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Topic: Fun on random maps

blind3rdeye
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Posted at: 2023-11-23, 11:34

I've been playing on random maps recently, and having a lot of fun. And I got thinking, why am I choosing to play random maps rather than using the better designed hand-crafted maps? ... The hand-crafted maps are better maps, for sure... but... there's an added twist of interest that I like in random maps. I like that there is a chance that they are unfair!

On a hand-made map, I can be confident that I will get the 'right' amount of land and resources. Usually there are mine-sites with all the required resources somewhere nearby. Sometime gold is a bit further out than the others; and there's some variety in how far you have to go - but you can be confident that there is something; and that if is hard for you then it is probably just as hard for the other players (unless it's explicitly an asymmetric challenge map).

Anyway, the key difference with a random map is that sometimes they are just 'bad'. There are maps where you just never see coal for the whole game. There are maps where there's just rocks everywhere, making it difficult to expand. Sometimes mine-sites are inaccessible, because there's nowhere to build border-expanding military sites. So then, as a player, one has to be flexible and assess choices such as 'should I keep trying to push out and expand, looking for coal - or should I just go all-in on wood and charcoal burners?'

I just think that adds an interesting twist. And when I get a very slow start, I'm still wondering: did the AI also get a slow start, or am I just about to get wiped out by a fully-established power-tribe while I'm just finally recruiting new soldiers? There's a bit of tension and mystery.. and I think it's pretty satisfying.

I mostly play with a 'struggling outpost' start, and have 3 AIs, two of them allied with ordinary headquarters starting conditions, and one on its own team with 'trading outpost'. (So its 1v2v1, with me on struggling outpost, and 'strong' AI on its own.) I still wish there was a start somewhere between 'struggling outpost' and 'headquarters'. I like to build up the economy from almost nothing, but there is a lot of waiting in the early in with 'struggling outpost', just waiting to grow and chop trees for ages - with very little flexibility in what to build. I reckon it would be more interesting if I also started with a bit more wood, and enough resources to make just a couple of extra tools. So then there would be some strategic choice in which extra tools would be most useful; and there would just be a bit less waiting. (But not the explosive start the a normal headquarters has.)

My most recent game ended up being quite epic. The start looked very bad. I almost just quit after a couple of minutes because it looked like I had basically no usable land. But it turned out to be a kind of great map, and I had a lot of fun. In case anyone is interested, the map id is:

wyr8-fksy-hzmz-d4mx-tysk-dn74

and my starting setup is like in the attached screenshot.

(* I say "still", because I was posting ideas about starting resources 3 years ago. I guess other people here just don't mind much about the starting conditions.)


Attachment:
starting conditions.png

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hessenfarmer
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Posted at: 2023-11-23, 13:12

you might look for the pioneer post start condition provided by an addon on our addons server. Perhaps it might fit what you search.
If it does, you might leave a score and or comment, as we intend to include very popular addons in to the main game if suitable.


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blind3rdeye
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Posted at: 2023-11-24, 05:44

hessenfarmer wrote:

you might look for the pioneer post start condition provided by an addon on our addons server. Perhaps it might fit what you search.
If it does, you might leave a score and or comment, as we intend to include very popular addons in to the main game if suitable.

Thanks. I'll check it out.

[edit] Ok. I've installed it, and started a game with it... but I can immediately say that it isn't really what I was looking for. I posted a review on the addon, but I didn't give a score yet. If I had to score it, I'd give it something low. But maybe it's really good... all I can say is that it isn't what I personally want.

I guess having seen that, I could make my own version pretty easily... but I don't have enough game experience to make well informed specific balance choices; so I'd just be throwing out some arbitrary numbers to get the effect that I like - which would be fine, but I also don't really want to have to check and revise it later when people inevitably disagree with my arbitrary choices! So clearly I'd prefer if an expert just did it.

I have some additional feedback on the addon comment system: I think it's bad that I can't write a comment from the 'installed' tab. To write a comment for an addon that I've actually got installed, I still have to go to the 'browse' tab, and find it again. That's counter-intuitive and somewhat discouraging.

Secondly, at one stage when I'd written a heap of stuff in my comment, I right-clicked the text to try to cut / paste something, and instead that closed the comment window - completely deleting all of my work without any warning or prompt. I'd suggest that perhaps right-click to close that window should be disabled, or give a confirmation box or something if possible.

Edited: 2023-11-24, 06:34

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hessenfarmer
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Posted at: 2023-11-24, 07:50

blind3rdeye wrote:

[edit] Ok. I've installed it, and started a game with it... but I can immediately say that it isn't really what I was looking for. I posted a review on the addon, but I didn't give a score yet. If I had to score it, I'd give it something low. But maybe it's really good... all I can say is that it isn't what I personally want.

Sorry that it did not meet your expectations. But of course personal taste is always different.

I guess having seen that, I could make my own version pretty easily... but I don't have enough game experience to make well informed specific balance choices; so I'd just be throwing out some arbitrary numbers to get the effect that I like - which would be fine, but I also don't really want to have to check and revise it later when people inevitably disagree with my arbitrary choices! So clearly I'd prefer if an expert just did it.

So you are saying you could do it but you are not willing to put any effort in it to make it usable for anybody else. In this case I believe any motivation on our side to spent our effort on implementing it for one single player is very low. But you could just implement it for yourself locally and not upload it to the server so you could avoid to bother with other peoples opinion on it.

I have some additional feedback on the addon comment system: I think it's bad that I can't write a comment from the 'installed' tab. To write a comment for an addon that I've actually got installed, I still have to go to the 'browse' tab, and find it again. That's counter-intuitive and somewhat discouraging.

Ok, this has a point so I'll open an issue on it.

Secondly, at one stage when I'd written a heap of stuff in my comment, I right-clicked the text to try to cut / paste something, and instead that closed the comment window - completely deleting all of my work without any warning or prompt. I'd suggest that perhaps right-click to close that window should be disabled, or give a confirmation box or something if possible.

right clicking in widelands always close the active window, so this is consistent behaviour and implementing exceptions would cause a lot of effort.


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blind3rdeye
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Posted at: 2023-11-24, 08:28

hessenfarmer wrote:

So you are saying you could do it but you are not willing to put any effort in it to make it usable for anybody else. In this case I believe any motivation on our side to spent our effort on implementing it for one single player is very low. But you could just implement it for yourself locally and not upload it to the server so you could avoid to bother with other peoples opinion on it.

That's not really what I mean. I'd be happy to make it usable for other people. But my own internal metric for this stuff is not necessarily the same as others. I don't want to upload something unless I think it's high quality; and I'm not confident that I'd make something high quality, because I'm not an expert at this game. I think the idea itself is solid, and it wouldn't be hard to do a slap-dash implementation, but I don't have confidence that I could do a good implementation; nor do I have the commitment to evaluate and implement improvements to my less-than-good implementation. So just like beta testers may offer feedback and suggestions to professional developers, I'm offering my thoughts here. In other contexts I may have more to offer, but at this stage, in Widelands, that's about all I've got right now.

I absolutely do not expect anyone to work on this for my own sake. If I'm the only one who wants something like this, then it would be a waste of time to implement. But I wonder if its something others would appreciate it and use it if it existed, even if it perhaps doesn't occur to them to think about it right now. That's why I suggest it: to draw attention to the idea. And if it gains no traction; if there is no interest. That's ok. I'm not trying to be lazy or demanding.


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hessenfarmer
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Posted at: 2023-11-24, 08:56

Ok, I understand your point, although I would disagree personally.

From my perspective it would be better to have something imperfect rather then having nothing.
And for the numbers we would just define a divider for the HQ wares for each tribe to make a start condittion with lower wares and just count tools and workers as the same.
Another way would be to divide HQ by struggling outpost for each tribe to get a proper factorization for multiplying the struggling outpost wares.

Any imbalance in this could then be found by any user.

And even gaining some attention would be easier if there is a working prototype available as addon rather then having this in a thread that will go down the list sooner or later.


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tothxa
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Posted at: 2023-11-24, 10:56

You could also try summing the extra wares from New World. (It's unfortunate that you can't play sea based starting conditions directly on random maps, because they're completely unfit for ports and seafaring.) I suppose that's normally meant to only build 1 or 2 ports first, and cancel the other expeditions, but my impression from a quick glance is that even only the extra wares would give you more stuff than Struggling Outpost. But you could throw in the buildcost of 1 or 2 ports as well (possibly without the gold and cloth) if that's more in line with what you want.

But I also encourage you to try it, because this is really one of the easiest ways to start hacking around on Widelands. You could also have some fun testing your starting conditon for all tribes until you're satisfied the balance. I don't think most of the current ones have much more balancing than that.

Re right click: I'll open a bug for that too, then we'll see whether we can find a way to solve it. (e.g. disable it in multiline edit boxes?)


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