Posted by: maroonmaurader | September 21, 2009

Galactic Civilizations 2

Tom Francis over at PC Gamer played through a game of Galactic Civilizations 2 (GalCiv2 for those “in the know” apparently) which was simultaneously amusing and impressive – his play amusing, the game’s performance impressive. I’d never even seen the game before reading the review, but that wasn’t a problem.

He’s documented his ordeal fairly well, and it might be worth reading through. It’s actually a fairly hilarious write-up, but what struck me most on reflection was the level of cunning the AI displayed (which he belatedly grasps after the game is over, and adds as a post-mortem). There’s also the intelligence of the game engine itself – one of the new features in the expansion he’s reviewing are mega-events which drastically change the shape of the galaxy. That much has been tried before, often to poor effect. Stardock tried to improve it however – they say the game actually takes a look at the current balance of power, play dynamics, etc. and tries to intelligently pick events which will add variety and make the game more interesting. It certainly looks like it succeeded in this case. I’m unsure whether the AI just got phenomenally lucky enough to look genius this game, or is actually that good. There’s also the amusing fact that they’ve programmed their AIs to be just as much of dicks as your typical human player is when losing – before an AI resigns, they tend to gift most of their civilization to other players with whom they have friendly relations.

Another point of interest relating to GalCiv2 came up when I went investigating that to try and find out – they’ve kept on updating the AI, significantly, with patches. They look at how humans play and what they do to succeed, then program the AI to be able to duplicate and/or counter it. One wonders what some of the RTS greats would have now if Blizzard and/or Ensemble had shown similar dedication to customer support.


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