Hi guys, since it was already briefly discussed a couple of time, I now want to share some thoughts about "Scaling AI cheats". (I am interested in the general opinion on this.) Intro: Scaling AI cheats are actually quite common in many games. It is not a new concept to gaming industry. Especially in modern single player RPGs and single player campaign based strategy games it is wide spread. Usually though most companies try to not talk about AI cheats (although basically everybody still knows). They are pretty aware of the backlash it could cause to admit such cheats. The 2 most common approaches / alternatives: 1) The stronger a player gets (XP Level), the more AI is cheating (additionally to GameDifficulty Settings). 2) The further the player progresses (in campaign / main story), the more AI is cheating (additionally to GameDifficulty Settings). Something like that could easily also be applied for Civ4Col. (Currently it is not. Civ4Col has cheats of course, but they only scale by GameDifficulty.) Alternative A: We could simply scale AI cheats by Player Power Ratio. (Or other realtive comparisons.) (Compared to Human Player in SP games - with MP games it gets more difficult.) --> That way an AI would only cheat (additionally) if it is weaker than you. --> It is quite hard to predict for Human Players. --> It is probably the better alternative, but more difficult to implement and impacting performance more. --> It is also very difficult to balance by ingame testing. Alternative B: We could simply scale AI cheats based on turns played (also considering GameSpeed). (Pretty easy but "may feel really unfair" if Player gets behind by bad RnG or bad strategy.) --> That way all AIs would cheat (additionally) equally, depending on turns passed. --> It is easier to predict for Human Players. --> It is easier implement, easier to balance and would hardly impact performance. Comment: Most likely it would be Alternative A) if we do it at all. ------------ Would those cheats apply for Human Player as well? Simple answer: No. That is why it is called "AI cheats". ------------ Would those cheats apply for Natives and Kings as well? Natives and Kings will not really be affected. Wild Animals would probalby not be affected at all. (Simply because they do not use most of the features the scaling AI cheats would be applied to.) Most of the cheats will only affect AI Colonial Players. (Sales in Europe, Storage Overflow, Immigration from Crosses, ... - details see below.) ------------ Will it replace the current flat AI cheats (that mostly depend on GameDifficulty)? No, it will be implemented on top and still depend on GameDifficulty as well. It is meant to be a relatively soft and gradual "adjustment". It simply flattens out huge differences between Human Player and AI over the course of a game. ------------ Why even do something like that? Simply to keep the gameplay challenging throughout the complete game progress. Otherwise you often reach a point, where you basically already won and thus the game gets boring. Also, improving AI decision itself noteably is very difficult, often risky and does not always work as expected. Strong AI logic itself usually impacts performance much harder. Summary: With this concept we could get a stronger AI much faster and with less risks, than working on AI decision logic. AI cheats are simple and basically always work. But continuing to work on AI itself is also necessary! ------------ Would it be possible to implement it as a Game Option? Simple answer: Yes. This is not a feature everybody will like. ------------ Will it depend on GameDifficulty how fast and how much the AI cheats scale? Simple answer: Yes. The rate of increase and the maximum value of these scaled AI cheats will depend on GameDifficulty. ------------ Would the Human Player notice it? Well, you will of course know it. (Because you e.g. turned on the GameOption.) But it will be pretty hard to exactly identify how much and where AI is cheating. ------------ In which features and how much exactly and by which algorithm will AI cheat? That will stay a secret of the modders - in order not to ruin the illusion of a fair AI that does cheat only very little. By checking the GameDifficultiy settings a player could of course figure out some of it (and destroy the illusion). For the rest he would need to check the algorithm in the source code. Most likely AI would get scaling cheats for: (Cheats that Human Player will have hard time to directly notice ingame.) %-Bonus on Gold from Sales %-Bonus on Gold from Storage Overflow %-Bonus on Crosses generated %-Bonus on Hammers produced %-Bonus on Learning by Doing Additional XP from Combats won ... So what will it not do? (It will not give free presents regularly.) Spawning Free Units for free Giving AI huge piles of Gold for free Giving AI huge amounts of FF-Points for free ... ------------ How much effort is it? The implementation effort is ok - still considerable though. The balancing effort though is massive - lots of ingame testing needed. ------------ What are the risks? Well, there is a risk of worsening performance. (Especially if we calculate power ratios at the beginning of each turn. Using "turns played" could hardly impact performance.) Well, it requires a lot of small changes all around the place thus it could of course cause some bugs. None of them are dramatic or really difficult for themselves though. The biggest issue however is balancing. Even if we get it right, it could feel great in your game A and terrible in your game B. ------------ So again, what is the difference to the current AI cheats? (Please remember, the current AI cheats will still exist.) The difference to the current AI cheats with flat bonus and freebies is, that AI will cheat very little at the beginning of a game. It will however cheat more and more as you become stronger or the game progresses. The current AI cheats most often also give free presents from time to time. The scaling AI cheats will be %-Bonus orientated that increase gradually. Both current AI cheats and scaling AI will basically add up. ------------ Does this exclude to continue AI improvements (working on better AI logic)? Absolutely not, but it is considerable effort we would need to put into this. If we put effort into this, we will probably put less effort in other topics. ------------ Well, that pretty much explains the concept (high level). I would most likely really bore you when it comes down to technical concept. It may not sound like a big game changer. And in fact, in early game it is not. But most likely it will noteably change the feeling of midgame and endgame. If you activate the Game Option "Scaling AI cheats": You will experience much more challenging AI in midgame and especially endgame. In early game it will pretty much feel as now. Feedback?