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Interesting interview about the CA history, marketing decisions, failures, success, present, future

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  • dge1dge1 Moderator Arkansas, USAPosts: 16,095Registered Users, Moderators, Knights
    Moving to TW Chat.

    Very good article but it does belong there.

    Thanks.
    "The two most common things in the universe are Hydrogen and Stupidity." - Harlan Ellison
    "The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously." - Hubert H. Humphrey
    "Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” - George Carlin
  • nodulousnodulous Senior Member Posts: 877Registered Users
    Hmmm. Civil War Saga. Well there's a thing.
    Would it include Napoleons meddling in Mexico? :)

    Nice article. Thanks Icestrugle.
  • davedave1124davedave1124 Senior Member Posts: 1,525Registered Users
    I was never interested in ACW until I saw a PBS historical series and found it really interesting. Not sure it's good for the saga series, may be part of a larger Victoria TW.
  • JadawinKhanidiJadawinKhanidi Posts: 302Registered Users
    Interesting interview. But hard to believe that the guy really plays his own game as he claims. If he did, he should be a very good player, knowing the game better than anyone and all that. And in that case he would be appalled by how weak the campaign AI is, and would do something about that. He is clearly in a position to do so. So I don't believe that he plays the game.
  • CommisarCommisar Senior Member Posts: 1,056Registered Users

    Interesting interview. But hard to believe that the guy really plays his own game as he claims. If he did, he should be a very good player, knowing the game better than anyone and all that. And in that case he would be appalled by how weak the campaign AI is, and would do something about that. He is clearly in a position to do so. So I don't believe that he plays the game.

    In fairness making a good AI is something that all game companies have been working on for a very long time. It's not a simple thing to do, especially with the call to make more depth to games as well.
  • davedave1124davedave1124 Senior Member Posts: 1,525Registered Users

    Interesting interview. But hard to believe that the guy really plays his own game as he claims. If he did, he should be a very good player, knowing the game better than anyone and all that. And in that case he would be appalled by how weak the campaign AI is, and would do something about that. He is clearly in a position to do so. So I don't believe that he plays the game.

    TBF Alien Isolation has incredible AI, it's not that CA are bad at it (very good in-fact), it's simply the nature of the game that makes it difficult.
  • JadawinKhanidiJadawinKhanidi Posts: 302Registered Users
    Nah sorry, they could definitely make huge improvements if they cared even a little. There are so many low-hanging fruit with regards to AI in this game.

    It's not even at the level of 'man I wish the AI was smarter'. It's at the level of 'how is this so broken when games could already do this basic thing better 15 years ago?'. For example the pathfinding. AI has extreme problems just managing to move its armies on the map. I regularly see armies get stuck at sea. They try to invade my coastal cities in Ulthuan and they just miserably fail at it, moving back and forth for multiple turns. Happens also on land where it's not quite so obvious.

    That is absurd. Finding a path in a turn-based game on a 2D map is not hard. Not fixing that after a year shows lack of even the slightest effort and probably lack of any awareness that the problem even exists. If a CA person in an executive position would really play the game, he would get mad about this as a player, pick up the phone, and the issue would be fixed the next week.
  • Ephraim_DaltonEphraim_Dalton Senior Member Posts: 14,001Registered Users

    Nah sorry, they could definitely make huge improvements if they cared even a little. There are so many low-hanging fruit with regards to AI in this game.

    It's not even at the level of 'man I wish the AI was smarter'. It's at the level of 'how is this so broken when games could already do this basic thing better 15 years ago?'. For example the pathfinding. AI has extreme problems just managing to move its armies on the map. I regularly see armies get stuck at sea. They try to invade my coastal cities in Ulthuan and they just miserably fail at it, moving back and forth for multiple turns. Happens also on land where it's not quite so obvious.

    That is absurd. Finding a path in a turn-based game on a 2D map is not hard. Not fixing that after a year shows lack of even the slightest effort and probably lack of any awareness that the problem even exists. If a CA person in an executive position would really play the game, he would get mad about this as a player, pick up the phone, and the issue would be fixed the next week.

    Show me an RTS of the same scope with better AI.

  • AxelradAxelrad Senior Member Posts: 564Registered Users

    Nah sorry, they could definitely make huge improvements if they cared even a little. There are so many low-hanging fruit with regards to AI in this game.

    It's not even at the level of 'man I wish the AI was smarter'. It's at the level of 'how is this so broken when games could already do this basic thing better 15 years ago?'. For example the pathfinding. AI has extreme problems just managing to move its armies on the map. I regularly see armies get stuck at sea. They try to invade my coastal cities in Ulthuan and they just miserably fail at it, moving back and forth for multiple turns. Happens also on land where it's not quite so obvious.

    That is absurd. Finding a path in a turn-based game on a 2D map is not hard. Not fixing that after a year shows lack of even the slightest effort and probably lack of any awareness that the problem even exists. If a CA person in an executive position would really play the game, he would get mad about this as a player, pick up the phone, and the issue would be fixed the next week.

    Show me an RTS of the same scope with better AI.
    Not often I agree with Ephraim, but this. Honestly. There are competitors to Total War, games that try to do the same types of battles and/or the same type of map. But none of them even come *close* to the quality of this series, which is what makes it feel like CA has a monopoly on the niche. Most opt for 2D Risk-style maps because those are so much easier to design than the more realistic 3D ones that Total War has used since Rome 1.

    The problem is that AI programming is hard af, and not even the best programmers in the industry can always make it work on the type of budget and timeline that it takes to ship a game successfully.
  • FredrinFredrin Senior Member LondonPosts: 2,984Registered Users
    edited November 8
    Great article, thank you for posting @Icestrugle

    I have a lot of respect for Rob Bartholomew - he evidently came into the role of Studio brand manager this time 7 years ago with a clear vision of how to "grow the brand" and has definitely achieved that. CA is massive now - 600 staff!

    I also feel it's kind of significant to look at the general trajectory the series has taken since his joining - how it's branded itself and which audiences it's chased.

    The revealing question/answer in this interview imo is this one:

    GamesBeat: Do you think of that as a pivot for you guys, that you no longer focus solely on history?

    Bartholomew: Very much so. We knew we had a formula that worked when we applied it to history. We had a lot of readily available source material. We knew how to set a game around that. It fit the gameplay and the immersion we were going for. But what we’ve looked at doing in the last five or six years is to try and apply that formula to different game formats, different markets, and different platforms.


    So to rephrase (in slightly more cynical terms): "we have a formula - a square peg, if you will. There are numerous holes of different shapes out there, but if we push hard enough, I'm pretty sure we can squeeze it through enough of them to make the big bucks".

    And so it began. Rome II, notwithstanding its awful release, was from a design perspective a very clear mission statement: we've got this great gameplay formula, history's a bit fusty but we can be modern too".

    It was a very top down approach to game design. The previous games felt - especially at the outset - that they were being designed from the bottom up. The original crew of designers were the ones making this formula, for it to be rolled out like a restaurant franchise further down the line.

    My impression, as an old bugger who's been with the series from day 1, is that the games have grown more EPWIC! but less engrossing. You can't substitute a really heartfelt engagement with the source material with a lot of hype.

    In the words of the wise Bilbo, "It feels thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread".

    It's time CA gave autonomy to their team of insanely talented designers and said: "the formula is great but it is not sacrosanct. Ignore RTS conventions, we are a force unto our own. Do what you need to in order to tease out every last bit of interest in your subject matter."

    So endeth the lesson :p Can't wait to see what they do with 3K.... in spite of some highly unprepossessing early battle gameplay.
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