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[Freeciv-Dev] Re: comments on ics solutions

[Freeciv-Dev] Re: comments on ics solutions

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To: mike_jing@xxxxxxxxx
Cc: freeciv-dev@xxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [Freeciv-Dev] Re: comments on ics solutions
From: Marco Colombo <marco@xxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 2 Mar 2001 13:49:05 +0100 (CET)

On Thu, 1 Mar 2001, Mike Jing wrote:

> Marco Colombo <marco@xxxxxx> wrote:
> [snip]
> >I see. But I won't call it a "strategy". Had he failed its attack, he (or 
> >she) was doomed to lose the game, since the effort I imagine was too big to 
> >recover from.
> I don't know what you would call it.  There is always a risk when you decide 
> to attack.
> >I guess it was not generator=2. And what about of a third player? If you're 
> >playing 1 vs 1, I agree there's plenty of room for an interesting game. But 
> >how can you afford such early military campaigns knowing that there's 
> >another player silently building up a empire a few islands away?  Was it so 
> >easy to completely destroy another player? I mean a good one.  With 
> >*horsemen*? Horsemen vs. phalanx is possible, I guess, but I'd expect it to 
> >take a while and some effort. And while you are building horsemen, your 
> >enemy building phalanxes, the other players are building their own empire. 
> >Early war is a bad choice with your settings.
> That's the whole point.  You see, if there is no restrisction on expansion 
> and war, there will be little incentive to build city improvements, because 
> military units almost always gives you a better immediate return on 
> investment.  That's why ICS + war is _the_ winning stretagy in freeciv right 
> now.

100% agreed. That's how i see it:
- expansion is "natural";
- (but) expansion is "naturally" limited, by available space; (A)
- to get more space you have either fight or evolve, depending on
  what limits your space at a given time (anther civ or the sea, for
  example). Both need resources. (B)
- or, you can choose to expand verically, which in turn needs resource,
  both for research (you need techs) and improvements. (C)

It's all about "espansion", after all. Now, let's see how ICS fit into
the above:
(A) ICS allows you to partially avoid this problem, since you can build
  a large number of cities in a small space, without any big disadvantage
  for the early (and not-so-early) stages of the game;  possible solutions
  are: make it difficult (happiness penalty) and/or not rewarding (trade
  penalty). Please note here the problem is city / space ratio. not just
  the number of cities. I'm in favor of "local" penalty vs. a "global"
(B) ICS is turned out to be very good both for war and evolution.
  It has a food, production and trade bonus. At least one of these has
  to be severely limited. With RL in mind, I believe trade is the 
(C) ICS is winning because vertical expansion is so expensive (as it
  should be) and little rewarding in early stages of the game. IMHO,
  the game needs to be tuned so that horizontal expansion become as
  expensive as vertical one. Again trade is the key, I believe.

When you make happiness so important, as in your rules, you're just
hitting on trade, as a side effect, since happiness is just one of
the possible "use" of trade production. And if you hit *only* on happiness,
I agree with you, you need to hit hard.

Besides all this, I agree that it's a bit too easy in the normal
ruleset taking care of happiness. It should play a bigger role.

> >Suppose a 4 players game, generator=2, your rules. Excluding surprise 
> >attacks (deadly for either the attacker or the defandant, or *both*), I 
> >believe vertical expansion is the only way, till you reach Mass Production 
> >or the like.  That said, every game has a story to tell. There are many 
> >ways to achieve vertical expansion. Don't get me wrong, I'm 100% with you, 
> >a game with your rules is better than a normal game.  I'm just looking for 
> >another way to reach the same goal. You based your solution heavily 
> >(mostly) on happines. In a normal game, with smallpox,
> >happiness plays no role. It's good to make players consider it.
> >I'd say the same about corruption (default settings are too loose
> >for small maps).
> I believe what you want is vertical expansion without the limit on 
> horizontal expansion.

Correct. What I want (what I believe is a balanced game) is that
at every given time during gameplay, a player is forced to make a choice,
among multiple possible direction (research? get more space? war? 
vertical expansion of cities? bigger cities (more population) or 
better ones (more improvements)? favour science, money, production?
and what to research? military tecnology? and so on...). It should be
possibile, for example, build a few more cities, *without* knowing if
it's a good or bad idea for sure. While, under Monarchy with already
12 cities, with your rules, you don't ever think to build 4 more, you
*know* it's like shooting on your feet. Even if you have space, and
could take it with no cost. It feels completely innatural. Of course,
you did a great job in *tuning* your rules, and I admit that with a map
size of 500sq/player, you hardly reach the limit (but I like to do
a lot of early exploring, looking for good sites, and put a city there
if I manage to arrive first. So I feel your rules are too limiting.)

> >You can also set trade <= 1 in absence of a marketplace.
> >Once you force smallpoxers to build a marketplace to have an
> >acceptable trade production, you also induce them to grow thier
> >cities further, since having 20 4-sized cities with 20 marketplaces
> >will be a bad idea compared to having 7 cities of size 12 with 7
> >marketplaces.
> >
> >Another idea is to count how many squares a city shares with another one, 
> >an set one citizen unhappy every 7 square (draw a little map with 5 cities 
> >placed the smallpox way to see how high the impact would be). In RL, two 
> >villages placed too close will spend a lot of time discussing on where 
> >borders are placed. Implementing this is beyond me.  Yet another idea is to 
> >put a -1/-1/-1 penalty on a shared square, mainly for the same reason.  All 
> >this will force people in better placing their cities. But it's not the 
> >same as min_dist_bw_cities, which can be annoying sometimes if set to 3 or 
> >4.  With correctly spaced cities, smallpox is possible, but for sure not as 
> >effective as with current rules.  Combine a few of the above (trade) ideas, 
> >and you'll make smallpox just another strategy, not the Winning One.
> Very interesting ideas, and promising too.

(Thanks!) Sooner or later, if noones takes care to implement them, I'll
take the time to get familiar with the source and come up with one
or more patches. The best option would be to have all those mechanisms
completely tunable. Then it's just a matter of taste.

> >Most of all, non smallpox players won't even notice the difference.  I 
> >already place cities in order minimize shared squares. You already grow 
> >cities over 4. And I believe building a marketplace is high on your 
> >priority list for city improvements. If you play the usual way, none of the 
> >proposed modifications is visible to you.  And you don't have to play math 
> >games in order to compute the maximum number of cities you can build.  
> >Given the same initial conditions, building 24 15-sized cities or 12 
> >30-sized ones it's just a matter of choice, no one is a clear winner.  With 
> >your nopox settings, you almost rule out the first option, but "24 15-sized 
> >cities" has nothing to do with smallpox.
> True.  I am just pointing out there is really no need for 24 cities.

To me, it's just "why not?". Even in RL, nowadays, you have both big and
small cities, with very different combinations depending on both
economical and historical reasons. Since big cities don't rule in RL,
why should they do in FreeCiv?  I believe there's nothing wrong in
having 24 (variably sized!) cities. I may argue that if you fit only
12 "monster" cities (30+ sized), in the same space, *you* are at one
extreme (which should be an option anyway, just like the other extreme,
having 50 rather small cities). There should be pros and cons. 
50 small cities => big production, poor tecnology, poor economy
12 huge cities  => high tecnology, good economy, small production
24 "average" cities => somewhere in the middle.

If the game is balanced, all three are possible.

Thanx for the interesting discussion.

      ____/  ____/   /
     /      /       /                   Marco Colombo
    ___/  ___  /   /                  Technical Manager
   /          /   /                      ESI s.r.l.
 _____/ _____/  _/                     Colombo@xxxxxx

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