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A programmer’s perspective on Civ VI

Discussion in 'Civ6 - General Discussions' started by Hescumeth, Nov 2, 2016.

  1. Hescumeth

    Hescumeth Chieftain

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    Usually when I look at bugs in the games I play I do that from a player's perspective. When considering the severity of bugs I ask myself: Can I continue playing regardless of the bug?

    Yesterday I thought about the Civ VI bugs from a programmer’s perspective. This scared me a bit and therefore I wanted to share my thoughts.

    Let me first list some of what I encountered in my very first game over the first half of that game:

    (a) War weariness increasing after end of all wars in single citys. There is a discussion on steam forums about this bug. The solution is to reload the game and make one turn, then the war weariness is corrected.
    (b) Two units (2x Horseman) on one square. When moving the first one unit away from that square the game treated the unit like it was standing on an adjacent square instead.
    (c) Unit costs completely off. Unit A production costs displayed as 90, Unit B as 180. Unit A takes 1 turn to complete, Unit B 8 turns. This problem has been reported on this forum as well.
    (d) Trading deals sometimes off. Leader A suggests a deal. He wants to give me a certain resource for 30 turns (among other things). I right click on that resource to delete it from the deal ( I don’t need it). Now the (better) deal is not acceptable to Leader A anymore.
    (e) Cycling units "forgets" some units. The "end turn" message sometimes appears even though some of my units haven’t moved in that turn. This way I sometimes forgot i.e workers for a move or two. This bug I haven’t seen reported elsewhere so maybe it is not a bug and instead I a am missing something.

    Now what do these bugs tell us about Civ VI from a programmer’s perspective?

    Bad things, I am afraid :-(.

    (1) These are not bugs that occur rarely. What does this tell us? These bugs occur frequently; therefore Firaxis testing staff must have seen those, so Firaxis knows about these bugs. What does this further tell us? If Firaxis knows about these bugs we know that it is not a matter of minutes for Firaxis to fix these bugs, otherwise they would have done so already.
    This in itself is bad news.

    (2) Some of the bugs (for example the bugs described under (c) and (d) above) do not involve rocket science. The mechanics of "Production 90 takes 1 turn, Production 180 should take 2 turns" are not that hard. If easy things like that go wrong and cannot be quickly fixed then the code is likely in messy shape.

    Overall I am afraid that Firaxis was too scared of getting bad reviews from starting with a vanilla version missing elements from Civ IV or V expansions. This way I believe they overloaded the game with more features than the programming team was able to handle writing solid code.

    I would have no problem playing with a game with much less features. But I am not having fun at all playing a game where the core mechanics are bugged. I understand this is a matter of taste and many people dont mind these bugs as much as I do. Stopped playing for now even though I was looking forward to GOTM so very very much ...

    I very much hope I am wrong and the code is not as messy as I fear and they can fix things.
     
  2. RealHuhn

    RealHuhn Emperor

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    These bugs aren't game breaking though. Nowadays game developers have to push hard for a specific release date and bugs that don't make the game unplayable are pretty low on the priority list. The unit cycling is extremely annoying though.
    I don't want to defend this policy but it is what it is. Now they hopefully have enough resources to fix those things quickly.
     
  3. Sascha77

    Sascha77 Prince

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    Can't say I disagree with that statement. I'd also rather have a more "bare-bones" vanilla version that works, rather than a bug-ridden one with more bells and whistles.

    S.
     
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  4. Gorbles

    Gorbles Load Balanced

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    This is, uh, not a programmer's perspective at all. Unless you're a programmer with zero experience working in a team and zero experience of large-scale project development and testing.
     
    sigmakan, notque, DCParry and 9 others like this.
  5. Hescumeth

    Hescumeth Chieftain

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    @Gorbles: Your assumption is halfway correct. I mainly worked in smaller teams of 5-7 programmers (+ seperate QA). But talking about myself is boring ;-). Care to (instead of personal attacks) elaborate on why you disagree?
     
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  6. Nefelia

    Nefelia Prince

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    You may not mind playing a more bare bones Vanilla game, and neither would I. But anyone who recalls the fracas during the release of Civ V should note that a lot of people do mind. I suspect Firaxis wanted to avoid that level of ire, and they did manage to gain our attention with some very promising new systems.

    It is clear by now that the game was not quite ready for release. The bugs will be patched, the AI lifted out from the potato patch, and the game polished. Don't press the panic button just yet.
     
  7. Gorbles

    Gorbles Load Balanced

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    Calling out your knowledge of specific areas of software development is not in any way a personal attack, nor was it intended to be. Programming by yourself is very different from programming in a team, and programming in a team is different from building effectively what is a cross-discipline multi-team product (which is what a video game is).

    What were you hoping to provide by calling this thread a "programmer's perspective"? My assumption was that you knew what you were talking about r.e. programming practises and the consequences thereof. So me criticising your experience in that vein is entirely on-point. I'm sorry if this offended you, though.
     
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  8. Arkatakor

    Arkatakor King

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    Well OP, I too am a programmer, perhaps with the difference of having worked in gaming companies as well as being a programmer. The curse of the games industry is that often times companies are bound by their publisher and the deadlines that they set. I read on glassdoor (a website were people who worked in companies can write their reviews) that Firaxis is very bound to its publisher's deadlines. That means they literally have to push things out the door to meet a release date knowing that its full of bugs and then rush to release a patch to fix those.

    Sometimes they have to rush to release a product which is not only full of bugs but that is quasi incomplete such as Beyond Earth. The latter never recovered from its abysmal release. I am sure many at Firaxis knew that BE could have been better and would have preferred to have more time to fine tune it before releasing it. Their publisher thought otherwise, of course.
     
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  9. spfun

    spfun King

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    I think they just ran out of time to fix difficult bugs for release. We got to see there progress over the months with each new build and the last build which was 1 month old was pretty buggy and unfinished. Release didn't have a hell of a lot more options over that preview build either like they ran out of time to fully implement basic advanced options like disable start bias.
     
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  10. Haggbart

    Haggbart King

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    To be fair, the state of cVI at the moment is much better than CiV at launch, even with a lot more features in from the start. Plus I can allready play a stable MP game, and I still can't do that in CiV 6 years after launch. What's the "programmer's perspective" on that?
     
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  11. paralistalon

    paralistalon Chieftain

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    I hadn't really thought about it before reading this thread, but Firaxis succeeded in getting overwhelmingly positive reviews for this game. The bugs aren't really noticeable on your first couple of playthroughs at lower difficulties, so none of the reviewers caught them. Of course, the reviewers tended to point out the potential of the game, so once the bugs and balance is worked out, it should be the best civ yet. My only hesitation is that as a beyond earth player, they did manage to fix the balance with the trade routes being absurdly powerful, but the overall game wasn't as hard because the tech web was so much more complicated that the AI just couldn't optimize their strategy enough to make the player sweat, and having all your units instantly upgrade for free basically always gave you the best military in the game.
     
  12. Lord_Azazel

    Lord_Azazel Prime Swatter

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    I have this bug as well, I've turned off the unit-cycling in the .ini file since it is basicly unplayable with it on.
    In my games, it is the same units each turn that is forgotten by the "unit needs orders" button. Fortifying and unfortifying them does not help.
    I even think I upgraded some of them without it helping, the game still forgot that I had not given them orders that turn.
     
  13. Ravenwild

    Ravenwild Chieftain

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    As a software developer, people don't seem to realize that yeah these problems are easy to fix. It's just noticing them in the first place when paying attention to a million other things is the difficult part. People under estimate how programmatically complex this game actually is. Firaxis tends to make large patches vs hotfixes but hopefully they come out something soon.

    Honestly, this post makes me think that you are not an experienced programmer TBH.
     
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  14. Zuizgond

    Zuizgond Prince

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    Again I am amazed by the number of people who tolerate this, saying that those poor gaming companies have to meet a deadline. Wow a deadline! like in every industry right? Surprisingly it seems it's ok to release beta version of products in the gaming industry as long as the deadline is respected.

    "It's not gamebreaking" / "It's still better than Civ5 release" / "You have no idea how it works" / "They have a lot of pressure" etc.
    Looks like people will defend them no matter how unfinished the released version is.
     
  15. Hescumeth

    Hescumeth Chieftain

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    @Gorbles and everyone concerned about my job experience :
    It should be clear from my initial posting why I called this thread the way I called it. As I already wrote I wanted to look at the bugs not from the player's perspective but started thinking about what the bugs, their severity, their variety and nature tells us about the state the Civ VI code is in. That - this different perspective - is what I wanted to share.
    Obviously someone who has 90 years of programming experience developing 4x games in big studios can judge this better. But I did not call this "A big studio game developers perspective". I called this a programmer's perspective, and that is who I am (even with my meager experience of 20 years in smaller teams [but sometimes working on very large projects]). Anyway, I will not discuss this sideshow further as it bores me.

    Now to a much more interesting topic:

    I am very sure that this ("not noticable", "arn't game breaking" ) is the majority oppinion. I am just out of luck that for me - personally - these bugs are game-breaking. Probably I am playing the game much slower than most. I noticed these bugs halfway through my first game.
    For me the "core game mechanics" is everything. With bugs in other areas I can live easier. Let me try to explain:
    Let us assume that playing a chess tourniament (a) unsually designed chess pieces are used (b) before the start of each game I have to wait 5 minutes (c) sometimes the board suddenly disappears and the games need to be restartet etc. All that wouldn't be cool, but I would still have fun. But if suddenly I notice that at this chess tourniament the Knight can sometimes move differently, this would break the game for me. In other words: The core mechanics, (for example: X production takes Y turns) need to work, otherwise I personally am not having fun.

    I understand I am being difficult here, I would prefer to just enjoy the game as it is as the majority of people do.
     
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  16. CrispyCritter

    CrispyCritter Chieftain

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    As a programmer, I think Firaxis has done an outstanding job on this release. When I read the forums here, they are full of complaints. But they are complaints about balance, complaints about the AI choices, complaints about 1UPT, complaints about missing features that would be helpful. They are not complaints about the game crashing, not being able to get working on particular hardware, having the game frozen. (There's a couple of each of those, but very rare). People are playing the game for many hours, and enjoying it despite encountering any minor bugs.
     
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  17. Stringer1313

    Stringer1313 King

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    I'm not a programmer but I majored in computer science a million years ago and even I know that your perspective is not really from a programmer and is not even logical. I am not happy with these bugs, but it does not mean that Firaxis knew about them and deliberately did nothing about them. I remember many a late night in the computer lab scrambling to squash all of the bugs in my programs but not being able to do so by the time the assignment was due. This simply means there were other bugs that we didn't see that were squashed and they didn't have time to squash them all.
     
  18. Ravenwild

    Ravenwild Chieftain

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    Didn't mean to be rude but I am really annoyed by all the armchair software developers in these threads saying it's so easy to do this and that when they have little to no experience with software development.
     
  19. Hescumeth

    Hescumeth Chieftain

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    Wow. Whats wrong with you people? You really can't argue or state your oppinions without personal attacks? Has no one ever tought you guys how to disagree in a polite manner ?
     
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  20. Gorbles

    Gorbles Load Balanced

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    Calling out your opinions for their lack of solid basis is not the same thing as attacking you on a personal level. Saying that you're wrong is not attacking you on a personal level. Saying that your points aren't joined in any logical manner isn't attacking you on a personal level.

    You used your experience as a programmer to say that Civilisation 6's state at release says bad things about their code. Your experience doesn't actually afford you to draw such conclusions based on the available evidence because there is very little available evidence to support your conclusions. You do not know how complicated bugs can be to fix. You do not know how the systems that comprise the game are linked. Fixes may not be as simple as you're assuming them to be.

    Which is why you're getting such criticism. Misinterpreting peoples' arguments as personal attacks won't be helping, either.
     

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