"Simultaneous execution" vs. phases-and-points

Rich Skrenta (skrenta@pbm.com)
Fri, 23 Sep 1994 15:30:23 -0400 (EDT)

This is more of a personal survey than a design topic, which is why
I've set Reply-To: to myself instead of the list. Please don't let
this interfere with the ongoing combat system discussion.

My question is:

Do you consider "simultaneous execution" to be a significant,
desirable and/or essential feature?

And if so, why?

Apparently many people think so, and I'm trying to figure out just
what it is about simultaneous execution that's so great.

(By "simultaneous execution", I am referring to the system where each
Olympia order is rated for how long it takes, each turn has a number
of days, and any order may begin on any day.

Most other PBMs instead use "phases", and a system of points if
necessary to limit some commands. So, as an example, the battle
phase may always come before the movement phase, everyone gets so
many movement points each turn, movement through different types
of terrain incurs varying movement point costs.)

Now I chose simultaneous execution because it seemed more realistic,
and less game-like to me. But now it seems to me that atmosphere is
its only advantage.

Consider the advantages of phases-and-points:

o Order failures don't cascade.

o Since points may be allocated differently for different
commands, it's easier to tune the system.

o None of this confusing priority, who-goes-first,

Consider STUDY. Instead of varying the amount of time a study order
takes, let's say we charge study points for the various skills. A
1 week skill in Olympia would cost 1 point, etc. We give players 5
study points to start with, and an extra point each turn.

If a player misses a turn, and consequently misses his chance to study
that turn, he hasn't really lost anything, since the study potential is
tracked as points. Giving players five study points to start lets them
start quickly, if they like, or they can hang onto the points until they
get a better feel for the game.

Confusing issues such as "what happens to my study orders while I've
moving, or on a ship?" go away.

So phases-and-points is easier to tune, makes player turns more robust,
and is generally more flexible to work with than basing everything on
time (note that even in Oly II we had to resort to "points" for one
thing -- nobles. I used only time and gold in Oly I, and I couldn't
tune it.)

What's so great about modeling time?

Rich Skrenta <skrenta@pbm.com>

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