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Civ6 Modding Evaluation

Discussion in 'Civ6 - Creation & Customization' started by S3rgeus, Mar 5, 2017.

  1. S3rgeus

    S3rgeus Chieftain

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    It's Monday the 19th and I'm back at home! And unfortunately brought sickness with me. :( I'll be tinkering with the espionage stuff again over the next few days and possibly a little this weekend, though I'm hosting some guests so there won't be any big modding sessions.
     
  2. counterpoint

    counterpoint Chieftain

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    Hey! For some reason, I stopped receiving notifications when new posts were made... I've increased the size of my family in the interim, so haven't been checking this much. My bad!

    What's the good word?
     
  3. S3rgeus

    S3rgeus Chieftain

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    The good word is that I have this weekend completely free for some modding goodness! I'll be tinkering with Espionage and the like quite a bit tonight, tomorrow, and Sunday. I still have all of my fingers crossed that Firaxis are going to give us some source code so that this decision becomes 1000% easier.
     
  4. counterpoint

    counterpoint Chieftain

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    cool! look forward to it.
     
  5. S3rgeus

    S3rgeus Chieftain

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    Right, I've spent some time tinkering with Espionage a bit more and have hit a bit of a stone wall on this one. I've tried many ways of adding new spy missions, but no matter what I change, UnitManager.CanStartOperation seems to always report that my new mission can't be started. The implementation of that function is in the game core, which we don't have the source code for, so I'm at a bit of a loss about what metadata might be missing. I also can't rule out the possibility that the game core doesn't handle new spy operations at all (based on the CiV game core code, this is entirely possible).

    Even without a completed scenario though, I think this exemplifies the kind of problem that working with CiVI, as it is now, presents. From here, I think I'm ready to make some decisions about CiVI for WoTMod and present some options for us going forward.

    Without source access, WoTMod isn't possible in CiVI. It might be technically possible in the general case, but working through all of the issues like this one will take longer than is reasonable for me to develop. Even if the above problem with spy operations is fixable, for example, it takes way too long for me to work out how to fix it. And there will be countless other problems like it. This is an understandable difficulty when working with an application that I can't really see what it's doing under the hood. (No particular fault of how Firaxis have made it, it's just the nature of the beast when the behavior of the game is opaque to us.)

    Given the nature of mod projects, it's also worth pointing out that solving the above type of problems is extremely not fun. Not that every bug fix or piece of work that goes into a mod is going to be fun, but it's a project driven by passion. And CiVI's current development environment sucks a lot of enjoyment out of what should be simple changes, turning them into a prolonged slog through trial and error. It's made all the more frustrating that the solution is often quite simple, it's just that the information isn't there to find out what the solution is. (Source access would largely resolve this - then I can inspect what the game is doing and see why it doesn't do what it seems like it should.)

    However, looking at the structure of CiVI and the tools that come with it, I see the underlying game is more flexible than CiV. This is already clear from some of the other mods that are being released for CiVI. Some of these are much more advanced than what we had at a similar stage in CiV's lifetime. I keep saying it, but the art pipeline in particular has improved a lot. The modifier system is also nice and flexible, which will be useful to us long term. From this point of view, I think CiVI is a better platform for WoTMod than CiV, if we had source access.

    That presents us with a conundrum! And a few options. I see 4 major ways of moving forward from here:

    1. We switch to CiVI
      • Working under the assumption that CiVI's source will be released in a reasonable time frame (as was the case with Civ4 and Civ5), we can switch to doing design work on CiVI now.
      • There's a lot for us to change from the CiV design to make this work and that will take us a while.
      • If CiVI follows a similar timeline to its predecessors, then I doubt we'll finish this work before the source is released.
      • If it doesn't then we're sunk. I doubt we'd want to switch back to CiV or start development without source if we finish the design work. This may lead to option 4.
    2. We continue working with CiV, keeping an eye on CiVI to switch when possible
      • This would keep our momentum going, finishing off the design work we've done thus far in CiV.
      • When CiVI's source becomes available, we can switch then (or re-evaluate), only taking on the extra design work when we know we're going to be able to push for the long haul and finish the mod.
      • The downside here is that the CiV-specific work we do is wasted when we switch to CiVI.
      • The upside is that if CiVI's source doesn't end up being released, then we're ok. However, if a source release never arrives, we'll never know 100% when that possibility has been eliminated. (Unless Firaxis announce they're not gonna do it.)
    3. We commit fully to CiV
      • Abandon CiVI and go with CiV. We know the scope of what we can achieve with CiV and I'm confident in the technical achievability of what we've laid out thus far in that game.
      • The downside is we're leaving a lot of potential gains on the table from CiVI - a lot of limitations that are disadvantageous to fantasy mods specifically are built into CiV. The art pipeline difficulties will hurt us and will continue to do so for the entire lifetime of the mod.
      • Comparing this option to option 2, we "risk" not switching back to CiVI even when its source does become available. But I don't see us turning a blind eye to that, even if we do choose this option.
    4. We wait
      • WoTMod on ice. This is the simplest option. Wait and see what happens with CiVI.
      • No sunk cost on CiV-specific design or implementation. No sunk cost on design for CiVI if the source doesn't get released.
      • Huge momentum hit - we would not be working on the mod at all for potentially quite a while. Risks the project not getting completed because we don't return or CiVI's source is never released.

    And that's how I see the lay of the land. My personal feelings waver between a few of the options.

    #1 is optimistic and if it works out, will lead to the best overall use of our time.

    #2 seems like the safest. It keeps us on the ball here, but still gives us a way of changing if the better option comes along. Biggest risk with this one is a lack of motivation since our CiV work can all potentially be undone.

    #3 seems a bit... not quite foolhardy, but something approaching it. I don't see this one being very practical, since we'll always have our eye on CiVI, regardless of what we decide to do now.

    #4 is somewhat selfishly useful, in that I'll have time to work on unrelated projects in the interim, which I've been picking at for the last few months. (Other games, other tools.) Mod projects like WoTMod are built on motivation though, and it's difficult to rekindle that if we let it lapse now.

    From my thoughts there, #3 seems to be the only one I've really discounted. Before I try to narrow more, what do you think?
     
  6. Leyrann

    Leyrann Warlord

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    I want to see 1 most of all, but that's also because I just like Civ VI so many times more than Civ V.

    And I'll probably just be one of the many players anyways...
     
  7. counterpoint

    counterpoint Chieftain

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    OK, well let me state that I'm glad it has "come to this," in the sense that you now know that what we want isn't achievable with the current tools available. That is more than we knew a few months back. You also know that it seems that it would work if you had source access, while we know a fair bit won't work in CiV, even with that access. This is good information and exactly what you set out to do.

    And I'd say the funness of this is probably the most important element here. I'm not going to be of much help in the actual coding, so this project lives and dies with your motivation. If this is tedious, we're sunk. So I'd say it behooves us to do whatever creates the most fun development process - that will likely lead to the most fun game anyways.

    ok, first impressions on these one at a time.

    What do you consider a reasonable time frame? Within the next 6 months? Remind me when they were released for CiV?

    I think this option hinges on the following question: are we kind of sunk if we stick with CiV? I prefer CiV over CiVI, but I also imagine our audience will be much smaller if we do CiV. If we are sunk with V, then this option is someone compelling. It's "all in". Sure, it's possible we'd be left with nothing but... I dunno, we'll have done some cool design work...?

    I think this one is interesting because of the idea of "stopping points." We have somewhat reached a good one with CiV. I do think we probably could have proceeded a bit further with our design, but the stuff that remained is daunting and rather nitty-gritty, which doesn't feel appropriate given our uncertainty. So, I guess this one feels a little lame to me, not just because of the wasted effort, but because of the likelihood of a really lame stopping point. Like, finishing the social policies or finishing Philosophies might aid our CiVI design, but, what if they release the source when we're 50% through designing combat units? That's really nitty gritty, and would feel like we had either wasted all that prior 50% worth of work, or must waste the remaining 50% work...

    I suppose I don't love this one, since it presumes that we want CiVI. If we do want CiVI, pursuing CiV further seems like a fool's errand since we're already at a halfway decent stopping point.

    Art is a big thing. For me, it all boils down to audience. Even though I like CiV more, this feels problematic if we'll have 30 people play our mod instead of 1000, or whatever. And the whole shadow of CiVI existing forever is kind of scary.

    Yeah, this is huge and scary because of the momentum. IMO, that momentum hit has kind of already come, though. I'm already rather used to not writing two lengthy posts per week! For me, this one feels fine if the source is released within the near future. I think we'll get the momentum back. However, if it isn't released, then I think the mod is dead, and that's really scary.

    This is tough! I agree with your assessments, mostly, but I'm not sure I agree that #2 is "safe." If anything, #3 is the safest, but it also has the least gain. #2 includes a lot of "wasted" time, which doesn't seem very safe to me.

    I think we just need to look at our desired end vision. I feel like we've already asked the question "Should we switch to CiVI?" and arrived at "yes." If so, I think that kind of eliminates #2 and #3, as much as it pains me to say it. then the two followup questions:

    "Will source be released?"
    If yes, then we go with #1 or #4, and totally scrap 2 and 3. #1 has the advantage.
    If probably, then consider #2 also, but be ready to waste a couple hundred hours of work. #4 has the advantage, I'd say.
    If no, go with #2 or even #3.

    and then:

    "Will it be released in the next six months or so?"
    The answer to this question depends on the kind of process you'd like. I think 6 month "head start" on design could be totally fine. But so could more than that, perhaps. But, I'm also assuming you'd want to have access to the code as we design in order to check what we're doing. So..
    If yes, #1 has the advantage
    If no, #4 has the advantage.

    thoughts?
     
  8. S3rgeus

    S3rgeus Chieftain

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    Yes, we do have a better sense of what CiVI can do for now!

    A great timeframe would be them releasing the source when they release the final piece of DLC for the Deluxe folks. (Rumors put that sometime next week - based on scheduling it seems like that it's at least somewhat soon.)

    Based on the CiV timetable, that took 18 months after the release of CiV. We're 9 months out from the release of CiVI (that seems to have happened quickly!), so we're ~halfway there.

    Yeah, this is certainly a consideration as well. I also haven't been drawn into CiVI as much as I was CiV, but I can't place why that is yet. It might just be the polish of BNW with all its content vs CiVI's new-release-content. I've said before and still think that CiVI at launch is better than CiV was at launch.

    It's a good question "are we sunk if we stick with CiV". I think visually we'll never end up with a very polished product. It will still have a very similar look and feel to CiV, which is something that a fantasy mod should really try to break away from. I do feel less inclined to dig deep for CiV now that we know these tools are here for CiVI, just out of reach due to source access.

    Very good point, this does favor CiVI but then ignores that favorability!

    Yep, art is the big factor on CiVI. It's worth noting on the overshadowed bit that the modding communities often outlive the games they mod by significant time. There are still active mods for Civ4. But we'd be getting in "on the ground floor" for CiVI, which could make a big splash.

    A lot of good points! And I'm in agreement, CiVI seems like the better platform.

    I would be surprised if it isn't eventually. It was for Civ4 and it was for Civ5. Firaxis have apparently made very good modding tools for X-COM 2 (so I've heard), so it's something that's still a priority at the company. But it's always possible that it doesn't happen.

    I would love it if it was. I don't know of any way we could work out whether it will be though. 9 months (from now-ish) would be sticking to the CiV timeline on Firaxis's part. You're right actually that I would probably want to look through some code during our design phase, the difficulty of that hadn't occurred to me really! I've done that a few times already with CiV to confirm we're not designing ourselves into a corner due to a technical limitation.

    I feel myself leaning towards #4. But I do think if we go for #4, we should set a specific timeline to come back, rather than be indeterminate. You're right that we've already had a momentum hit, and I'd be happy to drill deep on some other projects I'm working on so I can rotate back around to give WoTMod my full attention again. An arbitrary choice based on the CiV timeline would be to reconvene in 3 months? Or earlier, if the CiVI source is released in that time. Or if you'd prefer to check in sooner, we can totally do that! Obviously we're friends on Steam, so we won't be disappearing completely!

    The more I think on this, the happier I am with CiVI being our choice. I wish it didn't come with the source access risk/unknown, but it feels like the right place for WoT!

    What do you think?

    And also thank you to Leyrann for the input! We're always happy to hear from fans and the people who are keeping up to date on this forum are the core group that will keep any modding project like this alive!
     
  9. counterpoint

    counterpoint Chieftain

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    I think we could survive 9 more months, though dang, CiVI isn't new anymore at that point? Seems like the audience for this stuff would be here now.

    Yeah, I can see how dipping your toes in these waters makes it hard to go back to V.

    ground floor relatively speaking, at least. We'll still take quite awhile to be playable!

    I guess it's settled then.

    And if that happens.... well, Eff Firaxis anyways.

    I think 3 months is worthy time to reconvene and reassess.. probably have this same conversation again, really. Who knows, maybe there's a new expansion announced at that point that might somehow enter into the discussion.

    I feel like #4 is the right choice, for now. However, I think we should remain open to #1 (pre-design assuming CiVI). I'd guess we have a year's worth of design, conservatively. Sure, there's stuff we shouldn't get into before you can look under the hood. But there's also a lot of conversation about the big picture of our "port" that needs to happen. I think we both agree that we aren't starting over, right? We're essentially porting our CiV concepts to CiVI, and adjusting as need be, adding when need be, removing when need be. I haven't put as much time into CiVI as I have V, but I have put quite a bit into it, so could certainly feel comfortable working through the big-picture design stuff and then even some detailed stuff, providing it doesn't need really specific code knowledge you can't yet get.

    Basically, I see us as going through the summaries, and basically questioning every thing, asking "how would this change"? Right?

    By the way, I should make it clear that if something close to "starting over" is what you're thinking of, I vote no - we're sticking with CiV. I don't think that's what you want, though.

    So, basically, I think we should option 4 it now, reconvene in a few months, and then reassess. At that point, it may make sense for us to start designing. Essentially, right now I'm like 70%/30% between options #4 and #1 (this is a runoff, so the other two don't get any percentage). Every month that goes by shifts the balance towards #1 by 10% or so, I'd say... although, eventually, it'll start losing ground if it seems unlikely they're release it at all!

    Not sure I'm happier with the choice, but I'm relatively confident in it.

    Oh, should you update page one of the WotMod thread yet, saying what the deal is?
     
  10. S3rgeus

    S3rgeus Chieftain

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    True, but a mod this size never really gets released in this kind of window of the game, since it takes a long while for the community to get a handle on the tools and for Firaxis to make enough modding-helpful changes to the game. CiVI will be "the new civ" for a few years yet!

    Yep, but much earlier in the time scale than for CiV!

    Phew! CiVI here we come!

    Yep, sounds like a good approach. We should have more info then.

    Agreed, I think after the 3 months, if the source hasn't been released in that time (and I'm not hugely optimistic it will be within 3 months), then we should swap to #1 unless something has particularly changed to make us reconsider that. From what I can see now, it seems like a reasonable lead time to give ourselves by starting then.

    Yes, most definitely! We want to start from our design for CiV and convert it into something for CiVI, not start again from nothing. I was thinking exactly the same kind of process - big picture assessments and then going through each of the summaries and deciding individually what parts we keep and what parts we don't. While there is a lot of work to be done in the changeover, there's certainly a lot of our existing stuff that will survive as is or with small tweaks.

    Putting time into CiVI is another big thing, and that's something I'm gonna try to do a lot more of in the coming 3 months. Should help me have better perspective of what we want to change when we return here! I've started a new game already!

    Yep, agreed!

    Yes, I'll update the WoTMod thread in the CiV forums shortly.
     
  11. counterpoint

    counterpoint Chieftain

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    right, and maybe we can be one of the first total conversion mods.

    cool.

    ok, phew...

    let me know how your games go. Would want to hear more about your thoughts. After all, we can kind of fix CiVI in our mod if we want...

    see you soon enough!
     
  12. counterpoint

    counterpoint Chieftain

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    Hey, so what's up?!
     
  13. S3rgeus

    S3rgeus Chieftain

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    This is a good question! Our original timeline of 3 months ended smack in the middle of National Novel Writing Month, which meant I wasn't in much of a position to follow up then! I've been keeping an eye on CiVI patches and hoping that Firaxis would release the source. Based on the discussions above, that would give me full confidence in CiVI as a platform for WoTMod. I'm working on a bunch of other stuff at the moment which makes it hard to commit on that kind of unknown, but I definitely haven't forgotten about what we're working on here.

    Do we still like the decision above to start design under the assumption the source *will* eventually be available? That's gotten a fair bit less attractive to me in the interim, since, while I do think we'll get source eventually, there's a small chance we won't and all of that potentially wasted design work puts me off! (I still need to play more CiVI!)
     
  14. ww2commander

    ww2commander Chieftain

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    I have been passively observing things from the sideline (stopped playing civ6 about 1 month in since release) and feel that modding in general has kinda seized up for this iteration of the game. I was hoping that there would at least be a broader range of graphics and mods by now, but looking through the sub-forums and DB, it feels very lite in content.

    Do you think the release of the source code would help get things going again, or does your gut feeling tell you that this iteration is a bit of a lost cause modding wise?

    I really want to start working on some ideas on my end, but all I see is obstacles most of the time (in my case the lack of 'include' capability similar to Civ5 was a major show-stopper)

    Edit: Also, has the DLC spam possibly contributed to the lack of 'better' modding capability?
     
  15. counterpoint

    counterpoint Chieftain

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    ah! Well, truly, this has been the busiest I've ever been in my life, so write around when NaNoWriMo started I was in no position to get back to modding, anyways.

    Faced with the prospect of doing it blindly... it still scares me. I'm willing to start, but I think it might be hard to justify getting much past the "big picture", or to justify putting in tons of time - maybe a slightly slower posting pace than we've done at our peak.

    Ugh, darn you, Firaxis. What ww2commander says above scares me even more...

    I've gone in and out of playing CiVI. Put in a few games, but not tons. I feel mostly comfortable with it, but the previously noted complexity-without-connection-to-other systems makes it hard to really "get."

    S3rgeus, I've also sent you a PM about unrelated matters.
     
  16. Gedemon

    Gedemon Modder Moderator

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  17. Knasp

    Knasp Chieftain

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    I hope that they will expand the modding possibilities since I really like the idea of a WoT mod!

    A while ago I started rereading the series which inspired me to start making a "Randland" map for Civ VI (see album below).

    It's based on the standard map of the series by Elissa Mitchell, though I chose Bryan Rays (2008) interpretation as my foundation because of its clarity and added details. Then I modified the Civ VI map to fit better with the "official" maps as well as local/city maps, especially when it comes to mountain ridges, forests, rivers etc.

    Assuming that "Randland's" width is 3600 mi (2237 km) I estimated a height of 3000 mi (1864 km). Starting out, I experimented with modifying Gedemon's Ynamp mod (and others) to create a bordered map that is 110 x 94 tiles. Each tile then represents an area of about 20x20 km, which is useful since travel times and related distances are sometimes described in the books.

    If you decide to continue the Civ VI WoT mod, I would gladly share it.

    Sidenote: Districts really mess up the aesthetics and scale (except harbours), so ideally they should be removed.

    Spoiler Pictures :
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2018
  18. Infixo

    Infixo Warlord

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  19. counterpoint

    counterpoint Chieftain

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    Hey Knasp, that's really cool! Thanks for posting it.

    I definitely see what you mean how the districts kind of mess with the scale and sense of location of these cities.

    I love how appropriately indefensible Falme seems...
     
    Knasp likes this.
  20. Knasp

    Knasp Chieftain

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    Good point! Now that I come to think about it, I don't think Falme should have any walls. Must be the fact that I used a Renaissance start...hmmm.

    The map above is supposed to represent the world at the state of the Eye of the world.

    But I was thinking that you could have several "scenarios" or editions of the map. So if you want to play the Seanchan you could choose a scenario that stars a little later, and you'd basically start with a couple of ships and and units outside of Falme.
     

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