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Grand Strategy Axioms|Making Culture Concrete: What is culture, why is it important, and how can we make it concrete and meaningful in a strategy or simulation game?

Axioms

Arcane
Developer
Joined
Jul 11, 2019
Messages
1,433
Did some ridiculous optimizations yesterday, cutting the main sources of RAM usage by like 90%. Still uses a shitton of RAM, though. Apparently the computer gods don't like when you have 2,000,000,000 instances of a class object that takes 9 bytes. Of course it took 51 prior to optimization. Another one which you'd only have 1/10-1/20 of took like 500 bytes but I cut it down to ~100. Also fixed an issue with a poor icon/image storage design as well. We are on our way to 400,000 Characters and 40,000 provinces on computers with 128GB of RAM. Wee.
 

Axioms

Arcane
Developer
Joined
Jul 11, 2019
Messages
1,433
So I ended up spending most of today rewriting some more parts of the code so that I'm using 4B instead of 9B. I wanted 3 but I needed a second uint8_t for ID purposes. But it worked out great once the hassle was over. Cutting RAM usage in half for the overall program? Huge win. Also spending time running ReleaseMode was so gratifying. Game loads and runs fast as fuck, holy shit. The one upside of having a very specific class being the cause of all my RAM problems is very little need to optimize anywhere else. Starting from 57bytes originally and reducing RAM usage to 4 bytes is a 93% reduction in RAM usage. Would have been capped at like 10000 characters even on a 64GB RAM computer if I didn't get this done.
 

Axioms

Arcane
Developer
Joined
Jul 11, 2019
Messages
1,433
Axioms is now multi-threaded! As long as you aren't afraid of an occasional non-euclidian translocation to another dimension or a picasso-esque body scrambling when you do one of the 3 things that causes undefined behavior till I put in proper safety code. Anyway this is a pretty huge performance boost. Firstly you are running the NPC AI Planner on the player turn. One of the current danger actions is hitting end turn before it tells you planning is done. Several ways to handle that. Most obvious being not enabling the end-turn button till it is done with planning.

In any case Axioms is already designed to dissuade players from mashing endTurn() repeatedly through the Attention Point system. So players should rarely realize what is happening. Planning constitutes the majority of NPC CPU usage and I could probably swap even more cpu heavy from execution to planning in the current design. Turn times were pretty fast anyways since the AI wasn't fully defined. In order to test the multi-threading I actually had to set every character to run the same function, the most intensive in the current design, and then loop it 100 times. So with 4 threads on any post 2010 CPU you are getting roughly 30s of processing time required, vs 98s on a single thread. The actual turn times currently are less than a second for 100k+ NPCs. It is, roughly, 4 seconds running the intensive function once per NPC.

The Planner shouldn't have any race conditions at all since it only writes to the Goals vector for each Character as far as non-local state. I guess we'll see as the game gets closer to release.
 
Vatnik
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Apr 10, 2018
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6,549
Location
Mouse Utopia
Insert Title Here Strap Yourselves In
None of you reacted to the screenshot in a way useful for me so as far as I'm concerned it is a waste of time.

Doesn't the same go for the idea guy blogposting? The screenshot at least showed that you have a game of some kind.
People subscribe to the blog and read the posts and people on the discord discuss stuff. Also sometimes blogging is helpful for the thoughtprocess.

When I post a screenshot for all the people demanding screenshots, of an in dev map and menu game, what impact does that have on anything? What do people do that wouldn't happen without the screenshot?
gib discord invite pls?
 

Axioms

Arcane
Developer
Joined
Jul 11, 2019
Messages
1,433
None of you reacted to the screenshot in a way useful for me so as far as I'm concerned it is a waste of time.

Doesn't the same go for the idea guy blogposting? The screenshot at least showed that you have a game of some kind.
People subscribe to the blog and read the posts and people on the discord discuss stuff. Also sometimes blogging is helpful for the thoughtprocess.

When I post a screenshot for all the people demanding screenshots, of an in dev map and menu game, what impact does that have on anything? What do people do that wouldn't happen without the screenshot?
gib discord invite pls?

Links on my twitter and substack.
 

Axioms

Arcane
Developer
Joined
Jul 11, 2019
Messages
1,433
https://axiomsofdominion.substack.com/p/how-to-win-friends-and-influence?sd=pf

This is a new post about Friends, Partners, and Social Stuff in Axioms. It expands on and connects to my previous posts about Social Occasions, Opinion, Attention Points, and Desires/Interests/Personalities/Ideologies.

I've linked the post mostly because the formatting of the intra-substack links to relevant posts detailing specific things I talked about doesn't work on reddit for obvious reasons. I'm going to excerpt some sections here though as well as include some new thoughts.

Axioms Of Dominion is a strategy game I've been working on for a while. Maybe 3 years if you elide long breaks. One of the, many, unique things about Axioms is the in-depth character/social simulation. I looked at strategy adjacent games like Academagia, King Of Dragon Pass, and Kudos, and I tried to figure out how I could aggregate their systems while adding unique and more elegant stuff on top. My goal for Axioms is to more faithfully recreate the experience of being a protagonist, antagonist, or major supporting character on either side, of a speculative fiction story. Fantasy, science fantasy, historical fiction, etc. On top of a strategy layer that allows for more precise simulation of plausible alt-history or a fantasy equivalent. What is the difference betwee feudal vassals and the Roman Socii and can they be represented as meaningfully different in the same game?

Of course much like medieval aristocracy some of the most important and iconic parts of Roman society and history are the interpersonal dramas.

In Axioms you have to manage your "Attention", with the Attention Point system, such that you can cultivate a few key relationships, many more casual relationships, or even focus primarily on your family. Creating and intergenerational lattice of connections between you and key retainers or allies is both possible and meaningful in a way it isn't in games like Crusader Kings, much less more abstract 4x style games. Attention Points are also used for actual management type decisions and military ones, not just interpersonal stuff. You can't just micromanage every single thing every turn, and neither can the NPCs. Unlike GalCiv or Stellaris delegation is both necessary and typically effective with larger sized domains. Of course you can play a non-landholding character as well. Get a little Patrician 3 or Theory Of Magic in your strategy game shell.

As noted in more detail in the linked post maintaining regular relationships, real friendships, and also romantic connections is both important and nuanced. Characters have Interests that you want to be in sync to get the maximum relationship bang for your Attention buck. They have Personalities that make them studious and introverted or extraverted and prone to carousing. They have often specific desires. A father may want his daughter to marry a supportive spouse or a princess may want to be allowed to engage in meaningful non-domestic activity.

An important section of the post is about how if a Character already has four friends he does weapons training with becoming the fifth is hard but if he also has zero friends who study philosophy or magic you can find an opening there if you have the talent and inclination.

You can also do stuff liek break up a friendship by hosting a key political event the night of a party that two characters would otherwise attend and hang out at, making one character feel unimportant and creating a gap in the social circle of the other you can wiggle into.

Also unlike many games with "characters" if you murdered some guy's son he won't be willing to be a loyal general, giving you the power of his 44 martial stat, just because you gave him 40 gold. Or maybe he will? His son could have been a disappointment and he could be avaricious.
 
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Axioms

Arcane
Developer
Joined
Jul 11, 2019
Messages
1,433
I probably won't write a post on this but Axioms has a couple different "play modes". There's day 0 mode which I only recommend for big dorks, then there's the main mode which is plopping into a world with a few thousand years of turns done by the AI. But there's also portal fantasy mode, in two formats. You can be born as a baby/child or you can body jump into someone. In the second mode you have to worry about people realizing you aren't acting properly. They may suspect body jumping or they may just suspect possession.
 

Axioms

Arcane
Developer
Joined
Jul 11, 2019
Messages
1,433
This is a post mostly about skill checks but also some things adjacent to skill checks which are pretty unique to Axioms.

Generally I prefer non-secret, no-RNG checks with the potential for traits/perks/knacks as well as specific skill points and for "point spend" options. Specifically the key Axioms mechanic of Attention Points crosses over from the strategy side of the game to become a "character/capability" currency you can spend for a boost on most actions above their natural Attention Cost.
 

Axioms

Arcane
Developer
Joined
Jul 11, 2019
Messages
1,433
So totally unrelated, forgot to post about this here:

I have been working for 14 days or so on the adventure combat system for Axioms. I have gotten quite far with all the basic stuff functioning. Currently I am finished off the code for complex special effects like malady/affliction propagation. Getting pretty close to done. Then I'll whip up a functional if not fancy AI for monsters/enemies and flesh out the magical Aspects that Adventurers can choose from, for this prototype anyways, and then do some play testing of fights.

Then I'll be back to more of the strategy systems in the game and perhaps some final work on the maps. Still haven't got rivers quite how I'd like them.
 

Axioms

Arcane
Developer
Joined
Jul 11, 2019
Messages
1,433
I got a bunch of work done on side stuff like adventure combat in September but I've been busy a ton with non-dev stuff sadly... Got Covid for like a week, real bad, couldn't sleep well even with lots of pain killers and other stuff. Sore throat and full body ache and a moderate fever. Grandpa died last week of July as noted and his brother just recently.

I also did a bunch of politics stuff for like 45 days. US Election was not supposed to be close so I thought I was safe from that, but no.

Currently working on a bunch of the basic character interactions. Specifically giving money to other characters currently. Having a dynamic and stackable gift system, which will also later apply to gifts of materials or other things, is actually a bit of a pain. For Paradox fans you know they generally have a cool down on gifts, they don't stack, and you often can't decide on your own how much to send. This simplifies a lot both for when the AI wants to give gifts and when they receive them. Of course in a turn based game like Axioms we can do better.

Currently the opinion boost of a character to character gift is based on the current wealth and income of the character. This will probably be more detailed later on as more game systems come online. There's a natural devaluing of many gifts because you get less opinion as the target has less need of wealth. So if you give 1000 to a guy with 1000 you might get 10 opinion but if you give 1000 again you'll only get 5 since he has more existing wealth. There's a modifier based on income so it won't quite be that big a drop but still decent. If only you gave 2000 at the same time! Then you'd have got 20... Whereas you get 15 for the two combined gifts. These are of course example numbers only.

In any case I'm hoping to get to a point where you'll combine various actions to achieve a goal, and the AI will as well, soon. Perhaps giving gifts and chatting someone up and then asking them to be your subordinate.

Of course Axioms simulates much more than ruler to ruler interactions. So I'll also have to grind out some Interests and Desires for characters to have so they can connect with each other more individually.

I'm still doing some deep thinking about a sort of official relationship vs personal relationship layer. So a rich king may love you to death but he won't be giving you 100000 gold just for that. That is one area of the design most open to potential exploits.

Actually there will also be some sort of consideration in the final game for how much wealth the gifter has. Not a ton. I expect a strong personality impact as well. Greedy and/or ambitious characters will care only for how much a person can give them but loyal or friendly characters will care a bit more about how much the giver had available.
 
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Axioms

Arcane
Developer
Joined
Jul 11, 2019
Messages
1,433
One thing I forgot. Characters will make timed requests. Axioms turns are 10 days, so 40 turns for a 400 day year. They'll ask to vent to you, and other friend stuff. Or ask for time to do activities. In this case you'll get some modified bonus vs you directly proposing such a thing, and a penalty for saying no. Schedule management. Very important part of leadership in many times and places.
 
Joined
Jul 15, 2022
Messages
324
I am very glad to see you haven't ditched this project. It would scratch an itch that no other game does. Yet, you are a faggot for spending 45 days as a twitter-warrior. Elections change nothing. The world will fall and the fires of nuclear warheads will mark the return of the Aesir.
 

Axioms

Arcane
Developer
Joined
Jul 11, 2019
Messages
1,433
I am very glad to see you haven't ditched this project. It would scratch an itch that no other game does. Yet, you are a faggot for spending 45 days as a twitter-warrior. Elections change nothing. The world will fall and the fires of nuclear warheads will mark the return of the Aesir.
I mostly did online stuff this time but I've gone much farther than being a Twitter warrior in the past, and my activity was not confined purely to Twitter this time.

Sadly due to making Axioms I was too broke to win thousands of dollars on Predict It with my superior knowledge of the election environment. Bummer.

The only reason I would not complete the game is if my financial situation heavily deteriorated. I only originally started writing my own games because existing devs wouldn't make cool stuff. My first project was a PVE only coop MMO but the first one I actually got serious work done on was an open source Majesty+++-like with more and deeper guilds/heroes and an added city building/crafting system. Then I realized I couldn't really afford to make free games at that time. I might finish that project if Axioms does well on Steam, though.

Of course Slitherine or Paradox could just make awesome games and save me the trouble but that isn't looking very hopeful these days for either of them.
 
Joined
Jul 15, 2022
Messages
324
If the game delivers what it promises, it will surely be up there with Dwarf Fortress, CDDA, and all the other games that focus on depth rather than visuals. The concept is more interesting than that of any of these games, at least for me. It being a turn-based game is also a huge plus from my perspective.

You are right about the likes of Paradox of course. It baffles me how unfinished and shallow everything they release is. You can somewhat try to roleplay in Crusader Kings, but it devolves into a map painter sooner or later anyway.

And if I can digress a bit, I want to say that the concept of magic in Axioms sounds great. It basically works on a consensus reality principle. Can't wait to play a character living in an industrial age uncovering ancient secrets.
 

Norfleet

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Jun 3, 2005
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12,250
The problem with Crusader Kings is that, ultimately, you are the only actor in the world that possesses any agency. Everyone other character is just literally mashing buttons at random: They exhibit no sense of objective or purpose. Every character who can do X inevitably will do X when the monkey-button-masher mashes X, where X is "obnoxious yet purposeless behavior that only exists to irritate the player". I mean, they even give characters specific ambitions to achieve specific goal A. Do they ever act on these? No. No they don't. They just do the same banal shit to pisses you off, every time. Naturally, the player will inevitably come to see through the facade and realize that every NPC is a facile cardboard cutout that exists merely to piss them off, all largely interchangeable with one another, and react accordingly.
 

Axioms

Arcane
Developer
Joined
Jul 11, 2019
Messages
1,433
The problem with Crusader Kings is that, ultimately, you are the only actor in the world that possesses any agency. Everyone other character is just literally mashing buttons at random: They exhibit no sense of objective or purpose. Every character who can do X inevitably will do X when the monkey-button-masher mashes X, where X is "obnoxious yet purposeless behavior that only exists to irritate the player". I mean, they even give characters specific ambitions to achieve specific goal A. Do they ever act on these? No. No they don't. They just do the same banal shit to pisses you off, every time. Naturally, the player will inevitably come to see through the facade and realize that every NPC is a facile cardboard cutout that exists merely to piss them off, all largely interchangeable with one another, and react accordingly.
Even if they added some sort of actual chain of consciousness CK2, and especially 3, would still suck because the simulation is so simplistic. Plenty of what should be basic interactions and capabilities that even the player can't engage with, outside of head canon I guess. It would be an improvement if the AI actually had "character" but after 10 long years it would only be necessary and not sufficient.
 

Victor1234

Educated
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Dec 17, 2022
Messages
255
This project seems very interesting. You've very clearly identified the weaknesses in many of the 'grand strategy' offerings available today. I especially liked the emphasis on how exploration is weak in most of these games. I read a couple of the blog articles and it all sounds interesting but...where are the visuals?

This might be interesting for you since there's another group of guys (some former modders from the MEIOU mod for EU IV) who are also trying to build something that shares some of the goals of your project and are also heavily Civ/Paradox inspired, but they are leaning much more heavily in the Paradox/real time direction than you.

https://store.steampowered.com/app/1858700/Grey_Eminence/
 

Axioms

Arcane
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Joined
Jul 11, 2019
Messages
1,433
This project seems very interesting. You've very clearly identified the weaknesses in many of the 'grand strategy' offerings available today. I especially liked the emphasis on how exploration is weak in most of these games. I read a couple of the blog articles and it all sounds interesting but...where are the visuals?

This might be interesting for you since there's another group of guys (some former modders from the MEIOU mod for EU IV) who are also trying to build something that shares some of the goals of your project and are also heavily Civ/Paradox inspired, but they are leaning much more heavily in the Paradox/real time direction than you.

https://store.steampowered.com/app/1858700/Grey_Eminence/
There are visuals in some of the blog posts and also in the pages of this thread. But the visuals are not really the draw of the project and are also in primarily the "programmer art/cobbled together just for getting the mechanics functional" stage.

I was in the discord for GE for a while. There's some other games out there with similar goals to GE like Gilded Destiny. I don't pay much attention to Grey Eminence because their AI will 100% be mediocre, even if slightly better than Paradox and also because real time games have very heavy fundamental limitations for this genre so I typically discount them as far as what games are interesting to me.

Multiplayer capability and real time progression both impose incredibly heavy costs on simulations. There are theoretical upsides but they usually fall flat for me.
 

Victor1234

Educated
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Dec 17, 2022
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255
Their plans for simulating the history of the world through such changing times (when even historians put a hard divide between periods, with the French revolution bringing in the modern period..) strikes me as too ambitious, but good to know you've heard of them. Thanks for the Gilded Destiny shoutout, I hadn't heard of them before.

I've often found that AI in turn based strategy games seems better to me as a player than real time AI, mostly since all else being equal, I feel real time AI struggles with timing (ie, there's always a delay before the AI even reacts to what I'm doing, which isn't the case when I've submitted my turn and it's free to reconsider and execute without any time lost).

Is that what you meant by fundamental limitations?
 

Axioms

Arcane
Developer
Joined
Jul 11, 2019
Messages
1,433
Their plans for simulating the history of the world through such changing times (when even historians put a hard divide between periods, with the French revolution bringing in the modern period..) strikes me as too ambitious, but good to know you've heard of them. Thanks for the Gilded Destiny shoutout, I hadn't heard of them before.

I've often found that AI in turn based strategy games seems better to me as a player than real time AI, mostly since all else being equal, I feel real time AI struggles with timing (ie, there's always a delay before the AI even reacts to what I'm doing, which isn't the case when I've submitted my turn and it's free to reconsider and execute without any time lost).

Is that what you meant by fundamental limitations?
There are core issues and then issues that would just be trade offs if the core issues were solved.

#1 is that having high 3 to low 6 digit numbers of AIs means that with real time gameplay you just can't have the AIs make complex, much less complex *and* good, decisions. You just can't optimize enough. Paradox is a massive "AA" company and they can't manage to make good idea even with how streamlined their games are mechanically. Now imagine if the AI needed to have character and long term planning and such. Blech. You also have much more trouble multi-threading in real time in a strategy game.

#2 is that you can't have complex "events" with multiple participants. If you read the substack blog posts about social occasions in Axioms you can instantly see that that would be totally impossible in a Paradox game. The same for War Councils which are basically themed social events for a specific purpose. This is one reason the "court" is so unconnected with the rest of CK3 for instance. And yet the events are still super simplistic and unconnected to the outside world.

#3 is that Paradox games are incredibly timer based. You have a lot of "dead" time. Turn based games can have dead time(turns) as well, if you don't balance the action economy, but it is a lot easier to fix if you really want to.

Most Paradox games, especially EU4 and maybe Vicky3, are functionally idle games, except they have a map. If you play something like Arcanum/Theory Of Magic, you'll easily analogize "furniture", "rooms", and "upgrades" for your "tower" to "ideas", "decisions", and "estates" in EU4. EU4 famously has "mana" like a wizard tower idle game, also.
 

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