Empire Enhanced, the AI

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I wrote a review of this game a couple of weeks ago. Not to beat a
dead horse but here is some more info. This is a direct quote from
Mark Kinkead, the developer, from his web site forum.


"I have no plans to rework the AI player or write another at this
moment. I have too much else that requires my attention. There is
nothing "simple" about writing an AI. It would take a minimum of three
full time months to make a new AI, and there is no guarantee it be be
as effective as the one I already wrote.

New AI's, if any are to come out, need to come from you guys.
Everything needed to make a stronger AI is there, if you have the
skill. If you don't have the skill, then you must wait till someone
that does gets inspired."


This is the first time in 24 years I've seen a game published with an
AI that is so bad it is virtually unplayable, where the developer
acknowledges problems, and where he expects his customers to solve them
for him. We can only hope this is not a trend for the future of
computer gaming.
 
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Rich12... is entitled to his opinion, an opinion that he wishes to
broadcast to the
world--over and over again.

I am enjoying playing the game immensely.

I didn't find the AIs in the earlier versions of Empire all that
spectacular.
 
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Very interesting. There are games with a poor ai but not a single one
comes to mind where the developer does not include a playable ai but
expects his customers to do the hard programming necessary to make one.
Just out of curiosity, since this is so common, would you mind
refreshing my memory with a few names?

And how is it a sensible stance to issue a game without a playable ai?


By all means get the game. It comes with an ai script and a dll code
that is open. There are no instructions and Kinkead said it will take
a programmer to work with the dll code.

If you're planning on developing the ai I wish you luck. Kinkead said
it would take HIM a minimum of three full time months so plan on
spending some time with it. But I sincerely wish you success in your
endeavor and please send me a copy of the finished product. I'd love
to play this game since it is otherwise very nice, but the ai is so bad
it's now pretty much a waste of time.
 
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JHawk, I'm glad you're enjoying the game.

Several others on the Killer Bee forum brought up the same ai problems
that I did. Even Kinkaid admitted to the problems, he just refuses to
fix them.

So there are ai problems that are so serious that the game is virtually
unplayable against the computer. Yet you admit you enjoy it immensely.
Hmmmmmm.
 
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The developer has not said that his AI is "unplayable." That is your
interpretation.

The developer is being honest when he says that it is extremely
difficult to come up
with an AI that would severely challenge a human player.

Of course some developers allow their AIs to cheat. And that is
something universally scorned.
 
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JHawk, you're right about one thing. The AIs in earlier versions
weren't all that spectacular. BUT they were adequate and provided a
fun game. The AI in EDEE is so bad it is virtually unplayable against
the computer yet you're enjoying the game immensely. So one of two
things is happening. Either you're only playing against humans or
you're somehow getting enjoyment from a brain dead AI.
 
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Gandalf, you're not sure where my gripe is?
Your first sentence in the quote tells it. It says EDEE has a
stronger, programmable AI. Programmable? Yes. Stronger? Absolutely
not. It has enough serious flaws that it is so weak it is virtually
unplayable. My gripe is that an Empire game, which typically comes
with a decent AI and offers a fun game, came with neither. And my
further gripe is when I brought this up on the Killer Bee forum I got
banned for having a "poor attitude." Kinkead apparantly doesn't want
anyone on the forum telling the truth about the AI and scaring away
potential customers.

Now, Mr Parker, you never answered the questions that I posed in my
first reply to you. That has the unfortunate effect of making you look
like a politician evading a reporter. All you did was come back and
praise Kinkead again. I'm beginning to think you have an ulterior
motive here. Is he a friend of yours? Did he ask you to post?
Inquiring minds want to know.
 
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rich12545@yahoo.com wrote in news:1110220474.046697.308230
@f14g2000cwb.googlegroups.com:

> This is the first time in 24 years I've seen a game published with an
> AI that is so bad it is virtually unplayable, where the developer
> acknowledges problems, and where he expects his customers to solve them
> for him. We can only hope this is not a trend for the future of
> computer gaming.

Thats not at all rare. In fact its common. I would even go on to say that
its a very sensible stance. Not the "ulplayable" part but the rest of it.
Whats rare is that a developer was willing to say it so clearly. Kudos to
him as far as Im concerned.

But it leads me to consider snagging the game to see if he has provided the
access needed for 3rd party AIs. Some games have and I have enjoyed them
immensely because of it

Gandalf Parker
 
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On 7 Mar 2005 10:34:34 -0800, rich12545@yahoo.com wrote:

>This is the first time in 24 years I've seen a game published with an
>AI that is so bad it is virtually unplayable, where the developer
>acknowledges problems, and where he expects his customers to solve them
>for him. We can only hope this is not a trend for the future of
>computer gaming.

I've seen a major publisher release a game with a bug so bad the
game was virtually useless (saving the game reset the difficulty level
to the easiest one, so it was either a pushover or you played a couple
dozen hours in a single sitting to finish the game), they acknowledged
the problem, delcined to issue a very simple patch to fix it, and it
was indeed a customer who eventually solved the problem. This was
back in 1996-7ish, I never again bought a game with the Microprose
label.

--
"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability
of the human mind to correlate all its contents." - H.P. Lovecraft
 
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Johnny Bravo wrote:
<snip>
> I've seen a major publisher release a game with a bug so bad the
> game was virtually useless (saving the game reset the difficulty
level
> to the easiest one, so it was either a pushover or you played a
couple
> dozen hours in a single sitting to finish the game), they
acknowledged
> the problem, delcined to issue a very simple patch to fix it, and it
> was indeed a customer who eventually solved the problem. This was
> back in 1996-7ish, I never again bought a game with the Microprose
> label

And they are now out of business, and games in that genre are no
longer being made. Happy now?
 
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On Mon, 07 Mar 2005 20:55:21 GMT, Johnny Bravo
<baawa_knight@yahoo.com> wrote:

>On 7 Mar 2005 10:34:34 -0800, rich12545@yahoo.com wrote:
>
>>This is the first time in 24 years I've seen a game published with an
>>AI that is so bad it is virtually unplayable, where the developer
>>acknowledges problems, and where he expects his customers to solve them
>>for him. We can only hope this is not a trend for the future of
>>computer gaming.
>
> I've seen a major publisher release a game with a bug so bad the
>game was virtually useless (saving the game reset the difficulty level
>to the easiest one, so it was either a pushover or you played a couple
>dozen hours in a single sitting to finish the game), they acknowledged
>the problem, delcined to issue a very simple patch to fix it, and it
>was indeed a customer who eventually solved the problem. This was
>back in 1996-7ish, I never again bought a game with the Microprose
>label.

And still, we play X-com 10 years after it was released...

(it is the only game that incorporated experience I ever played where
you could get your team creamed and still be competitive by making up
another one. For all the other games I played, you had to reload and
try again since things got nearly impossible if didn't keep at least
part of your starting crew)
 
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rich12545@yahoo.com wrote in news:1110229121.455775.304790
@g14g2000cwa.googlegroups.com:

> I'd love
> to play this game since it is otherwise very nice, but the ai is so bad
> it's now pretty much a waste of time.

Personally I prefer solo play so I went to see if this game was being
marketed as a solo or a multiplayer game. Alot of multiplayer games have
AIs that are barely adequate as a tutorial but not as an opponent.

What I found was a pretty obvious statement.

> Empire Deluxe Enhanced Edition has Larger Maps, More Players, and a
> Stronger, Programmable AI
> -----------------------------------------------------------------
> Empire Deluxe Enhanced Edition also allows for larger maps and more
> opponents than previously allowed in the Empire Series. Other Human
> opponents may participate in a game via Email games or with live play
> over a network or the Internet.
>
> The computer opponents will evolve in Empire Deluxe Enhanced Edition
> as well. Players will have the opportunity to edit scripts for some
> computer opponents, enabling the AI's behavior and rules of engagement
> to be changed. Beyond this, AI gurus with technical programming skill
> can write their own AI players interfacing with a C++ AI interface.

Im not sure where your gripe is. Looks like he provided what he says. I
commend him for it. He did his part and opened the door for others to
tackle what he didnt want to spend time on. I wish more games would do
it. The games that did have eventually excelled in the areas left open
for player expansion

Gandalf Parker
 
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Gandalf, let me try to clarify a few things for you.

First, the AI in EDEE is way worse than in any previous Empire or
Empire Deluxe game. On the forum I stated several times that if
Kinkead were to make the AI the same as his previous Empire Deluxe then
I would be happy. He refuses to even look at the AI and is leaving it
up to his customers. This is a novel concept. You said it was common
and I'm still waiting for you to come up with a few examples.

Second, on the forum I had a pleasant, constructive attitude. What
Kinkead didn't like was someone bringing up the lousy ai all the time.
So he literally concocted this "poor attitude" thing so he would have
an excuse to ban me.

Third, those games you mentioned got 3rd party modules to enhance the
game. That's totally different from an AI that is a necessary
component to play the game at all. You're talking about apples and
oranges.

And I'm not quibbling. I've stated repeatedly I'm only looking for a
decent AI that allows the game to be playable. Period. You're totally
missing the whole point (on purpose?). The game, as published, is
virtually unplayable solo. Kinkead expects his customers to do his job
and come up with a decent ai. This is a first in computer gaming
history. It is totally irresponsible and should be condemned by every
right thinking gamer.
 
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rich12545@yahoo.com wrote in news:1110248471.612814.199370
@o13g2000cwo.googlegroups.com:

> Gandalf, you're not sure where my gripe is?
> Your first sentence in the quote tells it. It says EDEE has a
> stronger, programmable AI. Programmable? Yes. Stronger? Absolutely
> not.

Hmmm as a programmer his idea of a stronger AI might be different from
yours. Stronger code does not generally mean the same thing as "smarter"
code. Especially when it comes to the difference between artificial
intelligence (which is fairly easy to do in a game) and artificially
human (which is much more difficult).

> My gripe is that an Empire game, which typically comes
> with a decent AI and offers a fun game, came with neither.

This Empire has a worse AI than the previous version of it? You havent
made me want to buy it and find out but I remember that previous Empires
did have an AI.

> And my
> further gripe is when I brought this up on the Killer Bee forum I got
> banned for having a "poor attitude." Kinkead apparantly doesn't want
> anyone on the forum telling the truth about the AI and scaring away
> potential customers.

Heehee. BOY does that sound familiar. Gee he didnt like you coming into
his house with an in-your-face attitude. Lets scan back and see how many
of THOSE threads we have seen here.

> Now, Mr Parker, you never answered the questions that I posed in my
> first reply to you.

Will I do an AI for it? C++ and a dll in a windows environment? Probably
not. I will agree with the 3 months thing. It took at least that long for
the 3rd party modules to show up boosting the AI in Stars, Neverwinter
Nights, Space Empires IV, GalCiv (slightly different since the original
programmer incorporated player AI recordings), and most game bots Ive
ever seen.

> That has the unfortunate effect of making you look
> like a politician evading a reporter.

Yeah ok. Ive heard it called everything from diplomatic to riding the
fence but I guess "politician" works.

> All you did was come back and
> praise Kinkead again. I'm beginning to think you have an ulterior
> motive here. Is he a friend of yours? Did he ask you to post?
> Inquiring minds want to know.

No I dont think I know the guy personally. But Ive always been a
supporter in the game.development groups that programmers might want to
come off their pedestals abit and realize that they might be able to do
it all. So if its short on graphics, then make them a recognizeable
format and accessable to the uses. Same with sound files. Or AI. Games
which have done that have grown to 100 times the original game level.

Done slightly its called a "3rd party interface". Done more its called
"moddable". And done to the extreme its called a "game engine". Im real
sorry that you didnt get what you wanted but it looks like its down to
quibbling over what you want vs what he said it was.

Gandalf Parker
-- Usenet Irregular Verb Conjugation:
I have opinions. You have biases. He/She has prejudices.
I am a skeptic. You are a paranoid. He/she is an insane fanatic.
I have facts. You have misjudgements. He/she has propoganda.
 
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On Mon, 07 Mar 2005 22:12:07 +0100, S. Delerme <delerme@free.fr>
wrote:

>On Mon, 07 Mar 2005 20:55:21 GMT, Johnny Bravo
><baawa_knight@yahoo.com> wrote:
>
>>On 7 Mar 2005 10:34:34 -0800, rich12545@yahoo.com wrote:
>>
>>>This is the first time in 24 years I've seen a game published with an
>>>AI that is so bad it is virtually unplayable, where the developer
>>>acknowledges problems, and where he expects his customers to solve them
>>>for him. We can only hope this is not a trend for the future of
>>>computer gaming.
>>
>> I've seen a major publisher release a game with a bug so bad the
>>game was virtually useless (saving the game reset the difficulty level
>>to the easiest one, so it was either a pushover or you played a couple
>>dozen hours in a single sitting to finish the game), they acknowledged
>>the problem, delcined to issue a very simple patch to fix it, and it
>>was indeed a customer who eventually solved the problem. This was
>>back in 1996-7ish, I never again bought a game with the Microprose
>>label.
>
>And still, we play X-com 10 years after it was released...

That's because Scott Jones stepped up and saved it. If it was never
fixed it would quickly have been forgotten as the pushover that it was
shipped as.

>(it is the only game that incorporated experience I ever played where
>you could get your team creamed and still be competitive by making up
>another one. For all the other games I played, you had to reload and
>try again since things got nearly impossible if didn't keep at least
>part of your starting crew)

That is because the gear is far more important than your statistics,
a guy in a powered armor suit is pretty much the same as all your
other guys in powered armored suits, rookie or experienced. The
aliens do so much damage in the late game that even having awesome
stats doesn't really change the average lifespan all that much.

--
"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability
of the human mind to correlate all its contents." - H.P. Lovecraft
 
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That's odd. My newsreader doesn't show this post by JHawk.
Of course the developer won't say his AI is "unplayable." But he does
say it has real problems and he won't fix them. He expects his
customers to fix them for him and he said that also.

As shadows says, Gal Civ has a good ai as do a lot of games. Too bad
EDEE isn't one of them. I played two complete games and the flaws that
I, and several others on the forum, discovered literally make the game
unplayable solo.
 

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May 2, 2003
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On 2005-03-07, JHawk <brycej@truman.edu> wrote:
> The developer has not said that his AI is "unplayable." That is your
> interpretation.
>
> The developer is being honest when he says that it is extremely
> difficult to come up
> with an AI that would severely challenge a human player.
>
> Of course some developers allow their AIs to cheat. And that is
> something universally scorned.

Galactic Civilizations doesn't have this problem. The AI does not
cheat and it kicks butt.
 
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Gandalf, I played Neverwinter Nights not long after it came out. I
went through the campaign and enjoyed it a lot. And I saw nothing
wrong with the ai.

You mention Stars with no ai. Well some games are multi only but they
say so. EDEE is not like that at all.

I also played Space Empires 4. The ai was decent but not real strong
and players came up with mods to make it stronger. But imo the ai out
of the box was ok.

I never played Dominions but you mentioned patches. That indicates the
game was made better by the developers and not the customers.

And here's the kicker. I played Empire Deluxe Internet Editon. This
is Kinkead's previous Empire game and I have absolutely no complaints
about the ai. It's not the smartest dog on the lot but it's fine and
I've enjoyed many many hours playing.

I still maintain that so far as I can tell there hasn't been a game
developed with an unplayable ai where the developer has made it
mandatory for the customers to develop one in order to play. What
Kinkead is doing is a first in the industry.
 
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Gandalf, I played Neverwinter Nights not long after it came out. I
went through the campaign and enjoyed it a lot. And I saw nothing
wrong with the ai.

You mention Stars with no ai. Well some games are multi only but they
say so. EDEE is not like that at all.

I also played Space Empires 4. The ai was decent but not real strong
and players came up with mods to make it stronger. But imo the ai out
of the box was ok.

I never played Dominions but you mentioned patches. That indicates the
game was made better by the developers and not the customers.

And here's the kicker. I played Empire Deluxe Internet Editon. This
is Kinkead's previous Empire game and I have absolutely no complaints
about the ai. It's not the smartest dog on the lot but it's fine and
I've enjoyed many many hours playing.

I still maintain that so far as I can tell there hasn't been a game
developed with an unplayable ai where the developer has made it
mandatory for the customers to develop one in order to play. What
Kinkead is doing is a first in the industry.
 
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In article <slrnd2rdbb.2ui.shadows@helena.whitefang.com>, shadows wrote:
> On 2005-03-07, JHawk <brycej@truman.edu> wrote:
>> The developer has not said that his AI is "unplayable." That is your
>> interpretation.
>>
>> The developer is being honest when he says that it is extremely
>> difficult to come up
>> with an AI that would severely challenge a human player.
>>
>> Of course some developers allow their AIs to cheat. And that is
>> something universally scorned.
> Galactic Civilizations doesn't have this problem. The AI does not
> cheat and it kicks butt.

Whether you consider it cheating or not, the GalCiv AI does not play the
game from the same starting position as the human player. IIRC it already
knows the position of all grade 16 stars and has communications with all
other civs. This means that no exploration AI is required.
 
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rich12545@yahoo.com wrote in news:1110308675.356632.80930
@f14g2000cwb.googlegroups.com:

> I never played Dominions but you mentioned patches. That indicates the
> game was made better by the developers and not the customers.

Actually the AI suggestions were asked for and gotten thru the forums.

As to all of the rest.. I will let others continue the thread if they want.
Im not saying it was done right but Im still not convinced that its new and
horrible.

Gandalf Parker
 
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Gandalf Parker <gandalf@most.of.my.favorite.sites> wrote:

> Hmmm as a programmer his idea of a stronger AI might be different from
> yours. Stronger code does not generally mean the same thing as "smarter"
> code. Especially when it comes to the difference between artificial
> intelligence (which is fairly easy to do in a game) and artificially
> human (which is much more difficult).
I'm not sure i follow -- can you say more about the differences between an
AI and an artificial human? I can agree one is harder than the other: AI
is merely very difficult, and AH is impossible. :)

> -- Usenet Irregular Verb Conjugation:
> I have opinions. You have biases. He/She has prejudices.
> I am a skeptic. You are a paranoid. He/she is an insane fanatic.
> I have facts. You have misjudgements. He/she has propoganda.
Hee. :) I hadn't seen a version this elaborate before.

--Dave
"No plan survives contact with the enemy." --Helmut von Moltke.
To reply, note that the University of Wisconsin is a school.
 
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You obviously have no idea what you're talking about.

Kinkead recently wrote and produced Empire Deluxe Internet Edition and
Perfect General Internet Edition and both had decent AIs. All he had
to do was make the AI in EDEE as good as his EDIE and it would have
been fine.
 
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rich12545@yahoo.com wrote:
> You obviously have no idea what you're talking about.
>
> Kinkead recently wrote and produced Empire Deluxe Internet Edition
and
> Perfect General Internet Edition and both had decent AIs. All he had
> to do was make the AI in EDEE as good as his EDIE and it would have
> been fine.

uh... maybe you should do some research before shooting your mouth off
(I know, I know - its the internet - who has the time to look into
something when you can send off a flame instead).

EDIE and PGIE were him taking the _ORIGINAL_ Empire Deluxe and Perfect
General code, and adding internet support. The reason that EDIE and
PGIE had decent AIs is because he got them along with the rest of the
original source code, and he didn't change the game mechanics enough to
confound the AI.

In EDEE he decided to either completely overhaul or rewrite from
scratch the AI - its not entirely clear from his postings. What is
entirely clear though is that he underestimated, as you have, how
difficult it is to make a decent computer opponent, particularly in a
game this complicated.

I entirely admire his decision to admit his shortcomings, expose the AI
to the community, and move on to other matters where he could make
better use of his time.
 
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Uh, maybe you should do some research. EDIE and PGIE were written for
different operating systems and as such had to be rewritten. He didn't
just take the original and add internet support. Such an assertion is
very naive. Kinkead did a very good job with both. Imo the AI for
both is somewhat better than the original.

And btw, I only flame those who deserve it.
What you said is he had no experience writing an AI. Not true at all.
Had you bothered to check you would have found he had plenty of
experience but, then, this is the internet.

You may admire his decision but he made it grudgingly when I and others
pointed out all the flaws in the ai and he simply didn't feel like
fixing it so he is making his customers do it if they want to play solo.
 

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