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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?

Norfleet

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You also have much more trouble multi-threading in real time in a strategy game.
I mean, technically, there really isn't any such thing as a "real time" game at the level an AI thinks at. But one of the design tricks I've been using to do multithreading in a current project is that everything occurs in passive voice. You get hit by shrapnel. Shrapnel never hits you. I've noticed a lot of actions in other games I've dug around in are written in active voice: The shrapnel hits you, inflicting damage when the game is processing the shrapnel. Not here. Because the thread processing you holds ownership of your structure and only accesses the read-only buffer of the current state of any potential shrapnel you get hit by, there can't be a thread accident in which your state is overwritten nondeterministically by two pieces of shrapnel hitting you, where if two pieces of shrapnel hit you, one dealing 1 damage and the other doing 2 damage, we don't know whether you will have lost 1 hitpoint, 2 hitpoints, or 3 hitpoints at the end of this because we can't determine the order in which these events would occur in a multithreaded environment. You get hit by shrapnel, never shrapnel hits you.

I've also double-buffered all state of objects for this reason: Everything about the world in its current form is read-only and won't be overwritten with the next tick, which is written into the next-tick-buffer when the thread responsible for processing a given object does so, and this state will never be read from, only written to, and only by the owning thread.
 

Axioms

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You also have much more trouble multi-threading in real time in a strategy game.
I mean, technically, there really isn't any such thing as a "real time" game at the level an AI thinks at. But one of the design tricks I've been using to do multithreading in a current project is that everything occurs in passive voice. You get hit by shrapnel. Shrapnel never hits you. I've noticed a lot of actions in other games I've dug around in are written in active voice: The shrapnel hits you, inflicting damage when the game is processing the shrapnel. Not here. Because the thread processing you holds ownership of your structure and only accesses the read-only buffer of the current state of any potential shrapnel you get hit by, there can't be a thread accident in which your state is overwritten nondeterministically by two pieces of shrapnel hitting you, where if two pieces of shrapnel hit you, one dealing 1 damage and the other doing 2 damage, we don't know whether you will have lost 1 hitpoint, 2 hitpoints, or 3 hitpoints at the end of this because we can't determine the order in which these events would occur in a multithreaded environment. You get hit by shrapnel, never shrapnel hits you.

I've also double-buffered all state of objects for this reason: Everything about the world in its current form is read-only and won't be overwritten with the next tick, which is written into the next-tick-buffer when the thread responsible for processing a given object does so, and this state will never be read from, only written to, and only by the owning thread.
You're talking about a different kind of game. RTS games are distinct from Paradox games even though both are "real time".
 

Norfleet

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Under the hood? No, not really? An interval of processing (tick, turn) occurs. Things happen. Rinse, repeat. At the computronic level, basically everything is turn-based. Unless you're talking about a game with no fixed ticks?
 

Victor1234

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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.

I got off the Paradox bandwagon 2 generations of games ago ago (EU2/Victoria 1/HOI2), so I'm not sure what the new games play like, I was more thinking of the military AI in especially the first Imperialism. It was pretty amazing for it's time, especially the way it was basically impossible to sneak-attack. The AI would never get caught out of position like even the old Paradox military AI (which had an easier time because of smaller map sizes and complexity) would.

When you started your stack marching towards a province in EU2 or whatever with fog of war turned off, you could literally see the AI skip a few ticks before they realized you're on the way. With those time lags for each single decision you take adding up, it's no wonder players can easily run rings around the AI.

With Imperialism for example, if you were playing Germany in the 1881 scenario and wanted to sneak attack France, you move your troops to the border and declare war, which would start the next turn. But the AI sees you moved your troops to the border so it mirrors your deployment meaning you can't catch them out like in Paradox games. There's no military access mechanic, so you need an ally or multiple border provinces to force them to divide their forces, there's a battle stack limit so you can't just hope to throw everything at them in one go, or you get naval superiority and establish landing zones to make them protect their coastal provinces.

Which is another thing it did really well compared to old Paradox. If there's no naval invasion physically possible that, they won't waste troops to garrison coastal provinces, if certain ones are eligible to be naval invaded that turn, then they will send troops there then and you can't sneak a landing in because there's a turn's delay between the ships arriving and you being able to land troops, but they also reprioritize their navy to break your landings, etc.

It was overall very reactive, in the way that AGEOD games also do a great job with the campaign AI. The gimmick in Imperialism though was that (for the player and the AI both), distance between connected land provinces didn't matter, so you could move troops in mainland France around anywhere else in mainland France in 1 turn, etc. AGEOD doesn't do that (and has individual calculations for how fast stacks/units can move) but it's still hard to catch their AI out of position.
 

Victor1234

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Under the hood? No, not really? An interval of processing (tick, turn) occurs. Things happen. Rinse, repeat. At the computronic level, basically everything is turn-based. Unless you're talking about a game with no fixed ticks?
I agree with you about ticks and real time, but I think he meant different kind of game in the sense that your example involves calculation of some RTS elements like projectile pathing/physics engine stuff, which his game or Paradox games don't do.
 

Norfleet

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It's just an example of a calculation that happens at tick. Substitute being stabbed by assassins or whatnot in a CK-esque. The point still applies: You get stabbed, the assassin does not stab.
 

Axioms

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It's just an example of a calculation that happens at tick. Substitute being stabbed by assassins or whatnot in a CK-esque. The point still applies: You get stabbed, the assassin does not stab.
The number and type of calculation is very different. RTS calculations like that are simple. I've written RTS code for open source, like Glest and 0AD. The things a map and menu AI needs to know in a detailed simulation are very different from what units in an RTS need to calculate.

You can do some sort of semantic debate about how nothing is truly real time I guess, but in terms of what people mean when they say RTS vs TBS that is just intellectual masturbation.
 

Axioms

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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.

I got off the Paradox bandwagon 2 generations of games ago ago (EU2/Victoria 1/HOI2), so I'm not sure what the new games play like, I was more thinking of the military AI in especially the first Imperialism. It was pretty amazing for it's time, especially the way it was basically impossible to sneak-attack. The AI would never get caught out of position like even the old Paradox military AI (which had an easier time because of smaller map sizes and complexity) would.

When you started your stack marching towards a province in EU2 or whatever with fog of war turned off, you could literally see the AI skip a few ticks before they realized you're on the way. With those time lags for each single decision you take adding up, it's no wonder players can easily run rings around the AI.

With Imperialism for example, if you were playing Germany in the 1881 scenario and wanted to sneak attack France, you move your troops to the border and declare war, which would start the next turn. But the AI sees you moved your troops to the border so it mirrors your deployment meaning you can't catch them out like in Paradox games. There's no military access mechanic, so you need an ally or multiple border provinces to force them to divide their forces, there's a battle stack limit so you can't just hope to throw everything at them in one go, or you get naval superiority and establish landing zones to make them protect their coastal provinces.

Which is another thing it did really well compared to old Paradox. If there's no naval invasion physically possible that, they won't waste troops to garrison coastal provinces, if certain ones are eligible to be naval invaded that turn, then they will send troops there then and you can't sneak a landing in because there's a turn's delay between the ships arriving and you being able to land troops, but they also reprioritize their navy to break your landings, etc.

It was overall very reactive, in the way that AGEOD games also do a great job with the campaign AI. The gimmick in Imperialism though was that (for the player and the AI both), distance between connected land provinces didn't matter, so you could move troops in mainland France around anywhere else in mainland France in 1 turn, etc. AGEOD doesn't do that (and has individual calculations for how fast stacks/units can move) but it's still hard to catch their AI out of position.
The military AI is a very different subject. RTS and TBS AIs would work very differently naturally.

AI wise you could run slower ticks and then have each AI army check conditions every tick. Paradox uses a common trick where some complicated "AI" actions only run weekly or monthly. Another similar hack is to run a subset of the AI each tick. So divide the AI into 4 groups and only update 1 of the groups each tick.

Each AI is doing a lot more than a typical RTS game, which is why Norfleet's nonsense is meaningless.

Paradox AI would be bad even if the AIs reacted instantly. In fact in the case of modern Paradox the military AIs were reacting even simulation turn and they were still bad. They actually added a mechanic where if an army, player or AI, has moved more than halfway to a new province it is "locked" into finishing the move, because the AI kept cancelling orders instantly if the player tried to move a much stronger army to their target. Of course the player can now trick the AI into committing and then wipe them which makes the AI easy to kill. The more serious problem is that the AI is bad and also the military model is bad. You generally want to have doomstacks and you generally can't easily lure armies away and then move in smaller siege armies.
 

Norfleet

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Paradox AI would be bad even if the AIs reacted instantly. In fact in the case of modern Paradox the military AIs were reacting even simulation turn and they were still bad. They actually added a mechanic where if an army, player or AI, has moved more than halfway to a new province it is "locked" into finishing the move, because the AI kept cancelling orders instantly if the player tried to move a much stronger army to their target. Of course the player can now trick the AI into committing and then wipe them which makes the AI easy to kill. The more serious problem is that the AI is bad and also the military model is bad. You generally want to have doomstacks and you generally can't easily lure armies away and then move in smaller siege armies.
Yes, but the badness has nothing to do with "real time strategy" AI vs. "turn-based strategy" AI, but just about the fact that the AI is bad. You can have AI that is simply bad in any genre.
 

Axioms

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Paradox AI would be bad even if the AIs reacted instantly. In fact in the case of modern Paradox the military AIs were reacting even simulation turn and they were still bad. They actually added a mechanic where if an army, player or AI, has moved more than halfway to a new province it is "locked" into finishing the move, because the AI kept cancelling orders instantly if the player tried to move a much stronger army to their target. Of course the player can now trick the AI into committing and then wipe them which makes the AI easy to kill. The more serious problem is that the AI is bad and also the military model is bad. You generally want to have doomstacks and you generally can't easily lure armies away and then move in smaller siege armies.
Yes, but the badness has nothing to do with "real time strategy" AI vs. "turn-based strategy" AI, but just about the fact that the AI is bad. You can have AI that is simply bad in any genre.
The non-military AI can never be good because it takes too much time to process each AI. The decision making is extremely complex. RTS combat AI decision making is much less complicated and can run much faster.
 

Norfleet

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The non-military AI can never be good because it takes too much time to process each AI. The decision making is extremely complex.
Yes and no. While it is true that it would far too demanding for every AI to run at full capacity, it is easily possible to make the major and more relevant players smarter. And the number of decisions a CK actor often needs to make is really quite small. Exactly what decisions does a one-province count of Fuckstainia actually need to make anyway? We see in Paradox AI that at point an enormous percentage of the AI time was spent contemplating who to castrate: A decision that a human player probably spends exactly none of his time thinking about. Most AI characters simply don't need or have the ability to do anything complex anyway, which does not in any way stop them from wasting time thinking of pointless things to do.

RTS combat AI decision making is much less complicated and can run much faster.
Oh, THAT'S not true at ALL. RTS combat AI involves a LOT of decisions that must be made at a much faster timescale. We've seen examples of actually good RTS AI written and they definitely are beasts to run. Most RTS AI shipped on the market is actually terribad and just relies on cheating to create a semblance of competence.
 

Axioms

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https://axiomsofdominion.substack.com/p/making-the-most-of-maps?sd=pf

This is a very long and detailed post on map design and map modes and some general UI considerations. Basically I'd like to do a lot more with the UI in a dynamic way than current games because Axioms has so much going on. Dynamic map modes, modular panels for semi-dynamic menus, various bells and whistles like notes on characters/provinces/etc. and submenu/mapmode search by name and so forth.
 

Victor1234

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https://axiomsofdominion.substack.com/p/making-the-most-of-maps?sd=pf

This is a very long and detailed post on map design and map modes and some general UI considerations. Basically I'd like to do a lot more with the UI in a dynamic way than current games because Axioms has so much going on. Dynamic map modes, modular panels for semi-dynamic menus, various bells and whistles like notes on characters/provinces/etc. and submenu/mapmode search by name and so forth.
Interesting post, I agree with a lot of what you said. I liked the At the Gates reference as well. Here's another good one that might be applicable for your 'unity' map mode. I always felt the very best game in this regard was the original Crisis in the Kremlin from 1991, not the recent remake. The only real flaw was besides event popups there wasn't much you could do to influence the unity of your territorial units once they started on that path towards independence, but at least it went in stages that you could follow visually and try to react to.

The basic idea is that dark red means perfectly loyal, and as territorial units lose loyalty, they turn lighter shades of red until they hit yellow like you see on the screenshot, which is a sort of crossroads. They can turn go back to dark red if they regain loyalty, IIRC pink indicates a formal ally that is technically independent (think Warsaw Pact), light green which is independent and not formally allied but still aligned (think COMECON countries like Angola or Vietnam), turning to dark green if they become fully independent and cut all ties. Doesn't have to be red/yellow obviously, but the shades of your primary color was a nice touch to show you where your trouble spots were at a glance.


199512-crisis-in-the-kremlin-dos-screenshot-major-events-are-often.png
 

Axioms

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https://axiomsofdominion.substack.com/p/making-the-most-of-maps?sd=pf

This is a very long and detailed post on map design and map modes and some general UI considerations. Basically I'd like to do a lot more with the UI in a dynamic way than current games because Axioms has so much going on. Dynamic map modes, modular panels for semi-dynamic menus, various bells and whistles like notes on characters/provinces/etc. and submenu/mapmode search by name and so forth.
Interesting post, I agree with a lot of what you said. I liked the At the Gates reference as well. Here's another good one that might be applicable for your 'unity' map mode. I always felt the very best game in this regard was the original Crisis in the Kremlin from 1991, not the recent remake. The only real flaw was besides event popups there wasn't much you could do to influence the unity of your territorial units once they started on that path towards independence, but at least it went in stages that you could follow visually and try to react to.

The basic idea is that dark red means perfectly loyal, and as territorial units lose loyalty, they turn lighter shades of red until they hit yellow like you see on the screenshot, which is a sort of crossroads. They can turn go back to dark red if they regain loyalty, IIRC pink indicates a formal ally that is technically independent (think Warsaw Pact), light green which is independent and not formally allied but still aligned (think COMECON countries like Angola or Vietnam), turning to dark green if they become fully independent and cut all ties. Doesn't have to be red/yellow obviously, but the shades of your primary color was a nice touch to show you where your trouble spots were at a glance.


199512-crisis-in-the-kremlin-dos-screenshot-major-events-are-often.png
That's an oldschool reference. I was 1 year old. Interesting.

Any detailed thoughts on the other stuff?
 

Victor1234

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I'm probably one of the worst ones to give detailed thoughts since my tastes are very old school but your post suggests you're approaching maps as a way to convey cold facts there instead of in charts or menus. That's a good thing but it's hard to know what people will want to see in terms of info, since as you say grognards will take anything and make their own settings anyways while the others will just complain that you didn't get their preferences right. Stats/facts might not even be what people want, considering the character heavy focus of this game compared to other strategy titles.

Strategy gamers in general always talk about a 'living map' as being the pinnacle goal. To a lot of devs that means adding little trains or seagulls that fly over a port when you zoom in, which to me is the equivalent of white noise and is missing the point.

I always liked the feature for example in Rome Total War/MTW2 where after a heroic victory, you'd get a little crossed swords on that tile to mark the spot, with a mouse over telling you the key details of who fought, who won and when it happened to refer back to later or how in Civ IV if you built the Great Wall wonder, it'd generate a wall along your current borders that you could later outgrow. That's the sort of thing that makes a living map to me.
 

Norfleet

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But what if you could have both, like if you zoom in and see a little train, and then bomb the little train, it will actually impede their supply lines, because the presence of the little train actually indicates something important that was also shown at the higher level?
 

Victor1234

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But what if you could have both, like if you zoom in and see a little train, and then bomb the little train, it will actually impede their supply lines, because the presence of the little train actually indicates something important that was also shown at the higher level?

There's a type of map design exactly for that. Variable zoom/seamless map, I think they call it. Examples include Grand Tactician: The Civil War and the Hegemony series (the latest being Hegemony III: Clash of the Ancients). Neither has really managed to appeal to the mainstream, unfortunately and the studio for Hegemony even went bust.

I'm not sure if it's because of the map per say though (although the graphical styles in general for both are clear turn offs for most people) but from dev comments it seems to be a lot of extra work to pull off from a technical standpoint and seems to go pretty unappreciated by the players. Those maps are also fixed and not procedurally generated, so it might get even more complicated for this project.

That said, Hegemony is like a course at a military staff college for logistics (I especially like the way they handle naval stuff) and Grand Tactician has a lot of information elements that are worth borrowing for the sort of game in mind here (orders not instant, couriers can be intercepted, telegraph stations and lines affect reaction speed, etc) so it might be something to look at.
 

Axioms

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I'm probably one of the worst ones to give detailed thoughts since my tastes are very old school but your post suggests you're approaching maps as a way to convey cold facts there instead of in charts or menus. That's a good thing but it's hard to know what people will want to see in terms of info, since as you say grognards will take anything and make their own settings anyways while the others will just complain that you didn't get their preferences right. Stats/facts might not even be what people want, considering the character heavy focus of this game compared to other strategy titles.

Strategy gamers in general always talk about a 'living map' as being the pinnacle goal. To a lot of devs that means adding little trains or seagulls that fly over a port when you zoom in, which to me is the equivalent of white noise and is missing the point.

I always liked the feature for example in Rome Total War/MTW2 where after a heroic victory, you'd get a little crossed swords on that tile to mark the spot, with a mouse over telling you the key details of who fought, who won and when it happened to refer back to later or how in Civ IV if you built the Great Wall wonder, it'd generate a wall along your current borders that you could later outgrow. That's the sort of thing that makes a living map to me.
Axioms will absolutely not have a Paradox style living map, both for ideological reasons and cause it is a pain to code. No little trains or zeppelins or w/e.

I'm not sure if you've read anything I've written about the "History" system in Axioms but it would certainly be possible to do the battle thing, or other important event stuff. Probably a distinct map mode? So you could see major battles or other important historical events based of different kinds. In theory with the History system you could display the location and details of every assassination ever or important magical events or w/e.
 

Victor1234

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Axioms will absolutely not have a Paradox style living map, both for ideological reasons and cause it is a pain to code. No little trains or zeppelins or w/e.

I'm not sure if you've read anything I've written about the "History" system in Axioms but it would certainly be possible to do the battle thing, or other important event stuff. Probably a distinct map mode? So you could see major battles or other important historical events based of different kinds. In theory with the History system you could display the location and details of every assassination ever or important magical events or w/e.
It's older than Paradox. You even get it in not map painting games like Trade Empires from 2001, which had settlements growing on their own as you sold more goods there and shrinking if you stopped, or the Pirates remake from 2007 which had the sea gulls example.

The point is, things like that are just fluff. It's hard to know what players mean when they say they want a living map, but it's clear to me that they definitely don't mean just fluff graphics like that. Many seem to suggest something environmental, like natural disasters such as earthquakes or the terrain altering from SMAC that permanently alters the map, for me like I said it was permanent changes or markers on the map that are almost like memories from earlier in the game, although thinking about it now, I also liked the semi-permanent nature of RTW's forts. It was especially nice to block river crossings with them as my own limes, then abandon them as I moved on to the next river to set up new ones and watch them disappear once unoccupied. Others suggest that the political/state entities on the map you're competing against need to be dynamic and not static to make a living map and that's what it means.

Given your focus on the ancient world and the detailed logistics model, emphasis on naval and riverine stuff, you might consider having the AI and player do the ancient equivalent of environmental megaprojects, things like the Xerxes Canal or the Canal of the Pharaohs as satisfying the environmental crowd rather than random earthquakes. I also always liked the Civ IV mod that generated lots of swamp terrains and you had to drain them before doing anything useful with them.
 

Axioms

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Axioms will absolutely not have a Paradox style living map, both for ideological reasons and cause it is a pain to code. No little trains or zeppelins or w/e.

I'm not sure if you've read anything I've written about the "History" system in Axioms but it would certainly be possible to do the battle thing, or other important event stuff. Probably a distinct map mode? So you could see major battles or other important historical events based of different kinds. In theory with the History system you could display the location and details of every assassination ever or important magical events or w/e.
It's older than Paradox. You even get it in not map painting games like Trade Empires from 2001, which had settlements growing on their own as you sold more goods there and shrinking if you stopped, or the Pirates remake from 2007 which had the sea gulls example.

The point is, things like that are just fluff. It's hard to know what players mean when they say they want a living map, but it's clear to me that they definitely don't mean just fluff graphics like that. Many seem to suggest something environmental, like natural disasters such as earthquakes or the terrain altering from SMAC that permanently alters the map, for me like I said it was permanent changes or markers on the map that are almost like memories from earlier in the game, although thinking about it now, I also liked the semi-permanent nature of RTW's forts. It was especially nice to block river crossings with them as my own limes, then abandon them as I moved on to the next river to set up new ones and watch them disappear once unoccupied. Others suggest that the political/state entities on the map you're competing against need to be dynamic and not static to make a living map and that's what it means.

Given your focus on the ancient world and the detailed logistics model, emphasis on naval and riverine stuff, you might consider having the AI and player do the ancient equivalent of environmental megaprojects, things like the Xerxes Canal or the Canal of the Pharaohs as satisfying the environmental crowd rather than random earthquakes. I also always liked the Civ IV mod that generated lots of swamp terrains and you had to drain them before doing anything useful with them.
So if you read the blog, there's fancy weather, although the graphics aren't fancy, just the mechanics. Also you might read the posts about boats and fantasy geography and rivers. I think there's 3 relevant posts. You'll absolutely be irrigating and building canals and stuff.
 

Axioms

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I place this somewhere between Master of Orion 3 and Temple OS.
I'd be offended if I had any idea what Temple OS was or if I ever actually played MoO3. Also, 1 and 2 were mediocre. /hot take

Anyways:

So I'm hoping to get back to a design post every day or two for a bit, although obviously still making time for code and not making boring blog posts. Specifically I'm thinking about doing a series of posts similar to the Characters post from today about the major spheres of gameplay. So starting tonight and ending tomorrow I'm working on a post about administration. How did administration and bureaucracy evolve in history, different forms, strengths and weaknesses, allowing for advanced centralized societies to collapse into decentralized states like feudalism in Europe, and so forth. And of course what interesting decisions you can make in the game based on this information.

For instance in EU4 you almost never go backwards as a society. Even if you get invaded and lose 90% of land or suffer revolts or w/e you keep your powerful national ideas, idea groups, tech, government progress, and so forth. Whereas historically, like in the Roman empire for example, economic devastation from military conflict, loss of key provinces, breakdown of international and empire wide trade and instability caused the merchant and naval and logistics capacity to drop, technology was lost, the school system collapsed, the Roman census ended, and so forth and this caused a spiral into more decentralized and simplistic forms of state power.

Actually Imperator has this issue also. How can you make a Rome game but you can't even represent the fall of Rome?
 

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