If you haven't read 1984, it's a startlingly bleak view of a potential future (from a historical perspective, but still applicable today, I think) particularly through technology and a loss of privacy. It's the origin of terms like "big brother" and "doublethink" -- worth a read.
One of the most interesting excerpts from this piece IMO: "I wanted to stay a democracy, but the Senate would always over-rule me when I wanted to declare war... ...Anyway, I was forced to do away with democracy roughly a thousand years ago because it was endangering my empire."
Although I don't necessarily think it will be because of war, I can see a potential future where people/persons decide democracy is a less effective system because it's holding back the decision making process -- democratic process being (more or less) committee-based decision making, which proxies votes through individuals based on what is essentially a popularity contest. That's particularly true here in Australia at the moment (amidst a minority government with a lot of political sniping on both sides and seemingly very little real progress) despite the fact that we have a comparatively strong economy, low inflation, low unemployment and generally nothing really significant (again, comparatively) to complain about.
This mystifies me: people sometimes talk about legislative gridlock as though it's all bad.
Do you measure the quality of a development team by the number of lines of code they produce? Of course not. The development team does not exist to produce code; it exists to produce and maintain the best possible codebase. Refraining from writing bad code is just as important as writing good code.
You just said your country has very little to complain about. What makes you think that a "productive" legislature would make things better and not worse?
I much prefer a system where any law needs broad consensus and relatively few are passed. Dumb as I often think the U.S. government is, at the end of the day, we have police, roads, schools, etc. Not perfect, but good enough that I can live my life in peace.
Of course, a dictatorship would be extremely efficient: the leader snaps his/her fingers and things happen. The question is: efficient at what?
Remember, government is other people making rules for you. The more efficient they are at changing the rules, the riskier it is for you to do just about anything. The more efficient they are at changing the rules, the more likely they'll take an extreme position on a contentious subject.
As a result, you end up with a scenario in which there is always one side with a majority, who are capable of doing whatever they like, and one side with a minority, who are left to scrabble for democratic scraps, pushing bills with little impact to feel as though they've accomplished something. The few bills that do pass with bipartisan support are usually so pointless or watered-down that there's little benefit to having them at all, or it's an issue important to the country as a whole (or, more specifically, their political careers), and so it's put through without appropriate debate or consideration.
With a three-or-more-party system (e.g. parliamentary democracies, such as the UK or Canada), you can end up with a result where even the 'ruling' party doesn't have a majority. This means that when they want to pass a bill, it has to be a situation where they can get the support of at least one of the other parties. While this still requires the same sort of give-and-take as a two-party system, it provides more options for bargaining. You won't approve my 'environmental impact' bill unless I approve your 'limiting access to abortion' bill? Well screw that, the other party just wants me to endorse their 'stiffer penalties for labour law violations' bill.
This seems to me to be a more efficient solution, and I've never understood why the two-party solution was the choice made for the US.
But that's not what I'm talking about. What I'm talking about is the divide between the Senate (2 senators per state) and the House of Representatives (based on population), and the inclusion of techniques like the filibuster. It's harder for one party to get a majority in both House and Senate than it would be to just get a majority in a single parliament. It's even harder to get supermajorities in both. It's even harder to also get a friendly president at the same time as all of those other things. This means that there's almost never a time when one party can just ram through its whole agenda. There's almost always gridlock.
From what I've seen of single-house multi-party systems (like parliamentary democracies) there's a lot more compromise, which is a good thing, but there's also a lot less gridlock, and that's a bad thing.
It's actually a good thing that successful bills tend to be either issues the vast majority of the country agrees on, or else very watered down.
My only real problem with the representative system of democracy generally, is the way we have to proxy our voting authority through our political leaders. It just seems archaic and ludicrous for a region of people (sometimes many hundreds of thousands of people) to have to boil down their political ideologies to a single "best fit" candidate. Even ignoring the potential for corruption, personal motivations, hidden biases etc. you've simplified thousands of separate beliefs on an equal number of issues, social, economic, all, into ONE PERSONS' beliefs and worst of all...that person then has a legitimate claim to believe that they're representing the people.
I suppose it's the difference between a politician believing that they're a "representation" of the people of the electorate, OR a "representative" of those voters. I think most politicians consider themselves the former, and I think that's a mistake.
I'd also recommend that you read Aldous Huxley's Brave New World for a counterpoint. The sad part is that the way the world is going appears to be a mix of the worst elements of the two.
Of course, the perpetual war in 1984 was a big part of the story, but because we only ever see the world from characters living in Airstrip One, for all we know the war could've been over years ago.
(yes, the message of that image is debatable, but i found it intresting anyways)
I found the apt summary of Huxley's points (plus the jarring images) resonated strongly with my current views on my life, which prompted me to really do some self-reflecting and organize myself. In addition, it vibes very strongly with the "create, not consume" mantra found here on HN.
I feel that that image dismisses Orwells vision too easily, and attempts to make the situation seem more black&white than it actually is. As iuguy noted, the real world seems to be a blend of both, a viewpoint that the image ignores.
The "create, not consume" mantra seems like a good way out of this endless cycle of "Amusing Ourselves to Death".
It's the end of a trilogy but you can operate it as a standalone book (and if you must start with the other books, Out of the Silent Planet is a cute little homage, but don't let the dense and somewhat-dull Christian allegory in Perelandra get you down and make you skip Hideous.)
I like to listen to audiobooks (when commuting), and BNW's audiobook (produced by BBC) was also great: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0012QED5Y
And I noticed she (Ira Levin) had written "Rosemary's Baby" - I had no idea the movie was an adaption! http://www.amazon.com/Rosemarys-Baby-Ira-Levin/dp/1605981109
IIRC this instance of an Ira is a "he" not a "she"
This is quite different from my experience. In most of my Civ II games, I produce hordes of engineers, which I use to terraform the hell out of the planet--getting railroads everywhere, irrigation and farmland on all plains and grassland, mining on all hills, turning mountains into hills and swamp and jungle into forest, and eventually turning plains and forest into grassland and hills. (Only terrain with special resources doesn't get leveled like this.) I'd probably have 30-80 engineers at some point, depending on how big the game was. Anyway, with this cleanup crew, even if the ice caps melted or whatever the exact event is (which I think changes maybe about 1 out of every 10 squares), all of the new swamp or whatever wouldn't last more than a couple of turns.
Also, what causes the global warming events is mainly pollution: terrain squares containing pollution. That takes two engineer-turns to clean up per square. I would probably be able to nuke two cities and clean up all the pollution and rebuild the terrain (a nuke generally damages and pollutes the 8 squares around its target) in one turn. Srsly, why does he have any non-terraformed squares at all, let alone pollution?
The obvious--and probably only--answer would be "war -> engineers keep getting killed -> can't maintain and use such a cleanup crew". But even then... SDI Defense defends against missile attacks within three squares of a city, I believe. He mentions spies planting nuclear devices in cities. However, you could simply put units in the 8 squares around the city you want to protect [generally try to do this with all your cities, starting somewhere and expanding outward]. A unit by itself can be bribed by an enemy spy (unless you're a Democracy--oh man), but two or more units stacked are invulnerable to spies, even if those units are not combat capable (spies, for example). Then your only problem might be enemy conventional arms. Assuming this is a problem: Use your engineers, build fortresses in each of those 8 squares, and put veteran mechanized infantry there (6 base defense x 2 from fortress). Now you'll have equal odds against the most powerful ground unit, the veteran howitzer (base attack 12) (computers tend to use tanks, though, which have 10 attack). The last problem is stealth bombers, air units with 14 attack; but I think that if you have (stealth) fighters in the city, they will "scramble" to defend against bombers even in neighboring squares. And if not, then you can still at least retaliate next turn and kill the bombers, and not fall behind in a war of attrition (assuming they don't take the city that turn).
Oh, cheapo strategy as well: Have a (stealth) bomber end its turn in a ground square. No enemy ground units--or sea, or bombers or missiles, for that matter--will be able to attack that square. They will only be able to attack with (stealth) fighters, which have 8 attack; if you also have serious ground defense units in that square [or on a sea square, have AEGIS cruisers, with 8 defense x 2 vs air], and if that square also is foresty/swampy or hilly, or has a fortress like I've been saying you should make, then that square is basically impregnable without much attrition on the enemy's part.
Anyway: defend yourself; make your cities prosperous; accumulate capital (engineers are capital, and so are thoroughly improved cities surrounded by thoroughly terraformed terrain), out-produce your enemy, and don't lose the fruits of your production faster than they do. Eventually you should have a large surplus that you can spend on advancing in their direction. If there is a large no-man's-land between your cities and theirs, you should build little cities in this no-man's-land so you can put SDI Defenses inside them and extend your absolutely-defended area outward (rather like the Zerg creep). If nuking really is a problem, then you might just keep building cities within 3 squares of each other--or 2 squares so that you can put out SDI-guarded unit stacks to block spies. If the crowding bothers you, you can force intermediate cities to disband by buying engineers and stuff.
Eventually you should have almost a direct railroad connection to them, and at the front, fortresses on hills (or at least forest) within 3 squares of an SDI-Defended city, full of mechanized infantry that serve as "rocks for them to crash the waves of their attack against". They'll waste resources on trying to kill your units, and you should be mostly able to do what you like. Then either stack up a bunch of howitzers and kill all their defenses (at least in that city, possibly in others) in one turn, or, if you like, use spies to plant nukes and then capture the cities. When you take a city... If you expect them to nuke you and retake it, then, hmm, I dunno; can they really produce nukes and military units that quickly for long? If they have SDI Defenses, try to take the city with them intact (bribing the city is good if possible); if they don't, then I suppose it doesn't hurt to just nuke them. Or ignore them and keep on with the Zerg creep, perhaps treating "capturing their city" and "building a city in that location" as equivalent.
Speaking of which, in Civ II, democracy has the following bad things when it comes to war: a) every unit costs a production shield to support (in monarchy and communism, this is "every unit after the first 3", and in fundamentalism, "every unit after the first 10"); b) as mentioned, your Senate will probably stop you from declaring war or refusing cease fires or peace treaties; and c) every military unit that ends its turn not in a city, or in a fortress within 3 squares of a city, causes 2 unhappiness in its home city that turn. Thus, a democracy is slightly worse off support-wise for a defensive war, and is significantly worse off for an offensive war. (But note that my above strategy can be done without causing any unhappiness at all.)
Democracy is the best government in Civ II for production and prosperity. I believe you get an extra trade unit on every square that produces trade; this translates to large amounts of science research and/or cash. Some of it must be spent on luxuries to prevent civil disorder, but it's usually still a large net benefit.
Btw, one annoying thing when nevertheless conducting an offensive war as a democracy: If you take a city, then enemy partisan units appear around the city, and when your active unit next encounters an enemy unit, they will talk to you, and they will offer a cease fire, and you will be forced to accept it, even if you wanted to continue attacking and maybe take some more cities. This problem can be somewhat mitigated by delaying the capture of a city until you've done all the other attacking you want to do that turn; also, if you are in a position to do a thing like this, you can:
Destroy all defending units in two or more cities. Before capturing a city, surround it--at least put units in the 8 adjacent squares, and ideally units in the full "city radius" of 20 squares. Then, when you take the city, no enemy partisan units will appear, and you will not be forced to listen to the enemy. You can then move up to another empty city and capture that as well (no enemy units, no contact with the enemy); if you have a bunch of maneuverable units (like spies or mech. inf.) and there are roads and mostly railroads everywhere, then you can even use the same 20 units for several enemy cities if you like. Of course, if you can do this, you probably won't have difficulty winning the game in any case.
Its probably worth pointing out just how unlikely it is that it would be because of war. The democratic peace is probably the closest thing to a universal law of international relations that we have. So if democracy does have drawbacks in terms of speed of decision making, it has more than its share of upside too.
Native American tribes? Well, they had democratic societies, but they're very different from the liberal state that has come to predominate in contemporary times. Franco-Prussian conflict? Prussia's legislatures were dominated by a rich hereditary landowning class. American Civil War? Well, civil wars don't count, and the franchise wasn't universal. World War I? Well, Germany might have had elections and might have had a wider effective franchise than many parts of the USA, but it was a bad guy, so it doesn't count. Various conflicts fostered by the Western liberal democracies (Iran, Chile, etc.)? Well, those were coups and not really wars.
What "democratic peace" really seems to mean is "countries that are under the umbrella of the United States and have highly developed economies don't go to war against each other." Give it 20 years time, and when the newly elected government of China gets into a shooting war with the government of the United States over some stupid shit (poll driven aggression in the strait?) we'll go back to arguing that China isn't a real democracy because it had only had one or two national elections, or the United States isn't a real democracy because all its state apparatus and elections are controlled by an unelected elite.
Except in the case of the Falklands War. And the Israeli bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor (Iraq was a US ally at the time). And the Turkish/Greek air battles over the Aegean Sea (eg, Turkish & Greek F-16's dogfighting and crashing into each other in 2006: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek%E2%80%93Turkish_relations...).
I agree with your general principle though.
Not to mention the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)
That's something Darth Vader could have said.
Oh, wait, he did :-)
If anything technology offered just as many avenues for people to escape a totalitarian world as to succumb to it.
With regards to this guy's game, it probably brings reminders of all the silliness with regards to Civilization game. From melting icecaps to near constant nuclear war its a sign of an AI that that too easily bounces from one extreme to another.
Strategy games put the player in the role of the fascist dictator. Your goal is to further your own nation at the expense of everything else. In reality, groups of people have different incentives and act quite a bit differently.
The problem with Civ4 is that the AI is so hyper-aggressive that long-term stability is all but impossible, unless I become a dominant superpower and take on the role of "world police," intervening in every war of aggression on the side of the underdog. But after awhile, there's really no fun in that. So I have tried to cultivate a game in which a few superpowers are at least my equals, if not my superiors. Since I'm always going to war to defend whoever's about to get wiped out, unfortunately, I'm switching sides constantly, and diplomacy is basically out of the question. (None of the AI players will even return my calls, so to speak. We've all nuked each other so many times over that we won't even speak to each other now).
The other problem is that the AI fights total wars by default. It will never engage in a limited conflict. No, when it declares war, it won't cease until either it's beaten or it totally annihilates its enemy. It's like a Terminator. It becomes quickly apparent that the Nash Equilibrium in a game of Civ4 is one nation standing, while all others have ceased to exist. The game drives ineluctably toward this conclusion, unless the human player puts aside his own nation's interests in pursuit of global stability and game longevity. (And, ironically, being the sole force for stability renders him a political pariah among all the other nations). It's sort of like trying to play one sport, when all the other players in the game have been programmed to play another.
Sometimes I wish the AI were more sophisticated, and/or that it could be incentivized to prefer economic growth and interests over nonstop warmaking. Or that one possible victory condition in a game of Civilization would be to maximize a global human development index of some kind (i.e., "Global Victory," instead of just one nation's domination of all others by X or Y measure, or else its complete extirpation of all other peoples on the planet). I realize that's not the game that 99.99% of Civ players want to play, but it's refreshing to hear that I'm not the only one.
This is why I don't play civ. Total war AIs are a bizarre choice in a strategy game. I dislike it when games are setup in a way where I'm the only one thinking strategy and the AI opponents are there to give me a sense of action. Total war in the real world is rare.
>Or that one possibly victory condition in a game of Civilization would be to maximize a global human development index of some kind
When I was a kid I played a strategy game on the original Mac. I think it was called Balance of Power. The game punished you when war broke out. It didn't encourage it. The game ended if you and the Soviets got into a nuclear conflict. Why can't more games have rational goals instead of just being a more advanced form of Pacman?
Agreed 100%. To me, it seems silly -- not to mention cynical and fatalistic -- that the sole purpose of diplomacy in Civilization games is to add a strategic dimension to warmaking. That's what it is. The game is basically in a constant state of war, and peace only exists if something is going wrong: i.e., the powers are (momentarily) too evenly balanced to attack one another, or someone's just biding time to sneak-attack someone else, or everyone's spending a few years recovering from World War XXIV before gearing up for World War XXV.
That said, Civlization can still be an immensely fun and rewarding game. It's not the game I want it to be, but I enjoy trying to squeeze every last ounce of emergent gameplay from it.
"Why can't more games have rational goals instead of just being a more advanced form of Pacman?"
I suspect because there just isn't a big enough market for games of that nature. Maybe there is a handful of us out there. Maybe a relatively small handful, but one that's willing to pay a fair amount for a really great, truly strategic global power game. I dunno. Maybe it's worth organizing, or Kickstarting, or what have you. If any game devs out there are reading this and are interested, know that there's a niche crossing its fingers for you.
> I suspect because there just isn't a big enough market for games
> of that nature. Maybe there is a handful of us out there. Maybe a
> relatively small handful, but one that's willing to pay a fair
> amount for a really great, truly strategic global power game. I
> dunno. Maybe it's worth organizing, or Kickstarting, or what have
> you. If any game devs out there are reading this and are
> interested, know that there's a niche crossing its fingers for
I suspect that the market is bigger than the big publishers are willing to take a risk on, especially if it was written to be run within browsers (including mobile browsers) and was fun to play.
I have considered Kickstarter, but it seems like most Kickstarter game projects fail unless they go viral first so there's definitely a major risk[b] in going public too early.
[a] One way to make the games last a long time (perhaps indefinitely) is to make it a slow-playing game, such as using Civilization-style simultaneous turns that refresh by default once a day. This would also put more focus on forming alliances, socializing, and making strategies. Of course, the issue with this is that there would be a massive surge of traffic on the servers during turn refresh times.
[b] The main risk of Kickstarter is the uncertainty in receiving funds. I could underestimate costs on purpose and have a decent chance of being funded, but with an insufficient amount, or I could provide the "real" amount and have a very high chance of getting no money at all, even though a little bit would go a long way. Neither outcome seems ideal, especially when people would assume that "funded" means that the game is ready to be released given a certain amount of time.
To be clear, your phrasing seems to present this as a novel approach, though it is not. Regardless, it's all about the particular game design that makes or breaks a game so I wish you success, it just struck me that maybe you were not aware of this fairly large genre based on how your text sounded.
> To be clear, your phrasing seems to present this as a novel
> approach, though it is not.
The novel thing isn't the idea, it's the opportunity that HTML 5 gives for the execution of the idea. I'm not original. I'm just lucky enough to be at the right place and the right time. My particular execution of the ultimately older-than-computers idea is possible only because of <canvas>.[d]
Digital portable media players existed as far back as 1979 and MP3 players go back to about 1997, but the iPod didn't take off until 2005. It's possible to have the right idea, but years too early and with poor execution.[e]
[a] Don't just limit it to space. There's plenty of non-space ones, too! There's usually not that big of a difference in how a browser game is played based on the setting.
[b] My observation in footnote a of my previous post that a once-a-day refresh would stress the server is something I experienced in one of the games I played.
[c] Many of them are better than anything Zynga has written, though.
[e] The poor execution is often due to being years (or decades) too early.
Out here in the real world, war is a continuation of politics, by other means.
Same thing, really, as your description of Civ II. The goal of diplomacy/warmaking is for one's side to come out ahead of the other.
See Clausewitz, Machiavelli.
I may not understand your definition of 'further'.
People are no smarter than they they were in 1500. There are no new cultural institutions.
Our toys are better, but people is still people.
More education is available, certainly. But smarter ... I don't see it.
There is a Google Tech Talk from the formet Civ lead programmer about this "Fun AI". In Civ 4 the Vanilla AI doesnt focus that much on winning. ManyAI Mods implement a more total War style and brutal min-max-gaming with huge armies to challenge experienced players. Also Civ 5 abandoned the Civ 4 style of diplomacy and replaced it with "hidden box" and a "Hard AI" which plays to win. It was at release date a huge disappointment of many veteran Civ players.
In general board games tend to have much more varied themes and goals than video games, and often have limited direct conflict between players or none at all.
Paradox Games (www.paradoxplaza.com) are supposed to be historically accurate, if your main concern is realism. In practice they don't always achieve this goal but they do a better job at it than Civ.
Bought it today because of this recommendation. I hate you, Hacker News. ;).
The game for PC shipped with a MS Windows runtime environment, for an early version of Windows. (2.x?)
I remember it being really hard.
Such a game made today could be brilliant.
It has been done: Balance of Power 21st century
Found via the wikipedia page of Chris Crawford:
Playing as India and going for a few big cities and a mass cultural strategy, but I keep getting dragged into a war with the civ to the south. Keeps backstabbing me, attacking, losing most of his units, giving me the bank for peace and 5 turns later repeating the whole thing.
Problem is, I just can't support a military large enough to defeat the civ outright - so I'm now just building a line of forts along my border and leaving my army there. Waste of money, but I have no other choice.
Frustrating, but I appreciate that I'm being forced into do something I don't want to do rather then blindly following my preferred strategy to an easy victory.
I have a game of Civ1 somewhere where it takes about a half-hour to get through each turn because each city demands attention. I'd love to modify the ROM to skip the animations.
It's slightly less obvious in the later games, but there are definitely still diplomatic penalties for the human player such that the AI are less likely to make deals with them and more likely to declare war.
Anyone interested should read Soren Johnson's blog (http://www.designer-notes.com/). Soren was lead game designer and AI programmer on Civilization IV, and he actually designed the ruleset and the AI hand-in-hand, so that they would have a game the AI could actually play well.
What seems more likely, at least in my experience, is that the AI is always trying to pursue a single goal: beating everyone else. It will select whatever means it deems possible at any point in time. It will make calculations, each turn, about the relative strength of its military versus the strength of its intended target, or else the combined strength of its allies' militaries against the strength of an opposing alliance's militaries. That's about it. It's always looking for an excuse to attack somebody. The only thing that holds it back is any sort of power imbalance sufficiently not in its favor.
There are some AI "personalities" and leader traits in the game that will favor more aggressive styles than others. But generally speaking, a more aggressive AI personality is simply an AI personality that has a lower threshold for declaring war. It will go to war with slightly riskier odds than a less aggressive personality will. But they'll all go to total war if the odds are sufficiently stacked in their favor. The "aggressive" trait is really just a sliding scale of risk tolerance.
I love Civ and still go back and play Civ II at times. I spent a lot of time with Civ III and IV as well (and a little with V), but it's nice to go back to my first experience with the genre (Civ 1 was before my time, sadly).
There is no way a game of Civ II isn't eminently beatable - militarily or otherwise.
For one thing, there's no excuse to not operate as a Fundamentalism (0 population unrest) late game. Virtually all other forms of government, particularly Democracy, are an annoying cavalcade of civil unrest late game.
I enjoyed the read. It really brought me back in time to playing this game with fervent addiction in middle school.
I think he probably kept it going even after achieving victory, as a sort of weird experiment that got weirder the longer he went on with it. I can't really imagine being that singleminded/obsessive with respect to a single savegame, but I applaud him for it.
>>> What happened to the space race? Did you ever get that far?
>>> "Yes. But I didn't participate. When I play civ I usually go for the Diplomatic victory. I did complete it at some point. Probably before the war. But the game was already officially won."
I'm not saying there are any lessons to be had from it. It's only a game.
I like the idea of a new subreddit spawned by this: http://www.reddit.com/r/theeternalwar.
It could be interresting to see if anybody finds a way to save the world from hell.
Maybe it's time to relive good old memories of times spend with old Civ games. :)
>> We just need the savegame...
> (original author) I'll upload it this evening when I get home
Or maybe it would be a depressing result if the AIs would not nuke around without a human in the mix?
There was a significant amount of variance among AI personalities and winning strategies in the various versions of Civilization I played, so I suspect that your success would vary depending on which version you were using. For example, if you were using CivNet, the multiplayer version of the original game, the anemic AI in that game might very well lock into some sort of peaceful stalemate, but the contentious resource model in Civilization III would probably produce different results.
I wrote a utility a while ago to manipulate human/AI control of civs in Civ III (conquests expansion pack), as a bit of a reverse engineering exercise: https://github.com/CoreDumpling/c3me
It's possible to set every player to AI and then just let the game run to observe the results. (You'll still have to dismiss pop-ups about civs getting eliminated or wonders being built, though.) I've done it on several occasions, mostly to test out mods to check if they are properly balanced. In general, I've noticed that AI's that nuke aggressively do tend to win in the long run, but if nukes are disabled or otherwise restricted, huge stalemates can result.
Unfortunately, laws can rarely be evaluated in isolation, but only against a wide range of other laws and actual circumstances that constantly shift. It's hard enough to come up with definite criteria for falsifying an advanced scientific theory. It will be nearly impossible to do that with laws, not to mention it's too easy to dispute whether the criteria have been met.
Civ games have never been known for their stellar AI. The way they keep the AI competitive at higher levels is to brutally cheat by getting free techs and units at the start and a beneficial modifier to their production and research.
Considering how quick the AI needs to run (you don't want "end turn" taking forever) and how complex the game is I can appreciate its simplicity, it is disappointing though.
I have examined the sources for the Civ IV AI and must say that it isn't very pretty (hardly any comments too!). One thing it doesn't seem to do that often though is cheat by examining what other players are doing (such as not building wonders it wont get) which is something at least.
But still.... can anyone point me towards a game where the devs actually spent a significant amount of time (relatively speaking) on the AI? It always seems like such an afterthought. Mods seem to always be a better bet. Although perhaps that's because the most efficient ways to play a game are always developed long after the game is actually released.
Also, if you're tired of the more mainstream turn based strategy games, I'd recommend something like Hearts of Iron 3 or Europa Universalis 3.
I once read this piece by one of the AI programmers on the Halo series (can't for the life of me find it now) where he goes into the difference.
A good AI will be able to beat you time and time again using ingenuity and creativity. But such AIs are rarely fun. Instead, we prefer AIs that merely give the illusion of competence (e.g., they take cover... but always behind predictable objects. They flank, but always in obvious ways. They retreat, but always under specific, easy to understand conditions.). What the AI does is utterly predictable, but still challenging.
An unpredictable AI will quickly become frustrating instead of fun, even though it would be more realistic.
A good AI is a believable AI, in games. The AI of a game shouldn't be too powerful, the player has to have a chance to win. But predictable? I agree that the AI shouldn't be incomprehensible. The player should be be able to predict some moves. But if it really is utterly predictable, it is also frustrating.
Take Greedcorp as an example - or chess. If the player would never be baffled by the move of the AI, it would be no fun at all to play against them.
PS: But believability really is important. I always hated the moment in late-game of civ when conquering cities of advanced civilization with nothing in them but a temple. Always made it look like the AI doesn't even build properly and only can compete because of cheating, which repeatedly destroyed my motivation to beat the game.
For most games, though, AI is an unlimited time sink; every thousand hours you sink into making the AI smarter will barely enhance the player's enjoyment.
Or, often enough, will make the player's experience worse; I'm pretty sure there's no way I could possibly single-handedly kill hundreds of bad guys unless those bad guys were complete idiots who run towards me one at a time and never bother to hide, strategize, cooperate or even pick up the powerful weapons which are just sitting around on the freaking ground.
Playing Diablo III recently was a poignant reminder to me of how badly RPG developers need to consider fleshing out their AI. In the endgame kiting again predictably emerged as the dominant strategy; developers are apparently oblivious to as to how to prevent the epidemic. Is it not worth it to program some basic responses to being kited by a player?
First of all the game was technically won thousands of years back but he kept playing. And now they are in a stalemate that no one can break.
His thread is basically all about asking for help (and fresh ideas) to end this.
This one Reddit post will probably waste thousands of what could be productive hours... I am sorely tempted to play Civ3 or GalCivII:TotA today.
The thing about the series is that I can sit, build a large empire and take my time. In every non-turn based game (AOE) etc, everyone rushkills and shoots for metrics like FC (fastest castle) etc. without building a lasting empire. The civ series allows me to truly enjoy this aspect of the game.
OTOH, in Civ5 I have found the battles sorely lacking (the AI is not clever and artillery can do some very solid damage) so I feel cheated a bit. I still haven't found a game that combines the elements of Civ5 I like and also demands a good battle strategy.
Past civilizations mainly were in war with each other, so their dominant emotion was probably hope that things will get better, thus they dreamed.
We dream too, but fear a bit also. ha
Time to fire up Civ II and try to save the world!
Just one thing set off my pedant alarm: Civ2 didn't come out until 1996. I still remember getting the collector's box with the huge strategy guide ;-)
The reason why he had world resources dwindling at all is because its possible for global warming to cause sea levels to rise and take away bits of land and in the parts of land that don't sink their type can change (plains can become deserts, jungles to forests).