Re: Ultimate Goals in Olympia

Carl Edman (
Sun, 22 Jan 1995 16:32:39 GMT

In article <3fpb21$> (John Morrow) writes: (Carl Edman) writes:
>In my opinion, the best, easiest and most realistic (at least partial)
>fix for the problem is to drastically reduce visibility of small

"Spotting" has been discussed before. I think it came up in the Oly I
design list.

I know. I _think_ I was on most of the various design lists. :)

The objection Rich had to it (correct me if I'm wrong) was that he
feared that, especially in the beginning of the game, players
wouldn't see anyone else in the game with them and get antsy. This
is a valid concern, since a large part of the game is generally
interacting with other players and NPC units.

That is a good point. But this doesn't really apply to my proposal as
all players would start out in (and for long times remain in) cities
in which spotting is either automatic or easier. And if you want a
sure thing in any case, people can meet inside structures like inns.
I always thought that this had a nice realistic feel to it -- if you
want to cooperate with someone make a date to meet at the local pub
for a particular time.

Another concern is whether or not units who can't spot one another can
interact in other, non-military, ways. For instance, do I need to
issue a flag or issue a "JUMP-UP-AND-DOWN" command so that someone can
GIVE me something? If so, that adds another level of complexity to the
game and yet another area where people can screw up their orders in
an environment where people are asking that it be made EASIER to GIVE
and GET things across zero-time links. If I can do some things (like
GIVE) but can't do others (like ATTACK), do they appear on my turn
report and, if so, how useful is being "hidden" if one can actually
be seen?

No, I don't think that you should be able to do some things, but not
others. If you can give something to somebody, you can attack him
too. But I don't think that is a big problem. If you want to meet
with somebody, make an appointment at a local structure or the nearest
city. That small bands of independent travelers in the forest can
interact with each other like they were in the same room, does not
seem to be a desirable feature to me.

In short, can you provide a full, yet simple implementation?

I could. As a matter of fact I did for a tragically demised game
called Epos. However I don't really want to write all that code
unless Rich promises to use it. :)

>For example, two stacks of half a dozen men in a forest
>province should only have a few percent chance of showing up in each
>others location reports (or triggering hostile settings).

I'm not really excited about the idea of there being odds of being
seen. I'd rather it be an absolute instead of based on "luck" (e.g.
BtA is frolicking alone in the woods and just happens to be spotted
by Oleg's hunting band on a 1 in 100 shot). If such a plan is
implemented, it should be "absolute" so the players know where they

I tend to agree, even if for slightly different reasons. If BtA takes
a frolic in the woods infested by The Unspeakable Ones roving vermin,
there should be a small chance (or large chance if there are enough
vermin) that he gets caught. That'll teach him to walk around without
his Nazgul bodyguard. Not that BtA has been seen outside his tower
for the past two years. He's been busy.

But in a PBM there are problems with random chances. What if the
vermin issues ten attack orders every day ? Do they get ten chances
to spot ? If they don't, do you store whether any particular unit has
tried to spot another particular unit on a given day ? No, chance may
be more realistic, but an implementation which just has a threshold
varying based on the factors I listed, would be fine with me.

>The number
>of men in the spotting unit should slightly (let's say
>logarithmically) increase the chance of spotting. The size of the
>to-be-spotted unit should strongly (linearly ?) increase the chance
>of spotting.

You can make "reality" arguments on all sides of this based on
assumptions about what hirelings are doing. I think the only really
important factor is the size of the unit being spotted. I'd rather
not encourage players to build up large stacks simply for the purpose
of spotting others. It might be logical, though, to provide bonuses
for the owner of a garrison.

Hmm. I take the opposite view. Why should 10 soldiers in a unit have
a smaller chance to spot than 10 soldiers in a garrison ? And I
seriously doubt that people are actually going to try and build large
stacks just to earn a (logarithmic !) improvement in spotting odds.
Even if they did, would that be so wrong ? Ever heard of man hunts ?

But I'd still argue that whether or not a unit is spotted should
depend *only* on the size of the unit being spotted and the type of
location they are in. This will allow players to select whether or
not they want to be seen and you won't have players complaining that
they thought they were safe and were "cheated".

I could certain live with a rule which depends only on the size and
location of the spotted unit and not the size of the spotter.

"Relative" is a key word up there. I don't think that even a 1%
chance of spotting is satisfactory for a player moving a lone noble
around who has no combat skills. Remember, some people don't want to
be involved in combat at all.

Sadly, much as in real life that is not an option. At least until
Rich implements the auto-surrender command.

If you offend somebody sufficiently powerful, sufficiently much, you
_should_ fear for your life. If you have a Big Mouth(TM), you need to
be able run very fast or have military strength and as recent history
teaches us, sometimes even both are not enough. Olympia is not a
pacifistic game, nor is it supposed to be. That is one reason I'm
opposed even to safe havens.

What we want to do is make the routine killing of small bands of
nobles sufficiently much hassle for the powerful armies that they
won't do it unless they have a really good reason to.

And why would an army attack a lone inn builder and some workers?

Because it has been given orders by the head honcho to kill that
obnoxious inn keeper ?

As for the "wimpy" idea, since I suggested it, let me defend it.

Why would an army attack a single noble with 10 workers? Because the
player doing the attacking *knows* that noble is player controlled and
might have goodies. In "reality", is that noble and 10 workers or a
noble and some entertainers (Olympia I) that much different than the
throngs of peasants and other people roaming Olympia that you can't
see? Not really. What makes them interesting is that they are
specifically listed on the turn report as a player controlled unit.
They become a target *because* they are player controlled which is a
characteristic of the unit outside of the game.

Well, I'm trying to solve that problem at its root by making
inconspicuous small bands of nobles hard to see, just because they tend
to blend into the woodwork or the general population.

What "wimpy" mode does is to say that a noble won't attack unarmed
units *because they have no reason to within the game setting*. They
aren't military.

Don't try to presume reasons of the players. What they do in a game
is their business and the code should not try and make such judgments
for them. If BtA walked into an inn at Mt. Olympus and there was an
otherwise inconspicuous noble so much as carrying a banner reading "BtA
is a loonie !", that noble very soon find himself in the unusual
position of occupying at least partially Provinia, Atnos, West Illion
as well as a number of as of yet undiscovered regions. I think that
is perfectly valid. And -- for the record -- so I would if the
situation were reversed. :)

>Other things in Olympia need to be changed to allow greater personal
>growth of "heroic" nobles, but this would be a start.

Yes. I've suggested that Rich implement *and enforce* space limits on
internal locations such as hills and graveyards and such. That way, a
noble and a large army couldn't enter, only a small band of nobles and
maybe some fighting men. This would let Rich better tune monsters to
require certain types of forces to defeat.

That I completely agree with. This is both a real problem and the
correct solution.

Carl Edman