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  #1  
Old July 7th, 2009, 07:46 AM

Bananadine Bananadine is offline
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Default Would you play to the death?

No, not your own death--but just the ordinary destruction of your in-game nation. Do you play until the end, even when you think you're probably going to lose, or do you quit early? If you don't play to the end, would you consider trying it?

I love making comebacks, myself. I start to lose interest when I feel like I'm winning. So it's natural for me to play against the strongest possible AI's, and spend whole games as an underdog, until the very end when my nation either suddenly arises victorious or finally collapses.

But the AI, even at its highest strength, is not a very interesting opponent. Outwitting a seemingly more powerful human opponent is even more interesting, and fun. I think it ought to be fun for that opponent, too, to face a desperate foe who's been backed into a corner, and who might throw all resources into some strange, last-ditch defense. Fun all around!

So why do people in multiplayer games usually quit in this situation? I mean, when it looks like they're losing, and a really interesting series of battles is about to begin. Do you give up, when this happens? Do you think comebacks generally aren't possible--or that they simply aren't fun? If so... are you crazy?!

In my present multiplayer game, no less than four players have suddenly disappeared when their positions were still not entirely bad, and a fifth has turned all his resources toward destruction of the world's population... and away from his own defense, thus effectively disappearing as well. I think some of these five left for unspecified personal reasons; others clearly gave up because they thought they were losing. Wouldn't games be more dramatic and challenging if everyone committed to playing until the end, no matter what (except maybe in the truly extreme situation where only two players remained and one was much stronger than the other)? Aren't drama and challenge good things, in a game like this? One of the remaining players in the game I've described was on the decline for a long while; he almost lost his capitol. But he didn't quit, and now he appears to have the second-strongest nation out of seven. Why don't you all play like he did, there? (From his talk, it sounded as if even he was on the verge of quitting, when his nation was at its weakest!)

I think it is crazy to give up as soon as you feel like you're losing. Isn't it when things become uncertain, or even desperate, that you can learn the most? Or do people expect and desire to march straightforwardly toward a well-planned victory in every game? That might make sense against only AI's, but in multiplayer games it's a delusion. Only one person can win each game! So if you don't like losing, then you don't like multiplayer Dominions. Isn't that right?

Obviously I have a strong interest in this matter. I am even now attempting to start a game in which everyone commits to honestly trying to win until the game says it's over. Would you join a game like that? Do you think an ordinary game would be improved, if everybody just agreed at the start not to slip away as soon as they started to feel a little pain?
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  #2  
Old July 7th, 2009, 08:54 AM

Sombre Sombre is offline
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Default Re: Would you play to the death?

I wouldn't join a game where I was going to be forced to play to the bitter end. The end is bitter for a reason - it's incredibly boring. I mean being the underdog or bit player is one thing, certainly, and quite the lark, but being forced to take turns where you can do virtually nothing but wait for your opponent to get round to stomping you is far from my idea of fun. And once a game isn't fun, you have to ask yourself why you're playing it.

Equally if I had an overwhelming advantage over another player but they refused to admit defeat and essentially turned the game into a fight against the tedium of lategame logistics by castling and turtling up everywhere with no hope of victory, only stalling, I'd just concede to them. I only care about the journey in dom3 - who 'gets the win' is pretty meaningless.
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  #3  
Old July 7th, 2009, 09:19 AM

thejeff thejeff is offline
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Default Re: Would you play to the death?

A common debate. The simple answer is that it's a game. It's supposed to be fun. People stop playing when it stops being fun. Some will stick it out longer than others in the hopes that it will start being fun again or because they feel an obligation to help keep it fun for others.
People also find different parts of the game fun. Pretty much everyone enjoys winning against a good challenge. Many also enjoy putting up a good challenge while losing. Few enjoy getting slaughtered. Some only enjoy winning, but I suspect they're mostly new players, since they can't win all the time in MP and will likely give up playing.

Personally, I find much of the late game micromanagement tedious at the best of times. If I have to put an hour or more of work into each turn without any real hope of victory, it gets very old very fast. If I'm actually being killed fast enough, I'll probably play it out until at least near the end, but I'm not willing to play out a losing war for months on end.

Due to the way 4X games tend to work, it's very hard to come back if you've fallen too far behind in resources or research. If you're in late midgame when your opponent has dozens of Tartarians and is Wishing for Seraphs, you really aren't going to make much of a difference in the game. Even if he isn't bothering to squash you quickly because he has other enemies.

I agree that people who quit after losing the first major battle are frustrating. But there's a big difference between that and playing to the bitter end no matter what. The problem is that, from what I've seen, often that losing series of battles isn't very interesting. It's having your gem/gold income drop drastically as Ghost Riders hit 4-5 provinces a turn, while you sacrifice everything you've got to stop one of several armies and each turn more uber SCs join the battle. But it's still going to take a dozen turns or so to actually die. Which at late game pace is going to be a month or so.

If you're going to start a game with this kind of commitment, I strongly suggest reasonable victory conditions. It seems to me very rare that a game actually comes down to the last two players. Either victory conditions are met while there are still more players or the outcome is clear enough to all that they concede.

Is a master chess player who sees mate coming 5-6 moves out and concedes a quitter, or does he just have the grace to acknowledge the inevitable?
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  #4  
Old July 7th, 2009, 10:13 AM

Bananadine Bananadine is offline
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Default Re: Would you play to the death?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sombre
I wouldn't join a game where I was going to be forced to play to the bitter end. The end is bitter for a reason - it's incredibly boring. I mean being the underdog or bit player is one thing, certainly, and quite the lark, but being forced to take turns where you can do virtually nothing but wait for your opponent to get round to stomping you is far from my idea of fun.
How long do these turns take? It sounds like you and thejeff are imagining big battles in big games between medium-sized or large-sized nations. What about when you're down to just one province, early enough in a game that you haven't gotten past level 3 or 4 in research on any magic path? Is it really so tedious to give orders for a dozen mages in one province?

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Originally Posted by thejeff View Post
Personally, I find much of the late game micromanagement tedious at the best of times. If I have to put an hour or more of work into each turn without any real hope of victory, it gets very old very fast. If I'm actually being killed fast enough, I'll probably play it out until at least near the end, but I'm not willing to play out a losing war for months on end.
Yes you are. That is what multiplayer Dominions is: a losing war, for almost everyone. Ten or so enter a game, and eight or nine of them lose. If, partway through the game, somebody thinks he's winning, then maybe he's applying more genuine skill at it than his rivals are--in which case I have no grounds for criticism--or he's just making an educated guess, in which case there's only about a 10% chance that he's actually right. Delusion!

It sounds like I'm being priggish about this. I do know what you mean by "losing war"; I know the difference between a feeling of doing well and a feeling of doing badly, and I know you can easily have that pleasant feeling of doing well, along with a challenge that any of us would enjoy, for a long time... and then lose. It sounds like that's the kind of loss you enjoy. I enjoy it too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by thejeff
Due to the way 4X games tend to work, it's very hard to come back if you've fallen too far behind in resources or research. If you're in late midgame when your opponent has dozens of Tartarians and is Wishing for Seraphs, you really aren't going to make much of a difference in the game. Even if he isn't bothering to squash you quickly because he has other enemies.
Tartarians and Seraphs! Again, I'm not just talking about the late game! But even in the scenario you describe: Your foe has other enemies. Are you and they, together, strong enough to beat the nation that has been beating you? If you are, then why aren't you trying to help them do it? Why aren't they trying to help you? Ah, but if you did work together with them, then maybe you'd all beat the big guy... and you'd still be smaller than your allies, who would quickly become your enemies, and the whole thing would start over, right?

Well, maybe sometimes. But not always. Even the winning players, in the games I've played, never seem to be sure they're winning until the very end. Why are you so sure that you know better than they do?

Quote:
Originally Posted by thejeff
I agree that people who quit after losing the first major battle are frustrating. But there's a big difference between that and playing to the bitter end no matter what. The problem is that, from what I've seen, often that losing series of battles isn't very interesting. It's having your gem/gold income drop drastically as Ghost Riders hit 4-5 provinces a turn
Again with the late-game straw man. In my simple model of the phenomenon, there are two possibilities: Either one nation is truly so strong that all the others together couldn't beat it, or not. If there is such a nation, then the game should automatically grant it victory. If not, then no one present knows who is going to win, and the game should go on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by thejeff
Is a master chess player who sees mate coming 5-6 moves out and concedes a quitter, or does he just have the grace to acknowledge the inevitable?
I don't know a lot about master-level chess, but I'd guess he's being graceful. But Dominions is very different from chess, and ordinary, multiplayer Dominions with miscellaneous people from the forum is FAR different from master-level chess. In Dominions, a queen (of elemental air) can beat a whole army! There are many ways to turn major battles with just a few well-chosen spells. Chess may be complex, but it is much simpler than Dominions, even when only two Dominions players are present.

And multiplayer Dominions in general is much more complex than one-on-one Dominions. But I see almost everyone in the games I've played behaving as if there's not a whole world full of rival nations out there. If you're beaten down until almost nothing is left of your nation, then are you really left with no choice but to wait until you're destroyed? If you're really not strong enough to defend yourself at all, then your opponent would be negligent to refrain from finishing you off. In the game I imagine, where everybody has committed to honestly try to win no matter what, they would just finish you off, and take the spoils. No problem.

But if you're strong enough to make it painfully expensive for them to finish you off, then you have power. Where there is power, there is hope; and if you don't respect that power, and hold that hope, then you've given up on part of your chance at being the best player you can be. Yes, it's just a game. It's also just something you spend hours and hours doing. Why not do your best, even in leisure time?

Well, not everybody has to be hardcore. It's okay to relax your brain and stop trying very hard... sometimes. But I would like it if there were more people who were hardcore, in this particular game, so I am promoting my view of things.

Then again, maybe there are plenty of people like that, and I just don't know how to find them. Dudes with many victories and thousands of forum posts. It's not like there's a handy index somewhere, of players who are serious about improving! Not that I know of anyway.
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Old July 7th, 2009, 10:43 AM
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NTJedi NTJedi is offline
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Default Re: Would you play to the death?

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Originally Posted by Bananadine View Post
But if you're strong enough to make it painfully expensive for them to finish you off, then you have power. Where there is power, there is hope; and if you don't respect that power, and hold that hope, then you've given up on part of your chance at being the best player you can be. Yes, it's just a game. It's also just something you spend hours and hours doing. Why not do your best, even in leisure time?
There's two other advantages to playing until the bitter end in multiplayer as well which most don't recognize. First is the player who does play to the bitter end is better to have as an ally because a player who quits because his game is over will decrease the chances for his allies as well. At the very least one should defend while farming gems to the allies. Any ally who fights to the bitter end is more appreciated by the others on his current team.
Second is when a player does quit because it's clear his end is arriving eventually other players will begin to remember this breaking point for future games... this might be the number of provinces, stealing their capital, etc., , but after several games a pattern begins to be recognized by repeated players. The point being is if two players are about equal in size and strenght I think all of us would attack the player who is more likely to toss in the towel the fastest.
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Last edited by NTJedi; July 7th, 2009 at 10:52 AM.. Reason: fixed quote
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Old July 7th, 2009, 11:20 AM

thejeff thejeff is offline
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Default Re: Would you play to the death?

I talk about the late game because that's where it's really problematic. Early on, I agree with you. There's not much cost to stay in, since turns are still fairly short, and there's a much better chance of being able to pull off a recovery if your opponent gets distracted.

But you are requiring everyone to commit for the long haul. Until they win or are completely eliminated. That means many will be staying into the late game.

The nature of the power curve in this type of game means once you fall far enough behind it's really hard to catch up. It's one thing if you're close to par on research and resources, but lose a few battles, even lose most of your armies. If you are far enough behind in research and resources, your opponent will not only be able to beat you in the field but keep getting farther ahead of you in research.

You say Dominions is less predictable than chess, which is true. But consider your example: An Air Queen can beat whole armies. Which means, when your opponent has Air Queens (& other SCs) while you only have armies, there isn't much you can do. Sure there are tactics for countering SCs, but they really require some level of parity. It's very possible to be outclassed with no real chance of catching up. You're already behind in research, devoting more mages to battle puts you even farther behind, even if it lets you win a few pyrrhic victories.

On the larger scale, it may be hard to determine who is actually going to win, but it's often much easier to figure out who isn't. Once it becomes clear that I'm outclassed, it's much harder to maintain interest. When you can't accomplish anything, except maybe raid a couple lightly defended province and prove a nuisance, but you're not being finished off because he has more important things to worry about, there's little fun left.

And frankly, it all comes down to fun. I don't play Dominions to get better at Dominions. I don't even play to win. I play because it's fun. Getting better does make it more fun, but if I spend to much time learning but not enjoying, it's not worth it. Maybe that makes me not hardcore. That's Ok.
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Old July 7th, 2009, 11:23 AM

Mithras Mithras is offline
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Default Re: Would you play to the death?

I really love a good last ditched defence. It feels desperate and exciting. I also like a scorched earth policy, if it's thematic of course.

I don't have victory in my sights all the time, I just play expecting to lose in new and interesting ways.
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Old July 7th, 2009, 11:48 AM

Bananadine Bananadine is offline
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Default Re: Would you play to the death?

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The nature of the power curve in this type of game means once you fall far enough behind it's really hard to catch up. It's one thing if you're close to par on research and resources, but lose a few battles, even lose most of your armies. If you are far enough behind in research and resources, your opponent will not only be able to beat you in the field but keep getting farther ahead of you in research.
You are still only talking about one opponent. What about cooperation? Have you considered this? Cooperation is potentially HUGE.

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Originally Posted by thejeff View Post
You say Dominions is less predictable than chess, which is true. But consider your example: An Air Queen can beat whole armies. Which means, when your opponent has Air Queens (& other SCs) while you only have armies, there isn't much you can do. Sure there are tactics for countering SCs, but they really require some level of parity. It's very possible to be outclassed with no real chance of catching up. You're already behind in research, devoting more mages to battle puts you even farther behind, even if it lets you win a few pyrrhic victories.
For a non-hardcore player, you seem know an awful lot about what happens when a hardcore player plays!

Well, that was snide. You probably have more experience playing than I have, and I think you're probably right about a lot of situations. But are you right about the majority of situations? You seem to be assuming the two players in your scenario are of roughly equal skill (that, for instance, the one with the queens won't use them stupidly while the one with the armies cleverly takes advantage), but reality is much more complex than that. Well, suppose we all became experts, and played each other in a hardcore style. Would it then become the case that holding on to the end would almost always be bitter? Maybe it would. But do we really know that? Science, people--you have to try things!

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I don't play Dominions to get better at Dominions. I don't even play to win. I play because it's fun. Getting better does make it more fun, but if I spend to much time learning but not enjoying, it's not worth it. Maybe that makes me not hardcore. That's Ok.
Ahhh and so a much bigger subject opens up. Is learning fun? Should it be? Is it better to accept pain while learning now, so that you can experience finer enjoyment later, or to... haha well I prefer not to get into all that.

Rather, what I'm wondering now is how a person might find enough folks interested in playing in a "hardcore" way to actually explore this matter. (I've suddenly put "hardcore" in quotes because it is kind of a stupid word.) That wouldn't be hard in Starcraft would it? Or some other huge game like that. Not in chess, obviously. Hm! Starcraft and chess aren't for people like me, people who love chaos and backstory and rich, colorful drama that comes from more than just cold, pure strategy. I think I want to roleplay, to some extent! While playing to win.

The last game that got me excited about this sort of thing was Sacrifice. The Sacrifice community was great fun! Then I had to watch it die. I hope I find some more satisfaction in Dominions, before its community dies!
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Old July 7th, 2009, 11:55 AM

Bananadine Bananadine is offline
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Default Re: Would you play to the death?

Hm. It occurs to me that one way to get people to do what I want, maybe with hardly any further discussion, would be to start betting on games. Dudes care about money more than they care about their time!

I put a bounty on my head once, in Tetris Attack. It rose to $85 I think, before somebody claimed it. By that time, half the office had gained at least amateur-level skill at the game!

I don't have enough money right now, to try that in Dominions 3.
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Old July 7th, 2009, 12:34 PM

thejeff thejeff is offline
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Default Re: Would you play to the death?

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Quote:
Originally Posted by thejeff View Post
The nature of the power curve in this type of game means once you fall far enough behind it's really hard to catch up. It's one thing if you're close to par on research and resources, but lose a few battles, even lose most of your armies. If you are far enough behind in research and resources, your opponent will not only be able to beat you in the field but keep getting farther ahead of you in research.
You are still only talking about one opponent. What about cooperation? Have you considered this? Cooperation is potentially HUGE.
Cooperation is huge, of course. And if you can hook up with a powerful ally, might even let you survive the current fight, but though you stay alive, you're still way behind the curve. You've lost forts, mages, research time, gems, even those provinces you get back have unrest and pop loss. Again, early enough that's all recoverable. Later on, much less so. Consider research: Not only are you behind in research, but you've got less mages researching and less resources to get more so you're falling farther behind with every turn.

The first game I quit on, I was losing a war against one of maybe 3 major powers. One of the others was helping me, well keeping me alive really. I had nothing researched beyond 4-5 level and maybe 5-6 provinces at any given time. A couple of raiding parties out. Every time my enemy would siege my capital, my ally would drop an Air Queen on him because I had no chance of breaking siege. He could have kept me going indefinitely or at least until he started to lose, but there was no way I was going to get beyond nuisance.

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For a non-hardcore player, you seem know an awful lot about what happens when a hardcore player plays!
I've been playing for a long time, but mostly SP. I'm not really very good at MP, which is why I keep getting into these hopelessly outclassed situations.

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Originally Posted by Bananadine View Post
You seem to be assuming the two players in your scenario are of roughly equal skill (that, for instance, the one with the queens won't use them stupidly while the one with the armies cleverly takes advantage), but reality is much more complex than that.
I guess I was figuring that into the "outclassed assumption". It's not like I'm going to give up at my first sight of an SC. Now, when one destroys my main army, I see others in his backfield and any counters I can come up with are 4-5 turns away...
I'm assuming that someone far enough ahead of me to be moving into the late game(SCs) while I'm stilling stuck in the midgame, is probably at least as good as I am.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bananadine View Post
Ahhh and so a much bigger subject opens up. Is learning fun? Should it be? Is it better to accept pain while learning now, so that you can experience finer enjoyment later, or to... haha well I prefer not to get into all that.
Learning is often fun. Learning by having your face ground into the dirt isn't. Nor do you really learn a lot.


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Originally Posted by Bananadine View Post
Rather, what I'm wondering now is how a person might find enough folks interested in playing in a "hardcore" way to actually explore this matter. (I've suddenly put "hardcore" in quotes because it is kind of a stupid word.) That wouldn't be hard in Starcraft would it? Or some other huge game like that. Not in chess, obviously. Hm! Starcraft and chess aren't for people like me, people who love chaos and backstory and rich, colorful drama that comes from more than just cold, pure strategy. I think I want to roleplay, to some extent! While playing to win.
I didn't play much Starcraft, but it's a much faster game right?
Playing to the bitter end is one thing when it's a couple hours, another completely when it might require a commitment for several months.
From the games I've played and from reading some game threads here, the most common victory condition is consensus. The players agree that someone is clearly enough the winner that there is no point playing it out the rest of the way.
It also seems to me that most of the non-newbie players are pretty good about not giving up too early. Which is different from promising to play to the end regardless of the situation, but might really be close enough to get you most of what you want.
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