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Carl on TheCivShow Podcast

Discussion in 'Civ6 - General Discussions' started by Wielki Hegemon, Apr 3, 2021.

  1. Wielki Hegemon

    Wielki Hegemon Emperor

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    Great podcast. A lot about game ballance issues, AI etc. I think it will help to understand a lot of things. Must watch before you start to complain ;)
     
  2. TreVor_ish

    TreVor_ish Warlord

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    The more people play the game - the more bugs will be found (correlation not causation). And CIV VI is the most popular one and sold the most copies.
    Which also says, that those who find (or even look for) bugs/exploits and report them (adding a savegame, screenshot, video) are tha real mvp's.
     
  3. InsidiousMage

    InsidiousMage Prince

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    Having dealt with 2K's bug reporting system a couple of times, they honestly deserve to be canonized as saints.
     
  4. Noble Zarkon

    Noble Zarkon Elite Quattromaster - Emperor (BTS) Super Moderator Hall of Fame Staff Supporter GOTM Staff

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    Basic thrust of his analysis - we have 10 people in QA testing, if all we do is test and take no holidays that's 21,000 hours testing in a year. If 50,000 people buy a game/ DLC and play it for one hour on the first day they get it that is 2.5 more game time than a year's work IN ONE DAY! Really puts it in perspective.
    Definitely, vague bug reports don't help much - the more detail the better.
     
  5. TreVor_ish

    TreVor_ish Warlord

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    That's exactly what I meant. Unfortunately 2k doesn't have a user friendly platform to report bugs.

    Although obvious, some things are rather straight forward (at least) questionable, like how many years it took to get a look at planes, or why do we have bugs that are straight related to a new leaders abilities (some might be obvious to check for, but that could mean, some play a game to often)

    And there are things like:
    - "make this deal more equitable" - in trading screen when there is already money on the table. This button does not work, one could use "what would You give me?" instead, but it does not work for every case
    - "sorry, but we just can't commit to a formal friendship at this time" - in friendship request screen, when used, one is getting a friendship with an AI. One could use "No and stop asking" or "Goodbye", however this is a postfix bug left of not working "No and stop asking",
    that take months to fix (apparently it's left for April for some reason, or at least I hope those are gonna be fixed by then)

    There is also a it's not a bug it's a featureTM white border barbarian evolved City-States bug that can turn into quite an interesting chain of events (some are documented in Bug Reports of this forum).
    Path finding that still forces to disembark, or chose a way through a bridge or a Harbor (also numerous cases in Bug Reports threads).
    Only mentioned here few, but there are a lot of those (Policy Card that makes 9999+ turns to build on era change, etc), I know I'm not a QA, just a random person on the internet, nonetheless one can wonder.

    Overall CIV VI is rather enjoyable, it does however leave me with that "it could be so much better" feeling.
     
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  6. MrRadar

    MrRadar Emperor

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    Yes, it does. However, why then not to arrange beta testing periods? The game got rather complex, of course 10 people can't deal with all the testing. Some 200-300 dedicated players over a couple of weeks would put in enough hours to locate the majority of the most prominent issues beforehand. Why not to adapt feedback handling teams and taking the feedback in procedures accordingly? Why do we have to wait for months for game crippling bugs to be fixed (2017 Summer patch, remember?), when those could be handled in advance with a little bit more of organization?

    And how many hours do you need to realize that the UI is just absolutely horrible? 10 000? 1000? I was quite fed up with all that gratuitous clicking after three games or so. They did make a couple of changes in the deal screen, did they? Only none of them mattered, frankly. The glaring issues of not knowing what luxuries exactly the AI has and will trade are still there and continue to waste time fifth year into the game release, hundreds of unnecessary clicks to get the deal amount right are still have to be made, the trade route interface still shows nonsense for the fifth year running. How many player hours just looking for hidden information or fighting with the interface will still have to be wasted? Some beginners still haven't got a clue what they are doing just because the UI misleads them.

    I've listened to the podcast with great interest, and I can relate to some of Carl's experiences. To be at the right time in the right place, yes that can define your life, and it is amazing when it puts you on the path you like. And I play Civ from the first installment. However, Civ VI is the first where I really can't understand how the devs can put so much work and love into the looks of the game, and neglect at the same time the user experience of actually playing the game to such incredible extent.
     
  7. Nikolai II

    Nikolai II Prince

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    Firaxis has fans playing the game through the Frankenstein group, but as the credits show the group is not big. It stands to reason this is due to corporate fear of leaks, in all probability.
     
  8. MrRadar

    MrRadar Emperor

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    With the track record of leaks to date, I'd say FXS and 2K have nothing to fear any more. Leader poster and Trajan T-pose split second frame in official trailers, Hungarian translator's leak of Hungary in the game, Chinese leaks and so on... Leaks became their hallmark. And we love them no less, but even more because of this :) And I would consider start worshipping them and constructing a temple in their honour, if only they paid more attention to fixing bugs faster and maximizing QoL features for the player.
     
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  9. Noble Zarkon

    Noble Zarkon Elite Quattromaster - Emperor (BTS) Super Moderator Hall of Fame Staff Supporter GOTM Staff

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    Did you listen to Carl's interview? Do you know how complex handling all that feedback would be?? I don't think you guys are grasping the scale of the challenge.
     
    bite and acluewithout like this.
  10. Noble Zarkon

    Noble Zarkon Elite Quattromaster - Emperor (BTS) Super Moderator Hall of Fame Staff Supporter GOTM Staff

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    Carl talks about planes in the interview ....
     
  11. TreVor_ish

    TreVor_ish Warlord

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    ...and that is where he talks about balance, and hours put by a small team of qa vs tons of players, and why those changes take so long (years), he also mentioned about machines with AI only playtests which also made my eyebrow rise, looking at it's behavior in many cases.

    Offcourse, if one (team) decides to create everything in a sterile setting with little to none exposure to (still controlled) dedicated environment, one will have many discrepancies in results (with project that has a quite broad level of complexity).

    There was one more thing, that made me wonder - when Carl mentioned Portugal. Small Continents map is a core for balancing. A game that deblobbed City Center and made a great use of map, which already makes it feel cramped, is balancing everything for small space, whilst at the same time using all of it. I am probably in minority here saying I like to play on maxed possible space there is. (i like my X's :p )
     
  12. Noble Zarkon

    Noble Zarkon Elite Quattromaster - Emperor (BTS) Super Moderator Hall of Fame Staff Supporter GOTM Staff

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    That's a really good point - they have a particular setup in mind as "standard", that probably differs from us fanatics!!
     
  13. Mount Suribachi

    Mount Suribachi Prince

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    Great podcast, thanks for sharing.

    Very interesting when he was talking about how the monthly updates for NFP increased engagement - both with players and with streamers/youtubers, and how that created a symbiotic loop. Kinda makes sense when you think about it, there's always interest in the latest "new" thing - so why no have a "new" thing every month?
     
  14. Melkus

    Melkus Chieftain

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    I wonder how much playtesting goes into single player games and the specific interactions between player and AI, which are very different from AI-only play. Carl's either talking about big multiplayer extravaganzas in the office (which sure are fun, it's an absolute perk of this job to always have people to play Civ with) or autoplays. A general flaw of the single player experience (which is the core Civ experience to me) is that it gets progressively more boring from the industrial age forward, mostly because the AI just sits there, content with its alliances - and that makes me wonder if the Firaxis people have really sat with that boredom of a grinded out culture win often or if they rather just fire up another multiplayer match.

    But I can't think of specific examples where the game is badly balanced for maps with a lot of space - smaller maps have less players, after all, and the differences in map sizes are not that big. What's more of a problem - for me - is the inherent limitation of the number of players (probably because Civ6 is so heavily influenced by board game geeks). In former Civ versions or Vox Populi, I used to flood games with AIs to the limit to get more interactions going, but in this one the AIs are just too weak to do anything of note when space is tight, since no one can really build tall efficiently, it's tough to knock a established civ out in the midgame and the many one-time-bonuses of the game (Great Persons, Wonders, Religions) get spread too thin between the players.
     
  15. MrRadar

    MrRadar Emperor

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    Yes, I've listened and re-listened. There are a lot of complex things in this world and if everyone shied off of them on the account of them being too complex, we would still be living in trees. Or the ocean.
    But they're programmers there. Their very job is to find the optimal way of streamlining complex things, to achieve maximum efficiency with minimal resources. Surely the feedback intake procedures can be optimized to manageable levels with some careful planning. Besides, other games are doing it. There are test branches on Steam that people can opt-in and test experimental game versions before the they are stabilized for the main release.

    Now, I've found some things quite strange, those same planes, for example. Carl claims that their small team could not possibly have enough time to complete enough games to really notice the problem. That even deepens the suspicion that they probably don't play very many full singleplayer games, start to finish. Just a few full games would bring out most of the major issues. One of them being that those planes, apart from not being used, weren't even that relevant at the stage they came in, because everything was long decided by then. The lack of focus by the AI. The issues with the UI. Problems when there's no proper scaling to the game speed. Complete wackiness of the diplomacy. And so on. I get it that their small team's main task is to ensure that the product is shippable. However, I believe lots could be done with some rearranging of the same manpower, to ensure much higher QoL in terms of improving the UI first of all, to offer much more enjoyable singleplayer experience. Because now their current procedures allow an update to break a button in the deal screen, adding ten more superfluous clicks to a hundred too many already, and that's shippable. It shouldn't be.

    Exactly.
     
  16. Zegangani

    Zegangani Prince

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    The more I dive into AI Programming and learn how to make a Game-AI, the more I get how a big Challenge that can be, especially for a Strategy game. And for a big Game like Civ, you need a lot of AI Programmers to accomplish that and you need A LOT of Play-Tests, which is the main Issue with Civ VI. They don't make open Devs to gather the necessary data to fix and balance things. If the reason is just not wanting things to get leaked, then they don't have to release a beta version of the Game with all the Mechanisms/Elements of the Game, they could just include the usual Elements of the game, and test new Mechanisms by their own Testing Team. So that things like Planes, Unit Combat/Pathfinding,...etc could be tested by the Fan-base.

    I agree, it's the Job of the Programmers to handle that. But the Call to action (to fix things) must come from the Devs, and without resources they won't do anything. Even fixing a small AI behavior could take a lot of Time/Resources, which also could lead to other Issues, which then need a Lot of Play-testing to notice and report them, and the cycle goes on and on. That's because Civ is a Strategy game, hence a Complex Game in the perspective of programming, no matter how it seems Simple for us, Human Players.

    And this is why I really like how they scheduled NFP through out the Year with Bimonthly DLCs/Updates while being more open than ever to the Community. It is the best Solution for an already released Game to hold their Fans/Customers and keep in touch with them while gathering all the necessary Data to balance/fix things.

    One question: Which got more Bug/Balace fixes for the Game, GS Expansion with the few Updates after it's release or NFP (which isn't even a real Expansion)?
    Just imagine how it would have been if RnF was released in a similar way, Loyalty Systeme in a DLC, Governors and Great Ages in the other ones, with the Civs equally distributed along the DLCs. With constant Feedback from the Fan-base, the Devs could have listened to a lot of our complaints. The Loyalty Systeme, for example, could have been improved within Months, and we wouldn't complain about the WC now. And I'm not talking about those Mechanisms getting included as Modes, but hardcoded systems that interact with other Mechanisms of the Game. But nothing speaks against them being Modes that could be turned On-n-Off. They just need to be planned as such from the beginning, so the Programmers could include them as such but in a proper way. It's not impossible, just needs Time and Resources.

    Also, making the game Modding friendly, isn't an easy Task. On the contrary, sometimes it can even be more Time and Resource demanding than making the Game itself. Nonentheless, that can turn out very profitable for the Game in the Long run. because there are always Modders that are more than ready to improve the game they love. But this could also attract many other/new Modders. Giving access to the Modding Tools (including DLL(or at least AI DLL)) and documentation to the Modders, would give them enough Possibilities to improve the game and make Balance/Bug fixes. And because they aren't tyed to Time/Resources but are more close to the Community, they can be very effective/efficient in that. And making use of the successful Content (Bug/Balace Fixes, AI/UI improvements...etc) of Modders and implementing them into the Game would save the Devs a lot of Time and Resources.

    Humankind Devs seem to have realised this Oportunity (from their previous Games). And this is why I beleave this game will be Amplitude's biggest Success and one of the Best Games in the next couple of Years. (Devs very Close to the Community+Modding Friendly Game? Dude,... that's the Formula of Success!!)

    Holding back infos about a Game before its release and not being in touch with its Community is now a Signature for Bankruptcy. Long gone are the days where Players would buy a Game despite it being not perfect, because there weren't many similar alternatives.
     
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  17. InsidiousMage

    InsidiousMage Prince

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    As a console player, I've got to vehemently disagree. The game was basically unfinishable since Gaul/Byzantium pack due to constant late game crashes and I only managed to finish a game on a standard sized map with Vietnam but still ran into the crashing issue when playing as Kublai on a huge, though no where near as bad as before. If the patch notes are to be believed it was fixed with the Portugal pack but I'm not exactly in a rush to pick up the game right now, in part because I don't want to commit the time only for the game to crash on me again.

    Not to mention the fact that Firaxis keeps saying to send them bug reports but the amount of details and whatnot that they want from players is actually burdensome in my opinion. I sent a bug report earlier during the NFP but didn't follow through because the process was so frustrating, in part because they were asking for information that I no longer had because I don't keep a detailed play-by-play of the games I play, but decided to give it another go and report the crashes for my Kublai game. Long and short of it is that they would only pass along the issues if I had video but consoles can't get the kind of video they want which would mean setting something up to actually record while I'm playing. I get that devs need certain kinds of information but you can only ask so much from players because they aren't professionals so counting on them do your large scale playtesting but then refusing any kind of reporting that isn't professional quality is, at best, a massive double standard that looks like it's designed to avoid responsibility for doing their job properly.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2021
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  18. Zegangani

    Zegangani Prince

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    I didn't say that FXS did a perfect Job with NFP, but that the Approach is really good, and better than the usual DLC/XP releases. It's not just the Consoles but a lot of Bugs came along with the NFP Packs, which haven't yet been fixed or not properly, no matter the Platform. I always justify this with, that's what I'm assuming and thinking, the small Team that is responsible for NFP, which isn't of the quality of an XP that requires a big Team to work on.

    Yes, the Bug Report Systeme of Civ VI isn't great. But we shouldn't forget that Civ VI expanding to some other Platforms isn't something that was part of it from the beginning (Nov 2018 for Nintendo Switsh). They hire other Studios to make the Game available on those Platforms, which ofc costs Resources. And if there aren't enough Reports for a Bug received (no matter how detailed) then there is no reason for FXS to do something about that.

    Getting a Lot of Bugs with NFP doesn't have to say that it's a failed approach, but the contrary. It's the evidence that the short amount of Time between the smaller sized DLCs is enough for the Players to catch all the Bugs/Imbalances of a Pack, and to report them. With enough Reports FXS can fix them within Months, but this really depends on the Team and Resources. No matter how many Players report a Bug, if there are too many Bugs to fix, the Devs won't have enough Time and Resources to fix them all while also working on delivering other Stuff.

    So what I'm saying is, if the Team is big and the Game isn't reaching it's end (maybe not, maybe especially in that situation), an NFP like Approach can be very beneficial to a Game, especially shortly after its release (there don't have to be always DLCs, this can work for Updates-only pretty well).
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2021
  19. InsidiousMage

    InsidiousMage Prince

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    No, I understand that, I still just really disagree. If all of your patches are fixing things that broken with a previous update then that's a problem. I'm willing to give Firaxis a lot of slack because of Covid but I think that Firaxis really should reconsider doing monthly releases again. They either need to space their releases out or have more people work on them. Personally, if there is another pass for Civ6 I'm waiting till it's finished before playing it, if I decide to get it at all. Once bitten, twice shy and so on.

    I'm not really getting your point with these remarks. If Firaxis's bug reporting system is so bad that players are avoiding then that's something Firaxis needs to fix and expecting players to put in a bunch of effort to deal with a bad system to fix a game they already paid money for.

    I've bought the game on both Switch and PS4 so I'm aware of the release discrepancies and, speaking honestly, if Aspyr is involved with porting the next Civ game/expansion to consoles then I'll probably just not get it. I mean, there still isn't a search function on the PS4 version of the game.

    We are just going to have to disagree here. I've never had such an awful experience with a game as I've had the NFP. It's definitely impacted my opinion about the game and buying future Firaxis ports on consoles. Furthermore, players aren't employees and while I don't expect Firaxis to catch every weird edge case bug, balance issue, or exploit in testing I do expect a level of polish from a game that felt lacking in a lot of the game modes, especially the ones released later on.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2021
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  20. Zegangani

    Zegangani Prince

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    I agree, the Scheduling of the Packs could have been better, maybe No free Updates between the bimothly releases, but included with the DLC (decrease of pressure on the Devs), or they could have been quarterly. But the Approach would be the same (Some Months between the Packs: enough for the Players to enjoy them and find Bugs and leave Feedback, and for the Devs to collect data, while keeping in touch with the Players), which is my point here and not the exact Schedule of NFP (I also don't like it and would like to have it quarterly, but that's something for the Future).
    I've seen a lot of People complaining about the Report Systeme of the Game that requires a detailed report of the Bug encountered, where you have to describe each action you have taken to get the Bug (which you might have forgeten), and attach the savefile that is before the Bug occured. And a lot of People don't provide all that data. Which leads to not enough Bug Reports from the Players. And some Bugs that get reported include incomplete data that cannot help the Devs.

    So my point is, if I were FXS and get some few Reports about a Bug, but the majority of Players don't seem to bother about that and there is no to little complaint from the Community about that, then why should I put more Resources on fixing it or even decrease resources from other Projects to focus on that? It's a Buiseness and not a Game. WE as PLAYERS look at it as a Game. But for for Firaxis, it's a Buiseness Project, that they have to manage efficiently, with few resources as possible, while pleasing the majority of it's Customers/Consumers (not all, that's impossible).
    I understand you, really. I'm not happy with the Content of NFP (at least not all), and I wish that we got other things instead. I expected a lot of things but got disappointed at the End. But that's my PoV, and the NFP Packs were Add-Ons that I could choose from, nothing mandatory (and I could have set steam to not update the Game automatically, and wait till I'm sure of the Content so that it won't break my Game). So in the End it was my fault to grab something that I don't know of its Content, and to not wait till I see the Feedback of it from the players first.
    But I don't regret it, because at least I got a lot of Bug Fixes (The majority of Bugs arised with NFP are from the Modes, so...), many things balanced, 2 good Modes (Dramatic Ages and Monopolies - I'm only talking about the paid ones), some other great Content like the Wonders...etc. Yes they are not polished, and I'm not happy about that either, but it's not that bad when considering the Prices, the small Team the little Time between the packs which lead to pressure and a lot of bugs slipping through...

    Tbh, I don't see FXS keeping this way of trying things out, implementing Fantasy/SciFi stuff...etc. I think it was just a OneTime chance for the Devs to test those things, alongside the "Mode" methode. And with a small Team, it wasn't that surprising that we got a lot of Bugs.

    I can't think of a Game, Software, App...etc that doesn't rely on the Customers/Consumers to collect necessary data to keep things running. Civ isn't a Physical Product that you can test in a Workshop/Lab or whatever and not release it till it fulfills the standard of a Company.
    Even if FXS had 100 of Play-Testers to just test the game for Bugs (that's a potential 200 000 hrs per year), I'm sure Bugs will still arise after the game has been released. It's a 4X Strategy game with myriads of different potential Scenarios/Situations, and combine that with the many Game Settings that we have...
    As a Buiseness, it would be foulish, a waste of Money and Oportunity to hire more Employees to just test for Bugs that will rarely happen and have a real impact on the Game, where you can rely on the data collected from the Customers, that you can track more efficiently, with minimum Resources.
     

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