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Ask The Civ IV Dev Team 384

On Monday, we asked you for questions for industry legend Sid Meier. Today, we're asking for question to put to the folks behind the technology of Civilization IV. Besides the actual coding and development that went into the game itself, the team has made Civilization IV infinitely moddable through technologies such as XML, Python, and a fully developed SDK. Led by lead designer Soren Johnson, the team will answer your questions about the creation of the fourth chapter in one of the most influential game series out there. So, fire away with your questions. One per comment, please, and keep them topical. We'll pass the ten best questions to Johnson and the team, and the answers will be posted as soon as we have them in our hands.
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Ask The Civ IV Dev Team

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  • by magpi3 ( 913546 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @01:18PM (#13668232)
    behold []
  • by T.Hobbes ( 101603 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @02:08PM (#13668654)
    And Civ I still runs on through classic! Try [] for a copy.
  • Re:Mac Version (Score:5, Informative)

    by Brad Oliver ( 604118 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @02:10PM (#13668669)
    The Mac version of Civ3 left so much to be desired (in terms of AI) in comparison to the Windows version that I finally just stopped playing it.

    Disclaimer: I'm the programmer who worked on the Mac port of Civ3.

    The AI code in the Mac and PC versions is identical. I've never heard of any AI variances between the 2, and no differences have been pointed out by the Mac fans over at the CivFanatics forums (some of them are cross-platform users). Can you provide a saved game that demonstrates a genuine difference?

  • yup. (Score:4, Informative)

    by mckwant ( 65143 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @02:55PM (#13669068)
    From the mouth of the man himself: []

    Second question down.

  • Re:The Civ4 AI (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jaysyn ( 203771 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @03:34PM (#13669380) Homepage Journal
    While the AI is great, GalCiv still cheats at high difficulty levels. The AI opponents get extra production bonuses over what their government would normally give them.


  • Re:The Civ4 AI (Score:5, Informative)

    by Keebler71 ( 520908 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @03:43PM (#13669433) Journal
    Civ 3 is significantly more difficult than Civ 2. In my opinion, the game is much more balanced so previous strategies of focusing on just one thing (war machine, science, etc) simply do not work. These [] resources are invaluable.

    I usually play on Emperor level and probably win 1/10 games although most of the games I know within 10-20 turns if I have any shot at all. Some suggestions:

    • Sadly, you need a good start. You simply must start at a good location - preferrably with flood plains or bonus food nearby.
    • Expansion. A good fast-growing start allows you to expand quickly (although never as fast as the AI). Once all the land is "claimed" the only way you can expect your boundaries to shift is through miltary or cultural superiority. You need to maximize your area so that...
    • Control of resources. Resources. Resources. Resources. They keep your people happy, let you build (or deny the opponents) cool things. Most importantly they are critical for diplomacy
    • Keep your opponents happy with you so that their superior militaries don't steamroll you. This is achived through continuous trades of resources and techs. When you do trade a tech, always trade it to EVERYONE the same turn or else the computer will simply turn around and sell it to those you missed. Always trade dead-end techs but never trade techs that lead to important wonders or units (unless you are very near completion of the wonder).
    • Avoid alliances as they will drag you into wars. On the other hand, there is nothing like having the AI waste resources fighting itself while you stay neutral and progress in peace. There are ways to encourage the AI to fight. For instance, if you acquire an enemy city that is not very useful to you, offer it in a trade to an opponent of the original owner. They will often start a war to reclaim their city. Oh, and when they do fight, always try to help the underdog. You want this fight to drag out as long as possible. Have settlers ready to move in to the unclaimed territory immediately as one civilization sweeps across another leaving "unclaimed" territory.
    • Emphasize cultural production. The first things built in every city should be a temple and library. In my opinion, if you planned your cities very well, then they will grow so fast that they will hit a population limit rather fast in which case the granary isn't doing anything for you. (The exception is slow growing cities) Culture on the other hand is cumulative so it is imperative you build them as early as possible. Having superior culture may be the only way to expand your borders in the mid-game where you likely will still have an insufficient military.
    • Prebuild. When a new tech looms on the horizon, start building a dummy improvement early so you can switch to the new wonder/improvement as soon as it is available.
    • Use workers to pump up cities. When you run out of expansion room, you may still have some cities that are at max capacity but still have excess food. Use them to make workers which you then assimilate into your smaller cities to make them grow faster.
    • Don't try to build every wonder or acquire every tech first. Be tactical. Make a break for philosophy first. If you get it first, you get a free tech. Use it to get to Republic first and change your government. Culture, growth and production will explode! Try to build the Great Library which will keep you on par with your peers in science through the early mid-game while you investigate paths they are ignoring. Make sure you get railroads and are ready with dozens of waiting workers to start building immediately. Switch to democracy at first opportunity and hold off on communism/fascism untill the end game when corruption is out of control.
    • Save and re-try. I know it is cheesy but the best way to learn from your mistakes is to play though several different possibilites and find what works best for you.
    You will always lag behind the AI's technology in the beginning, but by the mid-game you should be pretty even and in good shape for a late game explosion.
  • Re:The Civ4 AI (Score:2, Informative)

    by YomikoReadman ( 678084 ) <jasonathelen@gma ... m minus language> on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @05:07PM (#13670305) Journal
    Yea, that was another of the major issues, but one that was in effect across all difficulties. That would happen at the easiest as well as hardest.
  • by The One and Only ( 691315 ) <[ten.hclewlihp] [ta] [lihp]> on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @06:22PM (#13671070) Homepage
    You're talking about Spore [], currently in development by Maxis. Develop life from the cellular stage up through biological evolution to a sentient race, where there's a tribal stage, a city stage, a civilization stage, and then a galactic stage.
  • Re:The Civ4 AI (Score:5, Informative)

    by cdsr ( 791348 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @07:12PM (#13671530)
    Let me add a few (not in response to GP, as a disclaimer: I can beat Diety pretty frequently).

    - On low difficulties build order should be 1. warrior, 2. settler

    - On high difficulties build order should be 1. warrior, 2. granary (if you don't have pottery research it first, build a dummy improvement then switch), 3. settler, 4. settler, etc. Keep pumping settlers from here until you run out of room. If your starting city doesn't have access to cattle/wheat then find a city that does and make that your settler pump. More than one settler pump is good if the map is big. You will soon find that you've caught up to enemy civs in terms of number of cities.

    - Those settler pumps should mix in workers as well along with cities that hit their population limits (i.e. they are wasting food) ... connect those cities! and get all resources and luxuries ASAP.

    - Resources are worth going to war for. Some more than others but Rubber is king, see below.

    - If you don't have the resources to build tanks/mech inf/modern armour you can still go on the offensive against those that do (hopefully to obtain the resources you need). Build enough artillery to be able to do the following in a single turn: 1. reduce a city to population one, 2. destroy all improvements, 3. bring all units down to one hit point. Then use one or two armies (the unit, made from leaders gained in combat) of cavalry to take out the last hit point. Use infantry for defense.

    - Artillery, if used correctly, is devastating.

    - Create a bigger industrial core by arranging your cities in a ring around your capital, the game calculates corruption partly by the number of cities in between the target city and your capital. Use the Forbidden Palace to extend this ring and create a large industrial core. Cities very far from your capital but close to a FP aren't that great anyway. The overlap turns those mediocre cities near your capital into powerhouses.

    - Building cities with two spaces in between (CxxCxxC) is useful for two reasons: 1. slow units can jump from city to city in a single turn using roads, 2. extra culture isn't required to connect city boundaries. But there will be some overlap in tiles so the cities won't be as big.

    - At high difficulties there often isn't time for both a temple and library. Build libraries for the science bonus. Temples are only good if you're a religious civ.

    - Specialists can turn large but completely corrupt cities into industrial powerhouses. When available, turn the excess entertainers into civil engineers. Each CE can give two shields per turn towards a city improvement. Use these for culture and science. Other large cities with excess entertainers can use CE/police/scientists as well. I jumped a complete difficutly setting when I started using specialists properly, they give huge bonuses.

Happiness is twin floppies.