PolyCast Episode 106: "The Perseverance Award"

DanQ

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It's a win-win. The one-hundred-and-sixth episode of PolyCast, "The Perseverance Award", features regular co-hosts Daniel "DanQ" Quick, Philip "TheMeInTeam" Bellew and Lisa "qnl" Bang with returning guest co-hosts Scott "AlphaShard", Daniel "dacole" Cole, and James Robertson.

The summary of topics is as follows:

- 03m52s | Senate
An assertion for the seeming uselessness of the First Strike promotion in Civilization IV.
- 13m04s | Forum Talk
The crux for a Culture Victory in, and the commencement of a forum-centred "Community Game" for, Civilization V, followed by a consideration of CivIV Lead Designer Soren Johnson's presentation on "Playing to Lose".
- 36m16s | Theatre
Recalling a certain CivIV multiplayer game with some of the show's panelists, past and present, in team-challenge format.

- Intro/Outro | Miscellaneous
A nod to the show passing and exceeding one hundred episodes; later, some general views on -- and Aritifical Intelligence "rage quitting" -- in CivV.

PolyCast is a bi-weekly audio production in an ongoing effort to give the Civ community an interactive voice on game strategy; sibling show ModCast focuses on Civ modding and RevCast focuses on Civilization: Revolution.

As always, enjoy. :cool:
 

protocol7

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Great podcast this week!! The higher-pitched voice guy (sorry, didn't get his name) was unpleasant to listen to though, not adding much and just calling things he didn't like ******ed or whatever.
 

Windsor

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The AI discussion was kind of annoying since nobody made a good case for a "fun AI" and a lot of the AI bashing got nothing to do with the topic at all.

First TMIT says you cannot make an AI that can beat a human(without cheating or handicaps). Then your all bashing the Civ4-AI for using bonuses and how hard immortal and deity is due to the bonuses. As you said yourself: The AI needs help against good humans. Bonuses is NOT an argument against a "fun AI".

In fact you could just as easily make an argument that the "good AI" would need even bigger bonuses to compete. Why? Because cheating is available to the "fun AI" and not the "good AI".

You all makes it sound like using bonuses is what constitutes a "fun AI" which of course is just horribly wrong. When the deity AI declares war on you 2500BC with 8 axes that is something the "good-AI" would do. A "fun-AI" would maybe see that as inappropriate use of the bonuses. "Good AIs" don't care.

Also, the "hello I'm 40-cities Shaka"-situation could just as easily happen with a "good-AI" too. Don't confuse mapscripts with AIs. Yes, getting a plainscow start is annoying when the AI got triple gems, but that discussion have nothing to do with "fun" vs "good" AI.

You also seem to bash Civ4-AI to be badly programmed (which I can see some truth in). However you are romanticizing the "good AI". Like it would be some deep blue super-AI that could match deity-players without bonuses. Soren's talk is about DESIGN PHILOSOPHY, not how skilled the programmers are or how much money and time Firaxis is giving them.

He also says one very important sentence: Challenge is a source for fun! Most improvements to the AI would of course help both types of AIs.

Remember a "good AI" not only tries to win to some degree. It tries to win at all cost and when you at the end of the discussion talk about how you want flavor in AIs your all of a sudden arguing against yourself! Flavor and RNGs for deciding is NOT something you find in Deep Blue :)
 

DanQ

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Great podcast this week!!
:king:

The higher-pitched voice guy (sorry, didn't get his name)...
Daniel Cole (dacole).

The AI discussion was kind of annoying since nobody made a good case for a "fun AI" and a lot of the AI bashing got nothing to do with the topic at all.
I wasn't a primary participant in that discussion, so I'll defer a more substantial reply to the one or more of my fellow panelists who were.
 

AlphaShard

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The AI discussion was kind of annoying since nobody made a good case for a "fun AI" and a lot of the AI bashing got nothing to do with the topic at all.

First TMIT says you cannot make an AI that can beat a human(without cheating or handicaps). Then your all bashing the Civ4-AI for using bonuses and how hard immortal and deity is due to the bonuses. As you said yourself: The AI needs help against good humans. Bonuses is NOT an argument against a "fun AI".

In fact you could just as easily make an argument that the "good AI" would need even bigger bonuses to compete. Why? Because cheating is available to the "fun AI" and not the "good AI".

You all makes it sound like using bonuses is what constitutes a "fun AI" which of course is just horribly wrong. When the deity AI declares war on you 2500BC with 8 axes that is something the "good-AI" would do. A "fun-AI" would maybe see that as inappropriate use of the bonuses. "Good AIs" don't care.

Also, the "hello I'm 40-cities Shaka"-situation could just as easily happen with a "good-AI" too. Don't confuse mapscripts with AIs. Yes, getting a plainscow start is annoying when the AI got triple gems, but that discussion have nothing to do with "fun" vs "good" AI.

You also seem to bash Civ4-AI to be badly programmed (which I can see some truth in). However you are romanticizing the "good AI". Like it would be some deep blue super-AI that could match deity-players without bonuses. Soren's talk is about DESIGN PHILOSOPHY, not how skilled the programmers are or how much money and time Firaxis is giving them.

He also says one very important sentence: Challenge is a source for fun! Most improvements to the AI would of course help both types of AIs.

Remember a "good AI" not only tries to win to some degree. It tries to win at all cost and when you at the end of the discussion talk about how you want flavor in AIs your all of a sudden arguing against yourself! Flavor and RNGs for deciding is NOT something you find in Deep Blue :)

Please don't use generalizations even to a small group of Podcasters, as we were NOT all saying the same thing. For example I certainly was not bashing Civ IV.

There really isn't anything wrong with the "Fun AI" concept and something I didn't make clear was the way I liked that StarCraft had both. In Story mode of the game the AI isn't playing to destroy you as effectively as it would during a Non-Storymode game.

The reason you'd need something like Deep Blue is that unless you do massive programming, you can't account for what the human brain will come up with. The computer can't adapt to what the human will do, it can't think outside it's programming.

For some people they don't have the time to spend learning a games mechanics and all the ins and outs of how to beat it. They just want to have FUN thus the Fun AI. What is unbalancing is ignoring the ones that want a real challenge. I'm sorry but if your playing settler and Shaka shows up with a massive army you did something wrong. I remember when I first played Civ 1 and Frederick of Germany showed up with tanks as I had just gotten Horsemen.

Giving bonuses isn't a mark of Good AI, Good AI are programs that have complex statements that can recognize what the player is doing. TMIT clearly showed in his talks that the computer does. Like when it decides to plan a war against an Human it doesn't take into account if the player suddenly has a larger army or is on the other side of the planet!
 

Windsor

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Please don't use generalizations even to a small group of Podcasters, as we were NOT all saying the same thing. For example I certainly was not bashing Civ IV.

Sorry about that, but you really didn't speak up against the other panellists either.

There really isn't anything wrong with the "Fun AI" concept and something I didn't make clear was the way I liked that StarCraft had both. In Story mode of the game the AI isn't playing to destroy you as effectively as it would during a Non-Storymode game.

SC2 does feature a bit on both. But I'm curious on how you would want this to be implemented in the Civilization series.

For some people they don't have the time to spend learning a games mechanics and all the ins and outs of how to beat it. They just want to have FUN thus the Fun AI. What is unbalancing is ignoring the ones that want a real challenge.

Don't confuse "fun AI" with easy game! If you look at Civ4 they certainly did not ignore the ones who want a challenge.

Giving bonuses isn't a mark of Good AI, Good AI are programs that have complex statements that can recognize what the player is doing.

If you want Civilization to be a challenge, a difficult game to beat, the AI needs bonuses on higher levels. It doesn't matter what philosophy that is behind the AI. Good or fun, it will need bonuses.

TMIT clearly showed in his talks that the computer does. Like when it decides to plan a war against an Human it doesn't take into account if the player suddenly has a larger army or is on the other side of the planet!

That's is a really failed example as it isn't an example of good vs fun AI at all! Can you tell me how this decision(I really doubt it's a deliberate decision at all) makes the game more fun? What are the trade-offs? What's the argument for not making the AI check? I think it's easy to see that both the fun and the good AI should check so it's a matter of programming a better AI rather than what type of AI you want.

Soren Johnson did however provide actual examples in his talk. Tech trading is one. So TMIT should instead argue why he wants the AI to sell techs cheaply and not be limited there at all.
 

colonelmustard

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I enjoyed this episode; interesting topics and good discussion all around. I did miss Maki, especially in the "no singing enforcement" officer role. Do you have a billy club on your belt? ;) Duck, zaldar!

That's is a really failed example as it isn't an example of good vs fun AI at all! Can you tell me how this decision(I really doubt it's a deliberate decision at all) makes the game more fun? What are the trade-offs? What's the argument for not making the AI check? I think it's easy to see that both the fun and the good AI should check so it's a matter of programming a better AI rather than what type of AI you want.

Soren Johnson did however provide actual examples in his talk. Tech trading is one. So TMIT should instead argue why he wants the AI to sell techs cheaply and not be limited there at all.

I find that TMIT can make compelling arguments, and is especially good at taking in lots of different aspects and opinions when he's forming an argument. Don't mistake his passion for ultimate authority. I enjoyed this segment particularly, and took from it some of the things he thought would make a good AI, some things he thought would make a fun AI, and some things he thought made a "broken" AI. I understood that the things he thinks might be broken are neither fun, nor good, when it comes to the player's experience. If the AI doesn't check where you are, how big an army is before declaring, or was placed in a way that it could rule half the map before you could possibly meet, those are the things I think TMIT didn't find good or fun.

Personally, I think "good" and "fun" are subjective when it comes to individual players, and beyond that, I think your taste for the game changes over time as you improve. Some players like a challenge, some like to win every time, some like the variables of the series, and some wish it had the stability of chess. When you strike a balance, not everyone can be 100% satisfied, but rather, it's an attempt to please as many people as possible with as much satisfaction as you can give them as individuals in the large group.
 

AlphaShard

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In Civilization terms I would say Fun AI is maybe in the Scenarios. Though I have always found the game a challenge personally because I don't have the time or dilligence to disect this or any other game. I just play by the rules while the more hardcore gamers practically rip it apart to find all sorts of exploits.

Back in Civ 1 I remember hearing how people would abuse the mechanics of the game. For instance building a granery or barracks in a city, and then leaving it on that build to stock up shields. Then when a Wonder opened up they would pour all of that into it. This was such an abuse they introduced the "Change production will cost you 50% in your current production". This is what I am getting at with the whole Fun and Good AI. the Fun AI will never think outside the ruleset. The Good AI should, giving it bonuses is not a good sign of a Good AI or even really a Fun one.

I don't think it's right that the AI can know everything about you without needing Espionage as well.
 

hennord

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Good show this week. Lots of interesting subjects :)

I have to agree with protocal7 though - Daniel Cole was a little anooying to listen to. Too much talking and too little substans.

Generally I think you ought to balance the talk time more evenly amoung the panelists. It's quit obvious from the posts in this thread that not only Philip and Daniel had an oppinion on the subject, even though they completely dominated the debate in the podcast.
 

AlphaShard

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Yeah James was in disagreement with DanC and Phil.
 

Methos

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I enjoyed the discussion of your previous multiplayer game. Those are fun to listen to and an occaisional mention of it every now and then would be nice. The discussion regarding the diplomacy games was also very interesting. I didn't realize there were so many different versions of the diplomacy game.

I was under the impression that most didn't like the culture VC, but I find it rather interesting. Part of the challenge is achieving the victory while surviving against your opponents, so I find it odd that its one of the main complaints against it.
 

DanQ

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Good show this week. Lots of interesting subjects :)
:)

Generally I think you ought to balance the talk time more evenly amoung the panelists. It's quit obvious from the posts in this thread that not only Philip and Daniel had an oppinion on the subject, even though they completely dominated the debate in the podcast.
What you hear on the podcast reflects what was said during the recording of the episode, for the AI discussion topic and all others; it is up to individual panelists to contribute when and to what extent they feel comfortable on any given one. The same goes for to degree, if any, they participate in the discussion in forum threads such as this.

I enjoyed the discussion of your previous multiplayer game. Those are fun to listen to and an occaisional mention of it every now and then would be nice. The discussion regarding the diplomacy games was also very interesting. I didn't realize there were so many different versions of the diplomacy game.
:king:
 
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