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Let's Not Do This Again, OK?

February 27 2004 at 5:36 AM
Sirian  (no login)
from IP address

Response to Patches, leaders, and Epics

Stop me if I'm wrong, but why's it one shot? What's to prevent you from playing the variant again by yourself and even writing a report?

One shot to try it blind, without the benefit of spoilers and experience to reveal details about the precise nature of what would be required to succeed. Once I know that, the jig is up, the opportunity to explore is gone. That "section of the world map" in the world of Civ3 has been revealed, humpty dumpty has fallen off the wall, and all the King's horses and all the King's men can't restore the fog of war again.

Sure, I can play it again. But what's that worth from an exploratory standpoint? Nothing. The value would lie in the refinement aspect, the perfecting of the approach -- but what if that's not where my interests lie? To have a lottery-style mechanism disrupt an exploratory adventure... Yes, it is a one shot deal, and the one shot is lost, destroyed by a clumsy design element that exists because the designers papered over holes in their product with gimmickry.

You're completely mistaken about this impacting only multiplayer. You cite Diablo 2 as proof, but that proof breaks AGAINST what you are claiming, not for it. See Charis's remarks. His conclusion is that the proofs are so blatant, no debate is even possible, yet you still manage to take up the cause of that debate and try to run with it.

Some ideas are worth replaying, worth expanding upon. Some hold value only in the novelty: the "do once" adventures. Having wide luck swings imposed on the gameplay shatters the security of investing time into exploratory adventure. If what we're going to find when we try to explore is that the dice are going to blow us off course and force us into a different situation... well if we already know that, there's nothing to bother exploring. The game's legs are chopped off and it's over, for those of us no longer interested in replaying the same few tactical situations ad nauseum.

What's worse, wide luck swings dampen difficulty levels across the board. They lower standards. They shatter challenges. In order to ensure success, the player must account for the worst-case scenario in his strategy. If wide swings of luck exist, the worst case will be more harsh, thus the player must either loosen the boundaries of self-discipline and aim to crush the game outright -- which will be dreadfully boring in most cases, when there are no bad breaks -- or accept that some experiences will be ruined by misfortune.


Challenge is a relative thing. If it is increased in one area, it will have to be decreased in another to compensate. This happens inevitably.

Try to think of it this way. Suppose your DIFFICULTY LEVEL were determined by lottery. Whatever your actual skill level is, that's the median. So for you, say Deity level. In 75% of your games, the game would randomly assign you to play Deity. But in ten percent of the games, it hands you a Demigod or Emperor game instead, and in another ten percent, you get a Beyond Deity or Sid game. And one in twenty, you either get a Beyond Sid game, or a Regent or even a Chieftain level game. Now, are you going to enjoy the Chieftain game? Is it even worth your time? Why isn't it worth your time? Why wouldn't you welcome being randomly tossed into a Beyond Sid game now and then?

Small luck swings provide game elements to manage. Wide luck swings destroy the game balance. The fortunes of the terrain in the random map generator provide luck swings, usually falling within a normal range, but occasionally extending to an extreme, providing an uber start like Epic 14 or a nasty RBE2 type start. Those swings are a problem for the Epics, which is why I went to handling most maps through the editor to ensure that the luck swing not be out of bounds for what I envisioned, for the experience I was trying to craft for players.

You have heard the term "Epic 14 Dud Start", yes? That was an instance of luck swings in the terrain generator ruining a scenario by making it way too easy. The only reason we don't complain about this to Firaxis is because the editor allows us to compensate for it. We can work around it.

What are you missing in this argument?

You really mean you get one shot at showing off the plan and sharing your experience in a competitive game.

If your desire is to sever the frayed threads of my interest and commitments here, you're making great progress with this attitude. You pushed me past the breaking point with RBE. Succession games go on in my absence, and have thrived, but RBE died and others had to work to put something else in its place. You also rained all over the parade of my uber epic with your complaints and vitriol, to a point at which you killed the event and even, in part, wounded the momentum of the tournament. Unless you want to repeat these types of incidents, use better discretion now, before too much damage is done.

You don't understand me half as well as you think you do. You said that you believed I expected a long response from you and I would be disappointed if you didn't give it, but you are wrong. You've been wrong about that before, back when you thought you were being helpful by drowning me in bug reports and your research into how the game could be broken. You wanted to have your cake and eat it too, to have the challenge you craved without having to discipline yourself to set and observe limits by choice. Your desire to have every boundary codified into the rules was not right for the tournament. Ultimately, it was not best for you and your interests either, but I had a devil of a time persuading you that I knew what I was doing in holding the line where I did. If I had let you have your way, you'd have wrecked the Epics. They'd be inundated now beneath a crushing weight of complex rules covering every possible contingency, choking off circulation and smothering the competition. As it is, there are more rules than I wanted, some of which I had no choice but to add because you forced my hand.

The current issue is similar in nature. Except instead of needing to add rules to the game to set boundaries, I want certain rules removed or made accessible, because they are TOO restrictive on the kinds of scenarios that are viable. Much is lost, while nothing useful is gained.

Perhaps YOU welcome the luck swings because you have always needed outside pressures and forces to shape your challenges, lacking the will to do so by design within yourself. At the very least, if you don't need it, you still welcome it -- but I do not. I have never needed it or wanted it, nor do I welcome it. All it manages to do is interfere with my ability to do, with precision, what it is trying to do with blunt force trauma. I believe you've overcome your limitation to some extent, having developed skills regarding the use of discipline in your gaming, but your old pattern of thinking still colors your perspective. I can appreciate how and why you do not grasp where I'm coming from on this one, but since that is the case, perhaps you should exercise more care in what you choose to say.

- Sirian

 Respond to this message   

  1. OK, We Won't -vlt- - T-hawk on Feb 27, 2004, 2:31 PM
  3. But a question - T-hawk on Feb 28, 2004, 10:58 PM
    1. Reply - Sirian on Feb 29, 2004, 9:10 AM
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