Author Topic: A New Model for Diplomacy in 4x Games  (Read 5642 times)

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Offline Nefaro

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Re: A New Model for Diplomacy in 4x Games
« Reply #15 on: March 30, 2014, 12:26:31 AM »
To EU4's credit, they did add an extra generalized stance (Neutral, Wary, etc) as evidenced by the little symbols next to your relations rating.  However, it may only be an extra permanent bonus or penalty to the usual Relations rating.  I think it can change if you pull some dastardly stuff with them, like breaking an alliance or something, and it lasts much longer.  So it's a start.


Offline tgb

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Re: A New Model for Diplomacy in 4x Games
« Reply #16 on: March 30, 2014, 07:49:44 AM »
One of the later Paradox games (I forget if it was Vicky 2, EU3, or CK2) introduced random events that could create a CB. It was the players' decision whether or not to act on it.

Offline Bletchley_Geek

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Re: A New Model for Diplomacy in 4x Games
« Reply #17 on: March 30, 2014, 06:11:13 PM »
Just to be clear:  I'm not asking somebody to model all the personality interactions between two leaders, add in all the competing interests between two nations, factor in all the differing cultural traits between two peoples, and generate a model that measures the dynamic interactions between all those things.

I just want something where I'm not free to do whatever I want, within the singular confines of a point-threshold system or a "wait one turn" limitation.  And I want something that treats diplomacy as more than just the interactions between two individual people.

As a good first step, I'd love to see some sort of system which differentiates between my people's attitudes towards a different country and my government's attitudes towards that country. 

FDR wanted to declare war on Germany in 1939 but he didn't have the political consensus to do so.  The Italian army in large part fought like dogs from 1939-1942 because they were fighting against people whom they considered cultural peers, on behalf of people whom they'd fought against bravely and tenaciously 25 years earlier.  The US had to do an abrupt and embarrassing about-face when we relabeled the mujahedin from anti-Soviet freedom fighters to Moslem extremist terrorists.  I'd like to face some internal political consequences when I go to war with somebody who was recently an ally.  I'd like to be hemmed in by the tactically/politically expedient choices that I made 5-10 years ago.

There ought to be some way to model popular sentiment towards other countries--and popular sentiment towards a war--independently from an arbitrary "war fatigue" penalty if I've been at war too long.

Paradox is probably the closest thing to what you're asking for - as others have already noted. EU4 diplomacy is probably the best I've experienced in a strategy game (the Coalition mechanics, where states get loosely associated to bring down another state perceived to be a "threat", typically France, are indeed a step forward to bring more meaningful interactions). Nonetheless, it still has some shortcomings (in my opinion):

  • Positive interactions between nations are very shallow: they hardly go beyond the Dynastic marriage, the formal military alliance or the Coalition. I'd like to see the ability to make treaties to arrange Spheres of Influence, Trade Agreements (allowing structures and fleets to mutually increase trade power) or the ability to shake out treaties similar to the historical Partitions of Poland (where three rival powers reached an understanding to bring down a fourth state, and divide the spoils accordingly)
  • Diplomatic short-sightedness in general. For instance, Coalition wars where the AI is the leader involve you spending huge amounts of money, men and ships, and that contribution (which can be measured by seeing how much of what you have been achieved is a contribution towards the war score) ends up being unrewarded. For instance, in one of my Spanish games, I got into an anti-French Coalition alongside England and Austria. It took the best part of 10 years to bring the French down, and then Austrians - the coalition leader - proceeded to annex a few French provinces adjacent to the Low Countries. A few years later, the French had rebuilt their military, and totally overrun the Hapsburgs who were badly overextended (and I was looking from the sidelines, as I had stepped out from that "coalition"). A much more far-sighted course of action - which is my strategy to deal with France - is force it to break up into several smaller states (carefully nurturing localist rebel factions during the war), empowering Savoy and forcing vassalizations (and utterly crushing French trade power). That kind of thing ensures that France isn't going to be a problem for a few generations at the very least (keeping an eye on which of the statelets is coming on top, and spank it when it starts to get the upper hand over the rest of formerly French statelets).
« Last Edit: March 30, 2014, 06:14:34 PM by Bletchley_Geek »

Offline Martok

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Re: A New Model for Diplomacy in 4x Games
« Reply #18 on: April 01, 2014, 02:29:04 PM »
Armada 2526 Supernova and Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes are two 4x titles where I feel the diplomacy isn't completely whacked, but even they're both deeply flawed.  (Anyone who's played the former can testify to AI suddenly declaring a trade embargo on you for seemingly capricious reasons...) 


As has already been stated here, I think the biggest problem is that no one has been willing to devote the resources to create an AI that truly handles diplomacy well.  Not that I blame anyone -- I'm sure it would be difficult to justify investing the resources necessary to do so, as the quality of AI players is one of those "intangibles" that's hard to quantify the value they add to a strategy game. 




I'd be happy to just see a game where my people's attitudes towards an enemy were tracked separately from my own status with them (i.e., War, Peace, Non-Aggression Pact, etc.).  As was the case in the EU games, if you go to war with somebody where there's not a proper casus belli, you pay the price in domestic turmoil. 

Armada 2526 has something like this.  It sadly doesn't have any true effect, however (i.e., declaring war on a nation your people like lowers your colonie's collective happiness/loyalty). 

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Offline MuzzyDev

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Re: A New Model for Diplomacy in 4x Games
« Reply #19 on: April 02, 2014, 01:11:02 PM »
I thought Civ 4 had some pretty decent diplomacy.  There were a number of factors that made relations positive or negative: frequency of trade, disputed borders, similar religions, helped them in a war, etc.   You had a pretty decent sense when your relations were good or on the rocks--most of the time.  But a few civs' actions seemed to come out of left field.  And that was OK.   Real life diplomacy is unpredictable.

Modeling diplomacy in a strategy game can be a nightmare, precisely because so much of it is predictable--until it's not.  Real life failures in diplomacy frequently happen when a nation expects--for whatever reason--that another nation will act a certain way, and then they don't.  Saying a game is unrealistic because, for example, a nation you were at war with becomes an ally later is not necessarily true.  It may be for our game, which has a 10 year span for gameplay, but Civ, for example, is 4000 years!  Enemies can certainly become allies and then enemies again multiple times over a span like that.

We're working on some interesting levers for diplomacy in The Great War.   The WWI era was very self-serving.  Lots of capricious and irrational behavior.  Some nations were literally up for auction, highest bid earned them an ally.  We want to allow players to use diplomacy as another way to deal with nations as much as going to war.  You will be able to buy influence.  You will be able to try to counter the influence that other nations are attempting.  There will also be betrayals.  Think that country has your back?  They may bail on you if you get into a war.  That's how diplomacy worked during that period. 

I can't speak for other developers, but we are very opposed to designing a game where you can't choose to turn on a dime.  We don't want players to think: "Oh, the designers don't want me to do that."  Because that sucks.  It's much better to let you do what you want, and have to deal with the consequences.
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Offline bbmike

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Re: A New Model for Diplomacy in 4x Games
« Reply #20 on: April 02, 2014, 01:50:58 PM »
Saying a game is unrealistic because, for example, a nation you were at war with becomes an ally later is not necessarily true.  It may be for our game, which has a 10 year span for gameplay, but Civ, for example, is 4000 years!  Enemies can certainly become allies and then enemies again multiple times over a span like that.

Which is perfectly acceptable if there is a reason for those diplomatic stances to change. And a valid reason is not "oh, there's only 50 turns left for me to win so I'm going to declare war on whoever is ahead".  Granted diplomacy is hard for a game like Civilization because there are basically two types of players. Those that want more of simulation-ish game and those that want a war/fight to win game.
I agree that diplomacy seemed to be much better in Civ4.
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Offline Mr. Bigglesworth

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Re: A New Model for Diplomacy in 4x Games
« Reply #21 on: April 02, 2014, 04:16:26 PM »
It's easy to make a good model in excel so there is no reason for games not to have one. Well, there is one, the game usually sells on the pizzaz you see not the guts of the system. Of course grogs have different wants than regular gamers.
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Offline FarAway Sooner

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Re: A New Model for Diplomacy in 4x Games
« Reply #22 on: April 02, 2014, 05:36:07 PM »
An old buddy of mine (who was one of the two lead designers on the Imperialism titles) once said, "Most of the time, when people complain about AI behavior, the root problem is in the way the underlying system was designed.  There's some stuff that AI will just not be good at, regardless of how strong your programming skills are.  The real trick is to build a system that's easy for AI to respond intelligently to."

I wonder whether that's not the case for AI Diplomacy.  The EU IV system sounds a lot like what I'm looking for honestly (and I'm okay that it's a little abstracted, relying on particular minister's skill sets rather than requiring you to specify whether you want to fashion a border incident or stage a false terrorist attack on your own people).

But, on another level, I wonder if we just haven't had much of any originality in how Diplomacy is designed in most games?  It's like we're still using hex-based combat and Attack/Defense Ratios, with a six-sided die, to determine results based on a Combat Results Table (CRT, for those of you who remember!).

I'm not sure what a different system would look like, but I sure wish somebody would try!

Offline MuzzyDev

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Re: A New Model for Diplomacy in 4x Games
« Reply #23 on: April 02, 2014, 06:37:45 PM »
LOL!  Easy?  That is one word I've never heard applied to AI in a strategy game.  It does start with good models and systems in the design and on spreadsheets, but that's just the beginning.  If Sid Meier has a difficult time making diplomacy work in a game, I can't imagine that it's particularly easy.  He's got some pretty serious grog credentials.  Paradox has some brilliant people who are grogs, and it's not easy for them, either.

The real limitation to something like diplomacy tends to be performance.  If 50+ nations have to calculate how to react to many possible diplomatic options, the amount of calculations can quickly spin up to where it's really borking your performance, especially a few hundred turns in, when hundreds of units are fighting each other all over the world.  .

I think Sooner's friend is correct, the root problem is the core system.  But you don't make computer games all at once.  Often a flaw is only apparent when a lot of the system is already in.  You can restart but it's always a challenge at the best of times to finish a game before you run out of money.  Good engineers and artists are not cheap.  And in this genre, it's unlikely we're going to sell 6 million copies.

Plus, no matter how successful you are, one multiplayer game will blow away the best AI.  Nothing beats playing against other meatbrains.

Chris--
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Offline Mr. Bigglesworth

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Re: A New Model for Diplomacy in 4x Games
« Reply #24 on: April 02, 2014, 06:52:02 PM »
I bet Sid is a better grog than me. He understands the game system and the programming. I can't program 10 lines. I see diplomacy as a Operations Research problem. That I can do in excel easily.
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Offline bbmike

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Re: A New Model for Diplomacy in 4x Games
« Reply #25 on: April 02, 2014, 06:54:40 PM »
An old buddy of mine (who was one of the two lead designers on the Imperialism titles)...

 :o Have you seen my avatar? You need to rekindle that old friendship ASAP and find out why/where/when Imperialism III is! Polk and the Spieth boys are brilliant!  8)
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Offline Bletchley_Geek

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Re: A New Model for Diplomacy in 4x Games
« Reply #26 on: April 02, 2014, 07:05:55 PM »
LOL!  Easy?  That is one word I've never heard applied to AI in a strategy game.  It does start with good models and systems in the design and on spreadsheets, but that's just the beginning.  If Sid Meier has a difficult time making diplomacy work in a game, I can't imagine that it's particularly easy.  He's got some pretty serious grog credentials.  Paradox has some brilliant people who are grogs, and it's not easy for them, either.

The real limitation to something like diplomacy tends to be performance.  If 50+ nations have to calculate how to react to many possible diplomatic options, the amount of calculations can quickly spin up to where it's really borking your performance, especially a few hundred turns in, when hundreds of units are fighting each other all over the world.  .

I think Sooner's friend is correct, the root problem is the core system.  But you don't make computer games all at once.  Often a flaw is only apparent when a lot of the system is already in.  You can restart but it's always a challenge at the best of times to finish a game before you run out of money.  Good engineers and artists are not cheap.  And in this genre, it's unlikely we're going to sell 6 million copies.

I reckon it's a problem with the interface between the game mechanics and the AI. If you can have an interface that offers the AI a simplified representation of the relevant aspects of the game world, along with the capability of 'simulating' the outcomes of diplomatic actions on that simplified representation, then you can apply a huge number of algorithms and techniques derived from the idea of Monte Carlo Tree Search

http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-3-642-12993-3_3

If you can apply those techniques to a game like Cataan, you can apply it to pretty much any Civ-like game. It wouldn't be hard to devise a way to map the state of a Civ-like game, into the state of a Cataan-like game. The thing is that, in order to apply this concept, one needs to define the architecture of the game in a very particular way from day zero. Retrofitting these interfaces on an existing code base can prove quite difficult.

Regarding performance: I'd say that a turn-based game can be harder, since all decisions (and plays) are made (resolved) in a sequential manner. In a WEGO game, the decision making can happen in parallel (and the resolution of the selected actions is usually *much* faster) making usage of multi-core architectures a no-brainer. In a real-time game, where you basically break down the notion of time into a 'infinite' sequence of time slots, and each slot is 'filled' with some events which are posted by the AI (or by the player, when he issues an action request from the UI), you can schedule the 'AI decision making' events in a way that suits your multi-core architecture best (so the evaluation of the actions is asynchronous). The EU 4 engine exploits this to great advantage.

Not to mention that you don't need *optimal* AI play to provide 90% of the players with a more than decent challenge. You can always limit the 'depth' - how far into the future the AI projects the outcomes of its actions - of the reasoning to your liking, as well as the 'width' of this reasoning (by avoiding to consider all possible outcomes, and restrict either to 'good' outcomes or 'sample' these outcomes on the basis of a time budget).

Listening to Soren Jonsson on 3MA - which is credited with the AI in Civ 4 - I can't help thinking that if he represents the 'state-of-the-art', then the art is indeed quite rudimentary.

Quote from: MuzzyDev
Plus, no matter how successful you are, one multiplayer game will blow away the best AI.  Nothing beats playing against other meatbrains.

Every year that goes by, the dominance of the 'meatbrains' is contested in a different game. I'm not a friend of Kurzweil like pipe dreams, but I think we overrate ourselves quite often. The 99% of chess players in the world can't even dream of competitive play with the top 1%. If you can write a program that can offer an interesting challenge to that 1%, is probably going to be quite challenging for the 99% as well.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2014, 07:07:51 PM by Bletchley_Geek »

Offline Mr. Bigglesworth

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Re: A New Model for Diplomacy in 4x Games
« Reply #27 on: April 02, 2014, 08:34:10 PM »
And yet players typically develop some basic rules of thumb, they dont go calculating huge tables of permutations. What scared devs, I think, is how the options multiply. You don't have to go through all options, they key is tree pruning.

Even a chess engine might go searching out 5-10 moves for each likely branch. If you add the human type rules of thumb to a pruned search you get through fast with not a lot of number crunching.
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Offline FarAway Sooner

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Re: A New Model for Diplomacy in 4x Games
« Reply #28 on: April 02, 2014, 09:09:31 PM »
MuzzyDev, in all fairness, even if I remember his word choice correctly, he probably meant "easier" rather than "easy".  He himself admitted that, in Imperialism 2 (their strongest title ever) the AI struggled with late-game decisions around generating and spending revenue.

An old buddy of mine (who was one of the two lead designers on the Imperialism titles)...

 :o Have you seen my avatar? You need to rekindle that old friendship ASAP and find out why/where/when Imperialism III is! Polk and the Spieth boys are brilliant!  8)

Mike, I didn't place that avatar until you mentioned it.  Frog City Software closed their doors around 2004, selling out to another firm which was quickly purchased by Take Two Interactive and then shut down a year later.  They loved their work and they loved games, but the revenue stream was too irregular for some folks just starting their family in a high-cost city (Ted and his wife, who was the lead Project Manager for the duration of Frog City's run).

In addition to being a great game designer, Ted also had the best flick I think I've ever seen in 25 years of playing Ultimate Frisbee.  I haven't talked to them since I left the Bay Area, but a close mutual friend of ours passed away from cancer late last year, so I hope to look 'em up the next time I'm back in San Francisco for business travel.

Offline Anguille

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Re: A New Model for Diplomacy in 4x Games
« Reply #29 on: April 02, 2014, 11:00:07 PM »
I'd be happy to just see a game where my people's attitudes towards an enemy were tracked separately from my own status with them (i.e., War, Peace, Non-Aggression Pact, etc.).  As was the case in the EU games, if you go to war with somebody where there's not a proper casus belli, you pay the price in domestic turmoil. 

Armada 2526 has something like this.  It sadly doesn't have any true effect, however (i.e., declaring war on a nation your people like lowers your colonie's collective happiness/loyalty).
[/quote]

If i am not mistaken, it's the case in Star Trek: birth of the federation. No?