AI Personality Poll

What type of AI is better for Civilization?

  • Predictable, Characterised, Cooperative

    Votes: 5 50.0%
  • Unpredictable, Selfish, Competitive

    Votes: 5 50.0%

  • Total voters


Feb 25, 2019
Hey everyone, random question poll here.

Do you prefer AI to play like the personality of the character of the leader that they are supposed to encompass, or would you prefer them to play more optimally, as if they were actual opponents trying to win the game?

A weird question I know, but think about it like this.

On the one hand, the AI, let's say, like Genghis Khan, would play very aggressively, as is fitting to his character as a leader in real life and as is fitting to his Civilization playstyle.
However, he is very loyal, which means he will not backstab you as easily.
This makes a lot of sense but... realistically speaking... this is a game and to provide challenge and immersion, the AI should also be a little bit unpredictable and a little bit selfish.

This is my main gripe with Civ 6 AI for example -
once you get into an Alliance with them, they don't give two horsehockys about what you do more or less...
they'll bend over backwards to accommodate you more or less.

In Civ 5, the AI plays way more selfishly... which makes sense;
the AI will tend to backstab you or target you if you are looking really vulnerable or pulling ahead of the rest of the game without consequence.

So that's "the other hand" - my question to you is this.
What is more important to the game in terms of AI?

For the AI to play encompassing its character, honouring agreements and playing predictably (which comes with its own set of pros and cons)
OR for the AI to play its character but actually try to win? Playing sometimes unpredictably to maximise its own chance of success? To provide a higher level of challenge at the cost of being typically predictable?

I would prefer they played optimally. I do, however, see that players may want the game to feel more 'immersive'... This is one of those things you could include in a game setting option 'Turn on AI Immersive Behaviours'. In Old World they even have a 'play to win' option, where the AI work to circumvent your victory. Not sure that I've noticed it being hugely impactful, but thats because I haven't been paying attention to the differences, and I can't even remember if I've played through a game with that setting on to be honest.

EDIT: In fact the option should be 'Turn on Optimal AI Behaviours' since I would assume the default should be for the immersive option, not the optimised-to-win option.
I don't know if I really like the dichotomy presented here. Obviously there's a difference between an AI best geared to win the game and one designed to play like it's in a real world, but I don't think that characterization has to come into the conversation. You mention how the AI of Civ V is much more competitive, but I'd also say that it's much more specifically characterized. To this day I can imagine a stereotype or game arch for every AI in that game. Here are a bunch of examples to prove it (skip to next paragraph if uninterested): Hiathawa of the Iroquois - Peaceful unless forward settled, will ICS and become a final boss. Augustus of Rome - Will invade you at some point, believe nothing this ******* says, he wants all your horsehocky. Napoleon of France - Duplicitous bastard, will pretend to be your friend, invade, and if you beat him he'll denounce you all game. Alexander of Greece - Will conquer and become a problem, if he's next to you he'll invade, but he's a real bootlicker, once you're on top of the game he'll wanna be your best friend. Maria of Portugal - Annoying af, will fall behind, then start denouncing everyone just to stir horsehocky. Maria Theresa of Austria - Will do decently well early game, but inevitably piss off some military force and get wiped, begging for Friendships to try and bail her out of her situation. Atilla of the Huns - Will be hyper-aggressive, war himself into irrelevance, and then sit in his corner of the map doing nothing for the rest of the game. Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon - Will never really be your friend, but most of the time he'll not expand enough and become irrelevant anyway, let him whine. Sejong of Korea - Will be friendly, too friendly, and get invaded early. Pocatello of the Shoshone - *Cue Boss Music*

Ultimately, modern Civ has a pretty wide variety of potentially winning strategies, and I kind of wish the AI would just pursue one that made sense for their character, rather than just role-playing or just pursuing the most generally optimal play in the given situation. I feel like the Agenda system was supposed to do this, but instead it just gives the AI neurotic obsessions that honestly don't even have that much mechanical effect for the most part. The Flavor system was much more effective at providing each AI with broad strategic outline that they fit to their specific position, which is the direction in which I'd like to see the series develop.
There's a lot I want to say about this topic, and it might be difficult for me to express all of that in an organized fashion.

I don't like the idea that the AI tries to "win" the game. Not only do I think it's unrealistic for the devs to create AI that can adequately compete with human players without all the crutches it currently gets, the way the game is set up, an actually competent AI would take away one big reason I keep playing the game. There are over 50 leaders in the game, each with a unique set of abilities, and I play the game when I want to try a particular strategy with one of these leaders. The fun with Civ, for me, starts before I start the game when I'm devising a strategy in my head. The strategy I come up with tends to be very simple, and when I try to implement it in the game, complications often arise. I don't like the land I have. I'm getting barbed way too hard. Rough Rider Teddy finds me 10 turns in and sends 5 warriors with his +9 combat strength bonus... For the most part, however, these are problems I've either learned to deal with suitably well or problems I just choose to not deal with by restarting, and that allows me to be optimistic and naive when I'm in the pre-game stage of strategy development. What would drastically change this is if the AI was actually competent. I'm not interested in getting a religion and producing inquisitors just to prevent someone from getting a religious victory when I just want to try out a culture strategy with Canada where I'm just spamming national parks with mounties. The game works for me partly because the AI sucks.

While the AI might be terrible at coherently pursuing a victory condition, it can actually do a pretty good job at making sure you lose the game early on. In that sense, it's able to play somewhat optimally, but there's nothing unpredictable about it. If you want to avoid an early war with a neighbour on deity, there is a well-defined set of tasks you need to perform almost regardless of who your neighbour is. Send a delegation on the turn you meet them, grant open borders, send a trader, build a respectable military etc. to appease the neighbour and hopefully they won't attack. Sure, each leader's agenda makes it so that there are some variations in what you can do to (dis)please them, but the way they choose to deal with you is very predictable. It doesn't matter if your neighbour is a warmonger like Montezuma or someone who supposedly despises war hawks like John Curtin. If they don't like you and feel like you're too weak, they'll declare war. This certainly breaks immersion, but this is a very effective way for the AI to throw you off your game plan.

I want a complete re-interpretation of the role the AI plays in Civ. I don't want them to be competing directly with the human player to see who can achieve a victory condition first. Rather, I think the game should be about building the best empire that you can ("A civilization that will stand the test of time"), and this will mean different things for different AI leaders and for the human player. Leader traits should be based on the vision each leader has for their empire, and their actions should help them realize this vision. Saladin shouldn't attack me because I didn't send a delegation and have a weak military. He should do that when I'm getting in the way of creating an ideal world in his mind, one where Islam is the dominant religion. Why should there be a conflict between us if I don't even have a religion, and I don't care if he spreads his to my empire? In this setup, there's a way for both of us to "win", and there's no reason for an AI leader to instigate conflict when it doesn't help advance their agenda. As long as the AI leaders choose actions that are compatible with their vision, they're being competent, and this helps maintain immersion while also making sure the human player has an appropriate level of freedom to implement strategies they want. Unfortunately, though, this will fundamentally change the game in a way I'm sure will be extremely unpopular with a large portion of the player base, especially those in the multi-player scene, because it will make the game feel less competitive and more sandbox-like.

Within the current framework of the game, I think AI behaviour can be improved by giving the AI more ways of interacting with the human players. If an AI leader disapproves of another player, there should be more ways of punishing that player than to just go to war every single time. I think a lot of work can be done on the diplomacy system to make this happen.
False dichotomy and sharp binary distinctions, all those things should differ between AI personalities on a broad spectrum of possible behaviours

Just like civ5 personalities - some AIs are more predictable, some are less predictable, some are more cooperative, some are more competetive, some have much immutable assertive personalities while others are more opportunist or cynical, etc
I want a third option: You can choose option 1 or 2 before you start the game. So you can either have a roleplay run or a challenge run.
I definitely don't like the idea of an option.
No offence, I get it would be useful, but in retrospect I think the best choice is what Krajzen and some of the others said.

TLDR: Just have the AI be a combination of roleplay and challenging. They should try to win in their own way.
They should also try to make sure that the winning player doesn't win so hard (its still a game mind you, and more importantly, leaders get jealous irl)
And finally: some should be predictable, some should not, some should be competitive/jealous and some should be friendly.
But all to some aspect try to win the game, so it doesn't feel like I'm playing mindless robots either.

Good summary? My thoughts at least...
Could be a nice idea to have custom leaders that player could modify with these personality traits.
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