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BBC report on "new" computer games that let players make moral choices

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  • Mr. Harley
    replied
    I think much of that depends on the map size and PBEM versus single player. Smaller maps lend themselves to military conflicts, and I've discovered that it appears most PBEM don't occur on anything larger than a "large" map (most, I am quite sure there are some games on a larger map, I've just surfed the threads on game creation and I'll stand by most). On that size map a hybrid agressive strategy or a momentum strategy can pay off handsomely. Just think about it, if all Hitler had to worry about was Europe, his momentum strategy would have worked. If you read Mein Kampf, he truly discounted the rest of the world. Fortunately, the world is a little bit larger, and his momentum/fundamentalist or police state strategy backfired.

    Even on large maps you can often win a hybrid military game playing SP in right around a century, routinely less, depending on layout. Once you get air power, you star tricking the AI into declaring war (it is terribly stupid). I usually wait until Man/Machine interface, and go on a series of lightning offenses using Choppers and Drop Rovers. If there are any tough nuts to crack, I finish up with fusion power, convert all my primary assault units, and they game is over within less than five turns. It is faster than transcendence.

    Huge maps (256 x 128) or larger make the builder strategy payoff handsomely, unless you get some bad luck, at least in SP. I wonder how any PBEM folks out there have seen those really large maps play out? Any comments?

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  • sammy1339
    replied
    I don't know that it is true that warfare is more efficient than peaceful development. I sometimes play a builder strategy where I have fewer military units than bases and I usually win diplomatically or economically by 2220 (on Librarian). I could not conquer a huge world that fast; maybe you could. I admit I am not that good at the momentum strategy because when you fight a war you can't convert every decision into a numerical estimate the way you can in the builder strategy, and I rely on that. Nonetheless I think that a good builder strategy can beat a good momentum strategy. Not having a strong military is just a calculated risk. So is attacking people, for that matter.

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  • Mr. Harley
    replied
    You can partially offset this, though, via the game's initial conditions. While it won't stop an agressive military player, if you choose a truly huge world (256 x 256), eliminate certain victory and other conditions, increase alien lifeforms (making exploration difficult), make the world dry and inhospitable, this would seriously weaken a pure military faction. You might want eliminating the copter chassis and certain secret projects (empathy guild, the cloudbase acedamy, and the space elevator). I suspect from some SP or solo MP games (playing multiple factions to see how strategies interact), though I cannot prove it, it would help to eliminate Green factions (and possilbly native lifeform production) to make mindworm exploration tougher or to eliminate it, or even alter the effects of the green choice to eliminate capture (if possible) and you might also want to eliminate pods. It would be an interesting game. An agressive hybrid though might be able to wreak havoc in the late game, and still lose as someone else transcends first.

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  • Alex
    replied
    Flubber: yes, I was thinking about the AI when I said that. I agree that a miscalculated war may ruin you even in the single player game, but there is one thing that remains true: if you don't care about your army, then no matter how good you are in diplomacy or peaceful research, you're bound to be defeated by an agressive opponent, especially if this opponent is a human.

    In order for the game to let players make real moral choices, it would have to allow gamers to actually benefit from their choices most of the time, and that simply is not true. If I choose pacifism, this implies that I don't want to support a large military, and here is my Achilles' heel, because the game does not restrict other players (the warmongers) from doing what they want, since there are no real repercussions in the game for the atrocities that they may commit.

    Sure, there are many ways to win the game, but none of them may dismiss military power, otherwise the player would find it hard to surpass their opponents.

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  • Lazerus
    replied
    Depends how well planned your war was. Win it within 5 years and you could have just doubled your empires size making the game alot easier, let it drag out and you're right, wasted minerals and energy will let others overtake you.

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  • Flubber
    replied
    Originally posted by Alex
    Actually, it is nice that SMAC has introduced the interesting concept of ideological factions (the capitalists, the enviromentalists, the dominatrix... er.... the survivalists), but, in the end, SMAC is geared towards military power as much as Civ is. The most efficient way to win the game is by using force, and not by trying to be nice and "enlightened". There is really no moral choice in SMAC, because if you want to be the most efficient player, then you have to resort to military power.

    I think your comment is accurate when playing against the AI, but if you are olaying against some good human opponents, a warlike stance might find you getting into battles of attrition while the peacefyl factions grow and trade. I am not saying that war always or even generally fails in multiplayer but I am saying that there are many circumstances where he who wars will lose to those that are just continuing peaceful growth

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  • jtsisyoda
    replied
    Alex,
    Someone who values speed of victory over all else has "no choice" but to conquer. Someone who loves expanding, building, and getting a really high score has "no choice" but to extend the game. Someone who loves the "hostile takeover" aspect of cornering the energy market has "no choice" but to make lots of money. Since there are many ways to win a SMAC/X game, players can choose a path based on what's important or fun to them.

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  • Alex
    replied
    Actually, it is nice that SMAC has introduced the interesting concept of ideological factions (the capitalists, the enviromentalists, the dominatrix... er.... the survivalists), but, in the end, SMAC is geared towards military power as much as Civ is. The most efficient way to win the game is by using force, and not by trying to be nice and "enlightened". There is really no moral choice in SMAC, because if you want to be the most efficient player, then you have to resort to military power.

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  • Mr. Harley
    replied
    Exactly ;D But the editor wouldn't know it.

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  • Jamski
    replied
    How is that a punishment Its a reward

    -Jam

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  • BBC report on "new" computer games that let players make moral choices

    (first paragraph is so you can look up story and get the context - if you want to comment on this portion PLEASE start a thread under miscellaneous) I just listened to a BBC report about some young thugs in Florida getting bored and going out and shooting at passing cars, killing one person plus other assorted mayhem. They told the police when they were arrested that they were bored and were imitating "Grand Theft Auto" which they played. The report continued on how much more violent the kids who played this game were (sounded about right - my wife is in mental health) and about a lawsuit.

    Then they talked about a NEW kind of game. I missed the name, they were at some studio in the UK, but they were going to try to take over the Presidency by leading some faction. They talked about how new it was that you could make moral choices - like choose to subvert the military, or be like Gandhi and non-violence, etc. Hmm. New? Oh well, I guess it's too much to expect a cash-flush media outlet (BBC makes alot of money - our stations in the US would use the excuse they cannot afford it) to do some good research. Anyone want to start an email campaign, or any Brits out there want to tell the id..., um lets call it research-challenged chief editor about Civilization games, maybe even good old SMAC For punishment make all involved start a BBC PBEM SMAC game
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