Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
PC Games (Games)

Answers From The Civ IV Team 439

Posted by Zonk
from the watch-out-for-the-visigoths dept.
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.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Answers From The Civ IV Team

Comments Filter:
  • Nice... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Otter (3800) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:45PM (#13890427) Journal
    Good questions, good moderation, good answers. Nice work, all around.
  • Thank God... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by stonedog1104 (141492) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:47PM (#13890452) Homepage
    ...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!
  • by Penguinoflight (517245) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:50PM (#13890475) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • by Spades_ (175131) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:57PM (#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:No CD fix (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Surt (22457) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:59PM (#13890558) Homepage Journal
    ... or rather than the shelf, you could give your cd and the patch to a friend and then ... oh.
  • by Vaevictis666 (680137) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @02:10PM (#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.

  • by CyricZ (887944) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @02:10PM (#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.

  • by Zathrus (232140) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @02:15PM (#13890668) Homepage
    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.
  • by imsabbel (611519) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @02:16PM (#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)
  • by arkhan_jg (618674) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @02:19PM (#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.
  • by Seumas (6865) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @02:23PM (#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.
  • Re:No CD fix (Score:5, Insightful)

    by neosake (655724) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @02:32PM (#13890827) Homepage
    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 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by enjo13 (444114) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @02:37PM (#13890900) Homepage
    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:No CD fix (Score:4, Insightful)

    by radish (98371) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @02:38PM (#13890912) Homepage
    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.
  • by Medievalist (16032) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @02:38PM (#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.

  • Re:CDs (Score:4, Insightful)

    by goldspider (445116) <ardrake79@@@gmail...com> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @02:41PM (#13890946) Homepage
    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 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by flanman (2247) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @02:43PM (#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.
  • by asv108 (141455) <(gro.oiduatahp) (ta) (xela)> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @02:44PM (#13890973) Homepage Journal
    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.

  • by _xeno_ (155264) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @02:44PM (#13890974) Homepage Journal
    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.

  • by JoeShmoe (90109) <askjoeshmoe@hotmail.com> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @02:47PM (#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
    .
  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @02:53PM (#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.
  • by Rycross (836649) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @02:56PM (#13891087)
    You know, theres plenty of games being made without profit motives right now. The vast majority of them are horrible.
  • by dovetail3 (884917) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @03:24PM (#13891388)
    Soren wrote: 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.

    Penguino, you are able to get around it.

    Wearing out a cd drive a little is hardly spitting in someones face.

    It sounds like you're waiting to buy a used copy, how many copies of that cd key do you think could be sold, if it's just the key/license number being mailed around? Keys do help keep honest people honest. It's very easy to try a game at friends house, and then not uninstall it immediately, and such a shame not to play until <whatever>...

  • by lpangelrob (714473) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @04:13PM (#13891847)
    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.

    Chris Sawyer? You out there? [wikipedia.org] People like it when they're trusted with changing the numbers to mod the games. Amazingly, an even stronger community develops when you try not to hide the code. More people talk about it, more people purchase your game, and heck, sometimes even the developers are surprised. Unless the ego is too high for that.

    I know this sounds rantish, especially since it's his code. But a lot of potential creativity with the game engine from the first RollerCoaster Tycoon was stifled for a long time because they were trying to undo run-time RLEs and other instant-crash modifications. Somehow, I can't imagine that putting them in there benefitted him at all.

  • by demachina (71715) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @04:16PM (#13891877)
    You must have an addictive personality because Civ III was crap :) In particular the technology trees are awful.

    I'll take Alpha Centauri any day. Unfortunately the people that are still at Firaxis didn't develop Alpha Centauri so they have a not invented here syndrome so they don't try to develop new versions of the undisputed best game of the civ genre and probably couldn't top it if they tried since the talented people who developed Alpha Centauri left Firaxis.
  • by LainTouko (926420) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @04:20PM (#13891911)
    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.

    You know, I can't help but wonder if the current problems with copy-prevention* software actually stem from the idea that copyright infringement is stealing, which the RIAA have been creating, (for entirely different reasons of course, they need to make sure middlemen still exist). Understanding that copyright infringement and stealing are very different things is very similar to understanding that the problem isn't how to stop "piracy", but how to encourage purchasing. And once you understand that, not just intellectually but naturally as well, then it becomes increasingly obvious that pissing off your customers more and more isn't the cleverest way to go about it.

    *"Copy-protection" is of course another example of inaccurate terminology designed to make people think about something in a distorted way that can be found within this field, going all the way back to the time a concept was named "copyright" rather than "copyrestriction".

  • 3) (Score:4, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <(dadinportland) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @04:20PM (#13891913) Homepage Journal
    3) Voice your complaint so the company gets an idea of what their market base wants. Just not buying doesn't say why you don't buy the product.

    4) Buy it, and crack it.

    I perfer a combination 3 and 4.
  • by Buran (150348) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @04:21PM (#13891923)
    What I don't understand is why they don't just get around the aggravation with the CD check by having the CD/DVD actually store stuff on it that is read while the game runs? If the disk has to be in the drive when I start an app, the app had damn well better utilize the disk to free up space on my drive (I know, big drives are cheap these days; it's the principle of it).

    I do not pirate games, but if one wants that disk but doesn't make use of it, I WILL use a hack to disable the check. You want that disk in my drive at startup? Earn it, by making a real reason for it to be there, or out come the cracks. You got my money already; I'm going to shove the disk in its case in my disk rack so I can find it later and just run the damn app without having to root through disk storage every time I want to run it.

    If I didn't, I'd have to juggle disks in and out of the drive a dozen times a day just to do what I usually do.

    The fact that developers continue to think users should have to put up with such ridiculous crap is astounding. Just imagine the mess if EVERY SINGLE PROGRAM on our machines demanded a disk in the drive whenever it started up. You'd be paying people for an hour every day just to play freaking Optical CD Musical Chairs.

    You should be ashamed of yourselves.
  • Soren Johnson: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <(dadinportland) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @04:41PM (#13892102) Homepage Journal
    "...
    This is a sensitive issue, but the future of game development depends on preventing piracy, ..."

    This is false. If getting sales depend on your cds being uncrackable, the gaming industry would have collapsed by now.

    Anone with even the slightest technical skill, or just curiosity, can get a crack to any game.
    It also assumes people who can do that, won't buy a game. I can do this, and I will download a crack so I can play a game I have purchased without needlesly wearing md cd, and have to listen to it spin up and down.

    "...so I hope people will have patience with the basic safety measures we have used."

    No.

    nice of you to relate useless CD protection with safety. I'm sure without it we would have many more CD game playing related injuries.

  • by mattis_f (517228) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @05:07PM (#13892362)
    If it lasts until the end of the world, the command sequence will for all practical purposes be infinite. So what I'm saying is ... if there are 1000 rounds in a civ game, then make the command list 1001 commands and it'll practically be infinite. Of course, I'm assuming you were actually asking, and not just being a general smart aleck. ;-) Cheers.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 27, 2005 @05:16PM (#13892429)
    The problem is, the game publishers study this on a yearly basis.
    Comparable games from comparable publishers from comparable design houses sell more units with cd copy protection on them.


    Please provide references. Surely these aren't secret studies, are they?
  • Re:No CD fix (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dogmatixpsych (786818) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @05:24PM (#13892509) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, it's kind-of funny that the company who made Pirates! is so worried about piracy. Go figure.
  • by Kalzus (86795) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @06:40PM (#13893060)
    As it stands, I'm upset that I own a game that is likely to become unplayable forever unless the publisher has the forsight to prepare a patch that utterly removes the Steam requirement. I'm not paying Valve another dime.
  • Re:How so? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Peter La Casse (3992) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @08:25PM (#13893687) Homepage
    The attitude that guarantees their failure is the attitude that says that piracy must be prevented in order to avoid failure. I believe your parent poster's point is that piracy cannot be prevented, so failure (by that definition) cannot be avoided.

    As usual, absolute statements are seldom true. A more reasonable statement would have been for the Civ 4 team to say that piracy on a scale large enough to prevent game sales from being profitable must be prevented in order to avoid the failure of the current profit model.

  • by Mac Degger (576336) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @08:46PM (#13893804) Journal
    I have never seen such a study (and I've looked). I've never heard of such a study, although I had imagined they must be done (and probably overwhelmingly by companies who produce copyprotection).

    "Comparable games from comparable publishers from comparable design houses sell more units with cd copy protection on them."

    Except that in all likelyhood their game wasn't comparable...it was probably just plain better. And since AAA games need a publisher, and publishers ALWAYS require copyprotection, I'm pretty sure that such a comparison CAN NOT be made.

    And fans of a game will always buy the game, and then download the pirated version for ease of use. Untill the beancounters realise that they're spending an awfull lot of money on something which doesn't raise their profit margins, we're stuck with copyprotection which makes the games we buy mroe expensive.

Often statistics are used as a drunken man uses lampposts -- for support rather than illumination.

Working...