GDC 2011: Strategy Games - the next move

Discussion in 'Civ5 - General Discussions' started by alexman, Mar 9, 2011.

  1. dilettante

    dilettante Governor

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    If they have the money to even lure 'em in. You know, the student loan payments of the compsci kids at the Stanford and Cal aren't cheap. Although, the next soren is probably hiding there somewhere.

    noob from Civ3 vanilla waaay back in the day. got hooked cause of awesome promos from ign/gamespot media conglomerates. bought all civ3 x-paks, bought civ4 vanilla and complete ed, planning to buy smac and civ5. buying a whole new comp for civ5 & prbly will buy civ6. i guess i have misplaced loyalties and disposable cash.

    or maybe i should go back to playing my metal gear solid games & splinter cell, final fantasy & dragon quest... :crazyeye:

    btw, i'm actually with the haters with this new shafer quote. he really alienated a lot of people by giving off the vibe that civ5 was just his personal project/toy instead of a legacy that he should've been more careful to begin with. It's a ming vase not some clay plant container from the $5 bin of death at Walmart. you treat the legacy with respect not indifference... even if you are financially kneecapped (thanks 2k). There was a time I would've defended shafer for 1upt/hex, of course open your big fat mouth, remove all doubt and all that jazz.

    bugger off shafer... i'm glad you're not designing civ6. I hope you don't take out the AI for stardock games cause you don't think it's 'financially sound.' and let's hope your new boss doesn't mind that either.

    my2cents, take it with a grain of salt, don't get too worked up about this post-just another opinion from another cfc'er, etc... etc...
     
  2. kiwitt

    kiwitt Road to War Modder

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    Glad I uninstalled Civ 5. However, given that Civ 4 has it's own AI issues ("Better AI" mod a case in point), it does make some sense. A perusal of the Civ 4 forum shows it also to have a rudimentary AI, that does not even think a more or two ahead and simply acts on the existing condition to make a decision. Certainly not like a "chess computer".
     
  3. esemjay

    esemjay Prince

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    A lot of the AI, namely the combat AI, seems to have been borrowed from Civ4; the reason it's so horrendous in Civ5 is because the AI keeps trying to do things that don't exist, or that don't make sense in a "what is best for this unit" point of view.

    Units don't embark, because embarked units get attacked by ships instead of other units- which kills them instantly. It's the opposite of moving into hills or forests. From a unit preservation standpoint, embarking a unit makes no sense... so the AI doesn't do it. From a "win the war" standpoint, NOT embarking a unit makes no sense once you have to cross water.

    Units group together because, if 1UPT didn't exist, they act like they would stack. It's why injured units don't run away often- they expect to be defended by the healthy units.

    The AI has never had the ability to think into the future, as to what moves it would make next; but rather, focuses on what moves make sense right now. This works with games that stack, or in FPS, or against novice players, or games where the AI gets incredible bonuses all the time. However, it's a compensation-- and an understandable one. Coding an AI to plan ahead, with all of the features in the average strategy game, is difficult enough. Civ would have to take it a step further, and make that AI act differently based on almost every condition in the game.

    Unfortunately, I don't see Firaxis fixing this. I am almost certain that the AI will only get upgraded when the source is released and an avid modder takes on the challenge.
     
  4. AttilaTheHun

    AttilaTheHun Chieftain

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    The reason people are upset with the AI is not because it can't prosecute a Grand Strategy war, but because it made glaringly stupid moves that could be avoided by a five year old.

    Case in point, using ranged units in front line, workers moving close to an enemy, embarking next to an enemy naval unit, etc. These are easily fixable and avoidable issues that should not have been in the released product. It speaks to the lack of quality of the product in general, which is reflected in almost every design feature and implementation of the game.

    For me, the issues with the game is not military. I like the 1upt system and the AI could be improved to play a credible game. However, what is the point of all that in a game that heavily discourages you from conquering a large empire? Balancing happiness is just not fun, in fact it is a chore - which the AI does not have to deal with.
     
  5. King_Course

    King_Course Prince

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    I can't help but think this comes from some butthurt developer who is trying to say; yeah the AI stinks but I did it on purpose.

    I mean if you have a PhD from MIT, if you make a bad A.I. it is ofcourse because you wanted to make a bad A.I. right? Right?
     
  6. lschnarch

    lschnarch Emperor

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    If memory serves me correctly, this is a quote from the same guy who was proud about the "4-level-AI" (of which still some levels are missing, as far as I see it).

    Furthermore, his statement is quite questionable as soon as you take into consideration that he is talking about strategy games. These games, by definition, are niche games.
    You will never have the same big audience for a strategy game as you will have for a shooter or FB games or even a good sports game. As you will never have the same audience for a chess championship game as for a football game.

    Niche games live from concentrating on your niche audience. Like sportscars live from concentrating on their (niche) audience.

    By the quoted statement it becomes obvious that Mr. Shafer
    a) tries to belittle his own faults during development of Civ5
    b) he completely lacks any understanding of the market in which he was working.

    Regarding the question if Civ5 was financially successful: that is something which nobody here will be able to answer.
    Financial success is not measured in numbers of copies sold nor by absolute sales figures, but solely by target figures met or not.
    Since we don't know anything about the target figures, we can only guess.

    Given the fact that Firaxis only releases patches to promote new DLC, I would doubt the financial success. But as stated above, this is only an assumption.

    Edit: My assumption seems to be backed by the fact that a GOTY edition has been announced less than half a year after the initial release. These versions typically are sold to improve sales figures and I don't remember (although I might be wrong here) that this had been necessary for Civ4.
     
  7. Thunder_Gr

    Thunder_Gr Emperor

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    I see that there is a lot of confusion about how much money should someone "pour" into programming a "great" AI...
    I have been playing strategy games for years and I can say that the first ones I played (Sid Meier's Colonization, Empire II, XCOM-TFTD, XCOM-UFO Defence, Fantasy General, Panzer General, Steel Panther etc) had a vastly better AI, while they had to cope whith much lower budgets and much lower computer resources.

    Instead of progressing on the AI issue, especially when trying to sell a turn-based strategy game, they "progress" on what?
    Does Civ 5 have better graphics than Civ 4?
    Does it have better GUI?
    Better information browsing system?
    Better unit automation system?
    Improved production queue system?
    Easier/Better long-term technology selection system?
    More balanced gameplay(from whatever aspect you look at it)?
    ....
    The list can go on and on.
    I like some of the new things they have done, but they did it hastily, obviously not adequate planning and...forgot to hire an AI programmer and give him/her the needed time to do a work that would benefit greatly the company in the long-term, since every title after that the AI would only need minor adjustments.

    I also like to state that I do not hold a grudge against the programmers, because I am sure they do whatever they can with the time and tools they are given. And I know they work at their homes, whenever they get a chance, to resolve issues. I am, also, almost certain that they had warned about the fact the game is not ready to get to the market. But, as always, the decisions are in the hands of others. I wonder, what part in this has Sid Meier himself played? However, I do not think I will ever find out.
     
  8. lschnarch

    lschnarch Emperor

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    Well, the answer has already been given.

    The majority of players thinks that Civ5 has been released in a pre-mature state.
    But Civ_Facebook had been announced for last year, too. However, it has been postponed. Civ_Facebook was (and still is) Meyer's baby.

    So, the program in which he was personally involved got additional time.
    The program in which he was not involved had to be released too early.

    Conclusion: Meyer doesn't give too much about Civ5.

    That's something one should keep in mind and remember, as soon as (if ever) a new Civilization game will be announced: the founder of the releasing company doesn't care about it.
     
  9. kiwitt

    kiwitt Road to War Modder

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    Does Civ 5 have better graphics than Civ 4? No ... I love the animated trees in Civ 4 waving in the wind, the sea the way the splashes on the water, the river the way it flows always to the sea.
    Does it have better GUI? Not that I noticed ... I actually found it more cumbersome
    Better information browsing system? Again ... did not notice
    Better unit automation system? Civ 4 was fine
    Improved production queue system? Civ 4 was fine
    Easier/Better long-term technology selection system? Civ 4 was fine
    More balanced gameplay(from whatever aspect you look at it)? Can't comment ... I dumped it probably too soon to have an opinion about it.

    Realistically they should have looked at what needed improving, and taken their clues from the many mods that had being created to improve it and took inspiration from there. Instead they made it worse, by thinking people wanted a simplified game.
     
  10. alexman

    alexman Ancient Geek

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    Jon may be the boy genious, but he does not have a PhD from MIT... I think maybe you're confusing him with another former Firaxis designer. :)
     
  11. Biz_

    Biz_ Prince

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    they need to stop hiring 10 bad AI people and just pay double or triple for 3-5 good ones

    when modders can spend a few weeks in their spare time destroying anything that the full time programmers come up with you know something's wrong

    also it helps giving AI people a game that works. when the engine is about fancy graphics before basic functionality, it's hard to write an AI
     
  12. Thunder_Gr

    Thunder_Gr Emperor

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    Too bad, since the game is called Sid Meier's Civilization and I did think that this should account for something. Perhaps I am overly sentimental, and think that programmers would care when their names are used to publish untested/half-completed games...

    Just to clarify, that was exactly my point. They have done nothing to progress from the previous game in a non AI improvement oriented way. What they did is an attempt to throw in some new(to this specific game) mechanics, which I find interesting and I would like to play it(when it is finished;)), without progressing in anything...

    I wish they had at least one AI programmer in that team. I think they just copy-paste from the previous and try to get the programming team to do something "decent" with the AI, without even allowing them to focus on it. Propably because of "lack of time"(?). I am sure that there are at a least a couple programmers in the team that could write an exellent AI if given enough time to do it.
     
  13. lschnarch

    lschnarch Emperor

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    The problem was not missing coding skills. The problem was (and still is) missing understanding of the game (and the genre, btw).

    Look at what is happening with each patch: complete sub-systems are turned upside-down, the oh so well designed social policies get a complete overhaul each time and what not more.

    This game has already seen like six major patches (in less than half a year - and I'm even not counting the emergency patches of which we had 4 (?)) and no consistent way of dealing with the undebated weaknesses can be found.

    Conclusion: The guys at Firaxis are completely overcommited, feeling helpless being confronted with something which they don't understand at all.
    All what they know is they have already lost the Civilization players.
    What is left is to keep the crowd happy - occasionally give them some "shiny, pointy" features (for a price, of course). Those people will gladly buy all this stuff because they don't care for the game nor understand it, either.
     
  14. Thunder_Gr

    Thunder_Gr Emperor

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    I think you are right. Although it is a sad thing :sad:.
     
  15. Nares

    Nares Emperor

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    They would have sold far more units if CiV was CIV with a new graphics engine.
     
  16. Fabiano79

    Fabiano79 Prince

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    I agree.

    What I was expecting of civ V was at least the same features that already existed on Civ IV.

    The game is way simplier now, without religion, heatlh, spionage...The plp who doesnt see that are crazy.

    I accept that someone thinks civ 5 is more fun, but everybody should agree that civ 4 is a lot more complex and challeging.
     
  17. kiwitt

    kiwitt Road to War Modder

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    I know what you mean ... I was going to learn LUA to start to do some programming ... however, given the issues with Civ5, I have decided for the foreseeable future I will be concentrating on Civ 4 modding and that means "Python"
     
  18. DaviddesJ

    DaviddesJ Deity

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    Thanks for posting this. I was out of town, unfortunately, but this makes it clear that it would have been pretty interesting to be at the panel. Is there anyone posting here in the thread who actually saw the panel, as opposed to just the written column about it?

    I don't think the biggest problem is the AI budget, although Shafer's quote certainly illustrates why it is one problem with Civ5. The most important thing---and what seems to have been totally overlooked in Civ5, and which Shafer still doesn't seem to understand---is to design the game in such a way that you don't need world-class AI.

    If you design your game to play like chess (or, even worse, Go) then you shouldn't be surprised when it plays badly in single-player without an unaffordable or unreasonable AI design budget. Conversely, if you design the game so that the AI doesn't need to make a lot of chess-like decisions, then you don't need huge handicaps to make a relatively basic AI still interesting and enjoyable to play against. I don't think the Civ4 AI was so vastly better than the Civ5 AI. But the design of Civ4 is certainly more AI-friendly than the design of Civ5.

    The high concept for Civ5, as it's been described in the press, is "Panzer General meets Civ". But anyone who's played Panzer General knows that it is way too hard for an AI to play well, and the single-player scenarios are only challenging because they are constructed situations with the odds hugely stacked against the human player. This is a bad starting point for grafting on to a civilization game that is supposed to revolve around a clash of roughly balanced empires.

    There are a variety of decisions to be made in order to make an interesting single-player strategy game. The biggest concern I have with Shafer's quote is not the idea that you can make good games in other ways than investing huge budgets in AI. The biggest concern I have is that he doesn't seem to have any understanding of those other ways, either. He just seems interested in making games that don't go beyond the 10 year old level. The other quotes in the article tend to suggest that also. That may well be where the biggest business opportunity is, but, if that's your attitude, why put any strategy in your games at all? Why not just make Farmville or Animal Crossing?
     
  19. Fabiano79

    Fabiano79 Prince

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    Well said. Thats my biggest problem too. Everywhere I look I see games being "dumb down" to sell more. But in my opinion thats a mistake, and they are not thinking about the long term.

    Im pretty much confident in say that the player who never played civ before and start playing Civ 5will like the game, but hardly will become fan of the series.

    And then they will lose the old fans without creating a new community of players.
     
  20. Zubbus

    Zubbus Antarctican Predator

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    Toyota can atest to what happens when a company switches its focus from making the best product possible to making the most money possible. Further proof that the MBA syllabus does not challenge the brain.
     

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