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Author Topic: Timed Games  (Read 205 times)

Offline Polk5440

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Timed Games
« on: 28 September 2017, 06:00:22 PM »
The topic of timed games comes up now and again because different people like to play Dominion at different speeds. I thought I would lay out an example of where I would start to think about implementing a clock and see what others think.

There would be two options for playing a timed game, "Minutes per player" and "Clock runs continuously".

+ Play a timed game
    o Minutes per player
        x 5  (default for 4-6 players)
        x 15 (default for 2-3 players)
        x 30
    o Clock runs continuously
        x Yes (default)
        x No

"Minutes per player" with "Clock runs continuously" checked to "Yes" is pretty straightforward. It's a straight clock that starts counting down when a player needs to make a decision (e.g. start of turn) and ends when the next player needs to make a decision (e.g. start of next player's turn).

Setting "Clock runs continuously" to "No" would implement delays for when the player is interacting with the client. In particular,
    (1) The clock would not run during animations. To make this even among players, animation speed for all players at the table is set to the slowest speed preference among the players. 
    (2) A fixed amount of time (e.g. 1 second) is added to the clock each time a player makes a decision that advances his turn and requires an interaction with the client. For example, playing Peddler adds 1 second. Playing Pawn adds 1 second then clicking the Action/Buy option adds another 1 second. Checking what's in the trash or right-clicking on a card to read its text would not add time to the clock.

What happens if the clock runs out for a player?

    The player loses. In two player games, the game ends. In 3+ player games, the timed-out player becomes a spectator and a bot takes their place. No matter the score of the bot, the timed-out player gets last place. [Alternative: The timed-out player becomes a spectator and the game continues among the remaining players. The timed-out player gets last place.]

What happens if a player disconnects?

    The clock keeps running.

What about reactions, Envoy, Contraband, etc.?

    Following the rules of Dominion, play is sequential, so clocks stop and start as players need to make a decision. For example A plays Witch. A's clock stops, B's clock starts. B reveals Moat. B's clock stops, C is skipped (no Moat in hand and client does not allow for pretending so there is no decision for C to make). D's clock starts. D reveals Moat. D's clock stops, A's clock starts. A continues with the turn.

Why set 5 and 15 minutes to be the default?

    For a two player game, 15 minutes per player gives 30 minutes per game. Same with 5 minutes per player in a 6 player game. This lines up with the physical box's "30 minutes or less" estimation about time to play. Defaulting to less time per player in games with more players also makes sense because you can think during others' turns.

What about the inactivity time-out that's already implemented in games?

    For timed games, there would be no inactivity time-out, only a clock hitting 0 time-out.

---

So, what do you think?


Offline Jacob Marley

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Re: Timed Games
« Reply #1 on: 28 September 2017, 06:40:05 PM »
Sorry, but this is just a bad idea.  Period.

The game takes time.  Sometimes longer than others.  If the game is not going as fast as you want it, that's your problem, not a call for timed games.  The only real problem is people deliberately slow-rolling, which is playing as slowly as possible for the sake of taking up time.  Not to be confused with taking time to think and plan your play.

The site has ways to deal with slow-rolling.  As long as that isn't happening, players have a right to take time to think, and if the opponent doesn't like the pace of the game, they can resign.

I would personally never play with a clock of any form.  If I get slow-rolled (it has never happened to me, knock on wood) I will resign and report the offender.  If my opponent takes time to think, I will be patient.  IF my opponent complains about my pace, I will ignore him.

Really, this topic had been beaten to death.  Do we really need to go there again?

Offline Polk5440

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Re: Timed Games
« Reply #2 on: 28 September 2017, 07:20:24 PM »
This is not a discussion about slow rolling. This is a discussion about a preference for speedier games. Sometimes I will play a two hour game of chess. Sometimes I want to play a 10 minute clocked game. How I play in both scenarios is completely different.

I want the same option and guarantee for a quick game of Dominion against humans, as well.

Offline Jacob Marley

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Re: Timed Games
« Reply #3 on: 28 September 2017, 08:00:51 PM »
I know that it's not about slow-rolling.  However, chess is not a great analogy.  On your turn in chess, you move one piece.  That it.  In Dominion, on your turn, you may just lay down 3 copper and buy a silver, or you may have a bunch of actions that have to be played in a careful order on order to work the right way, and sometimes you have to stop and consider things like what is left in your draw pile, your opponent's deck/probably hand composition, triggering the reshuffle, counting points or other decision points.  Those boards just take longer to play, and a clock is not, IMHO, a solution.

I was watching Qvist's Championship tournament match yesterday and he had build an engine that simply took a long time to play out the cards, even though he wasn't really taking much time between each card play.  His opponent quit and conceded the match in frustration because the game was "too slow".  I don't think your proposal would help that at all since either you are adding enough time with each action that the turn still takes a long time, or Qvist is forced to lose a game he is winning simply because he cannot move the mouse fast enough.

Sorry, but this just isn't worth doing as far as I'm concerned.

Offline Polk5440

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Re: Timed Games
« Reply #4 on: 28 September 2017, 08:31:15 PM »
sometimes you have to stop and consider things like what is left in your draw pile, your opponent's deck/probably hand composition, triggering the reshuffle, counting points or other decision points.  Those boards just take longer to play, and a clock is not, IMHO, a solution.

It is a strategic decision to play or avoid a complicated engine in Dominion much like it is a strategic decision to play or avoid a complicated position in chess. The fewer pieces on the board, the simpler the analysis. It may not be optimal to avoid tough positions in chess, but in clocked games many people often do so; it's constrained optimal for them.

Yes, there are many more things you do on a turn in Dominion than just move one piece, but that's why it's interesting to think about a good way to increment the clock.

Clocked game play would be different than high level Dominion play. And you know what? Sometimes I just want to play a more casual game without thinking too hard or waiting for someone else to think hard. Or I have to catch a train in 30 minutes and would like a guarantee that the game will end (other than me simply resigning). I understand many other people don't want this, but for me, the current "Practice Game" option does not cut it and I think timed games would.

I was watching Qvist's Championship tournament match yesterday....

Ah. Too bad about that. In the context of a serious tournament with no clock, I could see why complaining about speed of play would tick people off.

Offline Mike Thicke

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Re: Timed Games
« Reply #5 on: 29 September 2017, 05:12:06 AM »
I like the idea in general, though I think the "clock runs continuously" option adds needless complication. Just have a selectable time/player + increment per decision or turn. I'd also add a disconnect bonus to the timer (say 5 minutes total disconnect time per game.)

Of course some games are much more complicated than others. The same is true of chess and Magic, both games that have always employed similar timers.