Proposed - Timing Out Stalemates

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Re: Proposed - Timing Out Stalemates

Postby condude1 » 23 Sep 2018, 18:37

duckling wrote:
I agree with condude about this almost certainly not effecting normal play, but if everyone left in the game is fine with it, I say let it be.



Except if you offer an automated alternative way out of a game, it becomes much easier to aim for that as an outcome.
You’re subtly changing peoples incentives.


I mean, if you can stop someone from taking ANY province for 3 years, and they don't have a neutral to flip if they want to push it off longer, I think it's safe to say it's drawn anyways.
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Re: Proposed - Timing Out Stalemates

Postby AardvarkArmy » 24 Sep 2018, 06:59

Fatmo wrote:I wouldn't really necessarily want to see this automated.

You never know if a situation will come up where there is a stalemate between a potential soloist and some alliance trying to stop the solo, but that everyone wants to let play out a bit. There should never be an automated ending for a game of Diplomacy other than a solo or a draw being accepted by all survivors.

But if at least one person is fed up with it, knowing that nothing will ever change, they can report it.

I agree with condude about this almost certainly not effecting normal play, but if everyone left in the game is fine with it, I say let it be.

I guess if I was going to suggest anything along these lines, it might be to include a little admin popup help-style message on the main game map page of a game informing people of this deadlocked games procedure. It's true that perhaps only people that follow the forums closely have any idea that the procedure exists. Maybe somewhere on the stats drop-down menu or something like that.


I disagree completely. After 3 years (6 moves) with absolutely no change, I just don't believe you can credibly posit ANY "change" scenario that any of the players can be awaiting other than the simple hope that someone else gets fed up and NMR's

That's a sleazy and utterly invalid way to "win" a game.

I absolutely believe that a forced DIAS draw should happen after 3 solid game years of pure stalemate. The comparable analogy is the auto-surrendering of NMR countries during a game. Why is this done? Because it is universally understood that winning just because someone else NMR's isn't winning at all.

The precisely same logic applies here. There should be a AUTOMATIC mechanism to ensure that no one is "winning" just by waiting for others to NMR
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Re: Proposed - Timing Out Stalemates

Postby Fatmo » 24 Sep 2018, 09:35

AardvarkArmy wrote:I disagree completely. After 3 years (6 moves) with absolutely no change, I just don't believe you can credibly posit ANY "change" scenario that any of the players can be awaiting other than the simple hope that someone else gets fed up and NMR's

That's a sleazy and utterly invalid way to "win" a game.


I absolutely agree 100% and believe this is a terrible way to try to win a game. That's why I'd advocate for the deadlocked games procedure to be more easily accessible somewhere on the game screen, such as in the status menu.

I just think it seems a bit much to have any automated ending of a game that's not an agreed to draw or solo. I might be in the minority in this opinion though. While I do think it's against the spirit of the game to just wait around for an NMR so you can solo, I also think it's against the spirit of the game to have the computer automatically end a game without a draw being accepted or a solo won. The deadlocked games procedure is a nice middle ground I think. Perhaps there's a reason it wasn't automated in the first place.

I wouldn't be opposed to some kind of automatic trigger such as two or three years without a change in SC ownership to having an admin message pop up in the Public Press that mentions the deadlocked games procedure. Maybe it might even be possible to use the "report this post" feature on that post to alert the mods that at least one person wants to submit the game to mods to examine. Or the admin post could have a link to PM the mods or something.

Not sure how easy or hard any of these suggestions (not just mine, but everyone's) are to implement, or even if there's much demand for any of them.
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Re: Proposed - Timing Out Stalemates

Postby super_dipsy » 24 Sep 2018, 10:10

I understand totally the frustrations, just as others have said.

There are a number of reasons it is the way it is at the moment though. The first two are the two biggest issues in my mind.

The first is that whenever someone or something gets involved in resolving a game artificially, there will be people who are upset. It is not the way we want games resolved here, it is much better to have the game finish between the players involved. Players being upset is not, of course, of concern to the other players, but it does bring us (the Mods) grief. That is one reason we write down carefully what the conditions are that have to be satisfied before a Mod will even look at the game. Having an automated mechanism that simply finishes the game as a draw would be liable to upset some players even more (eg if they thought they could still get something better) and risks erroneously thinking the game was deadlocked but wasn't.

The second is it would be quite hard to desribe to the software what a game being deadlocked means. For example, we have games where the game is not actually a stalemate but the players think it is, or are not prepared to gamble, or do not trust others enough to try to break the perceived deadlock. Do we draw these games even though it is not really a stalemate? If such a mechanism were in place, then now matter how hard another party tries to persudae someone to do something else, there will be an inertia for some just to not take the risk and wait for the timer to pop and the game to be drawn. One of the things a Mod will do in the listed deadlocked games procedure is determine if this IS a stalemant on one of the known stalemate lines. If it isn't, they take no action. While it would not be too hard for the software to recognize that all orders have been the same for 3 consecutive turns, it is very hard for it to work out if this is an actual stalemate or not, and as I said above, if the software DOES think it is a stalemate and draws a game which someone subsequently argues was not a stalemate and they were still trying to persaude one ofthe other players to team up so it could be cracked, they are going to be SERIOUSLY upset.

I am certainly not a fan of having a button. That would just encourage anyone who is desperate to end the game as a draw to click the button - after all, it is no riusk, no skin off your nose, and simply would require Mod time to decide if it is valid or not. I can see players clicking it simply in the hope the Mod might agree. And just generating a lot of drain on Mod time.

I do want to come back to the central issue though. In a contested game, there can be stalemates, and this can result in pain for all, and that is precisely why we have the mechanism. But if we instead move to the situation where someone is DELIBERATELY refusing to move in the hope that the other players will die or lose wifi or something and slip up, then that is certainly something we should strongly discourage. I wonder if we need to make a change to the site rules, and rope that in as a form of 'cheating'. In other words, if someone is doing this (and it woudl be pretty obvious to the other players I suspect) and it has gone on for n years (might have to put a count there as an 'evidence' requirement to avoid spurious claims) then a player could report them for cheating just as we do for other forms of cheating today. Now it can be investigated as usual for (evidence-supported) cheating accusations, with the possibility of removing the player from the game, suspending the player or even banning the player for repeated infractions. After all, I would claim it is THIS behaviour that we want to address, not so much stalemates where at least one player is not convinced it is a stalemate and hence wont take the draw.

How does that sound? Or am I going over the top considering this as a form of cheating?
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Re: Proposed - Timing Out Stalemates

Postby asudevil » 24 Sep 2018, 14:16

super_dipsy wrote:How does that sound? Or am I going over the top considering this as a form of cheating?


Over the top
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Re: Proposed - Timing Out Stalemates

Postby super_dipsy » 24 Sep 2018, 15:27

asudevil wrote:
super_dipsy wrote:How does that sound? Or am I going over the top considering this as a form of cheating?


Over the top

So you feel having a player in an authentic stalemate refusing to accept a draw and forcing the opposition to continue to submit the same orders every deadline is OK? You are comfortable that is an acceptable tactic in the game? You play a lot more games than I do, so I may just not really understand the nuances.
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Re: Proposed - Timing Out Stalemates

Postby condude1 » 24 Sep 2018, 19:29

super_dipsy wrote:I understand totally the frustrations, just as others have said.

There are a number of reasons it is the way it is at the moment though. The first two are the two biggest issues in my mind.

The first is that whenever someone or something gets involved in resolving a game artificially, there will be people who are upset. It is not the way we want games resolved here, it is much better to have the game finish between the players involved. Players being upset is not, of course, of concern to the other players, but it does bring us (the Mods) grief. That is one reason we write down carefully what the conditions are that have to be satisfied before a Mod will even look at the game. Having an automated mechanism that simply finishes the game as a draw would be liable to upset some players even more (eg if they thought they could still get something better) and risks erroneously thinking the game was deadlocked but wasn't.

The second is it would be quite hard to desribe to the software what a game being deadlocked means. For example, we have games where the game is not actually a stalemate but the players think it is, or are not prepared to gamble, or do not trust others enough to try to break the perceived deadlock. Do we draw these games even though it is not really a stalemate? If such a mechanism were in place, then now matter how hard another party tries to persudae someone to do something else, there will be an inertia for some just to not take the risk and wait for the timer to pop and the game to be drawn. One of the things a Mod will do in the listed deadlocked games procedure is determine if this IS a stalemant on one of the known stalemate lines. If it isn't, they take no action. While it would not be too hard for the software to recognize that all orders have been the same for 3 consecutive turns, it is very hard for it to work out if this is an actual stalemate or not, and as I said above, if the software DOES think it is a stalemate and draws a game which someone subsequently argues was not a stalemate and they were still trying to persaude one ofthe other players to team up so it could be cracked, they are going to be SERIOUSLY upset.


This is why I brought up the 50-move rule in chess. There are a few complicated endgames (Certain RB vs. R, NN vs. P blockaded behind the Troitsky Line) where the better side should win, but can't do it swiftly enough (even perfect play isn't enough). Almost no one has a problem with the rule, because it puts a reasonable limit on games, and the pressure it adds in an endgame gives the defending side gope that there's an end in sight. What it stops is players that don't know the proper checkmate procedure but know that it's a theoretical win from spending 1,000 moves guessing at how to win. At the same time, it puts a limit on people trying to crack a fortress (same logic). You can't just wait until your opponent runs out of time or accidentally touches the wrong piece 300 moves down the road - the onus is on the attacker to show that there's play left in the position.

And now look at diplomacy: There's a line set up (theoretical draw), but the attacker thinks he has chances diplomatically. He spends 6 orders phases trying (and failing) to convince a defender to give in, and was making some small amount of progress. However, he's too slow with his negotiations, and, even though he might have won if he'd had another 5 years to wear the defenders down diplomatically, he missed his chance. Same as a chess player who doesn't know NB vs. lone king - the win's there, you just aren't fast enough.
super_dipsy wrote:I am certainly not a fan of having a button. That would just encourage anyone who is desperate to end the game as a draw to click the button - after all, it is no riusk, no skin off your nose, and simply would require Mod time to decide if it is valid or not. I can see players clicking it simply in the hope the Mod might agree. And just generating a lot of drain on Mod time.


Agree, I dislike the button idea.

super_dipsy wrote:I do want to come back to the central issue though. In a contested game, there can be stalemates, and this can result in pain for all, and that is precisely why we have the mechanism. But if we instead move to the situation where someone is DELIBERATELY refusing to move in the hope that the other players will die or lose wifi or something and slip up, then that is certainly something we should strongly discourage. I wonder if we need to make a change to the site rules, and rope that in as a form of 'cheating'. In other words, if someone is doing this (and it woudl be pretty obvious to the other players I suspect) and it has gone on for n years (might have to put a count there as an 'evidence' requirement to avoid spurious claims) then a player could report them for cheating just as we do for other forms of cheating today. Now it can be investigated as usual for (evidence-supported) cheating accusations, with the possibility of removing the player from the game, suspending the player or even banning the player for repeated infractions. After all, I would claim it is THIS behaviour that we want to address, not so much stalemates where at least one player is not convinced it is a stalemate and hence wont take the draw.

How does that sound? Or am I going over the top considering this as a form of cheating?


I think it's over the top to call it cheating. Diplomacy's a game where anything within the rules goes (I remember GSMX once saying "Fine, you got your three way", then proposing a two-way that no one noticed, for example). As long as you have winning chances, you should be able to keep playing. That's why I think there needs to be an automated solution. If everyone knows about the rule prior to playing a game, no one will be upset at the end. It's an added parameter to play within, but it's one that isn't necessarily a problem.
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Re: Proposed - Timing Out Stalemates

Postby super_dipsy » 25 Sep 2018, 07:29

OK, fair points guys. So the 'cheating' idea does seem a bit heavy :)

I guess we could have a time-out. However, we would have to work out what conditions to set. The advantage of having human intervention involved is many factors can be considered. We can't just go by SC ownership because all sorts of things could be being tried in the background. Checking for exact match of orders does not work because players may get wise to it and simple change the odd order in the backfield. So what should be the criteria for an automatic decision?
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Re: Proposed - Timing Out Stalemates

Postby NoPunIn10Did » 25 Sep 2018, 15:21

Instead of a button, what about just having something that detects the measurable qualities required for a stalemate as per the rules?

If those conditions exist, a sentence shows up on the game page saying something to the tune of "This game may have entered a stalemate per the PlayDiplomacy house rules. Please consult the forum for more details."

In that text would be a link to the forum post that describes the manner in which one can contact the moderators and the conditions that must exist for a draw to be instituted.

That would still put more onus on the player(s) to do the contacting, and it wouldn't auto-spam the mods. But it would allow for greater education on that particular house rule and make it clear whether the minimum measurable conditions have been met.
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Re: Proposed - Timing Out Stalemates

Postby condude1 » 25 Sep 2018, 19:54

super_dipsy wrote:OK, fair points guys. So the 'cheating' idea does seem a bit heavy :)

I guess we could have a time-out. However, we would have to work out what conditions to set. The advantage of having human intervention involved is many factors can be considered. We can't just go by SC ownership because all sorts of things could be being tried in the background. Checking for exact match of orders does not work because players may get wise to it and simple change the odd order in the backfield. So what should be the criteria for an automatic decision?


My solution was whether any land province had flipped in the last X (3?) years. If not a single province changes hands in 6 orders phases, it's a safe bet no progress is being made. It also gives people a fair shot to negotiate their way to victory. If it takes longer than 3 years, tough.

It's also a good measure of how dynamic the situation is. If the defenders aren't shuffling (2 players means that provinces absolutely could switch hands when shuffling about), and the attacker has no more provinces to take, and 6 seasons of maneuvering have gone by, it's time to call it.
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