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MP2-Caravel is a major upgrade with features that were waiting years for new server abilities. It collects over two years of ideas from users which had time to be debated and tested. First is given some background on design philosophy. The [./ changelog] is [./ here].

Explanations of goals and challenges:[]

  1. Simplicity vs. Complexity.
    • A game should create the maximum strategy and variety with the minimum amount of complexity needed to achieve it.
    • Simplicity creates "Golden Path" -- a single superior robotic style of play. People quit after mastering the path. Golden paths fail to meet the goal of a standard ruleset to be the "game of a lifetime."
    • Complexity is needed to eliminate golden paths, but only when focused on this goal. By itself, [./ complexity] may create little strategic depth, and not solve any issues in game balance, while reducing the playability. In all cases, unneeded complexity can alienate players.
    • Elimination of Golden Paths usually leads to a phase of greater complexity. Later phases are needed to minimalize and refine it simpler. Evolution of rulesets is a two phase process of complexity expansion and reduction.
    • The goal of MP2 is to find the best balance between the two forces. First, by eliminating golden paths, then to minimalize away unneeded complexity.
      • MP2-Caravel is in this first phase, and for better or worse, will be perceived as more complex than MP2-B or MP2-D.
      • Even so, a good amount of complexity reduction is also featured in MP2-C.
  2. Balance, Playability, Realism. Conflicts between the three are resolved in that respective order, But always attempting a solution that achieves all 3.
  3. MP2 Manifesto:
    • "Game of a lifetime" - experts can explore different strategies and counter strategies against each other
    • "Depth of strategy, diversity of strategy"
  4. What motivates the approval of Ruleset additions:
    • There are a lot of new additions.
      • This might seem like anything or everything gets approved or added, but this is not the method of selection.
    • Process for most additions:
      • An idea for an addition is received, but it solves no problem in balance, depth, or playability. It is stored in a list but not added.
      • A challenging balance issue becomes a focus problem. The list of stored ideas for additions is reviewed: which could be used as a solution?
      • The solution is then added, but crafted in a way to achieve greater balance, playability, realism.
      • The solution's first attempt may be modified after play-testing.
  5. MP2-Caravel's main solution areas:
    • Non-linear balance issues caused by 2× movement
      • Balancing some side effects of making rails non-infinite speed
    • ReWonder 1.0 - this was a major design decision in the right direction for fair balance.
      • But years later it still has side-effect balancing. Largest side effects:
        • Overpowering the rapture-based governments.
        • The "counts as X in every city" model - it makes many buildings useless poor investments.
        • One by one, these wonders have been morphed into more interesting layered effects instead of just "X in every city"
    • Re-integrating Trade Routes back into the game for more diplomatic/economic depth
      • Goal: diplomacy/economy/war should be three independent pillars and balanced aspects of the game.

Almost all non-military changes to MP2 have been in response to these issues. People who want their ideas contributed should be aware of that.

Specific focus areas in MP2-Caravel:

  1. Increase the fun and splendor of the Stone Age and Bronze Age. Define your national race, characteristics, and unique path.
    • Replace the "Race to leave crappy despotism" with a new early-game-within-the-game.
      • National/cultural/racial decisions put you on a unique path.
      • Despotism can gradually improve itself along the path to finally being replaced, instead of being a suboptimal hell to leave as fast as possible.
    • More realism, playability, and balance for very early game.
      • Tame the overpowering mathematics of early economics to make the other two pillars (diplomacy and war) more equal during this period.
  2. Continue ReWonder 2.0 goals:
    • A great variety of balanced wonders that is far too many to build.
    • This forces strategic diversity.
    • National definition - choosing your national characteristics and opening up different play-styles.
  3. Attempt to finalize the re-balance from side effects of 2× movement rates (i.e., especially what it did to Foot units.)
  4. Re-balance of Governments toward the vision of what the game is trying to achieve. Variety, diversity, strategy.
  5. Trade Routes and improved Diplomacy mechanics.
    • Encourage trade routes more.
    • Improve the Cease-Fire/Armistice/Peace/Alliance system and the Casus Belli system to give more oxygen to diplomacy.

Government Rebalance[]

In general, side effects of ReWonder 1.0 had made representative governments imbalanced or more powerful than originally intended. In addition, players expressed an interest to evolve the governments model away from its former model "A" and toward a new model "C". This is briefly described below:

  • Model "A" - each higher form of government justified its bulb cost by giving higher bonuses, but with some penalties and requirements that were meant to offset and balance the incentive of rushing too fast to the better type before one was prepared for it. The exception to this was 2 governments 1."Communism" and 2."Fundamentalism" which were more niche governments for special cases: respectively, 1.having too many cities, or 2. being in a desperate defensive situation.
  • Model "B" - was a model of amateur hobbyist rulesets, which replaced Model "A" with the idea that all governments should be somewhat equal (ish), yet provide different strategic playstyles. The idea of strategic variety was a big plus, but the implementation of this ignored: 1) A new government must justify its bulb cost by providing a strength, an advantage, a superiority in some way over earlier governments. 2) The game was designed to balance economic/military/technological disruptions through having a single "best government" at different stages of the game that balanced out the disruptive characteristics from technology/military at that phase, and also to attempt to provide some more realism to different stages of civilization's progress in history. 3) The attempts to achieve the goals of Model B fell short in diverse strategy in the same way they fell short in understanding the reasons for model "A", and the net result is there were still Golden Paths, but just hidden under the rug more and possibly changing a bit with differing contexts in the game.
  • Model "C" - is the new proposal for a mix of what's best in "A" and "B", and elimination of what is worst from "A" and "B". Now, governments have a lot more fluidity and different strategic contexts, without completely replacing what was intelligent in model "A" logic. The game makes a divorce from the model of having only 1 possible type of winning government (2 if considering communism as a last switch when a winning superpower has too many cities.) Now, there are 6 types of potentially winning government in the late game. This is seemingly a radical switch, yet model "C" preserves the DNA from model "A" still. Representative governments still have the best economic output during peace time, which ultimately makes them a very strong consideration. Non-representative governments, however, gain a lot more realistic and playable bonuses in almost every other aspect of the game, which they can diversely and strategically try to use for different kinds of advantage. Additionally, these strategic advantages are now less accessible to Republic or Democracy through the ReWonder 1.0 phenomenon of "small wonder abuse.".In addition, the ability to change radically different yet equally viable governments for certain stages of the game, makes the strategic predictability of opponents much less predictable, and thus, also more difficult to use that predictability to too easily exploit the economic advantages of the superior economic governments.
  • The end result is that MP2 now has 6 "games within a game" that one can try to master, explore, and switch between: far less "Golden Pathism" than ever before in the history of all Freeciv rulesets. Model "C" is a radical leap of faith and, while it has had a significant amount of offline playtesting, it must obviously reserve the right to make minor balances as the player community gains more experience in real games, over the coming months and years.