Author Topic: New interview with Chris over on IGS  (Read 4000 times)

Offline nas1m

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Offline Cyborg

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Re: New interview with Chris over on IGS
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2015, 08:51:11 AM »
Great interview. Although the part about using less ships in AI war because of CPU constraints was a little scary. This problem should go away or be made multicore. Massive battles is a selling point, part of the special sauce of that game. That's originally why I bought it. That's the exact feature I purchased it for.
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Offline x4000

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Re: New interview with Chris over on IGS
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2015, 01:55:02 PM »
The problem with having so many ships isn't just in the specific battles in local space, but more to do with how they exist on all the planets at once.  We're simulating the whole galaxy in realtime, which I don't think is really required.  Whatever you are interacting with directly needs to be simulated in realtime, sure, but more shortcutted sim logic should be possible on planets that aren't involving players.

We already do some of that anyway (using coarser simulations on planets where there are no scouts, etc), but things like the players putting scouts everywhere and keeping them there can still muck with things.

Shifting something like that to multiple cores only really works if the clashing results that would give don't matter or can be reconciled in some way.  And if that is either magically deterministic somehow (which is hard, but doable I suppose), or transmitted from the host to the other players.  For instance, the AI in SBR is really fast because we run it all simultaneously on all the various threads that you can muster (if you have 16 cores, it will use them all), and then the results are all reconciled at once after that.

There are a lot of fundamental things that would have to change about AI War in order for that sort of thing to work, though.  It would be a ground-up recoding, and there are certain gameplay tradeoffs that would have to be made, while at the same time other gameplay possibilities would open up.

I'm not a fan of just doing the same thing repeatedly, so if we took on a project like that, I'd want to go for something where we can hit a high framerate and more sophisticated ship physics (ala TLF) without things just going nuts from being too slow.  And then from there see what can be done with scale, and how AI-War-like it can be made to feel.  It's part of why I wouldn't really want to call it a sequel, potentially.

The other thing is that, past a certain point, the number of ships becomes kind of redundant.  We wind up having to combine the icons in far zoom so you can even see what the icons are.  When you are zoomed in, the battlefield is so wide that there's no point in zooming in, so you zoom out to the point that all you ever see are the icons.

On the one hand we could go to a smaller set of ships per battle so that we don't need the far zoom icons, but instead you're seeing things kind of like zoomin out on TLF.  But with a more spread-out battlefield.  That has its downsides.

On the other, we could just cut out the zoomed-in ship art and go to an all-icon approach (why try to do nice ship art if nobody actually plays while seeing it?  Resources could be better spent elsewhere, like making those icons and their environment look as awesome as possible).  Even if we did that, trying to change things so that so much icon combining is not needed would be really nice.  Then again, how many icons need to be combined is largely a matter of how zoomed out you are, so there is that.

Anyway, the main point is that there are a lot of factors.  I'd be interested in doing another RTS someday, and certainly I'd want to take a lot of the best lessons from AI War.  But I'd want to try to solve some of the various problems it has in the interface and performance department that are caused by sheer scale of certain parts of the game.

THAT said, if certain pieces of scale were solved, then other parts could be ramped up.  For instance, if the planets weren't all simulated all the time, then we could have a lot more of them.  The galaxy map could be something that you pan, zoom, etc, on.

It's something I've been turning over in my head with various permutations for half a decade now, really. ;)  I don't have anything I'm super excited about doing with it yet, so there is that.  But there are a variety of things that I could see becoming excited about doing if I have another flash of insight related to one of those things.

Plus, the longer I wait the better computer hardware becomes, and the less of an issue the performance is, heh.
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Offline nas1m

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Re: New interview with Chris over on IGS
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2015, 02:26:18 PM »
Isn't' this one something for the blog btw? I only for it from the twitter feed and the blog kinda seldomly sees updaten anyway. You could even incorporate your thoughts from here to beef it up sa little. Just thinking this could be something for the next time your brain  needs to stretch it's legs...
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Offline crazyroosterman

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Re: New interview with Chris over on IGS
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2015, 02:55:52 PM »

I'm not a fan of just doing the same thing repeatedly, so if we took on a project like that, I'd want to go for something where we can hit a high framerate and more sophisticated ship physics (ala TLF) without things just going nuts from being too slow.  And then from there see what can be done with scale, and how AI-War-like it can be made to feel.  It's part of why I wouldn't really want to call it a sequel, potentially.
you really shouldn't give it a sequel tag if you do people are going to probably be expecting persifick things and not tagging it with that will let you do more your own thing with it in my opinion.(if what I'm saying makes any séance to you?)
c.r

Offline x4000

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Re: New interview with Chris over on IGS
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2015, 03:18:32 PM »
Yeah, I should get this on the blog, I've just been so distracted with work on SBR.  I will be better about that coming up soon.

And yep, I agree on calling it a sequel, it would probably be unwise.
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Offline Traveller

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Re: New interview with Chris over on IGS
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2015, 05:19:27 PM »
Just my $0.02, the only time I ever zoom in to see ship art in AI War is when I'm trying to place my command center and shield very close to a wormhole or strategic item, close enough that the actual footprint matters.  Icons are more...iconic, and it's easier to tell what's going on.  I felt the same way about GalCiv, the game is way more playable zoomed out.

Offline x4000

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Re: New interview with Chris over on IGS
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2015, 08:16:12 PM »
Yep, same here.
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Offline Cyborg

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Re: New interview with Chris over on IGS
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2015, 08:52:41 PM »
The problem with having so many ships isn't just in the specific battles in local space, but more to do with how they exist on all the planets at once.  We're simulating the whole galaxy in realtime, which I don't think is really required.  Whatever you are interacting with directly needs to be simulated in realtime, sure, but more shortcutted sim logic should be possible on planets that aren't involving players.

We already do some of that anyway (using coarser simulations on planets where there are no scouts, etc), but things like the players putting scouts everywhere and keeping them there can still muck with things.

Shifting something like that to multiple cores only really works if the clashing results that would give don't matter or can be reconciled in some way.  And if that is either magically deterministic somehow (which is hard, but doable I suppose), or transmitted from the host to the other players.  For instance, the AI in SBR is really fast because we run it all simultaneously on all the various threads that you can muster (if you have 16 cores, it will use them all), and then the results are all reconciled at once after that.

There are a lot of fundamental things that would have to change about AI War in order for that sort of thing to work, though.  It would be a ground-up recoding, and there are certain gameplay tradeoffs that would have to be made, while at the same time other gameplay possibilities would open up.

I'm not a fan of just doing the same thing repeatedly, so if we took on a project like that, I'd want to go for something where we can hit a high framerate and more sophisticated ship physics (ala TLF) without things just going nuts from being too slow.  And then from there see what can be done with scale, and how AI-War-like it can be made to feel.  It's part of why I wouldn't really want to call it a sequel, potentially.

The other thing is that, past a certain point, the number of ships becomes kind of redundant.  We wind up having to combine the icons in far zoom so you can even see what the icons are.  When you are zoomed in, the battlefield is so wide that there's no point in zooming in, so you zoom out to the point that all you ever see are the icons.

On the one hand we could go to a smaller set of ships per battle so that we don't need the far zoom icons, but instead you're seeing things kind of like zoomin out on TLF.  But with a more spread-out battlefield.  That has its downsides.

On the other, we could just cut out the zoomed-in ship art and go to an all-icon approach (why try to do nice ship art if nobody actually plays while seeing it?  Resources could be better spent elsewhere, like making those icons and their environment look as awesome as possible).  Even if we did that, trying to change things so that so much icon combining is not needed would be really nice.  Then again, how many icons need to be combined is largely a matter of how zoomed out you are, so there is that.

Anyway, the main point is that there are a lot of factors.  I'd be interested in doing another RTS someday, and certainly I'd want to take a lot of the best lessons from AI War.  But I'd want to try to solve some of the various problems it has in the interface and performance department that are caused by sheer scale of certain parts of the game.

THAT said, if certain pieces of scale were solved, then other parts could be ramped up.  For instance, if the planets weren't all simulated all the time, then we could have a lot more of them.  The galaxy map could be something that you pan, zoom, etc, on.

It's something I've been turning over in my head with various permutations for half a decade now, really. ;)  I don't have anything I'm super excited about doing with it yet, so there is that.  But there are a variety of things that I could see becoming excited about doing if I have another flash of insight related to one of those things.

Plus, the longer I wait the better computer hardware becomes, and the less of an issue the performance is, heh.


It's all true.


I was just a little bit worried that you might forget what your fans like about ai war. We like having these giant space fleets that get into huge battles against the devious AI. Whatever the sequel happens to be, I'm on board. I just hope that you remember the fantasy that you're selling with that game. It's such an important game, and certainly to a few of us on this board it's among the top we have ever played, I can feel myself getting defensive about it. All the more reason that you are probably worried about a direct sequel- because of AIW superfans.           


If and when that project ever appears, I'm volunteering to be a paying redshirt.                                                                         
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Offline bormoth

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Re: New interview with Chris over on IGS
« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2015, 07:20:30 AM »
Actually, it would be more wise to continue with AI war as it is, aside engine and code optimisations, the fun about AI war is macro level, Infact never cared about tose graphics concidered them more of something to watch while, I have nothing to do.
In fact if you'd ask me this game aged pretty well and still looks good.
It would be wise IMO, to go same way as Dominions series.(It is fourth part but aside graphics game not changed much (Yes Dominions 2 introduced supercombatants(Think unintended), Dominions 3 -- way to deal them, but dominions 4 thrones and better interface. (Well aside pruning and balancing). In fact your way of dealinng with AI war looks similar, the gamedoesn't changed much(Yes at some point there was no armor types only shield power(but on the other way there was, in way of ultra obscure damage bonuses table), at some points there was Crystal, but it served almost nothing in this game. In SC (gas same as crystal here) it was tech, here you just took it because you could, and even 1/10 of metal extractor when you don't need crystals, is better then untapped crystal slot, in comparison to unit costs), and introduction of hacking points insteed made better resource to manage.

Offline Cyborg

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Re: New interview with Chris over on IGS
« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2015, 08:55:04 AM »
Actually, it would be more wise to continue with AI war as it is, aside engine and code optimisations, the fun about AI war is macro level, Infact never cared about tose graphics concidered them more of something to watch while, I have nothing to do.
In fact if you'd ask me this game aged pretty well and still looks good.
It would be wise IMO, to go same way as Dominions series.(It is fourth part but aside graphics game not changed much (Yes Dominions 2 introduced supercombatants(Think unintended), Dominions 3 -- way to deal them, but dominions 4 thrones and better interface. (Well aside pruning and balancing). In fact your way of dealinng with AI war looks similar, the gamedoesn't changed much(Yes at some point there was no armor types only shield power(but on the other way there was, in way of ultra obscure damage bonuses table), at some points there was Crystal, but it served almost nothing in this game. In SC (gas same as crystal here) it was tech, here you just took it because you could, and even 1/10 of metal extractor when you don't need crystals, is better then untapped crystal slot, in comparison to unit costs), and introduction of hacking points insteed made better resource to manage.


I like dominions, but there needs to be a way to deal with water and land more effectively. The map also depends on your ability to understand supply management. Not to mention understanding combat resolution. The game depends on extensive game knowledge without much help from the interface, is what I'm trying to say.


AI, on the other hand, to me it's very clear when you look at the ships what you can reasonably expect from a battle. Maybe the only thing that would be more clear is if the ships HP resembled their sizing. One of the players best ships is also the tiniest!
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Offline x4000

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Re: New interview with Chris over on IGS
« Reply #11 on: August 13, 2015, 09:50:22 AM »
Well, I definitely do see more AI War expansions in the future still.  It's been a while since the last one, but we aren't done with that.  So in terms of "keeping on with it as it is," I definitely see us doing that.  There's something really cool there that I don't want to revise to the point where it just no longer exists.

That said, when it comes to making a fresh RTS, I guess it's a matter of trying not to be TOO similar to the existing AI War, while still taking so many of the lessons from it.  I very much get what you mean about the fantasy that is being sold with that game, and it's one that I share (it's why I made it).  Someday I'd like the chance to explore a different avenue of creating that fantasy, is all.

Believe me, though, the last thing I want to do is pull a "Supreme Commander 2."  They pretty much did exactly what I think you're worried about me doing, and that game to me was just not even something I wanted to play.  My dad and uncle liked it, but I gave it a pass.
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Offline Bognor

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Re: New interview with Chris over on IGS
« Reply #12 on: August 16, 2015, 05:59:19 AM »
Quote from: The interview with Chris
[stuff about Bionic Dues being hard to promote]
If there's any way to promote a game using a song, "The Home That We Once Knew" should sell you like a billion copies.
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Offline x4000

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Re: New interview with Chris over on IGS
« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2015, 10:08:15 AM »
Quote from: The interview with Chris
[stuff about Bionic Dues being hard to promote]
If there's any way to promote a game using a song, "The Home That We Once Knew" should sell you like a billion copies.

You would think so, right?  And we did use that in the trailer for the game, in a way I thought was really awesome (way to go Kevin Harland on the trailer!).  Strangely enough, most critic reviews are critical of the song not because of anything to do with the quality, but because they feel like it seems "anime-like."  Blah!
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Offline Captain Jack

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Re: New interview with Chris over on IGS
« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2015, 10:33:35 AM »
Quote from: The interview with Chris
[stuff about Bionic Dues being hard to promote]
If there's any way to promote a game using a song, "The Home That We Once Knew" should sell you like a billion copies.

You would think so, right?  And we did use that in the trailer for the game, in a way I thought was really awesome (way to go Kevin Harland on the trailer!).  Strangely enough, most critic reviews are critical of the song not because of anything to do with the quality, but because they feel like it seems "anime-like."  Blah!
..."Animelike"? If anything it sounds like an 80s cartoon opening. Seriously do these people even know what anime music sounds like? Wait, stupid question, of course not.