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the main problem of Atlantis?

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  • dmitri6666
    Greetings to all Atlantis experts and Happy New Year! Atlantis is a wonderful game and after being out for more than 2 years I couldn t resist to have a look
    Message 1 of 34 , Jan 2, 2004
      Greetings to all Atlantis experts and Happy New Year!

      Atlantis is a wonderful game and after being "out"
      for more than 2 years I couldn't resist to have a look
      how things have been going here. To my surprise
      there were not so many running games that I could find.
      And most among those few were quite advanced.

      And immediately and probably harder than ever,
      I've faced what I would call the "main problem of Atlantis".
      This is the well known HUGE advantage of any older faction
      against any younger. I don't think I have to tell you
      how huge this advantage is. In my case I still believe
      I know how to handle it and make the best out of it :).
      However, I believe, for most other players,
      (and I've even heard this opinion very recently),
      this is a huge discouraging factor to enter the game.
      By no means I want to neglect all the efforts that have been made
      in this and other forums to solve this problem.
      But the problem seems to be there and seems to be BIG.

      Let me just try to see it with "true newbie"'s eyes.
      Ok, I was told by a friend to try this great game.
      Now I'm looking at the rules and my first impression
      is obviously - the rules are not extremely short :)
      Imho a serious obstacle for a true newbie
      thinking about "just to try".
      Should I really invest my time in reading all this stuff?

      What I am missing is a short "newbie section"
      telling me briefly all the essentials I need to know.
      The "Introduction" chapter is sufficiently short indeed :)
      ending with encouraging words "one can join at any time".
      The next 2 paragraphs about factions are informative and great!
      But already the next paragraph about faction points
      can be imho ignored by a true "just give it a try" newbie
      who is not even sure about continuing to play or not.

      Well... I am probably deviating from what I mainly want to say.
      I know the problem I'm raising is difficult and I'm sure
      many of you have thought about it.
      Our newbie (or even an experienced player just entered the game)
      is currently watching thousands of troops and all kinds of funny
      caracters like leaders with 10 balrogs each, you all know well what
      I'm talking about :))))
      How big are chances our newbie finds in the rules any description of
      say the item "balrog"? Are they "wandering monsters"?
      Look more like "human monsters" :)))
      Maybe this and similar ones are among the reasons some of such newbies
      drop before even trying a very little bit more.

      Ok, the rules warn fairly enough about crowded cities and their
      surrounding area.
      Shall we build a ship? Not an easy task for a newbie I would say.
      Too many new things to think about.
      Makes fun if you have established your base and slowly think
      about opening a ship building factory. But for a real newbie?
      I myself find the sequence 'leave','enter','promote' still quite
      puzzling (and different from other versions I was playing).
      If you first leave the ship,
      how can you promote another unit entering it after?
      And the "tricky" phenomenon that the ship is formed
      far before "build" order is processed
      (think it was mentioned in this forum)
      doesn't seem to be mentioned at all in the rules ...

      Ok, say we've managed to get our longboat and even to move it!
      Where are we sailing? (Hopefully it's not winter :)
      Far from the city ... great! Oops ... what do we see the next turn?
      Our ship was stopped by another one guarding the city???
      (I guess I better stop my "ship story" here :)

      So we forget about ships.
      Fortunately there is another great way to get out or this "balrog
      hell" :) What were these "rumors of a magical Gate Lore" ...
      oh yes - here it is:

      gate lore [GATE] 1: ... A mage ... may also jump through a Gate into
      another region on the same level ...

      (what the hell is the "same level"? ... never mind, maybe not so

      ... containing a gate, selected at random. To use Gate Lore in this
      manner, use the syntax CAST Gate_Lore RANDOM UNITS <unit> ... UNITS
      is followed by a list of units to follow the mage through the Gate
      (the mage always jumps through the Gate). At level 1, the mage may
      carry 15 weight units through the Gate (including the weight of the

      Finally something useful ... ok, let's try it:
      CAST Gate_Lore RANDOM UNITS <unit> ... UNITS

      What? "UNITS" appear twice??? Hm....

      Ok, our newbie is smart enough to guess that the syntax is
      CAST Gate_Lore RANDOM UNITS <unit>,
      he can even guess that <unit> has to be replaced by something
      (he may e.g. have some programming experience :)
      So by what? Most probably by the unit number - great!
      What are the units I can take with me?

      ... 15 weight units ... including the weight of the mage

      What??? Only 15 weight units???
      Not even a follower for my only mage to jump to a place with no idea
      how many "balrog units" in it???
      Ok, if I'm already panicking,
      maybe I should switch to play chess at this point :)
      So fine, no followers - just the mage.
      But then what the hell the <unit> is for?
      Shall I list my mage's id or not?

      Well ... we here all know that simple
      "cast gate random" works just fine :)
      I'm sure our newbie would greatly appreciate to see this line
      in the description of the spell or even in the rules.

      Deviating a bit :),
      my 3 cents of other possible help here:

      1. Have 3 or even 5 (instead of 1) gate jump capable mages immediately
      (Imho would enourmously increase chances to find a nice piece of land
      if there are still any :)

      2. Allow the mage to carry a little settlement with him
      so that the newbie can develop his faction when jumping
      and have something in his hands when deciding to settle down.
      Also good to have some minimum protection against monsters.

      3. To allow the mage not to jump himself but to send a scout.
      So the mage is safe and the scout? Who cares about the scout? :)

      4. To allow allied factions to jump randomly but to the same location.
      Something like "cast gate following <unit number>".
      So the new allies are not separated.

      Ok, the world is tough, the life is hard, our newbie
      is not a princess who has to be served everything on a silver plate :)
      But let's have a very brief look on how the same newbie's story would
      go if he'd arrived to the same place what we would call "on time" :)
      A lot of land everywhere - just take what you like and have fun!
      No need to bother about ships, gates or other tricky methods
      (not to mention the absence of balrogs :),
      just train your taxers and start receiving income right from the turn
      after! Now relax, go drink beer and watch other lately arrived guys
      struggling with their own problems :)

      So can I finally make any suggestions or just keep "complaining"? :)
      Yes, I do have few (many of them are probably not new for most of you)
      but here is one that I haven't seen mentioned before (doesn't mean it
      is really new for you guys of course):

      - Restricted interaction!

      What the hell do I mean?
      Ok, imagine a newbie enters a starting city full of balrogs but what
      he sees is the empty city!!!! Maybe a couple of guys not to make it
      completely boring but that's all!
      In some sense our friend is "too young" to see the balrogs and most of
      the old guys. He doesn't see them, they don't see him - he can't
      interact with them at all!!! This is what I mean by "restricted
      The last thing you mind as a newbie is the business of all these balrogs!
      You can have a very reasonable life without seeing their ugly faces
      for quite a long while :)

      So basically, to come to the point,
      what I mean is that factions whose ages are very different, do not
      interact at all!
      So what about taxing if say the limit is exhausted?
      The restricted interaction goes that far!
      The young factions have their own budget and their own taxing limit!
      No interaction is no interaction!

      So I can recruit a bunch of my allies and friends from other games
      or from the so-called RL, enter with them at the time of our joint
      convenience and have a great start equal to the start
      of any faction at the very beginning!
      At present we can't even make sure
      to jump to the same location!

      I hope this describes the basic idea,
      there are clear technical problems
      and a true, ballanced and simple realization of this idea
      is much harder job than suggesting it :)
      This is just a humble and naive attempt to bring it to discussion.

      But the advantages might be great!
      A newbie entering Atlantis would
      have as much fun as those old players
      who entered it at the very beginning!
      This will certainly attract new players
      and make the Atlantis worlds more alive.
      And also for older players it would certainly be
      more fun to see competitive newbies rather
      than those poor helpless guys.
      At some moment the "helpless guys"
      may turn into competitive players
      and this might be the right moment to
      "switch on" the interaction!
      Again, this is just a vague idea.

      And what about those players who
      _prefer_ to see the balrogs right away?
      Well, they might be given a chance to change
      their age in the "unfavourite" direction.
      So they can interract immediately with older factions
      but also face the consequences.

      Imho this may even help solving the "cheating problem".
      An older guy cannot use a new faction unless
      he "moves" its age to ineract with it.
      And things like "big age movements"
      won't certainly occur too often
      when the "true new factions" have a possibility
      to have a "quiet time". So this can be easier monitored
      by GMs who may interfere if needed.

      Yet another great advantage I can mention here!
      Say you are one of these frustrated old factions
      who has spent long time on your development
      and you are used to think you were great for quite a while.
      Then unexpectedly you got struck by a stronger alliance
      keeping killing your units one after another.
      Many factions just drop at such moments
      as it is no more fun for them.
      Will they enter again the same world? Hardly.
      Unless they have this opportunity not to see
      those "ugly faces" for a while, have a new start,
      accumulate their forces again and then,
      when they are so far to interract with their hated enemies,
      they can finally strike back and their strike can be
      horrible since it is 1) completely unexpected and
      2) by someone perfectly knowing the whole area and the enemy himself!

      Well ... I guess I've already written a longer letter than I wanted
      and don't want to make it even longer.
      To finish I just want to say that I have great respect
      for those who invest their time in developing this game
      to make it big fun for other ungrateful complainers :)

      All the best,
    • cbossel
      ... Excellent post. I play Atlantis since 1.5 year now and agree with the 5 points listed by Piotr. One idea about b) Empire Size: What limits Empire Size is
      Message 34 of 34 , Feb 12, 2004
        --- In atlantisdev@yahoogroups.com, "pjtr" <p42@g...> wrote:
        > a) Useless Complexity
        > b) Empire Size
        > c) Lack of strategy and game balance
        > d) game atmoshere
        > e) game goal and player roles
        > -- Piotr

        Excellent post. I play Atlantis since 1.5 year now and agree with the
        5 points listed by Piotr.

        One idea about b) Empire Size: What limits Empire Size is not the
        Faction Points but the Real-Time available, as a faction can grow
        (slowly) by @work and @entertain.

        One possibility: increase the maintenance cost in Hex not used in the
        faction points (eg: where you do not trade/tax/have a mage) - that's
        it, you limit the faction size.
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