Ruleset complexity discussion

Postby bard » Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:59 am

Interesting discussion. My 2 cents as creator of civ2civ3 ruleset...

Let me share a list of the main principles that I find important for ruleset design, and strategy games in general:
- When players face a choice, and there is a mathematical way to know which choice is clearly better, then it is not a game, it is a math problem. (However, the designer needs to do the maths to verify that there is no clear answer).
- Choices where there is clearly one good choice and one bad choice should be avoided in a game design. They are a waste of time for experienced players, and a trap for new players. As you all agree, it is also bad if there is a "golden path" of choices.
- When most of the decisions that players have to make during a game have low impact on result, and there are a few decisions that have a big impact, then the game is overcomplicated, and should be simplified to focus on the key decisions that really matters.
- I do not like experience to be a key factor for winning a strategy game, while it do is important to master a simulation game. If you know the rules, you should be able to win the first time you play a strategy game.
In my opinion it is a bad design when a game is full of "exploits" that seem to go against the rules, or are hidden so no new player ever notice them until it is too late.
- I do not like games that are decided in the early movements/choices (with exponential effects), and then you have to keep playing knowing you can't win. Neither I like games where early decisions have no impact at all on the result.

I think civ2 does not meet these principles and I never really liked it, even when I liked most of the core ideas of the game.
I liked civ3 because the core mechanics of city management was the key to win the game, and every little decision had an impact on the result, with no obvious way to get big advantages. I tried to apply the same ideas on my civ2civ3 ruleset, I'm still not sure if successfully, because actually there have been few constructive criticism from players in these years of development.
I think civilization engine is not really suitable for multiplayer games (for many reasons), I hardly played this way. But I did like to play civ3 games where several people played the same game against the AI and compared the result turn by turn (known as games of the month). I do not think something similar could be enjoyable with civ2 rules.

I understand most people that like civ2 do not share my ideas, and they prefer to keep playing freeciv with classic rules. But I'm glad that there is an alternative ruleset in freeciv for people who like these civ3 mechanics, and I still do not see reasons (or design flaws) why such civ3 based rulesets can not be enjoyed online (at least as much as civ2 based rules, taken into account the limitations of civ engine for multiplayer games).

wieder
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Re: Ruleset complexity discussion

Postby wieder » Sun Oct 14, 2018 4:56 pm

The games on longturn.org have been based on civ2civ3. Nowdays there are tons of changes compared to the base civ2civ3 ruleset but those changes are there for a reason. The reason is exactly making the game more enjoyable for people playing the multiplayer games. While the Freeciv engine has some issues with mp setup I think on lt.org we have solved the biggest issues. This wouldn't have been possible without the help and ideas from many many brilliant contributors. Using the base civ2civ3 ruleset has been a great way to get a solid game and a great feature set for us to improve for multiplayer purposes. The lt.org rulesets are not designed to be played with AI players or with short turn games. Those are for games between human players and with reasonable amount of time to be used for the moves.

What it comes to claims about dumbing down or flattening the game, the real goal couldn't be further from that. The design philosophy with the games has been creating as many as possible valid ways of winning the game while also making the game really hard to play. From a veteran point of view one might say that the game is smartened up. The very best players can't be sure about winning even if they manage to create an empire more powerful compared to the others. This is of course not unique to lt.org rulesets and we didn't do anything that wouldn't have been done before. There are simply some changes made to allow the underdogs to beat the big girls/boys if the big boys/girls are not careful enough. The game is better for almost everyone if the less experienced players have a chance and it's not that easy for the experienced ones. It's bad for those who really know how to play and also look for easy victories.

Some features are added, some removed and some changed. This is of course an ongoing process and there is no perfect game or ruleset. Hopefully the changes made to lt.org games give back to the community in the form of new ideas and multiplayer games. There are now more traditional (LT41, LT43, LT44, LT45) games, more experimental (LT40, upcoming LT46) and the really different upcoming LT42.

In comparison to the multiplayer ruleset and classic multiplayer games the lt.org games may have some key differences like:

- usually 3x moves except for air units and for some few exceptions
- bigger city working radius or the cities getting a bigger working radius as the game advances
- no tech trading
- tech leakage (techs become cheaper when someone else gets them)
- techs can be traded only by using units
- tweaked fundamentalism
- making the buildings cheaper and more suitable for 120-150 turn games
- using the experimental techs costs
- using tech costs edited by hand (mostly more expensive late techs preventing too fast end game)
- adding new units and wonders supporting multiplayer
- alternatives to getting gunpowder as fast as possible
- alternatives to rapture growth
- restrictinfra off (no usage of enemy roads)
- no rapture growth but instead new ways to get the almost same effect
- more importance to controlling the lux settings
- and one very important thing is making it very hard to kill an entire nation with one turn attack

No game has been utilizing all of those features or ideas. The last on on the list is maybe the most important one. It's not that great if you work on your empire and then it's lost in one turn and you never even get a chance to counter attack. The idea is to have a game that's fun to play. Not something where it makes sense to give up after first 30 moves when you know the mistakes you made no longer allow winning in any scenario. That effectively kills the fun from the weak players and from those who would win but will not do that because it simply makes sense for the others to end the game.

If someone has ideas or feedback about this stuff, let ups know and we will check what can be done.

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Re: Ruleset complexity discussion

Postby bard » Sun Oct 14, 2018 6:14 pm

Yeah, I know LT made lots of changes. I tried to keep track of them for some time, until LT40 or so, but one single change can have so much effect in freeciv, that it is hard to evaluate a ruleset unless you play it, and I have never played a LT game, so I'm probably not the best person to discuss about multiplayer games. Although I'll do anyway :D

The main issues I see with freeciv mp is that the effect of alliances seem much bigger than any effect related to city/empire management. Another issue is how war uses to be a loss-loss situation (even if you win the war) compared to someone not being at war. And I think the concurrent moves (even worse with alternate moves), and the behaviour of units during turn change is definitely not designed for multiplayer games.

qrtv wrote:Well said Lexxie. Reducing the impact of strategic choice is pr. definition "dumbing down".

I don't agree at all. I think Wahazar, Corbeau and wieder made good points to try to explain why that is not true.

I mean what strategy one decides to follow, which can be broken down to each single action in the game. Examples of these strategic choices in early game is how fast to settle, where to settle, what tiles to improve, what to research, were to explore. Each action is a choice. Reducing the consequences of these choices "dumbs down" the game. In the extreme case where choices doesn't matter anymore and all choices are equal, we can't talk about strategy anymore, because the essense of strategy is to make decisions that give superior results.

Using your same reasoning, qrtv, if the impact of an strategic choice is increased to the extreme, there is a point were the first choice you make determines weather you are going to win the game or not. That is a not an strategic game either. I think you can only find the strategy in the middle, not in the extremes. That is in my opinion the art of balancing an strategic game.

Anyway, the effects of different choices in freeciv are so hard to compare, that it is virtually impossible to design a ruleset were all choices are equal.

Lexxie wrote:"Golden Path imbalances" will ALWAYS be created by the combination of reducing the consequence-impact of strategic decisions while simultaneously introducing a greater number of game elements.

There will always be paths better than others. If most paths are useless and there are obvious paths that are clearly better in any situation then it results in boring strategy. If you get a ruleset where there are many different paths that gives an advantage in different situations, then I consider it a good ruleset. The size of the advantage is irrelevant to me.

I notice that many players do not like an strategy game unless it is possible for a good/experienced player to crush poor/rookie players. But I think it is more related to player's ego than to quality of the strategy game. Those players use to like chess, and they consider poker a dump down game, because a casual player has a chance to win a hand against the best player in the world. I still consider poker an strategic game because a better strategy gives you more chances to win. And the fact is that it is possible to design an AI to play chess better than humans, but still not possible with poker.

qrtv wrote:Just a few days and not many comments ago, there was a discussion about which ruleset to use to learn the game. I left a very brief comment that civ2civ3 is terrible.

If you plan to learn to play civ2 rules, then I agree. Most of the mechanics that you will learn playing civ2civ3 are irrelevant when it comes to wining a civ2 game.
If you like commercial civ games, specially civ3, or you plan to design your own rulesets or scenarios, then I think civ2civ3 is a good choice to start.

wieder
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Re: Ruleset complexity discussion

Postby wieder » Sun Oct 14, 2018 7:46 pm

LT40 was a special case with all the wild ideas we implemented. The basic game even there however was still pretty much the same. In the end most changes only affect the pace of the game by allowing different ways of implementing the strategies. All this requires that quick conquers and one turn fall of the empires is made impossible very very hard if not impossible against a competitive player. I think that's one of the key elements in balancing the mp games.

Alliances and too expensive military operations are truly something that makes it extremely hard to balance the game. The importance of the alliances is often reduced by forbidding tech trade or by making it very hard to perform. Gold trade also has some taxing.

Together with restrictinfra and reasonably expensive military operations war is less of an issue. At least it's possible to survive from a war without losing too many resources. Not easy but a possibility. In LT41 there were some players who were quite successful in conquering others and also some who were able to keep up with the others despite having to fight wars and defending.

So in a way with mp freeciv it's about slowing down the attacks to a reasonable level and also making defense easy enough so that you really need to find out the weak spots if you want to do war. Brute forcing shouldn't be always viable strategy and it should be possible but expensive to defend all your cities against an enemy who is not putting half of his/her troops in one place.

Now the tc stuff is still a problem but it's no longer really super bad.