@Lord Yanaek: "There are some many people thinking any 1st year computer sciences student would create abetter AI in 1 month." Well, most likely not if they'd have to start from scratch. But when they get access to the existing source code as a base and just add to it, debug it and try to improve it, I'm pretty sure that indeed almost any 1st year computer sciences studend would end up with a better AI than what he started with. That's more or less what happened when I started working on Pandora. My knowledge about AI programming was very limited at this point but I had seen what the AI was particulary bad at or was unable to do at all. So within the first month I already made massive progress. The AI learnt to use the tax-slider it never touched before, it learnt to upgrade units, it got way better at deciding which buildings to produce, it got way better at selecting the right units to build, got better with tile-improvement and so on. At that time I didn't dive much into unit-behaviour itself as the code for that seemed too intimidating except for simply removing the method that let the AI patrol aimlessly with it's units as that basically prevented me from letting them upgrade them as they need to be in a city for that. But still: It was probably more than twice as hard to beat as before already with still a lof of improvement potential left. There clearly are diminishing returns on your time spent vs. AI playing-strenght. The so called 80:20-rule, that says: You can achieve 80% of the effect in 20% of the time and it takes 80% of the time for the remaining 20% applied very well here. So the worse the AI is when you start, the easier it is to make huge progress quickly. Improving AI via Mods and SDKs is actually much harder and more respectable than when you have access to the source-code. As a modder your interface usually is limited and you never get access to all the data you'd like to or getting that access is much harder than from within the game-code. But that really depends on the interface for the SDK and I might be wrong here. At least for what I tried, I constantly got to situations where I had to guess and trial and error how things worked. I completely agree about the notion that dumbing down a smart AI or reducing their playing strenght is easier by several orders of magnitude than the other way around. So while I don't think they made the AI bad on purpose, it is easily imaginable that the Sid-quote meant they didn't see much reason to put a whole lot of effort into it either. I actually am not a proffession AI-developer. It all started as a hobby-project, where I kindly asked the devs, if they would let me toy around with their code. It just so happened that it eventually turned out really, really well. Of course that doesn't shine a good light on the professionals, if someone who does this as a freetime-activity creates a much better AI than what they were paid for. I guess my advantage was not having to stick to any schedules and being very dedicated because to me improving the AI was actually a really fun experience. With "Dominus Galaxia", it's a bit different. I started into it with all the experience I gathered in Pandora and had an extremely basic AI to start work with which was lacking a lot of basics to even actually play the game. But my progress so far is even better. We are not even at Alpha and I have very little player-feedback to use to improve the AI and yet it is the best 4x-AI I ever played against winning less than a third of my games against it on a level where there's no advantages for anyone. For Pandora I didn't get to a point where the AI could beat me on a level playing-field unless I had really bad luck with starting-locations. But it still is a hobby project! Only one of our team is actually working full-time on the game and whether any of us gets paid anything depends on the success the game might or might not have. Only one being paid is the artist. Others are just working on it for fun. And I can say: Even if the game flops completely: Now I have a game that is really fun because it has a great AI and that's exactly what I've always wanted but didn't get before I started taking care of that myself! @Victoria: I said time and dedication instead of time and money for a reason! Moneys ability to motivate people to do their best is limited. In my case it doesn't even play a role in my motivation. My main motivation is to have a game that's fun to play... and for me in a 4x a good AI is essential for that! The ability to improve it whenever I find another weakness, is invaluable and gets the replay-value to unthinkable heights for me. I swap back and forth between playing and improving the AI: When I lose I can be proud about my AI, when I win I gather data on what the AI could do better. It's always a win for me in the long run.