Civ4: soon, so very soon…

December 8th, 2005 by Potato

I’m excited about Civilization 4, it might be just the game I need to quit WoW and burn out my eyeballs once and for all. I’ve heard very little about it (I only learned they were even considering a Civ4 after it came out), except that it has multiplayer and supposedly better AI.

In anticipation, I played a game or three of Civ3 while I was recouperating from my kidney stone (speaking of which, I’m so wiped lately from my caffeine withdrawl). While Civ3 was a great game, there were some really annoying things in it, primarily with the AI.

First, and least annoying, it never seemed to have any sort of logical order for taking you through your units that were waiting for orders. You’d set up a fleet of say 5 warships, and would try to coordinate shore bombardment and landing operations, but it would take you to one ship, then whip you to the other side of the world to tell a worker which bit of pollution to clean up, then zoom to another group of warships on patrol, then back to your invasion force to move one unit, then woosh, off again to garrison a newly produced infantry unit. I found it made it hard to get battle groups to work together, since you couldn’t work with your units geographically.

Next, the enemy AI was just screwy sometimes. This is a problem with many games in the genre (MOO2 as well). You could have fair (sometimes even excellent) relations with another power, and maybe station some troops of yours in a neutral area (perhaps to defend against the known irrationalities of the AI, or perhaps on the way to fight a 3rd party). Then, your friendly power would begin a new colony, and the formerly neutral area would fall under their sphere of influence. Suddenly, you’ve invaded their territory, and they’re not going to stand for it! War! It’s particularly troublesome when it happens just after you’ve made peace with someone. You’ve got your fleets blockading their colonies while you’re actively at war. You manage to forge a peace agreement, and before you’ve had time to move back out into neutral territory, the presence of your fleet sparks an international incident. Also, and this one is particular to Civ3, it really helps to have “show enemy moves on”, otherwise it’s all too easy to miss a troop buildup. However, the AI doesn’t just plop its garrisons down in a city or a hillside fort, they run them around the map constantly, so every turn you have to watch however many dozens of enemy units are within your detection range mill about mindlessly.

Third, I could never use many of the automatic control options (e.g.: for workers) since they were so dumb. I’d usually manually improve the conditions around my cities at first, aiming for a balance of irrigation and mines so that I would get maximal production from a decent city size (for most of the game, 12). This would have to be balanced with the population size that could be kept happy (if I only had a temple and one luxury available, then I often couldn’t support a city that big until I managed to research colleseum or cathedrals). An overpopulated city has a high chance of rioting and potentially splitting away to join another empire if it can’t be kept happy. So naturally, when set loose to do its own thing, the AI-controlled workers destroyed all my mines and irrigated to get the cities to grow, causing me innumerable headaches.

I’ve been talking with Rez, and he’s got me hooked, so I’m going to get the game going here soon.

Rez: The AI has improved a lot. And some micromanagement AI has been added that I use a lot (I never liked having to tell workers what to do since I’d always forget what I had planned for them in the first place). The enemy combat AI is pretty good too. They build units to counter those that they see you using.
You can specify what you want each city to concentrate on (production, population, food, gold, etc) and it looks to me like the workers cooperate, building whatever is necessary to achieve those goals.

Potato: That’s good. I wonder if “usurping the empire” is an option, just in case I get nostalgic.

Hmm… multiplayer Civ… Anybody have Alec Campbell’s email address?

One Response to “Civ4: soon, so very soon…”

  1. Netbug Says:

    …wow? :(