<URL: http://bugs.freeciv.org/Ticket/Display.html?id=37592 >

    Since this discussion last summer, I've been thinking some more
about what Freeciv could be.  I've reached a few tentative
conclusions.  Some of the changes are simple; some are far-reaching.

    I've already done some work (on my own copy of Freeciv) to
implement some of these ideas, but it has been several months since
I last worked on it.  So I figured that I would publish these ideas
to see if anyone else was interested in them.

    I'll leave out some of the details in the interest of keeping
this email as brief as possible.  If there's any interest, then I
can post the details later.  Keep in mind that most of this is still
a thought experiment at this time.

Here are the ideas:

1) Add a new victory condition to Freeciv that is based on points.

   IIRC, Freeciv offers only 3 ways to win:

     a) Conquest of all opponents

     b) Being first to Alpha Centauri

     c) Winning on points after playing to "endyear"

   b) and c) require long games.  a) can be quicker but that
   requires players to focus on combat technology while ignoring
   many other aspects of Freeciv.  That tends to make the games very
   similar to each other.

   I propose that a fourth victory condition be added to Freeciv:

     d) The first player to X points wins.

       One of the biggest advantages of this is that it makes
   Freeciv games scalable.  E.g. if you want a short game, play to
   500 points; if you want a longer game, play 2000 points; etc.

       Another potential advantage is that the AI can be programmed
   to focus on accumulating points rather than trying to engineer
   a conquest.  Presumably the AI can be programmed to compare
   numbers more effectively than it can be programmed to build and
   move units.

2) Award points for things besides WoWs and techs.

   If victory can be determined by points, then there needs to be
   more ways for you to earn points.  Here are some suggestions:

     a) Award points for firsts like "50 points for the first player
        to get two size 3 cities".

        There could be multiple tiers.  (E.g. size 3 cites, size 5
        cities, size 8 cities, etc.)   There could also be multiple
        bonuses at each tier.  E.g. There could be two bonuses for
        size 3:
          .a bonus for the first civ with *one* size 3 city and
          .a separate bonus for the first civ with two size 3 cities
           - and the civ that wins one bonus on that tier is
           ineligible to win the other.

        There could be similar eligibility restrictions between
        tiers.  E.g. if your civ wins a bonus for being the first
        with one size 3 city, then your civ is ineligible to win
        the bonus for being the first civ with one size *5* city.
        But you *are* eligible to win the bonus for being the first
        civ with *two* size 5 cities.

     b) Award 1 point on every turn for each surplus happy citizen

        E.g. a size 3 city wuth 2 happy citizens and one unhappy
        citizen would earn one point per turn.  But a city with 1
        happy, 1 content, and 1 unhappy does not earn any points
        (at least not based on this criterion; this city might still
        earn points based on other criteria).

     c) Award points on every turn to the player who has the largest
        city in the game.

        E.g. if only one player has a size 5 city and at least one
        other player has a size 4 city, then the player with the
        size 5 city earns one point per turn for that difference.
        Likewise if size 3 is the largest city owned by any other
        player, then the player with the size 5 city would earn 2
        points per turn.

     d) others

        There could be many other conditions that generate points.
        Which ones are implemented depends on what incentives that
        the game needs.

        E.g. you could award points for most WoWs, most buildings,
        most units, highest number of techs, biggest population,
        absence of pollution, lowest corruption losses, and on and
        on.  But some of those characteristics (e.g. most buildings)
        have intrinsic benefits - e.g. awarding points for having
        the most buildings may make some buildings too desirable.

   One of the benefits of awarding points for things is that it
   makes it easier to tweak game balance and AI behavior.  E.g. it
   is easier to change a point value of something from 1 point to 2
   points than it is recode the AI to build more or less Settlers,
   Frigates, Caravans, etc.

    Those are the biggest changes.  I believe that they will make
Freeciv games more scalable and more tune-able.  But what's even
more important is, I hope that they will expand the number of viable
strategies for winning.

    There are other changes that I would like to see.  Most are not
as critical as those above.  Some of them are trivially simple.
I'll list them here to find out if anyone else is interested is such
changes.  They are:

   a) Reduce the government corruption penalty for Despotism and
      Anarchy to 10%.

      Both Despotism and Anarchy impose penalties at the tile level.
      For tiles like fish, that represents a 33% penalty of its food
      production.  I don't understand why there is an additional 37%
      penalty (plus a distance penalty) on top of that.

   b) Revise the terrain improvement costs.

      The cost of building a fortress, cleaning up pollution, etc.
      should not be the same on all terrains.  Likewise it should
      cost more to build a railroad on mountains or swamps or
      glaciers than it costs to build it on plains or grasslands.

      Maybe some of this is already done.  It's been a long, long
      time since I've used the values in the default ruleset for
      these actions.

   c) Eliminate Rapture growth

      This has been discussed before.  Rapture Growth makes
      Granaries and Pyramids almost useless.  Plus, (I assume that)
      teaching the AI to do Rapture Growth efficiently (with many
      cities) is difficult.

   d) Eliminate unlimited movement on railroads.

      Cap the movement rate for all land units on railroads to 9
      tiles per turn.  This will eliminate the absurdity of
      hypersonic Riflemen, Musketeers, etc. (they can cross a
      large continent faster than a Stealth Bomber can).  Plus, (I
      assume that) teaching the AI to use unlimited movement wisely
      is difficult.

   e) Normalize the effect of most happiness buildings and effects
      (all except martial law?).

      E.g. If a temple can turn an unhappy citizen into a content
      one, then maybe that temple should also be able to turn a
      content citizen into a happy one.  The way it works now is
      somewhat counter-intuitive.

      This has been discussed before, but under a points based
      system that awards points for net happy citizens, it is more

   f) For each civ, only its top 3 cities count.

      For the calculation of per turn happiness points, largest city
      bonus points, building bonuses, etc., each civ only gets
      points for its top 3 cities.  You can still build more than 3
      cities; but for each calculation of bonus points, the 4th
      through the nth cities of each civ earn nothing.  WoWs still
      count the same (no matter which city they are in).

      This is a big change.  I considered including it under 2)
      above.  But 2) *could* be implemented without this.

      This change makes some of the changes (the ones that are
      listed after this one) more practical.  It also makes building
      lots and lots of cities less useful.

   g) Use PF distances for calculating the distance-based corruption
      and waste penalties.

      I've experimented with this and it works.  The code was copied
      from Per's "Wonder City" code and I don't understand all of
      it.  But when you build roads, it *does* reduce the losses due
      to distance from the capital.

   h) Eliminate ZOC effects caused by units with 0 offense (e.g.
      Explorers, Diplomats, Caravans).

      Perhaps there should be an exception when you are at war with
      that "0 offense" unit's civ.  Perhaps there should also be an
      exception if that unit's civ is *allied* with a civ that you
      are at war with.

      This may already be done; I don't remember.

   i) Eliminate trade routes established by caravan.

      Caravans will still be used for building WoWs.  But the entire
      trade route system (3 routes per city, caravan has to find a
      path to the target city, then both cities get a permanent
      benefit, etc.) should be scrapped, IMO.

      In its place, trade bonuses should be awarded to every city.
      The amount of the bonus should be based on city size, the PF
      distance to surrounding cities, etc.  In addition, those
      bonuses should grow gradually with each turn (for as long as
      the PF distance does not increase).

      Note that PF distances *will* be increased by ZOC effects of
      hostile units.  IOW war is bad for business.

    That's all that I can remember right now.

    I hope that one of the effects of these changes will be to make
alternate strategies viable in the early stages of the game.  IIRC,
as Freeciv is now, the only viable strategy is researching another
form of government as quickly as possible.  That's because the waste
and corruption (and distance) penalties of Despotism are dispropor-
tionately large.

    But with the changes proposed above, it should be possible to
pursue a strategy of rapid city growth (by picking city sites with
high food production potential), researching pottery, and building a
granary.  Then you can collect points on every turn for having the
largest city (or cities) in the game.  Meanwhile you can build
roads, research a new government type, scout new city sites, build
happiness buildings, and prepare to expand outward (once other civs
start catching up to your largest city).

    Another strategy could be based on building a big trade economy
by building roads between your cities, building some happiness
buildings, researching monarchy, and getting a Republic-like trade
bonus by getting some of your cities to celebrate (while still
keeping Monarchy's free support of up to 3 military units).

    WoWs like Hanging Gardens, Oracle, and Pyramids will be more
valuable if Freeciv changes this way.  Perhaps Lighthouse should
give a +1 happiness effect for coastal cities in your civ (to
compensate for its recent loss of its "protects Triremes" effect).

    Connecting cities with roads will be very important for
increasing trade bonuses and decreasing corruption losses.  Wars
will be even more disruptive to your economy and they may disrupt
your neighbors' economies as well.

    And, perhaps most important, the AI's calculations may be made
simpler (because the AI can measure the potential benefits of its
choices in terms of victory points (instead of just units or cities
or hitpoints or gold or science points or happy / content / unhappy
/ angry citizens, etc.)).

    What do you think?


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