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Soren Johnson: The Chick Parabola

Discussion in 'Civ5 - General Discussions' started by alexman, Nov 4, 2010.

  1. alexman

    alexman King

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    I think this is quite relevant to Civ5 and 1upt...

    http://www.designer-notes.com/?p=287
     
  2. r_rolo1

    r_rolo1 King of myself

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    Alex, long time no see ;) Welcome back :D

    There was already some discussion about that exact parabola some time ago around here. We have to give credit to the man, since he was almost the only official reviewer that didn't painted the sky pink on civ V.
     
  3. alexman

    alexman King

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    Even more than the parabola, I found Soren's point interesting, about designers sometimes having to cut features that the AI would not be able to handle. I remember being stunned when I learned Civ5 was going to add 1upt.
     
  4. Padje Dog

    Padje Dog Warlord

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    Very true and well spoken.
     
  5. r_rolo1

    r_rolo1 King of myself

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    Fair enough :D I agree with you in that ... you, better than me ;) , know that even Civ IV AI had strong issues with handling the SoD it made, that is light years away of the brain power needed for handling 1 upt in a variable map enviroment. I was with hopes that they had inserted some cookie cutter formations and not letting the AI to war before it had one of those marching in good order, but it looks ( based in game experience ... no C++ code released so far ) that they didn't gone that way . The behaviour of ranged units is especially problematic and it looks that the AI does not scout before moving the units, that is a crass mistake.

    Not that is was something unexpectable to see the AI trip in a so complicated feature, but to be honest, I was expecting a little more than what we see now in that regard :(
     
  6. bryanw1995

    bryanw1995 Emperor

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    that's funny, I had to re-read the article to realize that this was a "chick parabola" and not a "CHICK parabola".
     
  7. Jolly Rogerer

    Jolly Rogerer Prince

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    I thought this was going to be about relationships with women. Everything gets better until she discovers that you play Civ, then....
     
  8. CyberTyrant

    CyberTyrant Emperor

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    :wavey: Alex

    Thanks for posting that.
     
  9. joyous_gard

    joyous_gard Prince

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    nice one
     
  10. Psyringe

    Psyringe Scout

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    Hi alexman, nice to see you again. :)

    I'd argue that there has been a change in design philosophy in the last 20 years with regard to the AI's capability of using the game's features. In the 90s, games emerged which were very complex, but which had AIs that actually failed in playing them decently. Two well-known examples are Master of Magic and SMAC. Still, both games had (and continue to have) many fans. From this, I derive 3 hypotheses:

    1. A game with a weak AI can still be enjoyable for the player if it gives him enough interesting mechanics to explore. In terms of the Chick Parabola, this means that the parabola is designed so high that the player needs a very long time to get the feeling of having mastered the game.

    2. AI programming has matured to a point where players now expect the AI to play the game decently. In recent years, developers of strategy games were reluctant to include features that the AI couldn't grasp at all (whereas in the 90s this wouldn't have been seen as much of a problem as long as the AI had a sufficient understanding of the game's core mechanics).

    3. As a result, players are now less forgiving to incompetent AIs, and game developers are less prone to add player-only features. This makes a contemporary strategy game#s AI actually much more important than it was in the 90s. Because if the developers go in with a small amount of features (limited by what they think the AI can handle), and the AI fails to understand them decently, there's now no set of player-only features which might give the player fun despite the AI's failings, as long as he's still climbing the parabola.

    Hmm, Soren would probably appreciate this development, as this makes his area of expertise even more relevant. ;)
     
  11. marioflag

    marioflag History Addict

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    It's nice to see you Alexman.

    As a civ 4 developer do you think that it could be possible in future to have an AI as competent as in Beyond the Sword using 1upt?

    Do you also think that the introduction of drastical changes to combat to improve the situation at this point are feasible?
     
  12. m4gill4

    m4gill4 King

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    do you mean that you were stunned to see them include this because you knew it would be difficult for the AI programmers to handle?

    edit:
    this is so true. i'd tell you some stories but they're way OT :D
     
  13. Becephalus

    Becephalus King

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    Umm there is nothing here strategy gamers weren't talking about in the late 90s, possibly earlier...
     
  14. Dale

    Dale Mohawk Games Developer

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    Hi Alex. Nice to see you around Civ again. :)
     
  15. Rohili

    Rohili King

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    Good article. Perhaps this explains the heavy streamlining of Civ 5 - all the interesting mechanics (e.g. espionage, diplomacy) were taken away because the AI didn't know how to use them?
     
  16. pi-r8

    pi-r8 Luddite

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    So if the land units that turn into boats are good for the AI, how come the AI is unable to do any intercontinental invasions in Civ V? I've never even seen them try.
     
  17. r_rolo1

    r_rolo1 King of myself

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    In fact BtS had the exact same issue when you modded units to be amphibious :D In there is was because the units forgot their calculated path as soon as they changed domain not inside of a suitable transport. I just wonder if the thing is not similar here...
     
  18. alexman

    alexman King

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    Yes, definitely, but I think it would take a lot of work, and I'm afraid it would have to be done here by a bunch of civFanatics who know the game well. And unless the current code is seriously inefficient, a better AI would also require waiting for more powerful computers to arrive, since a more sophisticated combat AI would need a lot more computations between turns.

    That's certainly not going to happen before the next expansion, if there is one, and only if they decide that the current system was a mistake.

    Yes, it doesn't seem like they realized how much work it would be to implement this properly.

    I don't think so. I believe this was a design decision unrelated to the AI. Implementing the AI for diplomacy and espionage is way easier than implementing the AI for unit movement.
     
  19. Rudster816

    Rudster816 Chieftain

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    1UPT shouldnt be too complicated for the AI. We modern multi core CPU's, moving units effectively that doesnt take 1 minute to process should easily be possible. It really wouldnt have been hard to consult a couple of mathematicians to create an efficient algorithm to handle AI movements. Movements could have been totally predictable for the AI, hell, make it so his units always have +1 sight on higher difficulties if thats what it takes.

    It doesnt take a veteran gamer to see that there is something seriously wrong with an AI that moves artillery units all by themselves. Not to mention the fact that when they have a gun perfectly placed inside of a city to potentially deal a lot of damage, they move it out of the city where one of my infantry units can easily take it out. Now I can shell the living hell out of the city w\o retribution, thanks!

    For a game thats primarily single player, the AI seems to have been thrown together at the last minute. Ive been playing Civ V for like a month now (and I have never played a previous Civ) and I can consistently beat the AI on Immortal. I have taken half a dozen cities whilst killing dozens of units while losing one or two units. The AI being able to produce units on a 2:1 scale is no problem when you can kill them on a 6:1 scale on the battlefield.
     
  20. haphazard1

    haphazard1 Dancing Bear

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    Psyringe,

    You mentioned Master of Magic as an example of a game with a poor-to-terrible AI which is still a lot of fun. I agree that it is still a lot of fun, but not because there are more mechanics to learn and master. (At least it is not entirely that.)

    MoM provides challenges with the various monster lairs and node guarding creatures -- essentially barbarians which are not part of the AI empires -- that often are more difficult, and thus more interesting/fun, than anything the AI will generally throw at you.

    I have played any number of games of MoM where developing my empire to the point I could take on the toughest lair and node dwellers -- sky drakes, various wyrms, etc. -- was much more important and interesting than the AIs. I eventually would run into the various AIs, and then crush them utterly a couple dozen turns later, before returning to fighting the "barbs". The skill of the AIs was pathetic, but they were not really the focus of the game so who cared?

    Fall From Heaven does this as well with vastly tougher and more varied "barb" challenges, including special opponents like Orthus and the various specials associated with the Apocalypse Counter. These are actually dangerous enough that you have to make strategic decisions based on the possibility of them showing up, or gamble that they will not be close to you.

    Civ IV and V barbarians are pretty bland, by comparison. Even with raging barbs turned on you generally only need to make small modifications to your usual choices, stepping up your total military effort but otherwise not really shifting your overall path.

    Ideally the player would face strong challenges from both the AI rivals and the non-aligned forces such as barbs.
     

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