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Answers From The Civ IV Team

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the watch-out-for-the-visigoths dept.

PC Games (Games) 439

Late last month we asked you for questions to pass on to the Civ IV team. Last week we posted the responses from game designer Sid Meier to your questions about his design philosophy. Well, this week Civilization IV has shipped, and we have responses from lead designer Soren Johnson for the Civilization development team over at Firaxis Studios. He has some thoughtful answers to your questions, and they're well worth taking a look at. Many thanks to Mr. Meier, Mr. Johnson, and the entire Civ IV team for accommodating us. Read on for the responses to your queries.1. The Civ4 AI - by Skyshadow
My only question for Civ4 concerns the AI: Have you made it a crafty enough opponent yet that it can compete at the higher skill levels of the game without resorting to the "cheating" that we've seen in previous incarnations of the game? If so, how?

Soren Johnson:
A great deal of effort has been put into making the Civ IV AI the best yet. For the first time ever, we have received direct input from the world's best Civ players during the game's development, via a very selective, closed beta that began very early. This feedback allowed us to iterate on the AI's design much more quickly and effectively than ever before.

Much of the information cheating has been removed from the game (such as knowing where a resource is before it is discovered, sending off galleys with settlers to undiscovered lands, targeting cities with fewer defenders, etc.) Further, the heuristics it uses to make decisions, such as for diplomatic demands and declarations of war, are the same ones available to the player (such as from the power chart on the Demographics screen). However, as with all versions of Civ, the AI has production and research penalties at the lower levels and bonuses at the higher levels. The level of the bonuses are lower than they have ever been before; in fact, the AI never receives any bonuses whatsoever for building wonders - a far cry from the "free AI wonders" in Civ 1. Noble and Prince are the difficulty levels where the AI's rules are closest to the human's.

2. DRM in Civ IV - by Lord Ender
Civ III requires the installation CD be inserted every time you play, even though none of the content on the CD is used by the game after installation. This annoys your customers by making them juggle CDs, unnecessarily wear out their hardware, and shorten their battery life. Consequently, many of your customers install "No-CD Cracks" to fix this flaw in your software. How do you feel about the existence and use of such cracks? Will you include this CD requirement in Civ IV even though it does not prevent copyright infringement but still inconveniences your customers?

Soren Johnson:
Like our previous games, Civ IV requires the CD to be in the drive on start-up. The funding we get for all of our games, which allows us to hire developers to work on the AI, graphics, interface, etc., is a direct reflection of how many copies our previous games have sold in the marketplace. Thus, I hope people will understand that making sure that our games are purchased instead of stolen is very important to us. Frankly, I do not agree that requiring the CD to be in the drive "does not prevent copyright infringement," even though I understand that this is almost always true for the technically adept. This is a sensitive issue, but the future of game development depends on preventing piracy, so I hope people will have patience with the basic safety measures we have used.

3. Politics - by MosesJones
How much will CiV4 use political shifts in countries as a cyclical change in approaches?

Soren Johnson:
Each of the leaders in the game has a certain political leaning that will become clear over the course of the game. Mao may pressure you to adopt State Property while Roosevelt would encourage Universal Suffrage. Indeed, playing off these various interests is a core part of the diplomatic game. We do not, however, have political shifts modeled - outside of the anarchy that occurs whenever the player chooses to change Civics. Perhaps it is an idea to consider for the future.

4. Family Gaming - by carambola5
Growing up, playing games with the family meant getting out classic boardgames like Monopoly, Risk, etc. The Civilization games seem like a prime candidate for breaking into the family-game-playing field. What, if any, steps has your team taken to bring your game(s) to the level of "game night with the kids?" What technologies, such as display and control, need to be developed before such an environment is realized?

Soren Johnson:
Civilization is a great game for families, especially now that true team-based play is possible. One could easily imagine a parent and child playing together to Take Over the World. However, that situation does require a couple computers...while hot-seat is the option for families with one computer. I am sure more could be done in this area, but the assumption of a single mouse and keyboard is certainly the limitation. On a console, "family-night" may be more viable as multiple controllers would be available.

5. Portables - by BMonger
Is there any chance we'll get to see some of the Civ titles moved to portables? I think the game would play wonderfully on the DS.

Soren Johnson:
We are very intrigued by the idea of Civ on a portable. Certainly, turn-based gaming has proved quite viable on that format - many of us are big fans of Advance Wars. The fact that Civ can be put down and picked up at any time makes it a good fit. There are, however, no official plans at this time.

6. The Civ4 AI - by freidog
Is the AI going to be as moddable and customizable as the rest of the game content? I know Mr. Caudill mentioned an 'AI SDK' for 'experienced programmers' over on the IGN Civ 4 preview to tailor the AI to their desires. But it was mentioned as a seperate entity from the XML unit files and the basic Phython scripts. Basically I was hoping you could go into some more detail on what AI and other more complex modding might entail.

Soren Johnson:
The AI for Civ IV is written entirely in C++. However, all the AI code (as well as game code) is compiled into a separate DLL which can be replaced with a modified version. Essentially, the SDK release will be all of the files required to build this DLL. Thus, changing the AI and "core" game rules (such as terrain, movement, production, etc.) is possible - one could implement a completely different combat model, for example.

7. Alpha Centauri - by squiggleslash
I'm wondering if plans are afoot to work on Alpha Centauri, and if so, how the original will be improved upon. Some of us see AC as the best in the whole (greater) Civilization series. Awesome game.

Soren Johnson:
There are no official plans to make a sequel for Alpha Centauri although it's certainly an idea we kick around every now and then. In many ways, Civ IV is an attempt to incorporate many of the things which were great about SMAC into the core series. Civics obviously derives directly from Social Engineering. Also, the promotions system can be seen as a more reward-based version of the Unit Workshop. The increased role of leader personalities is also inspired by the diplomacy from SMAC. Thanks for the feedback...it definitely pushes us to take a closer look at the idea of making a new version of SMAC. We'll keep you posted.

8. Python+XML vs lua - by SumDog
My questions are:
Why did you choose the language that you did (python + xml files)?
What are the advantages to this approach?
What are the disadvantages you've found using these technologies?

Soren Johnson:
We chose to use python because we wanted a well-supported scripting language that could extend our core code. Indeed, we wrote much more code in python than we were expecting, including all in-game screens and the main interface. It was a huge win for the project because writing code in a language with garbage collection simply goes faster than writing code in C++. The fact that users will be able to easily mod the interface is a nice plus as well. The downside of python was that it significantly increased our build times, mostly from linking with Boost. XML was chosen because it is a very flexible system for storing data, which is important for a game like Civilization that is essentially "built" from numbers. Using an off-the-shelf XML editor, anyone from our designers to end users could modify our game data. We also have a high-level file system which allows you to override any specific art, sound, python, or XML file simply by setting a specific "mod directory" that contains only the modified files. If a specific file is not found in this directory, the game just uses the default one.

9. Macro and Micro Management - by kenp2002
How did the Civ team address macro and micro management aspects of the game? RTS games are forced to place heavy consideration into managing in real time units and control and the scope of an RTS prevents a snowball effect. Turned based games become burdened by logistical considerations as a result of not having that same focus on micromanagement. Managing 55 workers in Civ3 along with 35 cities becomes a logistical nightmare when governor AI doesn't learn from your play style. Which Direction is Civ4 taking?

Soren Johnson:
Removing unnecessary micromanagement from the game was a high-level design goal for Civ IV, one which paid off huge dividends in the final product. We systematically looked at every piece of micromanagement from which Civ 1-3 suffered and figured out ways to remove it without altering the underlying game dynamic. Pollution was removed in favor of a high-level health system. Beaker and hammer overflow was introduced to end the incentive for min-maxing your citizens each and every turn. City riots were simply turned into angry citizens to take away the need to continually check on your cities' happiness in case something went wrong. Workers now have two moves so that a move and an order can be given on the same turn -reducing the number of times the player deals with an active worker by half. Also, some high-level controls to allow micromanagement were added. For example, workers can be grouped together and given an infinite number of sequential orders. Multiple cities can be selected at a time, allowing the player to change all cities on one continent to build tanks with just two clicks.

10. Do you think 3D graphics will enhance gameplay? - by Anubis333
As a long time Civ player, I would have to say that I really didn't understand why it moved to 3D graphics. Will having the engine be entirely 3D in Civ IV actually add to the gameplay in any way, other than have objects occlude one another? When I say 'add to the gameplay' I mean, add to the game experience in a way 2D sprites couldn't. For example: Physics, multipls views, wind, etc.. (I have only really seen the 3D globe, and like the idea).

Soren Johnson:
Graphics succeed in a Civilization game when they provide a good representation of the world's state. Simply put, what-you-see-is-what-you-get is a lot easier with 3D than with 2D. Wonders and buildings now appear on the map, so the player doesn't need to reference an advisor screen to see which city has the Pyramids. Improvements like farms and mines animate differently depending on whether a city is working them or not. Multiple units can now be used to signify hit-points, instead of the old red/green bars. Now, most of these ideas could have been executed in 2D, but certainly with more difficulty as everything displayed in 2D requires an algorithmic system which must be built from scratch. From a pure design perspective, 3D provides an incredible amount of flexibility for free.

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Humble request, oh great ones (4, Funny)

revscat (35618) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890367)

A Mac version? Please? I know women of loose virtues with whom I could aquaint you! And gee whiz, with enough alcohol my virtues are known to flutter around a bit! Let's make a deal!

Re:Humble request, oh great ones (5, Informative)

GabrielF (636907) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890405)

Aspyr just announced today that it will be publishing Civ 3 Complete and Civ 4. Civ 3 has been on the Mac for awhile now and this looks like just a new edition which includes the two expansion packs. Civ 4 unfortunately won't be available until early 2006. Announcment at MacCentral [macworld.com]

Re:Humble request, oh great ones (1)

DingerX (847589) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890562)

<Kaylee voice> Oooh Granpa! </kv> so, rev, how many MacTinis did it take?

Re:Humble request, oh great ones (2, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890753)

Early 2006? What, is it too difficult to comprehend that such a game would be extremely popular on OSX?

Now I know how the rest of the world feels when a good movie comes out in the states a year ahead of them.

Comprehension difficulty (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890842)

What, is it too difficult to comprehend that such a game would be extremely popular on OSX?

Ooooh, is it too difficult to comprehend that they can only afford so many programmers working at any one time, and that ports have to be done by the same people who are working on the original platform?

Re:Comprehension difficulty (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890923)

Oh, right. I completely forgot how poor and destitute Rockstar is.

Still, I'm not wasting a dime on this for the PC just to hold me over until the Mac version. Well, not unless they want to let me have one of them for free.

I'll just go back to FreeCiv in the meantime. :)

Re:Comprehension difficulty (5, Interesting)

Brad Oliver (604118) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890968)

Ooooh, is it too difficult to comprehend that they can only afford so many programmers working at any one time, and that ports have to be done by the same people who are working on the original platform?

Allow me to interrupt this Sarcasmathon with some facts. ;-) I work for Aspyr and am the lead programmer on the Mac Civ4 port.

The port isn't being done by the same people who did the PC version - it's being farmed out to a Mac developer and Mac publisher. This is the typical case with most Mac game ports. It also means that we have to wait for legal hurdles to clear, code drops to arrive, and naturally, for the Mac code to start working and stop being buggy. ;-) Now you might think that rewriting a game that depends on several third-party libraries with no Mac version and a dependence on DX9 might be trivial, but alas it is not.

Re:Humble request, oh great ones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13890980)

One: Early 2006 is less than three months away.

Two: The game had to be finished before the port could be started.

Three: You = teh dumbasz.

Re:Humble request, oh great ones (2, Interesting)

LDoggg_ (659725) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890434)

First rule of slashdot. We do not talk about slashdot.
Second rule...
We do not about games on platforms other than windows. [slashdot.org]

BTW, 4 of the 36 +5 modded comments for this interview were about platforms other than windows.

Re:Humble request, oh great ones (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13890547)

Please whine more about having bought a mac but not being able to play games.

Re:Humble request, oh great ones (1)

Doctor_Jest (688315) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890774)

Wow. Are you that jealous of OS X?

Seriously, though. Civ 3 complete and Civ 4 are welcome additions to my now Windows-free environment.

Re:Humble request, oh great ones (2, Funny)

jcorno (889560) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890599)

You're going about this all wrong. You need to skip the developers and go straight to the Slashdot crowd. Offer the loose women and liquor for a PC, and you'll be playing in no time.

Full text in case of Slashdotting (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13890370)

1. The Civ4 AI - by Skyshadow
My only question for Civ4 concerns the AI: Have you made it a crafty enough opponent yet that it can compete at the higher skill levels of the game without resorting to the "cheating" that we've seen in previous incarnations of the game? If so, how?

Soren Johnson:
A great deal of effort has been put into making the Civ IV AI the best yet. For the first time ever, we have received direct input from the world's best Civ players during the game's development, via a very selective, closed beta that began very early. This feedback allowed us to iterate on the AI's design much more quickly and effectively than ever before.

Much of the information cheating has been removed from the game (such as knowing where a resource is before it is discovered, sending off galleys with settlers to undiscovered lands, targeting cities with fewer defenders, etc.) Further, the heuristics it uses to make decisions, such as for diplomatic demands and declarations of war, are the same ones available to the player (such as from the power chart on the Demographics screen). However, as with all versions of Civ, the AI has production and research penalties at the lower levels and bonuses at the higher levels. The level of the bonuses are lower than they have ever been before; in fact, the AI never receives any bonuses whatsoever for building wonders - a far cry from the "free AI wonders" in Civ 1. Noble and Prince are the difficulty levels where the AI's rules are closest to the human's.

2. DRM in Civ IV - by Lord Ender
Civ III requires the installation CD be inserted every time you play, even though none of the content on the CD is used by the game after installation. This annoys your customers by making them juggle CDs, unnecessarily wear out their hardware, and shorten their battery life. Consequently, many of your customers install "No-CD Cracks" to fix this flaw in your software. How do you feel about the existence and use of such cracks? Will you include this CD requirement in Civ IV even though it does not prevent copyright infringement but still inconveniences your customers?

Soren Johnson:
Like our previous games, Civ IV requires the CD to be in the drive on start-up. The funding we get for all of our games, which allows us to hire developers to work on the AI, graphics, interface, etc., is a direct reflection of how many copies our previous games have sold in the marketplace. Thus, I hope people will understand that making sure that our games are purchased instead of stolen is very important to us. Frankly, I do not agree that requiring the CD to be in the drive "does not prevent copyright infringement," even though I understand that this is almost always true for the technically adept. This is a sensitive issue, but the future of game development depends on preventing piracy, so I hope people will have patience with the basic safety measures we have used.

3. Politics - by MosesJones
How much will CiV4 use political shifts in countries as a cyclical change in approaches?

Soren Johnson:
Each of the leaders in the game has a certain political leaning that will become clear over the course of the game. Mao may pressure you to adopt State Property while Roosevelt would encourage Universal Suffrage. Indeed, playing off these various interests is a core part of the diplomatic game. We do not, however, have political shifts modeled - outside of the anarchy that occurs whenever the player chooses to change Civics. Perhaps it is an idea to consider for the future.

4. Family Gaming - by carambola5
Growing up, playing games with the family meant getting out classic boardgames like Monopoly, Risk, etc. The Civilization games seem like a prime candidate for breaking into the family-game-playing field. What, if any, steps has your team taken to bring your game(s) to the level of "game night with the kids?" What technologies, such as display and control, need to be developed before such an environment is realized?

Soren Johnson:
Civilization is a great game for families, especially now that true team-based play is possible. One could easily imagine a parent and child playing together to Take Over the World. However, that situation does require a couple computers...while hot-seat is the option for families with one computer. I am sure more could be done in this area, but the assumption of a single mouse and keyboard is certainly the limitation. On a console, "family-night" may be more viable as multiple controllers would be available.

5. Portables - by BMonger
Is there any chance we'll get to see some of the Civ titles moved to portables? I think the game would play wonderfully on the DS.

Soren Johnson:
We are very intrigued by the idea of Civ on a portable. Certainly, turn-based gaming has proved quite viable on that format - many of us are big fans of Advance Wars. The fact that Civ can be put down and picked up at any time makes it a good fit. There are, however, no official plans at this time.

6. The Civ4 AI - by freidog
Is the AI going to be as moddable and customizable as the rest of the game content? I know Mr. Caudill mentioned an 'AI SDK' for 'experienced programmers' over on the IGN Civ 4 preview to tailor the AI to their desires. But it was mentioned as a seperate entity from the XML unit files and the basic Phython scripts. Basically I was hoping you could go into some more detail on what AI and other more complex modding might entail.

Soren Johnson:
The AI for Civ IV is written entirely in C++. However, all the AI code (as well as game code) is compiled into a separate DLL which can be replaced with a modified version. Essentially, the SDK release will be all of the files required to build this DLL. Thus, changing the AI and "core" game rules (such as terrain, movement, production, etc.) is possible - one could implement a completely different combat model, for example.

7. Alpha Centauri - by squiggleslash
I'm wondering if plans are afoot to work on Alpha Centauri, and if so, how the original will be improved upon. Some of us see AC as the best in the whole (greater) Civilization series. Awesome game.

Soren Johnson:
There are no official plans to make a sequel for Alpha Centauri although it's certainly an idea we kick around every now and then. In many ways, Civ IV is an attempt to incorporate many of the things which were great about SMAC into the core series. Civics obviously derives directly from Social Engineering. Also, the promotions system can be seen as a more reward-based version of the Unit Workshop. The increased role of leader personalities is also inspired by the diplomacy from SMAC. Thanks for the feedback...it definitely pushes us to take a closer look at the idea of making a new version of SMAC. We'll keep you posted.

8. Python+XML vs lua - by SumDog
My questions are:
Why did you choose the language that you did (python + xml files)?
What are the advantages to this approach?
What are the disadvantages you've found using these technologies?

Soren Johnson:
We chose to use python because we wanted a well-supported scripting language that could extend our core code. Indeed, we wrote much more code in python than we were expecting, including all in-game screens and the main interface. It was a huge win for the project because writing code in a language with garbage collection simply goes faster than writing code in C++. The fact that users will be able to easily mod the interface is a nice plus as well. The downside of python was that it significantly increased our build times, mostly from linking with Boost. XML was chosen because it is a very flexible system for storing data, which is important for a game like Civilization that is essentially "built" from numbers. Using an off-the-shelf XML editor, anyone from our designers to end users could modify our game data. We also have a high-level file system which allows you to override any specific art, sound, python, or XML file simply by setting a specific "mod directory" that contains only the modified files. If a specific file is not found in this directory, the game just uses the default one.

9. Macro and Micro Management - by kenp2002
How did the Civ team address macro and micro management aspects of the game? RTS games are forced to place heavy consideration into managing in real time units and control and the scope of an RTS prevents a snowball effect. Turned based games become burdened by logistical considerations as a result of not having that same focus on micromanagement. Managing 55 workers in Civ3 along with 35 cities becomes a logistical nightmare when governor AI doesn't learn from your play style. Which Direction is Civ4 taking?

Soren Johnson:
Removing unnecessary micromanagement from the game was a high-level design goal for Civ IV, one which paid off huge dividends in the final product. We systematically looked at every piece of micromanagement from which Civ 1-3 suffered and figured out ways to remove it without altering the underlying game dynamic. Pollution was removed in favor of a high-level health system. Beaker and hammer overflow was introduced to end the incentive for min-maxing your citizens each and every turn. City riots were simply turned into angry citizens to take away the need to continually check on your cities' happiness in case something went wrong. Workers now have two moves so that a move and an order can be given on the same turn -reducing the number of times the player deals with an active worker by half. Also, some high-level controls to allow micromanagement were added. For example, workers can be grouped together and given an infinite number of sequential orders. Multiple cities can be selected at a time, allowing the player to change all cities on one continent to build tanks with just two clicks.

10. Do you think 3D graphics will enhance gameplay? - by Anubis333
As a long time Civ player, I would have to say that I really didn't understand why it moved to 3D graphics. Will having the engine be entirely 3D in Civ IV actually add to the gameplay in any way, other than have objects occlude one another? When I say 'add to the gameplay' I mean, add to the game experience in a way 2D sprites couldn't. For example: Physics, multipls views, wind, etc.. (I have only really seen the 3D globe, and like the idea).

Soren Johnson:
Graphics succeed in a Civilization game when they provide a good representation of the world's state. Simply put, what-you-see-is-what-you-get is a lot easier with 3D than with 2D. Wonders and buildings now appear on the map, so the player doesn't need to reference an advisor screen to see which city has the Pyramids. Improvements like farms and mines animate differently depending on whether a city is working them or not. Multiple units can now be used to signify hit-points, instead of the old red/green bars. Now, most of these ideas could have been executed in 2D, but certainly with more difficulty as everything displayed in 2D requires an algorithmic system which must be built from scratch. From a pure design perspective, 3D provides an incredible amount of flexibility for free.

Mod parent up as funny, not off topic you idiots! (1, Troll)

protagon (852658) | more than 8 years ago | (#13891013)

Off topic?? Come on, this is humour!!

AI not written in Python? (3, Interesting)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890397)

The AI for Civ IV is written entirely in C++. However, all the AI code (as well as game code) is compiled into a separate DLL which can be replaced with a modified version. Essentially, the SDK release will be all of the files required to build this DLL. Thus, changing the AI and "core" game rules (such as terrain, movement, production, etc.) is possible - one could implement a completely different combat model, for example.

It is surprising that the AI was not written in Python, which is highly integrated with this game. Indeed, Python is just the sort of language for writing such code. However, was it not done this way due to the slower execution speed of Python code, relative to C++?

Re:AI not written in Python? (5, Insightful)

Penguinoflight (517245) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890475)

Perhaps it is because more people are familiar with C++ than Python, and by writing the AI and other game rules in C++ the Civ 4 team has made modders job easier.

I'd like to take the opportunity to completely disagree with Soren on the point of No-CD cracks and anti-piracy measures to insure high sales. Epic has done excellent with every UT release even though they have no irritating protection measures. Scene releases are usually dumped if they dont come with the cracks necessary to run a game, so by forcing a paying user to keep his CD in you are just spitting in the face of your loyal customers. If I buy Civ 4, I'll want to just get the CDkey, and let someone keep the scratched CD. By game publishers requiring a no-cd hack, I am tempted to just skip the license and hack the cd key as well.

Re:AI not written in Python? (4, Insightful)

Vaevictis666 (680137) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890627)

Epic has done excellent with every UT release even though they have no irritating protection measures.

Not exactly true. Every version of UT that I've owned (UT, 2k3, 2k4) has had copy protection out of the box. The difference is that Epic and Atari (the publisher) have come to a consensus that the majority of sales happen in the first few weeks/months, and a few patches down the line the copy protection is removed. I believe that for 2k4 it was removed in the 2nd patch.

OTOH, they also have online play as a major component, and use serial numbers to cover validation for that.

I do think that any game, online or not, should be removing the CD protection check after 4 months or so just so it pisses off the gamers less.

Python is very easy to learn. C++ is not. (2, Insightful)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890629)

It should only take a competent programmer a couple of days, if even that, to become well accustomed to Python. And it's often far easier for your average person to learn than C++ is.

I reject your hypothesis on the basis that the assumptions it makes are incorrect.

Perhaps somebody will embed the Python (or Lua, etc.) interpreter into such an AI DLL, allowing for the AI to be written in a language that is often better suited for such complex tasks.

Re:Python is very easy to learn. C++ is not. (2, Insightful)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890673)

Ever thought of performance reasons?
I am sure civ spends at least 90 percent of its cpu time in the ai subroutine, so needlessly useing a slower language would bog down the game. (and of course all sheep that know shit about gpus and hw t&l would cry that the graphics make it slow)

You didn't read my other post. (2, Interesting)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890734)

Yes, I thought about performance reasons. You obviously didn't bother to read my initial post on this matter:

However, was it not done this way due to the slower execution speed of Python code, relative to C++? [slashdot.org]

See, I specifically covered that very topic.

With a game such as this, increased AI "intelligence" could very well mitigate the slightly slower execution. Python allows for extremely complex systems to be developed very quickly, at the expense of runtime performance. Neural nets, for instance, can be implemented far easier in Python than in C++.

Re:You didn't read my other post. (2, Interesting)

lgw (121541) | more than 8 years ago | (#13891055)

It's faster to write anything in the language you're comfortable with. This is undoubtedly why they did most of the game in C++.

I have a real problem with using Python for large projects simply because of the lack of static typing. Dynamic typing is great for scripts, but well-documented interfaces become the most important factor when a project scales beyond a single team. Static typing forces you to put important interface information in the code, rather than hoping someone added it to comments.

Of course, not having to worry about memory management in Python is a similar advantage to that language (as "who frees it" is anther big part of interface documentation that people always seem to leave out of comments), but there are C++ programming styles that mostly eliminate that problem.

I'm not sure why you'd say it's easier to implement neural nets in Python. Anything is easier in a language that has libraries attuned to the problem at hand, but you can always write such libraries if your language of choice lacks them (and you only have to do that once).

Re:AI not written in Python? (2, Insightful)

Zathrus (232140) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890668)

Perhaps it is because more people are familiar with C++ than Python, and by writing the AI and other game rules in C++ the Civ 4 team has made modders job easier.

I doubt it. Python is a whole lot easier to get into than C++ (and yes, I do multi platform C++ for a living), so if your primary goal is to enable easy modding then Python is the obvious choice. In fact, they seem to have made that choice for the majority of the interface and code.

But it probably would've been a bad choice for the AI, which is highly performance oriented/sensitive code. As anyone who's played Civ games (or other turn based games) knows, the end game bogs down. Not only for the player, but also for the computer, which has to calculate AI moves with increasing complexity and resources. Having an inefficient AI at the start of the game is no big deal. Having one at the end results in annoyed players.

And, as a slight aside -- complaining about memory allocation in C++ just means you aren't using the tools available! They already mentioned utilizing Boost, so why weren't they using the Boost shared_ptr classes? Wrap any pointers you may be using in them and you'll stop having to worry about new/delete or malloc/free issues. No, it's still not as simple as a true GC, but it's far better than the old ways.

Epic has done excellent with every UT release even though they have no irritating protection measures

Epic has had CD check copy protection on every single release of Unreal or Unreal Tournament. But that usually only lasts for the first couple of months -- at that point they remove it in a patch. And bravo to them for doing so. I suspect that most casual pirating (which is the only type that's stopped by CD checks) occurs in the first few weeks of a game being out. After that it's just a disservice to your actual customers. I do buy every game I play, and I'm tired of being treated like a crook.

Re:AI not written in Python? (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890742)

Perhaps it is because more people are familiar with C++ than Python, and by writing the AI and other game rules in C++ the Civ 4 team has made modders job easier.

While that reason has been used by many a person, I don't think it's a particularly good one. The problem with doing something like AI in C/C++ is that all the memory management issues cloud the actual logic, thus making it more difficult than necessary to understand. Using a higher level language like Python, Java, or (God forbid) JavaScript tends to simplify the code and make it far more readable.

That being said, the poster above me may be correct. It was probably done in C/C++ for reasons of tweaking the performance. (In which case you REALLY don't want to mess with the code.) ;-)

Re:AI not written in Python? (1)

jbellis (142590) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890965)

I get the impression from all the complaints about xbox 360 not being powerful enough to enable Really Good AI that AI can be very cpu-intensive. So perhaps it wouldn't be the best fit for Python after all.

Thank You! (1)

Gramaton Cleric (853219) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890418)

Thanks for the great responses. I have been planning on hacking a game together like this and with some of your responses, this will help me see where to start! Again, thanks for the time spent on these responses..... So un-Blizzard like!!

Mac-PC Multiplayer (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13890424)

I hope the Mac version of Civ IV PBEM game is compatible with the PC version. Even if multiplayer versions are Mac-Mac & PC-PC only, the pbem game should be compatible...

No CD fix (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13890425)

I'd happily fax over my receipt if Firaxis provided an executable with no-cd check. Make it so that I'd have to have the CD in the drive to patch the file. Then the file is patched and the CD can go back on the shelf.

Re:No CD fix (3, Interesting)

enigma48 (143560) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890496)

It's a good idea but the no-cd EXE will leak, they'd have to verify receipts were real, hiring more staff, etc.

Copy protection and theft/copyright infringement (whatever) is a hard thing to crack. I'm just glad I'm technical enough to know how to fix my own problems when they arise; 90% of gamers wouldn't know where to start.

Re:No CD fix (3, Insightful)

radish (98371) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890912)

It's a good idea but the no-cd EXE will leak
The no-cd EXE has already leaked (or rather, will very soon be created). This kind of dumb copy protection doesn't stop piracy but it does annoy customers. There are several games which I haven't bought simply because I've heard of people having trouble making it work due to some protection mechanism.

So? It'll be out there already (3, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 8 years ago | (#13891059)

There is a site that has cracks for all new games. They come out almost immediatly after the game, they are updated with new patches, etc. All you do is download and use them, no technical skill required. Anyone that wishes to copy the game illegally will have no problem doing so.

However for those of us that want to stay legit, it would be nice to have a legit way to do it. I don't like having CDs in my drive because I'm careless. I like to install teh game, put the orignals in their box and put the box where it won't get damaged. A CD on my desk is just asking for trouble.

Re:No CD fix (4, Insightful)

Surt (22457) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890558)

... or rather than the shelf, you could give your cd and the patch to a friend and then ... oh.

Re:No CD fix (3, Interesting)

Scorpius-nl (827901) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890587)

DRM can be tied to hardware also, like windows XP does.

It can easily be done during setup time, with online verification so that you can't lend your CD to you neighbor.

After setup is done, you can just start your game without CD.

Re:No CD fix (4, Informative)

gid (5195) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890642)

I doubt this would happen. In the mean time, you can make a safedisc mini-image [cdfreaks.com] . I'm currently using it with battlefield 2 and dungeon siege 2.

Re:No CD fix (3, Interesting)

Mercano (826132) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890690)

On a tangential note, I found that the disc labeled "play disc" is in fact the second install disc, with just one huge data3.cab file on it. To actually play the game, you use the first disc, helpfully labeled "install." Snafu?

Re:No CD fix (4, Insightful)

neosake (655724) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890827)

From TFA
... Thus, I hope people will understand that making sure that our games are purchased instead of stolen is very important to us.

If I steal the cd from the store, how does enforcing the cd to be in the drive enforce purchase?

/disclamer I know I'm being pedantic, but i'm gettig fed up of people using "steal" to give themselves more importance.

Re:No CD fix (2, Interesting)

greenskyx (609089) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890899)

How about something like this... Civ IV enters my key information into Steam (or something like that) and then uses Steam to provide authentication.

Re:No CD fix (1)

Twanfox (185252) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890958)

Steam is a major pain in the arse when it comes to playing a game. The enforced updates frequently mean that clients get out of sync with servers (that don't patch as often as clients are forced to, lagging the update by 6-12 hours or so). The required 'spotcheck' with the authentication server means that, if for some assinine reason, the login servers are down but the play servers are up, you CANNOT play. It agrivates the hell out of me, even though I tolerate it. If all games were like this, I'd probably say fuck'm all and not play. Pleanty of other things one can do that won't be bogged down with these kinds of hoops.

Re:No CD fix (2, Insightful)

enjo13 (444114) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890900)

Its a pain that keeps me from buying many games in the first place. My PC Gaming is basically completely relegated to my laptop.. carrying around the CD's for all of the games I would want to play is both inconvenient and rather unncesary. There is nothing more frusturating than being in the airport wanting to play something and realizing that I left the CD at home.

For games I really like I'll go through the trouble of getting the no cd crack... more and more, however, I simply don't purchase games. They may think they are preventing piracy, but in reality they are also preventing sales. I leave it to them to decide which one is really more damaging to the bottom line.

Re:bunch of random thoughts on copy protection (2, Interesting)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890995)

Something different does need to be done in this area. I hate having to have the CD in the drive as well, and I doubt it really helps much. And, as several people pointed out, I suspect it hurts sales by almost as much as it helps them.

I think that copyright law is broken in this regard too. It doesn't reflect the reality of what's easily possible. Games occupy a category that's more closely similar to music than software. Perhaps similar models could be adopted for funding games in a 'copies can't really be controlled' world. I would've pre-paid (in escrow) Firaxis $50 or more to produce them game if there was going to be a Linux version.

Nice... (2, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890427)

Good questions, good moderation, good answers. Nice work, all around.

Re:Nice... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13890566)

Like anyone gives a fuck what you say moron. Go fucking sit down and shutup. I'm serious, you're fucking worthless. Pompous ass. I hope your Porsche breaks down.

Re:Nice... (2, Funny)

ecumenical_40oz (914889) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890825)

Looks like somebody unleased a horde of barbarians here...

Question for the Wargamers (3, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890433)

The Civilization games seem like a prime candidate for breaking into the family-game-playing field.

Isn't Civilization loosely based on a Wargame of a similar name? i.e. Thus the use of a hex grid and all? Maybe I'm wrong on this, but I could have sworn I saw it in a list of board games a few days ago. (I'm currently learning to play Starfire, for those of you who know what that is.)

Ah, here we are. It's under 'C' on this page [grognard.com] . The link to the website seems to be defunct (along with the company?), so I really have no way of verifying this. Anyone?

Re:Question for the Wargamers (3, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890539)

Ah hah! Rfunches post below mine spurred me to do a smidge more research, and I found this link [eaglegames.net] where you can purchase the board game from Eagle Games. Which would figure. The list I linked to in the parent post didn't link to the Eagle Games website.

The Eagle Games site makes it sound like the board game was based on the video game, not the other way around. This may have its pluses and minuses. On the plus side, you'll probably get an experience closer to the video game, on the minus side the rules may be overly complex due to numbers that a computer can crunch easily whereas a human must keep track of paperwork.

If you've never played a Wargame before, I probably wouldn't recommend starting with the Civilisation board game. Wargames are *tough* if you've never played them before, and tend to require a mentor. Since you might have trouble finding one in this day in age of Computer Games, I highly recommend starting with the free Battle For Moscow [grognard.com] board game. It's fairly easy to pick up, and should help you get down the basics of wargaming.

Re:Question for the Wargamers (3, Interesting)

painandgreed (692585) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890645)

that boardgame is based ont eh comptuer game but it is not the original Civilaization.

Civilization
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/71

Advanced Civilization
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/177

Sid Meir's Civilization _ the board game
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/3633

Re:Question for the Wargamers (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13890580)


You are correct. Well, not really. It was a board game, not a war game (think Settlers of Catan type of thing)

A bit of a history
http://www.strategy-gaming.com/reviews/civilizatio n_call_to_power/index.shtml [strategy-gaming.com]

(this is about 7 years out of date, so there's some other stuff that's happened since then -- obviously Firaxis got the rights to use the name again from the Hasbro collective).

Re:Question for the Wargamers (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890684)

Wow, what a mess. So Hartland Trefoil gets acquired by Avalon Hill who licenses the name to Microprose, but then Sid Meier breaks off to do his own Civ, but Activision gets its own permission to do Civ, thus causing Hasbro (who wants to get in on the game) to acquire AH and Microprose, then allowing Eagle Games to do a board game that's a spinoff of the computer game which is a spinoff of the board game. Whew. Am I missing anything?

Mods, if you could, please give the parent (and the other fine and helpful posters in this thread) a few mod points for being informative? Thanks. :-)

Re:Question for the Wargamers (3, Interesting)

painandgreed (692585) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890595)

The boardgame Civilization has been around for a very long time. It was the inspiration for the compter game, but it is a similar but significantly different game. You don't have hexes or regular areas but rather regions like you would see on a Risk board. Each turn, your chits (little cardboard counters) which represent people, double. They can then move and if you can get enough into the same region they can form a city. Move them into a different region with other players chits and they fight through attrition till only one player's units are there. Then you get resource cards for every city you have. the more cities, the higher level or resources. You collect and trade these resource cards to buy tech. First person to reach a suitable tech level wins.

A computer game that was much similar to the boardgame did come out at one point with called Advanced Civilization IIRC.

Re:Question for the Wargamers (1)

SJMinkoff (925336) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890611)

The game's basic concept may be loosely based on Civilization and Advanced Civilization (from Avalon Hill). The mechanics are completely different. In fact, the Avalon Hill games have their own computer versions (which came much later than Sid's game), and Sid's Civ was adapted into a (very complicated) board game recently. I prefer the AH game for board games, the Sid Maier game for PCs/Macs/Amigas.

Re:Question for the Wargamers (1)

ChefInnocent (667809) | more than 8 years ago | (#13891033)

Yes, the original Civ game was loosly based on the board game by AH. However, the board game had no grid, and the parallels were small.

Like the computer game, I'd say that the board game was the greatest board game ever. The only draw-back to the game is that it is very difficult to find 8 players who are willing to invest 16 hours.

Re:Question for the Wargamers (2, Informative)

darkwing_bmf (178021) | more than 8 years ago | (#13891063)

Sid Meyer's Civilization [civ3.com] isn't like Avalon Hill's Civilization [boardgamegeek.com] . But it is a lot like Walter Bright's Empire [classicempire.com] .

Civilization board game (2, Interesting)

rfunches (800928) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890439)

It was pointed out that Civ for the family is hard because it would require multiple computers. I was in the Discovery Channel Store over the weekend at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City and they had Civilization the board game -- I don't know for how many players but it was [obviously] multiplayer and looked a lot like Risk. If it wasn't selling for $49.99 I would've bought it.

Re:Civilization board game (2, Informative)

sprprsnmn (619113) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890585)

The board game predates Civ I by a good bit. It's a fun game, but not what I would call a war game. Closer to Settlers of Catan than Risk.

Re:Civilization board game (1)

Control Group (105494) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890886)

That depends on which board game he saw. Odds are good he saw the new board game, which is based on Civ III, and is entitled something like "Sid Meier's Civilization: the Board Game." This is not the same as the original Avalon Hill board game entitled (IIRC) Civilization, which does, as you say, predate Civ I.

Personally, I bought SMC:tBG just for the fun of knowing I bought a board game...based on a video game...based on a board game.

Re:Civilization board game (1)

rfunches (800928) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890931)

The one I saw was titled "Sid Meier's Civilzation: The Board Game."

Re:Civilization board game (1)

Fausthero (926389) | more than 8 years ago | (#13891072)

Civ III the board game is one of the best board games I have played. It is very true to the video game with technology being nearly the same, but also giving bonuses in combat. The only major differences between the video game and board game are the combat rules. The game is amazing with 6 players but can take up around 9 hours to finish the game with that many people. I would definately recommend it for families and friendly matches.

Re:Civilization board game (1)

stephen007 (228300) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890641)

Civilization Board Game [discovery.com]

Aha! I didn't know that was out. Have to check that out.

Stephen

Thank God... (2, Insightful)

stonedog1104 (141492) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890452)

...they got rid of pollution. Easily the most annoying aspect of Civ3. The ability to select multiple cities is also good news. Can't wait for my copy to arrive!

Re:Thank God... (3, Interesting)

stlhawkeye (868951) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890531)

...they got rid of pollution. Easily the most annoying aspect of Civ3. The ability to select multiple cities is also good news. Can't wait for my copy to arrive!

My girlfriend bought me a copy for Christmas and, bless her heart, had it sent directly to my house so I could play it now. That's a good woman. Even though I waste inexcusable quantities of time playing Warcraft, he buys me more video games because I like them. Plus she'd prefer me to play Civ over WoW. I can get up and walk away from Civ at any moment. Not so with WoW.

Re:Thank God... (2, Funny)

Gramaton Cleric (853219) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890616)

My girlfriend bought me..... ....playing Warcraft, he buys me more video games because I like them. Plus she'd prefer


So, is your girlfriend a HE or a SHE or an IT??

Sorry, couldn't pass it up!! =-]

Re:Thank God... (4, Funny)

stlhawkeye (868951) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890630)

So, is your girlfriend a HE or a SHE or an IT??

Hey, in modern English, all pronouns are gender-neutral! I don't want to offend anybody.

Re:Thank God... (2, Funny)

Zathrus (232140) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890803)

Hey, in modern English, all pronouns are gender-neutral! I don't want to offend anybody.

Have your GF read the comment and see if she isn't offended :)

Re:Thank God... (1)

schwaang (667808) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890758)

It's a good strategy to keep you home. She knows where you are, and you can't be out hitting on waitresses (or WoW succubi) when you're busy winning the Space Race.

Re:Thank God... (1)

Tebriel (192168) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890560)

Hope you don't have an ATI video card then, with all the issues popping up...

Answer for every DRM question given (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13890500)

Why do you have to ask this stuff anymore? So you don't have to waste your breath, here is the response from every software company till the end of existence:

"We don't care about the customer's convenience, we want to get paid"

Thats it. Feel free to use my quote anytime.

Re:Answer for every DRM question given (5, Insightful)

Spades_ (175131) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890544)

It is an inconvenience unless they find another way to protect their IP. What it sounds like from his response was that the investors who paid money to produce this product wanted this in as a requirement. I don't think they like it either, but if it's a decision between making the game and having some DRM or not making it at all.. i'd choose for making the game.

Re:Answer for every DRM question given (1)

goldspider (445116) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890650)

"Intellectual property" is the invention of greedy racist capitalist oligarchs bent on finding new ways to screw honest people out of their money.

I wonder if they have a patent on it...

Re:Answer for every DRM question given (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890706)

Publishers demand it because retailers demand it. It's basically retailers like Wal-Mart pushing their weight around... they want to sell only games with copy protection because they save tons of time and money on fradulent returns. (I'm sure the publisher doesn't mind reducing returns themselves, for that matter.)

Re:Answer for every DRM question given (2, Interesting)

Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890925)

we want to get paid

And why not? If you want people to do work for free, move to Russia and time travel about half a century back.

And yes, I understand free software and all, but it should be the developer's choice to release the software as free. And most developers who spend at least 40 hours a week working on software aren't willing to work for free.

If you want a Civlike game without paying, freeciv does exist. If you want Civ IV, you'll have to pay.

Inconvenience for the customer is a valid reason for protesting CD requirements. Not wanting to pay isn't.

Go read Atlas Shrugged. You'll probably hate it - and there's nothing wrong with that - but you should at least see her viewpoint.

ATI Video (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13890522)

Someone should have asked why the CivIV team didn't test it with ATI video cards.

Re:ATI Video (4, Informative)

mslinux (570958) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890729)

Damn right... most ATI video cards DO NOT WORK with Civ 4. However, no one (except the farmed out Tech support in Ireland) is admitting it and they just hang up on you with a short, automated message before saying... It'll be fixed someday. I can't believe they shipped this piece of shit.

Re:ATI Video (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13890848)

I have an ATI card and it works. If you don't like it don't buy it. For the rest of us we're greatful for this game to be finally out.

Re:ATI Video (1)

WinterSolstice (223271) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890986)

I am 90% confident it will be fixed, though possibly by Aspyr when they do the Mac port. Many Macs have ATI cards, and I would bet good money they would simply return the software if it didn't work. You can do that with Macs, you know :) (done it myself)

-WS

Re:ATI Video (2, Informative)

Greatmoose (896405) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890815)

I've read a lot about this, but I have not had a problem at all (9800pro and a 9000mobile). It's got to be more than a driver issue. I have heard that some people have been able to get it to work with older drivers (4.7-5.7).

Re:ATI Video (2, Informative)

FIT_Entry1 (468985) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890861)

It's okay, they apparently didn't test with nVidia cards either. This game is a HOG for system resources, I can't play anything larger than small worlds with a 2.5 P4, a gig of ram and an nVidia 5500

Re:ATI Video (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13890879)

Hmmm..I was going to buy it this sat. Now I'm going to have to reconsider.

Copyright infringement (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13890572)

The solution to piracy is to ban capitalism!
Imagine, without the profit motive, people would be free to make games however they feel like it, and the need for IP laws wouldn't be necessary since the purpose of society is to promote freedom and solidarity.

You would see a lot more originality in games and less uninspired clones in the software "market" if the profit motive is done away with.

Yeah yeah mod me -1 Communism.

Re:Copyright infringement (0, Flamebait)

Delphiki (646425) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890625)

Yes, god forbid that people be allowed to make games that people actually want to buy, so they can turn a profit. I would much rather the government decided what games were made. It's no surprise that games developed in China currently dominate the market. Imagine, without the profit motive how much work everyone would put into coming up with original and polished games! Surely once they can't make any money on it they'll do so much better. You know, because people are always more effective when they have no incentive to get anything done.

Re:Copyright infringement (4, Funny)

goldspider (445116) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890722)

I'd like to hire you. I'm willing to pay you NOTHING, because you tell me that people do much better work when they have no financial incentive to do so. Too bad you posted AC: you're missing out on a lot of great opportunities!

Re:Copyright infringement (4, Insightful)

Rycross (836649) | more than 8 years ago | (#13891087)

You know, theres plenty of games being made without profit motives right now. The vast majority of them are horrible.

Piracy (-1, Redundant)

jkind (922585) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890597)

By the looks of the torrent sites, it seems that Civ 4 could be the most popular strategy game ever!
I can't wait to get this game, although slotting in time for it after all of my other daily chores will of course be the immense challenge.
I thought their www.civanon.org commercials were borderline offensive, considering the amount of hardship that certain games have caused recently. Deaths from MMORPG overload is a real issue affecting real people.

Re:Piracy (1, Funny)

goldspider (445116) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890674)

"Deaths from MMORPG overload is a real issue affecting real people."

Won't somebody think of the CHILDREN!?!

DRM prevents theft?? (1)

Trolling4Columbine (679367) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890619)

"Thus, I hope people will understand that making sure that our games are purchased instead of stolen is very important to us." Maybe I don't really understand the issue here, but how exactly does DRM stop a person from shoplifting their game? Either they're barking up the wrong tree with their DRM scheme, or perhaps they should say "infringed" instead of "stolen".

go python! (3, Funny)

Mach5 (3371) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890692)

Final Score:
python: 1
semicolons: 0

release dates increase piracy? (4, Insightful)

arkhan_jg (618674) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890699)

Thus, I hope people will understand that making sure that our games are purchased instead of stolen is very important to us. Frankly, I do not agree that requiring the CD to be in the drive "does not prevent copyright infringement," even though I understand that this is almost always true for the technically adept. This is a sensitive issue, but the future of game development depends on preventing piracy, so I hope people will have patience with the basic safety measures we have used.

I wonder how not making the game available in the UK for another week affects piracy. I see that copies are already available on P2P, yet I have to wait till Nov 4th for it to go on sale here. I've pre-ordered it (so I probably will get it even later than that), but at least I'm paying for it; if I hadn't, it'd be mighty tempting to download the cracked version instead. Hell, it's mighty tempting to get the cracked version now anyway, and just read the manual of my 'proper' copy when it turns up, so I don't have to worry about the CD check.

Re:release dates increase piracy? (4, Insightful)

_xeno_ (155264) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890974)

Hell, it's mighty tempting to get the cracked version now anyway, and just read the manual of my 'proper' copy when it turns up, so I don't have to worry about the CD check.

And why not? Which is more valuable, the version that costs $50 (or whatever) and requires a CD to be in the computer, or the version that costs a 6 hour download (or whatever) and has no CD requirements?

Seriously, I'm fed up with the CD requirement. I'm not the freaking enemy, I'm a paying customer. Why the hell do the pirates get a better version of the game than I do? I'm the one paying money!

Who here honestly thinks requiring the CD in the drive actually helps prevent piracy? Anyone? All it takes is one enterprising programmer to start up the game with a debugger active, and NOOP out the part where it checks for the CD. Then, suddenly, EVERYONE has access to the game! (Oh, and go ahead and try and prevent debuggers. Too bad virtual machines pretty handily defeat that. Or the enterprising coder can look for certain methods of disabling debugging, and, guess what, NOOP them out!)

I pay for my computer games. But, well, I don't play too many. Why? Because I'm fed up with requiring the CD, and then the patching required to make the CD-checking software actually work on my PC (when it was released, Black and White took FIVE MINUTES to actually decide my CD was real, some patch eventually fixed that). Not to mention I can't play the Blizzard version of WCIII any more because it thinks I'm a pirate.

Why should I bother paying for these games if the publishers are going to treat me like I'm a criminal? If I'm going to be treated like a criminal anyway, I might as well go the actual criminal route and get the version that doesn't treat me like a criminal.

The PC games I do play, I usually play through once, and then that's it. The CD goes over onto the shelf, and since the game requires the CD, I never play it any more. And because I never replay it, I don't care about it, I don't think about the publisher, and I stop caring about their sequels.

So, please game publishers, please stop treating me like I'm a criminal. I'm just a paying customer. And if you want me to continue being a paying customer, let's see some respect. I'll put up with CD keys. Those I can understand. But the CD-in-the-drive requirement? That has to go.

CDs (-1, Troll)

Dolly_Llama (267016) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890868)

What a dodge on the CD issue. There are very real issues with a copy protection scheme that depends on a fragile and unique (Insert Disk 1 of 6) artifact. Thank your for not answering the question. Bastard.

Re:CDs (3, Insightful)

goldspider (445116) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890946)

Burn a copy of the original CD and just use the burned copy when you're playing the game. That's (still) allowed under fair use.

I suspect, however, that this isn't your REAL gripe with copy protection...

Re:CDs (1)

Overt Coward (19347) | more than 8 years ago | (#13891089)

How's this for a real gripe, then? I can use Nero to make a playable image of a CD, something I do on my older titles so that they can go on my laptop computer and I don't have to lug the original CDs with me (this was very useful when I was having CD-ROM driver issues that wer elocking up the computer [since fixed]). Games with the requirement of having the original CD don't let me do that.

Re:CDs (3, Insightful)

flanman (2247) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890959)

I have an issue where I can no longer play Civ III because my game CD cracked in the center and is no longer readable.

There's no real solution to this problem except for me to buy a whole new version of the game which is a total waste.

IF you're going to demand my CD, you should give me an easy/free way to keep on playing if something happens to my original disk.

Re:CDs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13891006)

I generally just bit-copy the cd and use daemon tools to avoid "enter cd 1" issues.

Not that I've actually purchased a game in a while that has copy protection of that sort on it (I just play mmo's these days which seem to think "valid account" is good enough protection).

Of course, I'm far less inclined to even consider purchasing programs that have intrusive/annoying copy protection schemes. If I have to inconvience myself to use a program I rightfully purchased I just crack the thing. Or get a copy from Juarez.

Re:CDs (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 8 years ago | (#13891034)

Over in the Mac realm, we can usually make a virtual disk image of the original CD, and just load that before playing the game. Worked for SimCity 4 and a few other games. Apple's Disk Tool can copy a disc to the hard drive. When you double click on the copy, it mounts on the desktop as a virtual version of the original. Not sure if Windows has something like that as I've not had the need to do such a thing in Windows.

Python + XML vs Lua (0, Troll)

MyIS (834233) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890903)

It seems that the team didn't give too much thought to Lua. Which is fine, because Python is much more well-known than Lua. Still, Lua is a very nifty little language, and its integration API is much much cleaner and safer than Python's, IMO. No reference counting, all memory management is done as a black box. Plus, it's supposed to be faster for a lot of things. And, finally, it can be used for both script code and directly storing raw data.

the future of game development (5, Insightful)

Medievalist (16032) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890914)

...the future of game development depends on preventing piracy...

If that's true, you'd better come up with some new ideas, because the way you are thinking now guarantees that games development has no future.

For family Multiplay (1)

FirstNoel (113932) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890934)

How about 1 copy of the game can run on 4-6 PCs on a LAN? I'd hate to have to buy 3 or 4 copies of the software just to have a family game.

Hotseat would work, but if you have the extra PCs, why go that route?

Sean D.

Re:For family Multiplay (1)

zoomba (227393) | more than 8 years ago | (#13891039)

1 copy per active machine/player. Pretty common outside of Blizzard games really. You're really paying a per-seat license like on an Operating System or any other piece of software.

preorder came yesterday, wow real docs! (3, Insightful)

asv108 (141455) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890973)

I picked up my pre-order of Civ 4 yesterday and had just enough time to whip through the tutorial game to see what is new. Overall, there seems to be a lot of improvements both in graphics, gameplay, and strategy. Its hard to give a real detailed review, only playing it for 2 hours, but its just as additive as civ III if not more.

The real refreshing thing about this game, is that it actually includes real documentation. Its amazing how many games, especially console games, have absolutely hideous docs. The late 80's/early 90's PC games usually came with heavy duty docs.

Docs photo (3, Informative)

asv108 (141455) | more than 8 years ago | (#13891003)

Here is a quick snap [flickr.com] of the documentation included in the special edition.

Colonization 2? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13890984)

It's a shame there isn't a Colonization 2 in the works. Granted some of the political issues may be in the matter, but that doesn't stop us from playing bad guys in other games.

For those who have not played it, it looked like Civilization without science advances and with resource management.

It also plays fine in DOSbox .63.

Lesser of two evils? (3, Insightful)

JoeShmoe (90109) | more than 8 years ago | (#13890996)

I hate to admit it, but I would probably be willing to accept some kind of DRM that was tied to my hardware in exchange for doing away with CD checks. The main reason is that I'm a laptop user and I quite frankly need the extra slot for a battery. Yes, I can just swap the CD drive in and out, but I generally don't carry it with me and then if I get the urge to play a game, I'm screwed. Well not really but I'm certainly not doing things the "white-hat" way.

I don't see why every media company...traditionally the most anti-computer bunch on the planet...can grudingly let go of their precious content when it's wrapped in DRM protections like Apple's FairPlay and Window's DRM...but computer game companies still dragging their feet. What if the game used FairPlay? You could install it on as many computers as you want and have two registered (I'd like five but I'm sure the bean counters would have a fit) If you wanted to play on a different computer, you would have to unregister one of your existing computers. That way I could install a game like Civ on my computer and my laptop, and those copies would only work on those devices. No crappy CD hassle, but no single authentication that can be passed around the office.

I know I'm advocating the spread of evil, but in this case, it's the lesser. It seems clear that after more than a decade, CD checks are not going way. Regardless of how painfully easy they are to bypass. I'm not even talking "techie" type easy. I'm talkind download CloneCD or install Daemon Tools type easy. I know nine-year-olds that know how to copy a game CD for their friends for crying out loud. That's not even counting the people who actually crack and release No-CD checks (which break needed game updates).

I applaud the Civ team giving an honest answer. They could have totally blown that question off. But I will bet a million imaginary dollars that there's not a single developer at the company that was swapping out CDs every time he compiled or tested the program. It's not about having patience. It's about someone telling that the emperor has no clothes so he can finally get a clue and go cover up his saggy pock-marked ass because we are tired of looking at it.

-JoeShmoe
.
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