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It's just a game...

Simcountry: Simcountry Bulletin Board  It's just a game...

Erehwon

Tuesday, December 09, 2003 - 06:25 pm Click here to edit this post
And that's why, in the end, playing with the rules as they exist (and as the game designers change them) and trying to win is OK.

But I do have some problems with the current war (and not all of them are because I am not doing as well as I would like :o) ).

There have been so many reasons put forward for why this war is necessary or good that it's beginning to sound like the run up to the war in Iraq. Frankly, I think that most of the reasons given are shoddy.

Let me be clear: Playing to win is part of the game. If war gets a player to first place or makes a player happy then that is just the way it is. It IS a game. I'm just tired of the crappy justifications and of being forced to choose between trying to compete with warped (my opinion) play or losing the fruit of significant previous efforts made when the game was less cut-throat.

I have heard that this war is necessary to test the game, its rules and military units. It is certainly true that without conflict then the bugs and anomolies will go unchecked. It is also true that many players have foregone to use many exploits once they became apparent. But, if testing the game is the aim, then there are plenty of voluntary, even competitive, means of doing this. I would have been unhappy about it, but I for one could have been convinced/coerced into an all-out war if I knew that I could rebuild my present empire in cooperation with my competitors. I know that others would have done the same.

Some people say that players who do not build world-beating militaries have no place high in the rankings. But this game is intended to be as much or more economic than military. Economies in SC are not purely for the purpose of building militaries. They are supposed to be an end in themselves. Yes, any game can be played in ways that players wish that differs from the designer's intent, but there are other reasons why it is better (yeah, a normative term) for some games to remain playable on a competitive level for players who cannot be online for hours every day. There is no way that pitting a group of players who have planned for nothing but war against players who have played to compete on any lesser military level can prove anything other than that the militarists can beat the others. It demonstrates little or nothing else about game mechanics or game dynamics.

I've also heard that this war is necessary because it will allow a bi-polar world. But I kind of thought that there was already a bipolar world. Forgive me, but I fail to see how crushing or driving out some of the larger players who can compete with the Monkeys will produce a world that is more competitive. Frankly, I still believe that a multi-polar (not just two power blocs) was possible. I don't know if that is still possible. For a long while, many players held the middle ground on GR - Ian was a good example - but those players have been or are being forced out of the middle or being driven out of the game.

Now, if you wanted to beat the empires that players have built on GR over a long time, you can likely do it. If I am the target (I know I am one of the principal targets at any rate), and your moving to GR and purpose-building enormous militaries to achieve your aim, I know I can't compete with that and probably don't want to. OK. But after you have done it, and driven out me and other players who aren't interested in that sort of game, and have GR more or less to yourselves, what will you do then? Abandon the game? Fight each other for the scraps? Attempt to compete with the designers in endless rounds of circumventing or twisting the game and then having more and more unrealistic rules imposed? What joy!

Whew... enough of my screed. Now for the flaming!

Erehwon

Tuesday, December 09, 2003 - 07:50 pm Click here to edit this post
Oh wait! One more thing: As far as it goes, how do you measure "worthy?" I haven't had a computer at home since the second week of July - that makes five months of missing several days or a weeks at a time, and then logging in when I can steal some time at work during lunch or after hours. And I still built and grew from scratch an empire to envy (well, maybe Genie's is better but he hardly ever says anything). If it takes a bunch of you several months of planning and gathering before transfer, then five months of building and planning after transfer to beat me, then yes, I think I'm "worthy." (But I have won more than enough first prizes and had no intention of getting in Genie's or Cymru's or ANYONE else's way to take the first prize!)

And right now, I'm getting the freak out of here to buy advance tickets for Return of the King so I can take my daughter, and maybe call some friends to see if they want to break in a new grill this weekend. Nyah, nyah, nyah! :o)

Port Royale

Tuesday, December 09, 2003 - 08:18 pm Click here to edit this post
Port Royale stands....

"Author, author"

Hectors Dream

Wednesday, December 10, 2003 - 12:49 pm Click here to edit this post
Although it amy only irritate you more, I feel compelled to offer the best answer I can offer now that I finally have time to do so.

Your first points are all ones we both agree on. Let me just re-emphasize them. When the flaws were made apparent in the last war principally involving a single aggressive player, no one pushed very hard to get them fixed, or to find out more about them. (with perhaps the exception of elle). No one cared enough. No one was forced to care, except for "john stalker", who of course was destroyed and had no voice on the boards.

The only thing that could conceivably force the flaws into the open and fix them would be a conflict which would involve not just a few players in a very lopsided conflict, but one with many players involved in conditions of real danger.

These flaws are so serious that the idea of a balanced game which includes them is nonsense. It has proved both incredibly hard to get them taken as seriosuly as they must be and to discover the details of their operation needed to pinpoint their causes. Even the "obsessive" testing of elle and myself was not up to the task until both of us were forced to think just a little harder in this conflict.

The next comment I feel a need to reply to :
I would have been unhappy about it, but I for one could have been convinced/coerced into an all-out war if I knew that I could rebuild my present empire in cooperation with my competitors. I know that others would have done the same.

I am not sure I understand you correctly, but if I do it is surprising. Obviosuly, this much was true. I do not understand how you could not have known that by now. We would have helped you rebuild any empire you desired to build, and in fact would have donated countries to help get you on your feet -albeit ones located far, far away from us. In fact ,if you started (largely) over, I was planning on personally restarting near you myself and building a peacetime equivalent of the 12 monkeys, after I finsihed up a few loose ends within the federation to ensure its continued existence. Neither you nor anyone else would be harried in future incarnations, nor would anyone be "targeted for extermination from the game", to use hymylands words(if this is what you are implying you feared, I am not certain). If you do somehow end up losing, we will give you all the help you want to rebuild.

If in that scenario you chose not to rebuild, then perhaps you should re-examine your reasons for playing, and perhaps you should have quit a long time ago. If you end up doing this, then I will join you in attmepting to (slowly) create our own game. My programming skills have come a long way since last we really talked about such a thing. This occurence is not one I see as particularly bad, and I admit considering it beforehand.

Some people say that players who do not build world-beating militaries have no place high in the rankings. But this game is intended to be as much or more economic than military. Economies in SC are not purely for the purpose of building militaries. They are supposed to be an end in themselves.

yes!

matt, since youve been on golden rainbow, how many wars have you been involved in? of these wars, how many actually presented a threat to you or any of your principal allies, ignoring the ever-present but unknown danger of stupid bugs?

I already know the answer to both questions. The first is "very few" (a few police actions are all that occured, no real conflict between anything remotely resembling a pair (or group) of equals) and the second is "one" - and it is continuing as I type this.

1 threatening war in a year and a half of play does NOT constitute a game consumed by war. When you spend 95% or more of your time at peace, then peace and economics are the dominant activity. Not by a small margin. By a huge margin.

Did you think that wars like this one would be, or will be common? Are you crazy? It is by necessity a one-time occurrence. If the rules had remained constant, or the limits had been lifted, major wars might happen once every 3 or 6 months, with a very few small skirmishes in between.

is this scenario totally unbalanced? I do not see how it could possibly be. Rather, the game for the last 6 months has been horribly unbalanced. War was meant to be modeled as an important factor as much as economomics were,just as you said, but many seem to pay nothing more than lip service to the idea. It is not now, and has not been since the imposition of the limits.

Not ONE of the current large empires (or medium empire, or small colection of a couple high-popoluatoin countries with good armies) could be conceivably conquered until the introduction of the "warped" new units, unless they foolishly bought no ammunition or small amounts thereof. Not you, not me, not elle, and definitely not any of the much larger federations of which our indvidual empires are single members.

For some reason, even those who knew this to be true resisted it in their own minds. Fear was imagined, perhaps to provide some justification for the weapons everyone bought (useless beyond a basci army), perhaps to provide a needd element of interest, perhaps for both of these reasons along with others.

The precise mechanisms involved are indeed a bit warped to my eye (or at least silly!), but far, far more warped is the situation which forced them to be the only available means of fighting in the first place!

for some games to remain playable on a competitive level for players who cannot be online for hours every day.

Your empire had a year and a few months head start compared to those who are currenlty at war with you. In that time you built up a formidable defense and a far more formidable collection of allies. if you had done just a few more things differently, then you would have needed to spend no more than a few minutes per day onine during theis war, and need only have smiled in amusement at the proceedings (or marveled at their stupidity) . The events of the war will have little to do with time spent online and much more to do weith preparation, planning, and time spent previous to the event.

Forgive me, but I fail to see how crushing or driving out some of the larger players who can compete with the Monkeys will produce a world that is more competitive. Frankly, I still believe that a multi-polar (not just two power blocs) was possible. I don't know if that is still possible.

There is a fundamental misunderstanding of intention going on. The goal is not to crush or drive out empires who can compete with my federation. The real goal was not even to win the war in the first place! If victory occurs, it will be incidental and because I now see prusing such victory as necessary to ensure the survival of the federation. Afterwards, regardless, none of the playrs involved will rompo around on some kind of craxy rampage. There will be peace again for a long, long time.

many players realized that my true motivation for the war was to create the very dicsussion which is occuring on the boards at the moment - with the particiapation of the admin. I have tried and tried and tried to force such a discussion in the past year and a half or so, but it was never taken seriosuly. Now, events have forced the argument into the open, and hopefully ALL players, not just the war-elite, will understand the problems involved. I am very pleased with the result, and pleased with Jozi's thinking as well.

A game with some conflict and attirtion, or at least the potential thereof, is far, far more competitive than one in which ranking lacks it entirely and is based mostly on time/assets accumulated.

Perhaps there might have been another method to rebalance the game, but my tired brain was unable to conceive of one.

The game flaws needd fixing. This was the only way to create a vehement response and in all truth, to fully search them out. The discussion about the fundamental schizophrenia the game was built with needed to be heard and participated in. The game needed vigor , and the game needed and needs the introduction of at least the possiblity of true competitoin and attrition. lacking resets, this was the only way I could see.

Of course, these "needs" are all in my mind. But they are the explanation no matter how unreasonable or reasonably they might be, and obviously I find them compelling.
---

regarding a multipolar world, this was impossible on golden rainbow because the players of the game were and are starkly divided into 2 camps: those who thought it OK and even disirable to use force against other players in offense, and those who did not. The first campe were exterminated by the dominant and established second camp on sight. Many players in the second camp went 'underground', and with the growth of my federation, have messaged me privately about their desires for SOME kind of conflict in-game. I have even foolishly pasted one of teh messages on the baord reecntly (may its sender forgive me).

If the members of my federation had started out as un-allied powers in an attmept to build a multipolar world, they woudl have been eradicated. Similarly, a group of players with worldwide range who wish to enforce peace naturally form a conglomerate of global power over time. The AF and UNSC formed this power, and stifled all others in the time of their hegemony. their power was almost unbreakable, consiting of the strongest players who had established their empires over a long time. Only an event of world-shattering magnitude *grin* could have possible changed this situation.

With the current playerbase, I cannot see how a multipolar world can exist. Extant stable powers must be very strong and of different philsosophies, or they will tend to merge in the case of peaceful players, or fight until only one exists in the case of warlike players. Perhaps this answer explains my view more completly.

if there were many more playrs, and no single dominant world power - which might now ONLY become the case, assuming that either I stick around, win, or my fed remains true to the ideas I have instilled in them - many other independent powers might have the chance to grow and evolve without their style of play being dictated by a ruling cartel. And no, I certainly did not build my federation to become the 'evil' equivalent of the UNSC in this manner.

I wanted to set the players free. I hope this Does not sound like self-righteous self-justification. It is simply the way I think and have thought for a long, long time.

If these answers irritate you more, pretend that none of them are true (although if you lose, you will find out one way or the other). Pretend that the only reason for the war was a desire to take your counries, or to cause chaos. What would be wrong with that? Do we hold players accountable for the decision to purchase vegetables? It may seem ridiculous, but I see no qualtativve difference in the decision to do something like that and the decision to wage a world war.

It is difficult to ignore the faults I have discussed when they are on the homepage of every president (well, most of them :) ) and in the minds of all the players. This conflict was the only method I could think of which could meet all of the needs at once.

Hectors Dream

Wednesday, December 10, 2003 - 12:53 pm Click here to edit this post
OK. But after you have done it, and driven out me and other players who aren't interested in that sort of game, and have GR more or less to yourselves, what will you do then? Abandon the game? Fight each other for the scraps? Attempt to compete with the designers in endless rounds of circumventing or twisting the game and then having more and more unrealistic rules imposed? What joy!

I only intende to abandon the game if the discussion currently happening goes nowhere, or if you leave as well. it will be a good excuse to start working on something else. This is intended to remove the unrelaistic rules once and for all by resolving -by solving - what I see as perhaps the most fundamanetal tension of the game/sim.

I hope I have cleard up your confusion.

on a side note, if you see the return of the king befoer I do, I willl be forced to kill you :)

I wonder how much it would cost to fly to a location which sees it well before I will...hmmnnn

almoth

Wednesday, December 10, 2003 - 02:21 pm Click here to edit this post
matts, a film review of LOTR you might enjoy, not sure if any spoilers so read at own risk

___
The third instalment of The Lord of the Rings series is nearly with us. Oh, great. As it does for those interminable Harry Potter films, the great hype steamroller is cranking up the gears, trying to engender some bogus sense that this is "event cinema". Non-event cinema is more like it.


Not enough Liv Tyler, it's blokes as far as the eye can see'

I've sat through both its dreary predecessors, kept awake only by the deafening volume at which the soundtrack was played. That in itself seemed to be symbolic, as if the whole concoction were a deeply average rock band whose only means of holding the attention is to turn the amps up to 11.

Let's start with the McGuffin, the thing that all the fuss is about the ring itself. Has there ever been an object in movie history that has been less worth giving a damn about? I've got a dozen at home holding the curtains up. Where's the mystique of the Force in Star Wars, a McGuffin you can't even see but which so captured the public imagination that it has now entered the language? Even with the Maltese Falcon you think, well, it would look nice on the mantelpiece.

Star Wars must surely be the benchmark for this kind of epic of imaginary worlds. On all levels, The Bored of the Rings series falls short. The characters all these endless sweaty Nargs of Tharg and Borgs of Dorg are paper-thin, mere ciphers in what is little more than an overblown computer game. As for the lifeless faux-Shakespearean dialogue, why do they even bother? Why not cut it altogether and have an extra chase scene with men riding giant squirrels?

And it will be men that are doing the riding, because in Narnia, or wherever it is, it's blokes as far as the eye can see. I woke up briefly when Liv Tyler appeared in one scene. Amid all the dark, dingy sliminess, her beauty seemed to have been beamed down from cinema heaven. It goes without saying that she had little to say or do before we were back to extras in troll suits hitting each other with pikes, and that infernal beardie dwarf, surely the least funny funnyman ever.

Despite all its claims to be a work of the imagination, we are only ever really in one place during these films: New Zealand, up there with Azerbaijan as the most boring country on earth. No amount of panoramic tracking shots of horses galloping across the tundra can disguise the fact that there's a bungee-jumping centre just round the corner.

Oh, but surely you must have enjoyed that amazing battle scene at the end of The Two Towers? I'm afraid not. Compare it to the attack on the Death Star at the climax of Star Wars. By the time Luke is rocketing down that trench in his groovy fighter-plane thing, you're practically standing on your seat shouting "C'mon Luke, my son!" In the Rings battle, it's more "Er, who is fighting who again? And remind me what it was all about..."

Ultimately, the series fails because you never root for one side against another and any film in which viewers are not emotionally engaged does not deserve the Best Picture Oscar. A great "so what?" hangs over the whole affair. At best, you watch these parades of special effects and set-piece choreography and admire the level of technical achievement. But what could be more soul-destroying than that? Have you ever rushed to tell your friends about a film they simply must see with the accolade: "You've got to go you'll really admire the level of technical achievement!"

Avalon

Wednesday, December 10, 2003 - 02:48 pm Click here to edit this post
my eyes! the blasphemy!

*goes to get a torch and sope tar and feathers*

Pawnkingia

Wednesday, December 10, 2003 - 05:02 pm Click here to edit this post
Almoth, you have a point ! The book in itself is the reason in my mind why LOTR works, because it allows the imagination to run wild. To create your image of the elves and golems and spidery things.

Your imagination, or your pseudo-perception of your own imagination is a powerful machine and although perhaps it never truly defines any of the creatures, sounds or emotions of the books, your mind gives you a taste of being actually in the LOTR.

The film, however glitzy or remarkable, doesnt allow this, as the images and soundtracks are pre-determined. But all films are like this and books are always better I hear you shout, yes but unfortunately the narrative of the film for LOTR is weak and for much of the film, the Director seems to believe that the bold images would be enough - sod the script, lots of fighting and explosions is what we need. JUST RELY ON THE GRAPHICS HE SHOUTS (unlike Bad Taste his first film) BUT if the film is 3.2hrs long, flashes and noises are not enough to keep your imagination !! You become wearly of the repitition.

JRR Tolkien was born and wrote the book around where I live and indeed not far from Almoth, and I even went to the same school as he, so perhaps this is swaying my decision, but I am trying to look at this objectively.

To summarise, the films are ok, but too long, too reliant on visual imagery to the sacrifice of the script and I am not entirely sure they should have filmed them all at once, because the same irritations recur on each sequel

almoth

Wednesday, December 10, 2003 - 05:24 pm Click here to edit this post
Well babe i loved the books as a kid.

And i thought the first film was very good indeed.

The second film was good, but spent too long on the fight scenes, it could have developed characters instead..farimir for instance.

Have to wait and see about the 3rd

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