Friday, April 25, 2014

Civ V: Giant Multiplayer Robot

I was watching a Final Fantasy VII 100% stream this morning and wanted something to do while he was grinding up all of his limit breaks for every character. I haven't played Civ V in a while and looking at my 'most played' games last week brought it to the front of my mind. I gave it a go, and then ended up giving up when I found out the strategy I was going for had been nerfed and the resting point for all the city states with protection and the policy is now only 25, not 30. I'd sacrificed a lot to make that happen and decided I wasn't likely to win the long game on immortal with a bad plan and a ton of rust.

So I went down a difficulty to derust and had some fun. But I'm always frustrated with the way Civ games do difficulty settings. I realize that I'm way better at the game than an AI so if we're on even footing I'll demolish it, but it's very frustrating for me to never have a shot at wonders and the like as I work my way through outnumbered tactical battles where I eventually win because I'm better or lose because they just have too much stuff.

It got me musing about playing against people again. People don't cheat! But finding time to play always seems like a real issue, and the way it switches to asynchronous play when a war is running made me sad. I think Matt should totally be allowed to declare war and try to crush me, but I don't like that it makes people sit around with nothing better to do. There has to be a better solution, doesn't there?

I did some poking around and found a website called Giant Multiplayer Robot. The basic idea seems to be you install a client on your computer that connects to their servers. The servers keep track of ongoing games that you're in and notify you when it's your turn to make a move. Then you can download the saved file, take your turn, and send the new file back to the server. It'll notify the next person in line and so on.

On the one hand this seems like it turns the entire game into one big asynchronous thing which will undoubtedly take weeks or months to play. On the other hand it means you're never sitting around in a game waiting for someone else to make a move. You get to take moves when you get to take turns and if you're not up you can just go do something else. This sort of thing has worked out well for board games (Yucata, boardgaming-online...) so it seems like it may work out well for Civ as well?

It's set up to be a free service, but you can only be in 2 games at once. If you pay them money you can have more games going at a time. This seems like a pretty reasonable pricing scheme, especially since it tops out at $15 for all of the games. I have no immediate interest in paying them any money, but I do want to give it a shot to see how it actually works out.

So... Anyone want to play a big asynchronous game of Civ V? I'm thinking one slot for a smaller game of people who can take turns often and one slot for a big whoever wants to play and we just see what happens?


Anonymous said...

I've used Giant Multiplayer Robot in the past with Civ. It works just fine, but is was VERY slow. I think we played for several months and probably only covered 1/3rd of a game.

But we only played about a move or two a day, because of time schedules not overlapping. If you want to get stuff done, I recommend thinking about ways of getting more turns/day than that.

Lots of civ turns consist of "Yup, do nothing, next" or "yeah, do one thing, next", and skipping through. Maybe if you arranged for everyone in the game to be online for a specific hour or so every day you could cycle through those sorts of turns fast.

- Brent

Vienneau said...

I am *so* in!

You have to be very aggressive/dedicated to get the good early wonders. I get nearly every late wonder.

I've got guests over tonight so I can't start playing until tomorrow night. Email the details (if details are needed).

Robb Effinger said...