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Unread 10 May 2006, 22:55   #1
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Discussion of exiles/placements and incentives for teaching newbies

First off, many thanks to Appocomaster, Stoom and Rob for help in forming the following thoughts.

The current mindset is that the mixing of private and random galaxies is beneficial. This is not only wrong, but this mindset is actually harmful to PA. I readily admit that it often results in behavior. Not only do I admit this, but I'm going to provide some empirical evidence to that effect. I'm going to outline a system I think would be better and, more importantly, the reasons it would be better.

The buddy pack system, in which private mini-galaxies are intertwingled with random planets aims to mix experienced and inexperienced players. It is hoped that some of these relationships end with the inexperienced player learning more about the game and thus becoming involved, active and more importantly: returning. Let us define this as a Good thing. Let us define being attacked with 3-4 fleets every day without means to compete as a Bad thing (let's call this bashing).

I know for a fact that this system occasionally causes good behavior, because I behave well under it.

My first full round of PAX was r13. For a few reasons I decided to go random. Primarily I figured I would be more likely to hit 1 active buddypack by going random (back then there were 2 packs of 3 to a galaxy.) I also didn't want to pack with 2 people I would never see (which is basically what I would've needed to do in terms of trusted coverage.) I ended up in a pretty bad galaxy, it ended up ranked lower than my 49th. Throughout the round I tried my best to sandbag my GC from exiling the less than active players, because I felt they would support me against him. (My GC was WP, but very friendly with EXilition. I was 1up.)

I helped out any galmates I could. I posted links to threads, I posted threads on the gal forum. I mailed new arrivals.

I've decided that my time is worth more than that, so now I have some very simple requirements to help people. They have to ask. I'm more than willing to help, but they have to ask. If they ask ingame, they get a short version of the answer plus 'come on IRC to discuss it further'. I've introduced new players to the game this way.

Round 13 taught me not to be scared of having a bad galaxy. As long as my galmates are there with me when the shit is going down, I don't care if their fleet is a one-shot cover or a tiny bit of 0-loss def to grind some value off the attacking fleet. If they're there with me, that's enough. PA is a team game. If they're on the team, I don't care if they're #1 or #1000.

So I like to think I've helped some people become active members of the community. Great.

Notice how the exile system and galaxy placement had tiny parts in that story?

That's because they didn't really matter very much.

The newbies I helped were helped because I'm that kind of guy. The exile/galaxy system only put us together. If I'd ended up in a galaxy where everyone knew how to play, then I wouldn't have gotten anyone on IRC or helped them build an attack fleet, or scanned any of their targets. We could have just as well been matched up by lottery numbers.

At this point there is a large group of people who are stuck in a mindset that because the current exile/galaxy setup allows Good placements (that is, player combinations that lead to a new player learning and taking part in the game), that it must be Good. But it doesn't actually cause anything of the sort. It's actually irrelevant. There are many other placement systems that would fallicitate the same.

The mindset that people are stuck in, however, is Bad. In this thread, Stifler linked to a rant we had disagreeing with the current system. We want our own galaxies, we cried. Of course, we were both somewhat misguided. I was just sick of asking my ministers to go vote. I was sick of seeing millions of resources (yes, millions) fly out the window so we could get planets that weren't dead.

I want to take some quotes from that thread and share:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wishmaster
I love current setup. And in general I feel that people like the BP system.

People can make an account now without having a BP and still be able to play a good round.
This states what is Good about the system. As a player you have some degree of control over what galaxy you end up with, but you have to settle for the first good enough one, otherwise you're too likely to end up stuck in a crap one without resources to self-exile out. So as an active/decent player, you're pretty much guaranteed a playable galaxy. That is Good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WeaponX
problem with the current system is...it depends a lot on luck

if you donīt get good exiles than you are doomed to be out of top 50 basically

and luck factor isnīt what makes such games interesting tbh
This pretty much sums up the problem with the current system. For the random players, it's controlled luck, for the galaxies, it's blind luck with some very weak and expensive control. There is a lot of inactive planet traffic and not very much active planet traffic. If you don't get active planets in the initial flurry of activity, you're unlikely to get them later.

Not only that, but the current system doesn't actually encourage any Good behavior on the part of the galaxy. Quite the contrary, some of the specifics discourage Good behavior and the system as a whole encourages Bad behavior.

The exile cost formula is based on number of exiles, and the exile's value. A galaxy with good early randoms will be exiling few planets of low value. The galaxies that get no good early randoms will be exiling many planets with ever increasing value. There are currently 59 planets in c200+ with >150k value. Many of these will be exiled over and over as they log in, are thrown out, log in again a few days later. This is Bad, because bad galaxies have to pay more than good galaxies, thus furthering the gap and allowing them to be bashed (as defined earlier) more. This can probably be fixed without changing the exile/placement formula much.

What impression does this give to the new player not lucky enough to land in a galaxy with someone who will give them a shot? They don't understand it. There's a reason that the first thing I hear from some galmates is 'why did you exile me?!'. They don't understand that I'm forced, several times a day, to judge the worth of planets in my galaxy and they were found wanting. How could they? They don't know about the game. This is Bad, because they're likely to end their round in a dead end galaxy.


On the assumption that there is a better system, what would it be?

Private galaxies as we know them from previous rounds? I don't think so. I want a private galaxy for my own sanity's sake, not for the game balance's sake.

What we need is a system in which it is beneficial to teach a new player the ropes. Not for its own sake, but an actual direct ingame reward. People can whine about teaching a new player being its own reward, but they can **** off. I want ingame rewards for Good behavior, because in a game where the best players are busy competing, they need that sort of incentive. Currently the desire to be best means you exile inexperienced players, not foster them into better ones.

If you shift the focus of the game to include teaching newbies, people will teach newbies. It shouldn't be a big shift. It should be a small one. One that it is possible to ignore for people who don't want to take the time out. But it should provide an edge for people who do over people who don't.

Here is one fairly fresh (and therefore unpolished) idea:

The round starts with everyone dispersed into random galaxies of size (for example, this can be adjusted) 10. Galaxies can exile planets, but people who are exiled are not sent to other galaxies. They are sent to a new galaxy. People can self-exile, but they are similarly sent to a new galaxy. I don't think either of these things should cost resources. Exile should continue to require the GC and at least one if not all ministers voting. With a galaxy size of 10 it's possible to end up with 7 dead planets though.

A galaxy can petition a planet to join their galaxy. This allows galaxy building without any random element. When a galaxy (which may at this point be a single planet who has been exiled or has self-exiled) petitions a player, they get a message on some page (a new one perhaps?) that tells them they have been invited to join x:y.

Currently this is just private galaxies with some weak suggestions to entertain randomness.

So how do we add incentive to teach new players to do better? I propose that it cost resources to petition someone to join a galaxy. So that a galaxy can say "hello mr x:y:z, please join my galaxy a:b, we're active and will give you 20k of each res to join us."

How would one display multiple bids? To prevent pure private galaxyisms, one should prevent multiple simultaneous bids. How about this:

A bid must stand for 24 ticks to be accepted.
The resources are tied in the bid, so you can't make bids you can't pay.
You also 'lose' money if you bid for a bunch of planets that don't want to join your galaxy.
Whenever a galaxy is outbid, they're warned and their resources are freed up.
When a planet accepts a bid, they are paid the money and moved to the galaxy.
Bids are tied to z coordinates, so that if you have 9 planets, you can only bid for 1 planet at a time. (I'm less sure of this one.)

Now we have a mechanism in which people can build private galaxies of 10. There are hints of a market system here, which would price good players higher, but there are two problems. There's not enough information early on to price good players high enough. There are many galaxies which would not want good players (for example ones that the good player is likely to have trust issues with).

To provide incentive to bring new players into galaxies, I propose that the size limit on galaxies be increased by 1 every 100 ticks (again, numbers are adjustable, this will lead to very large late game galaxies). Good players won't want to be stranded early on. They'll want their good galaxy from the word go. Therefore the best candidates for bidding at pt172 will be players who are outclassing/growing their current galaxy.

This is but one idea, based on a compromise between the desire to be able to influence galaxies and encourage helping new players filter into the higher tiers.

I hope this thread can serve not a discussion of the relative merits of the current system vs the proposed system, but rather as a discussion of what elements a new system should include to promote influence from both the active planet and the galaxy that want the active planet. Can you come up with any exile/sign-up placement systems that give incentives to Good?
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Unread 11 May 2006, 00:02   #2
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Re: Discussion of exiles/placements and incentives for teaching newbies

That's an interesting system. Those who do economics can see the strong market influence in the final section.

Whilst i've not the time to go into detail now, i am curious about one thing; when resources due to a failed bid are 'lost' - where do they go? to the player who accepted the bid, to their galaxy fund, to the ether?

Additionally, i am not sure about having new galaxy each time someone is exiled or chooses to exile. Is it so hard to have a "Market Garden" galaxy where all available planets are listed (but with severely limited options such as no in-gal def, no gal fund, no ministers etc?). That way it would be easier to find people without a planet search...
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Unread 11 May 2006, 00:02   #3
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Re: Discussion of exiles/placements and incentives for teaching newbies

If I hadn't just finished myself off, I think this post would be my porn for tonight. Nice thread. Now...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Banned
You also 'lose' money if you bid for a bunch of planets that don't want to join your galaxy.
I can see this being alot like the old Stargate thing where noob galaxies would save up all their resources to build something completely useless. I can't help but think that the already "uneducated" GCs would rally to recruit the #1 planet. However, there is probably an incredibly easy way of preventing this, so your idea is still OK.

However, I still think this will just lead to power houses again, unless we can stick to a fixed number of planets in each galaxy. I am a great fan of 8/10/12 planets to each galaxy because once my randoms are in, I know who they are and I can begin teaching them the game basics. I don't want to have to fakenick ALL round (yes, yes, I know I don't HAVE to) for when random signup #17 joins my galaxy. I want to begin building a team, not a core. Again, this is nothing to do with what you wrote.

On another note, if everybody in a galaxy is randomly placed, who decides to offer a player a place in the galaxy? The GC I assume, although this is worse than exiling - "will you donate to the fund so we can replace you please?" - because if this were to be implemented, I think it should force a player into a 'good start' or 'good galaxy' position in terms of available resources.

Also if you were a big planet, why would you join a crappy galaxy because they offer you all their resources? What use is a large planet without a large galaxy other than being a farm to medium sized players?
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Unread 11 May 2006, 00:07   #4
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Re: Discussion of exiles/placements and incentives for teaching newbies

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Real Arfy
Also if you were a big planet, why would you join a crappy galaxy because they offer you all their resources? What use is a large planet without a large galaxy other than being a farm to medium sized players?
Cynically, they would move to a crap gal, pinch all the resources, boost their planet significantly, self exile back into the market system, move to a crap (but slightly wealthier) gal, boost their score, self exile [repeat n times], be accepted into a good/exceptional galaxy because their planet is so 'good', and stay.

Thus those big planets arent a farm for medium players, they are farming them. :\
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Unread 11 May 2006, 03:27   #5
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Re: Discussion of exiles/placements and incentives for teaching newbies

I must be missing something, but I can't see why a top galaxy would either take in new players or pay a lot for big planets. Surely you'd just offer next to no resources to the biggest planets out there - knowing that they'd rather be in a top galaxy than get a few resources then get roided.

Where's the incentive to take in (let alone train) newer players?
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Unread 11 May 2006, 08:23   #6
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Re: Discussion of exiles/placements and incentives for teaching newbies

Thanks for the comments
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ultimate Newbie
Whilst i've not the time to go into detail now, i am curious about one thing; when resources due to a failed bid are 'lost' - where do they go? to the player who accepted the bid, to their galaxy fund, to the ether?
The resources would only be tied up for the duration of the bid, so the failed bid is returned to the bidder.

Quote:
Additionally, i am not sure about having new galaxy each time someone is exiled or chooses to exile. Is it so hard to have a "Market Garden" galaxy where all available planets are listed (but with severely limited options such as no in-gal def, no gal fund, no ministers etc?). That way it would be easier to find people without a planet search...
That works too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Real Arfy
I can see this being alot like the old Stargate thing where noob galaxies would save up all their resources to build something completely useless. I can't help but think that the already "uneducated" GCs would rally to recruit the #1 planet. However, there is probably an incredibly easy way of preventing this, so your idea is still OK.
Since they don't actually lose the money when he ignores them (just so long as the bid is standing), I don't see any harm in it.


Quote:
However, I still think this will just lead to power houses again, unless we can stick to a fixed number of planets in each galaxy.
Let's ignore that for the time being and focus on whether or not we can find some actual incentives to help new players out.

Quote:
On another note, if everybody in a galaxy is randomly placed, who decides to offer a player a place in the galaxy? The GC I assume, although this is worse than exiling - "will you donate to the fund so we can replace you please?" - because if this were to be implemented, I think it should force a player into a 'good start' or 'good galaxy' position in terms of available resources.
I disagree that this is somehow worse than exiling. Random galaxies have to have some way to bid for new players, the GC is the natural choice for this. Do you have a better idea?

Quote:
Also if you were a big planet, why would you join a crappy galaxy because they offer you all their resources? What use is a large planet without a large galaxy other than being a farm to medium sized players?
I suppose if it's enough resources and your alliance is strong enough, it can be worth taking.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ultimate Newbie
Cynically, they would move to a crap gal, pinch all the resources, boost their planet significantly, self exile back into the market system, move to a crap (but slightly wealthier) gal, boost their score, self exile [repeat n times], be accepted into a good/exceptional galaxy because their planet is so 'good', and stay.

Thus those big planets arent a farm for medium players, they are farming them. :\
Yeah, there would need to be some time limits to prevent donations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Synthetic_Sid
I must be missing something, but I can't see why a top galaxy would either take in new players or pay a lot for big planets. Surely you'd just offer next to no resources to the biggest planets out there - knowing that they'd rather be in a top galaxy than get a few resources then get roided.
I'm assuming there would be others (stupid GCs like Arfy mentioned?) bidding for the big planets, thus pushing up their price. A planet wouldn't be able to directly reject a bid, so the big galaxies would be forced to outbid the smaller ones. The planet also can't accept any bid except for the highest.

Quote:
Where's the incentive to take in (let alone train) newer players?
In this system it's only indirectly present. I'm assuming all the good players will get galaxies early on (in the initial rush to build galaxies), thus leaving a lot of spots opening throughout the round in good galaxies with few established players to take them. I don't suppose the top galaxies will have much trouble poaching planets, but this will open new spaces in otherwise good galaxies etc.
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Unread 11 May 2006, 16:01   #7
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Re: Discussion of exiles/placements and incentives for teaching newbies

basically you making the building of private galaxies bit complicated but in the end its that...you build up private galaxies, its like the bp joining after shuffle

this bid system sounds like sth that could lead into some troubles, if i have more time on my hands i will go further into deep on that topic...

Basically the current problem is that if you have bad luck you are in a gal with 4 active guys and rest inactive or even spies...(thats only if all of your bp turn out to be really active)

i think the self-exiling should stay like it is, but the bp should get bigger - letz say 8 ppl + exiling should cost 0 and like able to exile after 10 ticks of joining the gal (that way you can make space for ppl who are really interested to learn the game and get rid of spies, useless planets)

the system atm isnīt too bad, its just needs adjusting like bigger bp, and the changed exiling system would stop useless planets sitting around in gals
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Unread 11 May 2006, 16:10   #8
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Re: Discussion of exiles/placements and incentives for teaching newbies

I think most of you are missing the point. The specific system I've proposed is just a possibility, the actual system isn't what I'd like to discuss.
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Unread 14 May 2006, 13:48   #9
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Re: Discussion of exiles/placements and incentives for teaching newbies

So, basically you buy (buy, bid on, the precise mechanics of how the price is arrrived at I will slightly ignore) other people's planets into your gal. I have a feeling that the smaller planets that you want to encourage being bought in and trained will just get left in the market-garden/exile gal, whilst experienced players will just use it to create the private gals which were broken up, albeit at some cost.

People generally prefer to pay more for something worthwhile that may be some use than pay less for something that's prolly gonna be a 100% waste of less cash. Big gals are unlikely to benificently buy small planets, esp when they could potentially spunk their wad on one nice planet than a bunch of less good ones. The only way big gals might be interested in buying small planets would be e.g. if someone they know is joining the round late, or restarting for whatever reason and then again the whole point of this is defeated. As mentioned before here, I can see not only less experienced gals wasting money trying to buy good players that just leave again straight away, but also wasting money on rubbish/inactive ones that give nothing back.

Surely, to make the gals take a chance on the smaller ones you have to offer an incentive to take them on, not make them pay for the 'priviledge'? I know the suggestion wont go down all that well as its dumb as hell, but you really would need to be paying gals to take small planets in and grow them, which, of course, would be easily abused. How would you decide what to pay - flat rate or related to what else is on the market? Ramping scale over the round to reward gals that take a chance on a small planet late in the round? Would you get paid for all planets? Say #1 exiles, you get paid to take him in? If pay is proportional to other planets available, if #1 exiles all other planets essentially become worthless.

Perhaps one solution to attempt to give a reward but reduce the risk of abuse could be the gal 'buys' a planet as already suggested. The gal then has a short time (say 5 days) in which the planet for reasons that become clear cannot exile/be exiled. The planet's value/score is then compared to when it started, and an amout of what was paid refunded. So, say the planet's value/score (whichever the most appropriate is decided to be) is increased by 40%, then 40% of the price is refunded. Probably would be best to set this a bit lower so it wouldnt be necessary to double a planets value/score to make your money back, and give them the chance to actually make money overall if they do their job well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Banned
The exile cost formula is based on number of exiles, and the exile's value. A galaxy with good early randoms will be exiling few planets of low value. The galaxies that get no good early randoms will be exiling many planets with ever increasing value. There are currently 59 planets in c200+ with >150k value. Many of these will be exiled over and over as they log in, are thrown out, log in again a few days later. This is Bad, because bad galaxies have to pay more than good galaxies, thus furthering the gap and allowing them to be bashed (as defined earlier) more. This can probably be fixed without changing the exile/placement formula much.
Why not just change the existing exile system to relate the exile cost to the value/score of the gal so make it more costly for t10 gals to exile hoping for better players, and more costly for a top player landed in say a #50 gal to exile again hoping for better.

Making it more expensive for a big gal to dump small planets hoping for bigger ones would encourage them to make the best of what they have - if you got an active t400 player but it costs the earth to exile him, better use of funds may well be to try and build him up than chuck him out.

Making self exiles more expensive for a planet in a big gal would encourgae tham more to settle for something they may consider 'below' them and make the best of developing the guys there.

Its harder to abuse this I feel, as it would require the value/score of whole galaxies to be manipulated.
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Unread 15 May 2006, 11:57   #10
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Re: Discussion of exiles/placements and incentives for teaching newbies

Thanks for your post Viper, there are many interesting points here.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Viper
So, basically you buy (buy, bid on, the precise mechanics of how the price is arrrived at I will slightly ignore) other people's planets into your gal. I have a feeling that the smaller planets that you want to encourage being bought in and trained will just get left in the market-garden/exile gal, whilst experienced players will just use it to create the private gals which were broken up, albeit at some cost.
This is basically the system. Upon examining it under the light of day it seems like a simple inversion of the current exile/placement system. While it doesn't have any explicit incentives to train newbies, I still think it would be far better than the current system. I'll detail why below.

Quote:
Big gals are unlikely to benificently buy small planets, esp when they could potentially spunk their wad on one nice planet than a bunch of less good ones. The only way big gals might be interested in buying small planets would be e.g. if someone they know is joining the round late, or restarting for whatever reason and then again the whole point of this is defeated.
I think what we would see is that the universe would run out of good players early on, and that the later players bought into big galaxies would be 'newish' players who are showing potential. These would then be given the chance to build contact networks for joining better alliances and so on.

I think this would be beneficial.

Quote:
Surely, to make the gals take a chance on the smaller ones you have to offer an incentive to take them on, not make them pay for the 'priviledge'? I know the suggestion wont go down all that well as its dumb as hell, but you really would need to be paying gals to take small planets in and grow them, which, of course, would be easily abused. How would you decide what to pay - flat rate or related to what else is on the market? Ramping scale over the round to reward gals that take a chance on a small planet late in the round? Would you get paid for all planets? Say #1 exiles, you get paid to take him in? If pay is proportional to other planets available, if #1 exiles all other planets essentially become worthless.
You're basically restating what I was trying to communicate with the middle half of my long post earlier. I've had some basic ideas, but most of them are abusable in that it's generally easier to identify friends who will do well than newbies who are likely to do well.

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Perhaps one solution to attempt to give a reward but reduce the risk of abuse could be the gal 'buys' a planet as already suggested. The gal then has a short time (say 5 days) in which the planet for reasons that become clear cannot exile/be exiled. The planet's value/score is then compared to when it started, and an amout of what was paid refunded. So, say the planet's value/score (whichever the most appropriate is decided to be) is increased by 40%, then 40% of the price is refunded. Probably would be best to set this a bit lower so it wouldnt be necessary to double a planets value/score to make your money back, and give them the chance to actually make money overall if they do their job well.
I like this, but I don't think it should be based on the short term. It suffers from the same problem I described above.

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Why not just change the existing exile system to relate the exile cost to the value/score of the gal so make it more costly for t10 gals to exile hoping for better players, and more costly for a top player landed in say a #50 gal to exile again hoping for better.
This would be a great improvement over the current system. Appocomaster: if you're looking for a simple quick-fix, start here.

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Its harder to abuse this I feel, as it would require the value/score of whole galaxies to be manipulated.


I think that to look at what the system I described would benefit, we should look back to the beginnings of private galaxies. The first private galaxies were semi-private like the current BP system. (Someone correct me if I'm wring here.) After round 2, galaxies were allowed to carry over to round 3, keeping whatever planets they chose. Through this and some sign-up timing, people could reliably land a few planets in the same galaxy, if not all 25 planets.

The reasoning here was that people who wanted to play together should be allowed to. There was no worrying about newbies being integrated at this point. In round 4 fully private galaxies were allowed. Newbies who had built contacts in r2-3 were able to put together private or partially private galaxies. Again, newbie friendliness was not taken into account. And in fact it remained this way until r6, when it had become clear that p2p was causing the player count to dwindle.

The problem identified prior to r6 was that private galaxies were exclusive. They were formed at the beginning of the round and stayed the same (bar *cough* account trading), What wasn't taken into account was that it was not often that all 25 people knew eachother from the word go, and that often it was a way for people to get to know eachother better. This let people move from sub-communities and onwards.

The real problem, however, was people who signed up late (which is about 50% of the planets at the end of current rounds) or were unable to build full private galaxies at the beginning of the round. These people were shunted off into shitty random galaxies that were doomed to failure by the fact that even the most half-assed private galaxies were likely to be less inviting targets.

The problem I identify here, which is apart from any incentive to train newbies*, is that new players are given a vastly inferior play experience to people who have private galaxies. The current system seems to be the compromise that worsens the private galaxy player's experience as much as it improves the random player's.

What my system does, that no private galaxy system earlier has done, is that it allows new players to work to even the odds in the current round, as opposed to the next one. People who are trying to get to grips with the game can band together and learn together, rather than rely on the charity of experienced players that they might be able to self-exile to.

This system is better than people forming alliances, because not as much entry-level activity is required to defend ingal.

Yes, this does mean that we need to balance against the nastiest top galaxy that will be made. This is why I think there should be a starting limit that increases as the round progresses. This starting limit can be very low, but I think that galaxies under the size of 10 start impairing the enjoyability of the game. Attackability of galaxies can be balanced with stats if done right (eg make 0-loss defenses inefficient, so that a single ingal fleet doesn't ruin your day).

* Remember, the only real reason I brought this up is that the current system is defended by people who maintain that it's the way to train newbies and integrate them into the community. I think these people are wrong and that their mindset causes a bad galaxy/placement system to be perpetuated.
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Unread 15 May 2006, 18:14   #11
XelNaga
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Re: Discussion of exiles/placements and incentives for teaching newbies

Everyone interested in this issue might want to read this post of mine, it included a suggestion for a new system to handle exiles and inactives, which is a huge change, but which at the same time is a good, and far better, solution in my eyes.

*edit* wakey was kind enough to delete my some hours worth of work to satisfy his ego.
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Last edited by XelNaga; 16 May 2006 at 15:53.
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