Picking Battles to Control Manually in Multiplayer

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Geoff the Medio
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Picking Battles to Control Manually in Multiplayer

#1 Post by Geoff the Medio »

Based on this thread, viewtopic.php?t=841 , it seems that most people would like space combat to be not abstracted as much as possible. In multiplayer however, this is problematic, as even if there is a time limit on combats per turn (with combats rolling over to the next turn if they take too long), there could still be situations in which one player has multiple combats per turn that need attention, while other players have none. In this situation, the combatless players would end up waiting for 5 or 10 minutes unable to do much of anything, while the other player(s) combats are resolved.

This is rather bad, imo.

Consequently, it might be a good idea to only allow limited player control of battles in a given turn. Something along the lines of picking one battle per player to be manually controlled each turn, while the others are automatically resolved by the computer.

Whether or not this should be done is an issue that should be discussed.


Another issue is possible ways to allow players to pick battles. Ideally the system would limit player to controlling an average of one battle per turn (which isn't the same as picking one battle per turn...)

However, the player shouldn't always be forced to pick / control a single battle in a given turn. Sometimes there would be two or three really important battles one turn, and none for the next five turns... in these exceptional cases, it should be possible to pick to control more than one battle that turn.

Arising from the occasional need to control more than one battle is the need for some advantage for choosing not to control a battle one turn... If a player chooses not to control any battles in a given turn, they should have an additional pick the next turn, or something similar to that.

However imo it's also important that players not feel overly pressured not to use a battle control pick out of worry that there will be a more important battle in a subsequent turn that they won't be able to control as a result. How to achieve a balance between some future advantage for not controlling a battle now, and not feel like using a pick is a big sacrifice / should be avoided may be difficult.

As well, related to now/future concerns, is strategic choices about whether or not another player will choose to control a given battle, and worry about whether using a pick on it would be a waste, since the other player would probably also have spent a pick. The player should be able to pick the battles in a given turn that they think are worth controlling, without worry that duplicating another player's choises would be wasteful of their vaulable picks.


Considering all that (most of which is probably debatable just as much as whether the players should be forced to pick battles to control or not), I've had these thoughts for featires pf a possible solution:

-Players get 1 battle control pick per turn
-Unspent picks accumulate between turns, but only to a maximum of about 2-4 BCPs. Above the maximum (which could be player-configurable), no additional BCPs may be "saved" if unspent
-Picking a battle to control normally costs 1 BCP
-If two or more players choose to control the same battle, the BCP cost for each is reduced to the corresponding fraction of a BCP. Two players picking to control one battle would each spend 0.5 BCP that turn. Three players would spend 0.33 BCP.
-Players pick battles to control simultaneously. All players pick the battles they'd like to control, in priority order. After all players accept their choices as final / after a time limit, the results are tabulated, and combats begin, hopefully ordered for least amount of some players waiting while otherse finish battles.


... This is only a very draftish proposal... and it has a few flaws. I don't see any good way to deal with the situation of many players wanting to control different battles with a single common player... If say five players all picked to control a battle with five different fleets of another player, then the common player would have five or more battles to play through, while the other five would have only one. Other than just forcing everyone to wait until it all works out... I don't see how to avoid this fairly.

Thoughts / suggestions?

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#2 Post by drek »

Something simpler:

-Players get 1 battle control pick per turn, chosen simultaneously
-All players involved in that battle can participate
-As a special option for friendly games, players not participating the battle can watch

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Geoff the Medio
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#3 Post by Geoff the Medio »

I'm reluctant to have such a simple system (straight one pick per player) because it creates the need to "outguess" the other players. If you both pick to control the same battle, you've effectively wasted your pick that turn... so you'd have been better off picking a less important battle... but if you both do that, then the battle might not be controlled at all. The control picking system should let players prioritize several battles they'd like to control, so that you don't have to pick (vote) strategically.


How about this:

-You pick two battles... a primary and a secondary.
-Your primary is guanranteed to be controlled.
-Your secondary is controlled if your primary is also someone else's primary.
-If two or more players mark the same battle as secondary, but neither's primary is someone else's primary, then the doubled-secondary battle would not be controlled.

This way, you're actually better off picking the same primary battle as another player, as that way you'll both get another pick that turn as well.

In any case, the number of picks each player gets per turn should probably be adjustable... Say 1-5 picks in your case, and variable numbers of primary and secondary picks in mine.

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#4 Post by PowerCrazy »

drek wrote:Something simpler:

-Players get 1 battle control pick per turn, chosen simultaneously
-All players involved in that battle can participate
-As a special option for friendly games, players not participating the battle can watch
Actually if you could just watch the battles it would make the turns go faster. And we could probably get by with that. Even on large 8 player games.
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#5 Post by drek »

PC:

Like moo3, the number of battles controllable a turn would be from 1 to infinite, set at the beginning of the game.
If you both pick to control the same battle, you've effectively wasted your pick that turn...
In my mind, less tactical battles per turn is a good thing.

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#6 Post by Geoff the Medio »

drek wrote:
If you both pick to control the same battle, you've effectively wasted your pick that turn...
In my mind, less tactical battles per turn is a good thing.
I'm inclined to agree. But the way we limit how many battles occur shouldn't involve forcing players to second guess their choices.

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#7 Post by drek »

hrm, perhaps player choices would be made visible real time.

On your own battle selection screen, you'd see the checkmark appear when enemy X decides to control battle Y. If you place your check on battle Y as well, enemy X could change his mind, place his mark elsewhere.

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#8 Post by noelte »

BCP: if you have one bcp you can choose to control one battle, but if your opponent (which one of the 5 enemies?) choose to control that battle you can control that battle anyway, so you can spare your bcp to control another battle. But your enemies might do the same and switch...... :shock: Is this still KISS?

Make it simple. Tactical combat ON/OFF. (and maybe a max time per battle)
Press any key to continue or any other key to cancel.
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#9 Post by Geoff the Medio »

drek wrote:If you place your check on battle Y as well, enemy X could change his mind, place his mark elsewhere.
Why would you ever put a check on battle Y as well? It's already going to be fought... You'd be much better to pick another battle to control, getting an advantage there as well.

I don't think real time picking is practical... The first person to pick a battle to control basically loses, as the others can alter their picks accordingly.

IMO it has to be done with simultaneous blind choices.

There could be several stages of choices, with negotiation between stages and such, but that's far too involved for just picking a what battles to control.

Is there anything particularly bad about my suggested system with two picks (primary & secondary) as above?
noelte wrote:Make it simple. Tactical combat ON/OFF. (and maybe a max time per battle)
Trouble is that larger games will have far too many battles each to be playable with all controlled manually, so you'd end up having to turn off manual control in most cases, which sucks... The idea of picking one or two per turn is that you can still control a few battles each turn, but the number isn't strongly dependent on your empire size or the size of the game. Everyone gets the same number of picks, so the chance that one person will have many battles that have to be played out in sequence, while others have few or none (so have to wait in boredom) is significantly lessened.

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#10 Post by Daveybaby »

IFPs anyone? :wink:

Whatever limitation method is chosen, it should be *completely* customisable/optional on a per-game basis. If you have 2 players sitting at home playing just each other on a LAN, and they want to fight every battle, then they should be able to. And certainly for SP, players should be able to fight as many battles as they want.

w.r.t. limiting battles per turn, how about a 'rolling window' type of thing?

Say you have a window of size 3, in one turn you can have a maximum of three battles, one battle for this turn, one saved from the past and one borrowed from the future.

So, in turn 151 i fight no battles. In turn 152 i want to fight 3 battles, i can do this because i didnt fight a battle in turn 151, and i can borrow the battle from turn 153.

If i want to fight battles in turn 153 i can only fight one. I dont have a battle from turn 152 saved to use, and i used up turn 153's battle last turn. But i can still borrow again from turn 154.

Look, i know this sounds totally stupid, but it makes sense in my head.... sort of.

All you then have to do in game setup is set the window size (in a range of, say 1 to 7). For even number sized windows, you can either use a saved turn from the past OR borrow one from the future, but not both on the same turn.
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#11 Post by Geoff the Medio »

Daveybaby wrote:For even number sized windows, you can either use a saved turn from the past OR borrow one from the future, but not both on the same turn.
That sounds roughly like what I proposed in the original post, except I only let you save from the past, not borrow, and I reduced the cost per person if more than one picked the control the same battle.

Primary/Secondary is probably better though, imo, but could be combined with saving from the past if so desired.

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#12 Post by Impaler »

How about basing everything on a "You hav 12:70 Minute of Battle Time to spend this turn" and can split that up how ever you like it amoungst all the battle that you have on that turn in what ever way you like at a Battle Time Managment screen which gives all the relavent information about the battle (Empires involved, Location, inteligence on System assets and ofcorse fleet Compositions (atleast what you legaly know about them)). But you DONT get to see how your oponents have chossen to spend their time. Alocating Time is itself a timed event but time can accumulate aver several turns. These time Budjets alow the server to determin an absolute Maximum time for each battle to take (its equal to the greatest time any single player alocated to the Battle) a sophisticated scedualing program could them make match ups in a optimum pattern and even re-evaluate if some battles end early.

Budjeting 0 time for a Battle basicaly mean your leting the computer play for you. If you Budjet time then its create a game clock in the Battle with you and your oponent each using their own seperate chunk of time. The format is much like a game of Timed Chess (but with simultaious execution), you clock is running down untill the moment you hit "End turn" once tha last turn is in theirs an Execution and both clocks start ticking again. If someone runs out of time mid way through the rest of the battle is Auto completed. If you chosse to leave early and Auto the remainder of a Battle you DO NOT get a refund on the remaining time (this prevents the chessy strategy of alocating time for all your battle and imediatly Auto running once you feel your going to win). You need to budjet your time on the important battle not peak into every battle and try to squeke out ever last Frigate on battle againt AI's (ofcorse if people realy want the refunds we could instead make this "Iron Man Time Managment" option, I just think its wiser from a keep things moving perspective)

Lastly by asigning differnt times to differnt players you could alow a means of handycapping (rarely are 2 friends of equal skill thus making most friendly games uncompetive and less fun)
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#13 Post by Odi »

I like Impalers idea - let the admin choiche how many seconds / minutes (or picks if we go that way) every player has... about watching: Don't you think your human enemies can gather quite a lot of information just by watchin? :-)

how about mini-games implemented in the waiting screen, maybe a card game that can be played while waiting for other players to finish their turns/combats? (always missed something like that in MoO 2 + 3 :-)) [a small magic the gathering-clone would be nice - using sci-fi-theming]
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#14 Post by Geoff the Medio »

Impaler, could you please break your sentences up a bit? They're rather long and hard to read and understand.

One thing about your (Impaler's) proposal that I'm not completely clear on is what happens if you run out of time in a battle. Initially I thought you were suggesting that the battle be autoresolved for both players (instantly by the computer) after either player runs out of time. Upon reading again though, I'm thinking you want the battle to continue to be played out after one player runs out of time. That is, the computer would take over for the player who has run out of time, and the player with time left would continue playing as if the battle was a normal single player battle vs. the AI.

The latter makes a bit more sense.

And if you meant the latter, the system as proposed has the nice property that there's no advantage to wasting another player's time if you're obviously going to lose the battle. By this, I mean you gain nothing by running around with a fast ship, keeping it away from the other fleet in order to use up the other player's time, since they wouldn't get their time back after the battle no matter how much actually gets taken.

My one concern about this suggestion though, is that it would tend to create a lot of situations in which players are controlling battles against the computer. IMO this is somewhat contrary to the whole purpose of a multiplayer game... which is to play against other people, not AIs.

Perhaps a varaition on the suggestion could be found in which all players always have the same amount of time in any battle they are controlling... The amount of time doesn't have to be the same for all battles, but it would always be the same for all players in a given battle.

I'm having a hard time coming up with any way to do this, however, without recreating a particular situation I wanted to avoid... That being that you have to second-guess your battle control choices because if another player was going to pick to control a battle / for the same amount of time anyway, your own choosing to control that battle / for the same amount of time is wasted...


Thought: Perhaps it could be possible to spend additional time to continue controlling a battle after the time you originally alloted runs out. The time you chose to spend while controlling the battle (as opposed to before the battle starts) would cost double, meaning you'd lose 2 minutes of pre-battle time for next turn for every minute you spend in this turn.

Every turn you're alloted some amount of time, say 5 minutes. In a given turn, if you had 5 minutes of time available, you'd pick battle(s) to spend those 5 minutes on. After your time runs out, the AI would take over, as in Impaler's (I think) suggestion.

Say then, during a battle, you decide you want more time, so decide to borrow 2 minutes from next turn, in order to control the current batle longer this turn. The borrow rate is 1-for-2, so next turn, you have 2*2 = 4 minutes less than the five you would have had, or 1 minute pre-battle choice time available.

Any time you don't assign pre-battle is immediately sent to the available bank of time for the next turn, making it possible to spend more during any battle that turn, (but only at twice the cost). So if you start a turn with 5 minutes, and allocate 2 minutes to battles, the other 3 minutes would be sent to the next turn. During the battles this turn, you'd have 8 minutes available next turn, which translates into 4 minutes of extra time you can spend to lengthen your control time for battles this turn.
Odi wrote:how about mini-games implemented in the waiting screen, maybe a card game that can be played while waiting for other players to finish their turns/combats? (always missed something like that in MoO 2 + 3 :-)) [a small magic the gathering-clone would be nice - using sci-fi-theming]
You should probably post that here: viewtopic.php?t=851

Edit: I'll do so for you, as I have a suggestion related to it..

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#15 Post by Impaler »

Sorry about the writing their Geoff, I was kind of spewing it out as it came to me.

Your correct in that my intention was to have the AI take over for a person after their time has run out. If the oponent still has time remaining he can use it to beat up on the AI controled fleet has his oponent was controling.

I see your point about the potential for a much of the play to be Human vs AI when we want as much of it as possible to be Human vs Human. I think the most common senario would involve 1 player having many battle (becuase he is being attacked/attacking multiple oponents simultaniously) againt oponents that each have few battles. The multiple oponents could chosse to alot All of their time to the battles that involve this one player. That one player must then divide his time amoung several battle and is likly going to have less time in each of them then his oponent.

Possible Solutions: As you mentioned automaticaly give both players an amount of time equal to the greatest time that any player chosse to alocate to the battle. This could work out in a very interesting way but I think we would need to make it a secret how much time each player is aloting to prevent constant second guessing. Once everyone has picked their time alotments and submited them to the server will players see the scedual and know only by the time alotments if their oponent put their time in a differnt battle. If both players put the lions share of their time into the same battle then that might be the only one played. I expect it to be the norm that peoples time alotment choices will coincide, people will focus on controling the "winnable" battles not the turkey shoots.

Durring the Inevitable down times their are several options.

Reviewing and viewing ones Empire (but not able to make any changes)
Reviewing the Auto-Calculated battles on a "Battle VCR"
Reading "Strategic Battle Analysis" reports from your Admiralty, these reports try to give some insight into why a battle was won/lost and gives some statistics and information about the battle
Design Ships (seems a perfect time to do it fresh from battle, you can also design ships durring the Normal Turn as well)
Play some mundane game or games (perhaps related to your Empire Race)
View cinimations/music associated with the game.
Chat with other players
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