General Category > Stars Beyond Reach... This World Is Mine



These days 4X games seem to go really heavy on the complexity and handle that by automating all of it by default so the player decides how much he actually wants to manage. I've never known Arcen as a company to automate things that aren't trivial (like all the automation options in AI War, pretty much none of them do any decisions for you, just combat maneuvers and pre-set construction orders and such), are you planning to go for a similar board game like "the player decides everything" with SE or follow the 4X standard of "the computer plays 90% of the game for you"?

It's hard to say for sure at this stage, since the more detail-oriented mechanics are still at the pre-prototype phase. There are a variety of models I have in mind, but I'm not sure which one will be best yet. I really prefer systems that don't need to be automated, but at the same time I really hate late-game turn bog down. Particularly with combat and just managing too many units for it to be interesting. The differ we between the early game and late game in terms of fun of combat is pretty stark in most 4x titles for me.

Anyway, so that's the chief problem with most 4x games that is on my hit list: keeping the late game streamlined and moving along quickly, in terms of mechanical things the player has to do. The amount of info should of course be more complex than at the start of a game, and the decisions should be tougher, but how much extra clicking you have to do shouldn't be going up logarithmically. ;)

Automation is how most 4x titles solve this, as you note, but I'm not a fan of that, as you again note. I'd prefer to have underlying game mechanics that simply take the early and the late game into consideration better. I have a variety of ideas for how to do that, but I don't know which one will be best, or if I'll have to come up with something entirely different from any of them due to what we find of during the prototyping phase.

Incidentally, and this is from a different genre, but I feel like SimCity nails the early game and late game transition. It gets increasingly complicated, but it doesn't get more automated (in SimCity 4 and before). Instead, it just isn't designed in such a way that you have to keep re-making the same decisions over and over. So mainly you are making new decisions, with the occasional revised former decision. I really prefer that to trying to automate a repetitive set of decisions.

Anyway, there are a lot of things that are still in experimental or even on-paper stages for this game, which is why it's not ready until next April, heh. But I am happy to be just sitting in this one genre, rather than splitting genres, because it lets me focus on what I do and don't like about this genre, and try to design something that hits as optimal a spot as possible in there. I think that's why AI War worked out so well, is I took that attitude toward RTS. We'll see what happens here!

The solution to this problem is imo definitely 100% not automation, but abstraction. Make it gradual abstraction if you have to, but never force us to play the game with an AI sub-commander that doesn't do what we want because the systems in the game aren't up to the task of actually playing the game ;)

Essentially, abstraction with user input is how it should be handled. You don't build single buildings if you don't want to, you just plop down a city designed by you once somewhere and that gets built like that automatically. For unit production a simple interface could be used where you can set up "source" cities and units get transported to the location they should be at automatically. That is abstraction ;)

But until we see what this 4x does how we can not really comment on this now can we ;) My post is pretty much just what I think when I think of Civ or Alpha Centauri. AI Governor is not a solution, it is a band-aid on a design issue that should have been fixed or prevented to ever occur.

my 2ct ,)

Yes, I agree on abstraction.  My first population models for this game were bloody complicated, but I wound up scrapping them before Keith was even handed them for coding.  Something more abstract is much more pleasing to actually PLAY and understand.  I feel like most of the time AI War hits that sort of thing pretty well, in the main.  I'm aiming for a similar level of things that you can automate (repetitive tasks that you just want to happen repeatedly until you say stop, which is not an AI subgovernor but rather is just you making a decision "until further notice" rather than having to reconfirm constantly), versus things that are abstract.


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