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The Father of Civilization: Profile of Sid Meier

timothy posted about 10 months ago | from the he's-just-this-guy-you-know? dept.

Games 208

An anonymous reader writes with a link to Kotaku's recent profile of Civilization creator Sid Meier, and includes this snippet: "One year, as [coworker John] Stealey recalls, the two men went to an electronics trade conference. On the second night of the show, they stumbled upon a bunch of arcade games in a basement. One by one, Meier beat Stealey at each of them. Then they found Atari's Red Baron, a squiggly flight game in which you'd steer a biplane through abstract outlines of terrain and obstacles. Stealey, the Air Force man, knew he could win at this one. He sat down at the machine and shot his way to 75,000 points, ranking number three on the arcade's leaderboard. Not bad. Then Meier went up. He scored 150,000 points. 'I was really torqued,' Stealey says today. This guy outflew an Air Force pilot? He turned to the programmer. 'Sid, how did you do that?' 'Well,' Meier said. 'While you were playing, I memorized the algorithms.'"

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208 comments

Meh.... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44146209)

He had a hand in making some fine games in his day...

And now... His name is slapped on all kinds of broken crap sequels nobody wanted.

Thats your legacy sid. Overpriced, overhyped, crap. Good job i guess.

R.I.P civ.

Re:Meh.... (1)

war4peace (1628283) | about 10 months ago | (#44146253)

Times change. Actual stuff might be less interesting or even plain bad, but the breakthrough would remain in history.
The same happens with pretty much any art. Most literature no older than 100 years looks now dated and plain boring (yes, even golden classics). Music from 2 decades ago is mostly stuff that nobody listens anymore (Yes, i know there are exceptions, but few and far between). However, if it was a huge success or a breakthrough (invention, innovation, something fresh, etc), it's worth mentioning and remembering.

Re:Meh.... (1, Interesting)

dcw3 (649211) | about 10 months ago | (#44146347)

Times change. Actual stuff might be less interesting or even plain bad, but the breakthrough would remain in history.
The same happens with pretty much any art. Most literature no older than 100 years looks now dated and plain boring (yes, even golden classics). Music from 2 decades ago is mostly stuff that nobody listens anymore (Yes, i know there are exceptions, but few and far between). However, if it was a huge success or a breakthrough (invention, innovation, something fresh, etc), it's worth mentioning and remembering.

Yes, they do. There's plenty of good old music, but I'd argue that the reason many don't listen to it is lack of exposure, and dramatic improvements in fidelity. Who want's to listen to something that sounds like it was played in a trash can, or old scratchy black and white movies with poor special effects? As for old art, my wife and I recently visited the Louvre, and while there was plenty of cool stuff, many of the paintings just looked the same (quickly boring). Why? Most likely because they were all commissioned to paint monarchs or similar religious over and over.

Sid did some great work. But some of the recent stuff with his name on it is just crap in my opinion.

Re:Meh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44146417)

Most literature no older than 100 years looks now dated and plain boring (yes, even golden classics).

Wat?
Dated? Boring?
I can't read any 21th century crap, honestly. But it seems that you are into bestseller type large font crap.

Re:Meh.... (-1, Troll)

war4peace (1628283) | about 10 months ago | (#44147527)

100 years ago was start of 1900, dude.
That's literature from before the first World War.
And yeah, most of it is dated.

Re:Meh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44147585)

You do realize that something 'dated' may provide insights into the time period of the piece. Or it may have fresh insight into the human condition as seen from a different era.

Some people are too fucking stupid to live.

Re:Meh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44147717)

That's my thought on libraries throwing away "old books" as well. It's like they are saying, "Oh, it's OK, we'll just rewrite history!"

Re:Meh.... (1)

Randle_Revar (229304) | about 10 months ago | (#44147843)

>You do realize that something 'dated' may provide insights into the time period of the piece. Or it may have fresh insight into the human condition as seen from a different era.

Sure, and those are some of the reasons to keep it around, and even read it occasionally. But that doesn't keep most of it (even the 10% that wasn't crap to begin with per Sturgeon's Law) from being boring.

Re:Meh.... (2)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 10 months ago | (#44146659)

All my friends and myself still listen to 3 decades old music, not to mention all the blues and jazz classics that are far older.
Books don't become boring because they are old. Look at the so many movies that come out as remakes from 100 year old books.
E.g the three Musketeers (albeit the latest remake was just shit)

Re:Meh.... (5, Insightful)

MrHanky (141717) | about 10 months ago | (#44146715)

He's still right, though. You and your friends listen to 3 decades old music because you've stagnated, but even you won't listen to just any 30 years old record. I mean, even though it was a #1 hit close to 30 years ago, "Never Gonna Give You Up" is mostly remembered due to Rickrolling. Most music, most literature, most films and most art has always been shit; contemporary shit is just more acceptable due to being part of the zeitgeist. Old crap is forgotten, and people forget that they forget, and thus you get the popular delusion that there used to be some golden age.

Re:Meh.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44146859)

That's not the whole story, either.

He's talking about music spanning a period of maybe 50 years. Compared with (for example) the last 5 years, statistically you would expect there to be far more extremely good songs over the 50 year period. Also, history makes it easier to track down "the good stuff". It's a lot easier to find a widely accepted classic album from 20 years ago then to work out which albums released this year will retrospectively be regarded as brilliant.

Re:Meh.... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44146959)

Could you please actually learn what music is before talking about it.
Stagnated ? A good part of my favorite music is from the end of the sixties, that was a freaking golden age, I wasn't even born then. Yes there was shit music then too, including at the top of the chart, as there is today. Have you even listened to (in no particular order, and only citing more than 30 years old music, there is plenty of good recent music too) Hendrix, The Doors, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, The Rolling Stones, The Velvet Underground, The Cure, Miles Davis, Leonard Cohen, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Dire Straits, Albert King, Neil Young, Pink Floyd, Bruce Springsteen, Queen, Tom Waits, Bob Marley, The Police, the Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Janis Joplin, Ten Years After, Muddy Waters, Billie Holiday ...

Re:Meh.... (2)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 10 months ago | (#44147049)

I'm forced to listen to a narrow selection of that music every time somebody at work decides to have the 'Classic Rawck' station playing on the radio on his workbench.

I bought 5 Pink Floyd CDs yesterday morning at a garage sale.

The 'old stuff' isn't a be-all and end-all. My favorite album right now is David Bowie's new album that he released this spring.

My father's favorite music is the stuff that was popular a few years before he started listening to music: the big band stuff like Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw. I like that music, too. But it's not a be-all and end-all.

What Phillip Glass and John Cage and those folks are doing actually eclipses all the popular crap. I'd certain rather listen to a recording of an orchestra playing a Charles Ives work than any of the pop musick.

Or Terry Riley's The Harp of New Albion [amazon.com] which I can barely listen to at the moment, because my Klipsch speakers aren't hooked up, and so many of the subharmonics of the detuned piano are missing when it's played on low quality equipment.

Check out Phillip Glass' 'Dracula' in the Piano arrangement [youtube.com]. There's a CD release.

Re: Meh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44147225)

omg you are so kewl for misspelling rock 'rawk' and music 'musick', I'm going to do that too now because I'm so kewl too

Re:Meh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44147257)

Of course that is my taste in music, I'm not saying everyone should enjoy it (Though you really should give it a try), and though it is mostly rock there are a few non-rock things in there too.
Radios tend to always play the same songs which gets really boring, these days I only listen to 1 radio, that is really diverse and has no ads (french radio FIP).
The point was that there is a lot of great music, and someone that thinks that music older than 30 years is shit doesn't know what music is.

And for what is worth, here are some of the more recent stuff I like : Radiohead, Portishead, The White Stripes, The Kills, Daphné, Lisa Hannigan, Lykke Li, Regina Spektor, Morphine, Alela Diane, Emiliana Torrini, Elbow, Devotchka, Shivaree, Fiona Apple, Louise Attaque, Tarmac, Joanna Newsom, Mardi Gras BB, K's Choice, Lhasa, Ilene Barnes, Beth Orton, Ben Harper, Beth Gibbons, Bjôrk, Sheryl Crow, 16 Horsepower, Calexico, Holden, Tori Amos, 10,000 Maniacs, Nataly Merchant, REM, ......

Re:Meh.... (2)

MrHanky (141717) | about 10 months ago | (#44147281)

Billie Holiday died in 1959, The Cure had their studio début in 1979. Your sixties are longer than mine.

Re:Meh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44147477)

I said the end of the sixties was a big part of my favorite music (a huge number of IMHO legendary artists began in 67-69), but I didn't say the list of artists was only from that period : "only citing more than 30 years old music"

Re:Meh.... (1, Troll)

andrepd (2932623) | about 10 months ago | (#44147001)

What?? No, not at all! Are you for real? I love classical music. I don't listen to Bach because I've stagnated in the 17th century. I just think that it is far superior than any commercial crap that is produced today. Rock, with its "I'm so cool rocking the guitar", Pop, with its "chorus verse chorus bridge chorus", Rap with its glorification of shitty lifestyles, none of that interests me. The unfathomable intellectual depth of Bach's works is objectively superior. Even 20th century stuff like Pink Floyd or the Beatles is far more acceptable than this commercial made-for-teens stuff. Same thing goes for literature. If you ask a teenager if he prefers reading Heart of Darkness or Harry Potter, he'll pick Harry Potter of course. I know what I prefer, though. And it has nothing to do with stagnation or whatever. For heaven's sake, shitty erotic fanfic like 50 shades of gray topped bestselling lists. I don't know what you make of that...

Re:Meh.... (0)

MrHanky (141717) | about 10 months ago | (#44147221)

Which Bach do you mean: Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, Johann Christian Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Johann Ludwig Bach, or? Right, those are mostly forgotten. And yes, you've stagnated if the best examples of contemporary fiction you can come up with are Harry Potter and 50 Shades of Grey.

Re:Meh.... (2)

andrepd (2932623) | about 10 months ago | (#44147363)

I mean the Bach which everybody knows you're talking about if you say Bach. The Bach to whose page Wikipedia redirects when you type Bach. The others just piggybacked onto J.S.'s reputation (including his father). Nevertheless I can't fathom the relevance of those to my argument.

I'm serious. I am really not understanding your argument? Dozens of Bach's mostly forgotten? Of course, for every genius known worldwide there are a million forgotten tryhards. Your point is?

As for the literature, I'm not saying there aren't good books being written today. But I quoted relevant examples: some of the highest selling books of the last decade: Fifty Shades of Gray and the most sold books in the world: Harry Potter. What is the connection between quoting examples of high selling contemporary literature, and being stagnated. I'm befuddled both by your incomprehensible argument and by the people modding your posts up. I just don't understand how anyone can defend the ridiculous thesis that old literature and music are inferior to today's literature and music.

Re:Meh.... (0)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 10 months ago | (#44147229)

Thanx for the unwanted (+5 insightfull?, lol) psychotherapoitic advise.
Mind to name one good music group which was new the last 10, 20 and 30 years?
So I listen to depeshe mode or granberries because: I did not move along?
That is a super retarded attitude ...

Re:Meh.... (1)

ThurstonMoore (605470) | about 10 months ago | (#44147295)

Nirvana.

Re:Meh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44147687)

He said "good" music group. Nirvana was shit and I and blame them and Pearl Jam for the near death of music in the 90's with that whole lousy "grunge" scene. Unintelligible crap that's only a step above rap. The only good thing that came out of Nirvana was Dave Grohl.

Re:Meh.... (1, Flamebait)

MrHanky (141717) | about 10 months ago | (#44147353)

If Depeche Mode and Cranberries are what you like, I doubt I'm the right person to give you advice on music. But yeah, if you can't think of one good new music group to show up the last 10 years, then you've evidently stagnated, so it turned out I was right all along. Luck, I suppose.

Re:Meh.... (4, Insightful)

MalachiK (1944624) | about 10 months ago | (#44146697)

Most literature no older than 100 years looks now dated and plain boring (yes, even golden classics). Music from 2 decades ago is mostly stuff that nobody listens anymore

No. You have it backwards. Most recent literature is crap. Then again, most of the stuff that's ever been written is also crap. The difference between the works in the canon and the stuff that's getting published today is that over time it tends to be only the worthwhile material that endures. Mainly for this reason, if you pick up a book that's still in print after a long time then it's likely to be a lot better than a random contemporary book.

The idea that nobody listens to music over twenty years old is about a dumb as it's possible to get in a syntactically valid sentence.

Re:Meh.... (1)

andrepd (2932623) | about 10 months ago | (#44147017)

The idea that nobody listens to music over twenty years old is about a dumb as it's possible to get in a syntactically valid sentence.

Yet he has been modded up to 5:Insightful. What's with /. today?

Re:Meh.... (2)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 10 months ago | (#44146701)

Music from 2 decades ago is mostly stuff that nobody listens anymore

That is not true. Most people continue to listen to the music they heard and loved during their teens, twenty something years. People trained in classical music listened to them before they turned 25. Very few people like the music they hear first time in their fifties and sixties. Looks like we start losing the ability to like fresh music starting from age 25-35 and by the time we reach 60s and 70s we totally lose it.

I wonder if the music executives pick the music that made superhits some 30 or 40 years ago, dress it up using modern arrangements, and disguise it well, but use the same foundation melody, scale and rhythm and try to create new hits.

Re:Meh.... (5, Insightful)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 10 months ago | (#44146839)

I wonder if the music executives pick the music that made superhits some 30 or 40 years ago, dress it up using modern arrangements, and disguise it well

Its all the same 4 chords. [youtube.com]

Re:Meh.... (2)

TheGoodNamesWereGone (1844118) | about 10 months ago | (#44146941)

I wonder if the music executives pick the music that made superhits some 30 or 40 years ago, dress it up using modern arrangements, and disguise it well, but use the same foundation melody, scale and rhythm and try to create new hits.

I'd argue that today the execs pick the gimmick first before anything else. The quality of the music's far down the list. Pop music's always been a little bit about style over substance but acts like Lady GagMe epitomize it. Back to Sid Meier.... I haven't played the original Civ for more than a decade but I sure did when it first came out. Folks who weren't around yet or are too young to remember don't realize what an impact it had.

Re:Meh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44147305)

I wonder if the music executives pick the music that made superhits some 30 or 40 years ago, dress it up using modern arrangements, and disguise it well, but use the same foundation melody, scale and rhythm and try to create new hits.

I'd argue that today the execs pick the gimmick first before anything else. The quality of the music's far down the list. Pop music's always been a little bit about style over substance but acts like Lady GagMe epitomize it. Back to Sid Meier.... I haven't played the original Civ for more than a decade but I sure did when it first came out. Folks who weren't around yet or are too young to remember don't realize what an impact it had.

That's silly. It's absurd to suggest that Lady Gaga has no musical ability - as pop records, Poker face or Bad Romance are at least competitive with anything from the Seventies or Eighties. It's also hard to argue she is more of an attention whore than Madonna was thirty years ago: or do you not think Madonna knew what she was doing with the 'sexualised black Jesus' video for Like A Prayer?

Re:Meh.... (1)

TheGoodNamesWereGone (1844118) | about 10 months ago | (#44147399)

No, I despise Madonna too. Competitive with Let It Be? Competitive with Dark Side Of The Moon? Competitive with Born In The USA? Goodbye Yellow Brick Road? Elton John had the same gimmick-- dress outrageously, but he makes good music. Lady HaHa is nothing BUT an image. The music is only incidental, and it's all Autotuned.

Re:Meh.... (2)

TheGoodNamesWereGone (1844118) | about 10 months ago | (#44147437)

Let me add that I come by my music snobbery honestly. I worked in radio for 17 years and observed pop music rotting away a little more each year. Before you say I'm just an old fart who hates anything new, there *is* good stuff being made today but the record companies aren't signing them. They toil away in small venues night after night busting their asses for next to nothing. They write their owns songs & play their own instruments, and don't need or want Autotune.

Re:Meh.... (5, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | about 10 months ago | (#44147889)

No, I despise Madonna too. Competitive with Let It Be? Competitive with Dark Side Of The Moon? Competitive with Born In The USA? Goodbye Yellow Brick Road? Elton John had the same gimmick-- dress outrageously, but he makes good music. Lady HaHa is nothing BUT an image. The music is only incidental, and it's all Autotuned.

OOOH I want to join the condescending display of knowledge. When did Pink Floyd ever write a modal melody that blossomed into florid counterpoint, or discovered a way to make the D triad follow the C# triad, through a harmonic intensification of a melodic element? (see Beethoven op 18 no 3, for example, first movement). Or when do you see anything even remotely close to the technique of taking a tune or theme and successively chipping it away to motivic nothings? Even a minor composer from 18th century Bohemia, Zdenek Fibich, showed more harmonic creativity than Bruce Springsteen. I mean, have you actually listened to "Born in the USA?" The monotonous repetitions are so tiring.

What's really tiring is people who are condescending about music, especially when the stuff they prefer is just as much trash. Lady Gaga is fun to listen to, that's why people listen to her.

Re:Meh.... (2)

The Rizz (1319) | about 10 months ago | (#44147061)

Very few people like the music they hear first time in their fifties and sixties.

That's usually because people in their 50s and 60s have been listening almost exclusively to the same music for 30-40 years. How many people who continue to listen to new music on a regular basis end up hating it?

In my experience, most people who continue to listen to contemporary music on a regular basis find about as much new music to like each year as they did when they were in their 20s.

Re:Meh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44146825)

"Music from 2 decades ago is mostly stuff that nobody listens anymore (Yes, i know there are exceptions, but few and far between)"

Seriously ? Do you even know what music is ? Do yourself a favor and go listen to actual music.

Re:Meh.... (1)

andrepd (2932623) | about 10 months ago | (#44146985)

Most literature no older than 100 years looks now dated and plain boring (yes, even golden classics). Music from 2 decades ago is mostly stuff that nobody listens anymore (Yes, i know there are exceptions, but few and far between).

What on earth? Unless you are a teenager, I think most people appreciate classic books rather than the "bestsellers" of today. I also think that, bar teens, nobody really gives a shit about the boring dopamine-inducing mainstream music of today, but would rather listen to music older than 20 years. Your post makes no sense at all. If you think literature older than 100 years is boring you are clearly an angsty teenager who hasn't got it. Same thing if you think classical music is boring.

Re:Meh.... (1)

cashman73 (855518) | about 10 months ago | (#44147273)

Actually, I disagree with your assertions about nobody listening to music from two decades ago. Recent history has shown that music seems to be rediscovered after about two decades. It happened in the 80s when people rediscovered 60s music. And it's happening today as people are rediscovering 80s music. It certainly has worked well for Rick Astley [youtube.com], among others,...

Re:Meh.... (1)

war4peace (1628283) | about 10 months ago | (#44147575)

Actually, I disagree with your assertions about nobody listening to music from two decades ago.

Yeah, just... I didn't say that.

"Music from 2 decades ago is mostly stuff that nobody listens anymore"
In other words, almost all music which was played on the radio 20+ years ago is completely forgotten today, except the top 50-100 or something. Sure, there are dedicated radio stations, but as far as mainstream goes, 3 years seems like a long time as well.

With that being said, I am listening to music which goes back as far as the 30s (classical music aside). Sadly, most of my acquaintances don't even know of it (again, except top 10 or something, and those mostly through remixes).

Re:Meh.... (1)

Randle_Revar (229304) | about 10 months ago | (#44147871)

>Music from 2 decades ago is mostly stuff that nobody listens anymore (Yes, i know there are exceptions

Damn right there are exceptions. Sure, I listen to some underground hip hop, and I listen to Deadmau5 and Booka Shade and so forth. Last night I went to a Barenaked Ladies concert. But mostly I listen to music from 60s and 70s, with some 80s and a bit of 50s thrown in. I was born in 1982.

Re:Meh.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44146507)

Railroads was absolutely terrible, but really I don't see how Civ 5 is bad.

Re:Meh.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44147035)

Railroads was absolutely terrible, but really I don't see how Civ 5 is bad.

Civ V is very good. It's my favorite, but I can see how others would still prefer III or IV.

Re:Meh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44146855)

Yeah, so what is your name attached to?

My irony meter just blew (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44146943)

Yeah, so what is your name attached to?

Quoth the AC.

Re:Meh.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44146973)

Civ 5 is pretty good. The ai still needs work though, sid's answer to harder difficulties has always been letting the computer cheat a lot (and even if he didn't make civ 5 it's the same).

I memorized the algorith! (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44146233)

'While you were playing, I memorized the algorithms.' The ACTUAL ALGORITHMS! Not the patterns resulting from them like a mortal man would.

I see three possibilities here:
1. Sid Meier, super genius.
2. Sid Meier, not knowing as much about computers as we though.
3. The person that say that he said 'While you were playing, I memorized the algorithms.' is an idiot.

Which one do you subscribe to?

Re:I memorized the algorith! (1)

Chrontius (654879) | about 10 months ago | (#44146249)

He probably could work backwards from the observable patterns in the simple games of the day to some kind of understanding of the math and/or code behind them.

And from there extrapolate solutions that informed his gameplay.

Re:I memorized the algorith! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44146257)

Settle down. He memorized the patterns and called them algorithms. So what? Are you now going to call weather forecasters who talk about heat waves idiots (since heat is a transfer of energy, and not just a high temperature)?

Re:I memorized the algorith! (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 10 months ago | (#44146291)

Reminds me of a story which my friend told back in the day. He was on a golf court with another friend. Some player couldn't see where his shot went. Then my friend's friend says "I can calculate where the ball went."

Re:I memorized the algorith! (5, Informative)

gl4ss (559668) | about 10 months ago | (#44146299)

'While you were playing, I memorized the algorithms.' The ACTUAL ALGORITHMS! Not the patterns resulting from them like a mortal man would.

I see three possibilities here:
1. Sid Meier, super genius.
2. Sid Meier, not knowing as much about computers as we though.
3. The person that say that he said 'While you were playing, I memorized the algorithms.' is an idiot.

Which one do you subscribe to?

the algorithm results in the pattern. if it's simple then yeah, he observed how the algorithms work. if you memorize how koopa troopers walk and by what rules, then you know where they will walk and then you know the algorithm(that the actual game might have more complex code than is actually necessary to complete the algorithms in the way they manifest to gameplay is of no issue to this).

if you just memorize how every enemy on the screen acts on the screen you're none the wiser in a new level. once you can guess how the pattern will go for a new level then yes, you have deduced the algorithm. this is when a game loses it's magic.

if it never deviates from it, then the quickly observed pattern is the algorithm.. look, it's not rocket science. if you notice that everytime you're in the direction D from the enemy sprite a thing X happens. they you know the algorithm.

many games even nowadays have algorithms you can guess (accurately, mind you) what they are for enemy "ai"(which is a fucking joke still). even in games like WOW - that's what instancing, pulling and all that depends on. you even have "street names" for the internal variables like aggro.

Re:I memorized the algorith! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44146353)

you are the chosen one NEO.........

Great description of of algorithm.. I am not sure if the person that made that post is a idiot him/herself but all an algorithm is is a set of instructions and directions. When you get up and go thru your normal routine before getting to your car and going to work, that can is an algorithm.

Re:I memorized the algorith! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44146817)

What can?

Re:I memorized the algorith! (0)

LordLucless (582312) | about 10 months ago | (#44146367)

if you just memorize how every enemy on the screen acts on the screen you're none the wiser in a new level. once you can guess how the pattern will go for a new level then yes, you have deduced the algorithm. this is when a game loses it's magic.

if it never deviates from it, then the quickly observed pattern is the algorithm.. look, it's not rocket science. if you notice that everytime you're in the direction D from the enemy sprite a thing X happens. they you know the algorithm.

many games even nowadays have algorithms you can guess (accurately, mind you) what they are for enemy "ai"(which is a fucking joke still). even in games like WOW - that's what instancing, pulling and all that depends on. you even have "street names" for the internal variables like aggro.

So, what you're saying is that perfect AI is simply a case of using random behaviour? It's never predictable, therefore the game never loses its magic, and nobody can ever predict the opponents behaviour. Perfect!

Guessing how the enemy is going to respond is only part of the game. The rest of it is managing the resources required to set the situation up so that they will react the way you want them to. The player knowing how the AI will react (or at least having a pretty good idea) is required for any game that has tactical depth - if you don't know how they will react, you cannot prepare traps, counters, misdirections, etc.

Re:I memorized the algorith! (2)

anarcobra (1551067) | about 10 months ago | (#44146473)

No that's not what he's saying at all.
Perfect AI would be able to learn your behavior and adapt to it.
That way there would be no fixed behavior for you to learn, and you'd have to adapt constantly.

Saying that you can't plan if you don't know exactly how your enemy will react is kind of sad.
It's sort of like admitting that you can only follow a fixed formula yourself and that you are incapable of adapting to your opponent.
How do you deal with playing against another person? Are you unable to plan for them because they might react in unexpected ways?
Or do your friends all play according to some fixed recipe?

Re:I memorized the algorith! (2)

LordLucless (582312) | about 10 months ago | (#44146597)

It's sort of like admitting that you can only follow a fixed formula yourself and that you are incapable of adapting to your opponent.
How do you deal with playing against another person? Are you unable to plan for them because they might react in unexpected ways?
Or do your friends all play according to some fixed recipe?

Other people follow a rational process when acting. If you understand their process, you can predict their actions, and beat them - that's the vast majority of what tactics is. Sure, you might not get it right 100% of the time, and yeah, they might act unpredictably - but an unpredictable action is usually one that is tactically inferior (or you've made a failure in not identifying it as a tactical possibility). So yes, play against a human a bunch of times, and you will begin to understand their "algorithm", they'll begin to understand yours, and that's where the fun really starts.

AIs don't have the faculty to develop their own rational processes, so they're given algorithms that mimic them. A decent AI should generally make rational, tactical actions, and they should be somewhat predictable, based on what makes tactical sense given the physics of the gameworld, the current state of play, etc.

If your opponent intentionally tries to be unpredictable, the game is no fun. Try playing chess with someone who isn't making tactical moves, but just acting unpredictably - you might lose a few games due to over-thinking, but overall, you'll probably win, and get no satisfaction out of it because chess is a highly tactical game, and an unpredictable player removes a large part of the tactical element, making the game not fun.

Re:I memorized the algorith! (1)

khallow (566160) | about 10 months ago | (#44146939)

If your opponent intentionally tries to be unpredictable, the game is no fun. Try playing chess with someone who isn't making tactical moves, but just acting unpredictably - you might lose a few games due to over-thinking, but overall, you'll probably win, and get no satisfaction out of it because chess is a highly tactical game, and an unpredictable player removes a large part of the tactical element, making the game not fun.

It works in chess as well. The randomness is just more subtle. White noise is almost never a good strategy (outside of say, "Rocks, Paper, and Scissors"), but incorporating a moderate amount of randomness can slide your game into a state that the foe hasn't seen before.

Re:I memorized the algorith! (1)

LordLucless (582312) | about 10 months ago | (#44147201)

It works in chess as well. The randomness is just more subtle. White noise is almost never a good strategy (outside of say, "Rocks, Paper, and Scissors"), but incorporating a moderate amount of randomness can slide your game into a state that the foe hasn't seen before.

It works, because chess at a certain level is all about memorized patterns. You memorize the most strategically valid positions the board is most likely to be in. If you're at that level, and you see a state you haven't memorized, it's most likely because that state is strategically inferior. However, as you say, a slight loss of strategic value might be worthwhile, if it means the opponent doesn't have a ready counter, like you do for all the patterns you've got stored. But the randomness has to be very small, or the gap between optimal strategy and your semi-random one grows too great.

Incidentally, that's why I don't like chess much; I feel like I'm doing a computer's job poorly when it's all data storage and retrieval.

Re:I memorized the algorith! (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 10 months ago | (#44147669)

It works in chess as well. The randomness is just more subtle. White noise is almost never a good strategy (outside of say, "Rocks, Paper, and Scissors"), but incorporating a moderate amount of randomness can slide your game into a state that the foe hasn't seen before.

This infuriates long-time chess players, but new players don't even notice it.

Re:I memorized the algorith! (1)

NeoMorphy (576507) | about 10 months ago | (#44147713)

Other people follow a rational process when acting. If you understand their process, you can predict their actions, and beat them - that's the vast majority of what tactics is. Sure, you might not get it right 100% of the time, and yeah, they might act unpredictably - but an unpredictable action is usually one that is tactically inferior (or you've made a failure in not identifying it as a tactical possibility). So yes, play against a human a bunch of times, and you will begin to understand their "algorithm", they'll begin to understand yours, and that's where the fun really starts.

AIs don't have the faculty to develop their own rational processes, so they're given algorithms that mimic them. A decent AI should generally make rational, tactical actions, and they should be somewhat predictable, based on what makes tactical sense given the physics of the gameworld, the current state of play, etc.

If your opponent intentionally tries to be unpredictable, the game is no fun. Try playing chess with someone who isn't making tactical moves, but just acting unpredictably - you might lose a few games due to over-thinking, but overall, you'll probably win, and get no satisfaction out of it because chess is a highly tactical game, and an unpredictable player removes a large part of the tactical element, making the game not fun.

When you reach a level of skill in Chess where you focus on positional play(tactics still exist, but they are backing up your strategies) instead of pure tactics then your opponent's unpredictable moves will probably mean they are not defending against your long-term strategy and they are not doing anything useful. Eventually your position will be strong enough that they can't defend themselves because they have too many weaknesses and you can choose which one to exploit. For example, the opening stage focuses on center control, if they do not actively counter your plan on controlling the center, then they will have a very cramped position.

Playing against someone who doesn't have any idea on how to play the position is very boring. But playing against someone in a position both sides have a lot of knowledge in is very satisfying, even if you lose.

Re:I memorized the algorith! (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about 10 months ago | (#44146515)

do you kickban people who do unpredictable things when playing against you?

the variations into the algorithm are the salt. totally random behavior is predictable, because the you know there is no logic and can play accordingly as the ai will never be able to attain any goal. it could never win a game of doom, but if it always runs the same paths between places then again it's never going to win that way either. the point with real intelligence is that you can't troll them repeatably, or rather you can't know if you can, because of free will.

look, a game where you already know what the enemy is going to do with certainty is a game ALREADY PLAYED. what's the point, except maybe to demonstrate to someone else how the game works? which is what sid was doing in the story in the article.

Re:I memorized the algorith! (1)

LordLucless (582312) | about 10 months ago | (#44146627)

Do you kickban people who make a sound tactical decision that you've predicted they'll do?

look, a game where you already know what the enemy is going to do with certainty is a game ALREADY PLAYED. what's the point, except maybe to demonstrate to someone else how the game works? which is what sid was doing in the story in the article.

Not necessarily - like I said, how the enemy acts is only one factor. In the simplistic game from the article, yeah, fine, once you understood the algorithm, playing was pointless. But using your WoW example: it's one thing to know that the dragon is going to breathe fire at a certain time - it's another to be able to manage your resources so you still have your defensive/movement abilities ready for that situation, to co-ordinate the group so that they can react accordingly, and to still be able to pull out enough damage to kill it before it hits its enrage timer and kills you all.

Tower defence is another genre where you can almost always know exactly what the enemy is going to do - and yet people still enjoy them. Why? Because they're games of strategy and resource-management, rather than tactical out-thinking of the opponent.

Re:I memorized the algorith! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44146669)

There are lots of different types of games, where lots of different aspects of fun: comedy, thriller, action, adventure, puzzle, board games, social, etc.
Gamers are also different, some enjoy a social aspect, others enjoy exploring, some wants to become king of the hill, or be tranformed into the most powerful munchkin. Some that has tired of the game just want to be griefers.

Repetitive strategy is as fun as variation on it. If it's anything like US vs Iraq every single time, then the game on the whole is really no fun at all except for the sociopaths. So you need variation on some level for the game to keep being enjoyable.

Re:I memorized the algorith! (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 10 months ago | (#44147483)

with wow it just boils down as a social problem of getting everyone in the place - so that becomes the actual game. it's like ballet practice every fucking saturday, the mobs lack initiative totally. that's why I stopped playing - it does a very poor simulation of going to fight a dragon, or giant or whatever.

I don't think people play tower defense games over and over again too much. ufo 1(xcom) people played over and over though.. what matters is that it is obfuscated so far that it's not obvious what tactic wins. then there's of course games which depend on reactions coupled with knowing the algos.. my original comment was simply about that people who can predict how mobs act by knowing their algorithm inside and out don't need to be super geniuses. but a game where you can see it plainly usually get to be boring form purely gameplay perspective. of course games have stories etc to follow and to hook you as well.

Re:I memorized the algorith! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 10 months ago | (#44146713)

So, what you're saying is that perfect AI is simply a case of using random behaviour?

A realistic AI is going to use apparently random behavior as a distraction; so will a competent human commander.

Re:I memorized the algorith! (2)

poity (465672) | about 10 months ago | (#44146931)

By the way it was worded, it could, to some people, sound like a case of using a technical term in order to impress the less knowledgeable.

A: Hey Sid, how did you catch that curve ball?
B1: I memorized the physical forces acting on this particular spinning sphere traveling through the gaseous medium.
B2: I saw that the ball tended to veer up and right, so I positioned my hand close to there as a way to prepare.

Yeah, it's kind of an extreme example, but would anyone even consider response B1 over B2?
Now, I don't know Sid, I do love his games, and I guess you can stretch the interpretation of "algorithm" just enough to cover all the possible meanings that he could have meant, so I'm more than willing to give him the benefit of the doubt in this anecdote. But if someone threw out response B1 to my question A, I would be dubious, to say the least.

Re:I memorized the algorith! (1)

NeoMorphy (576507) | about 10 months ago | (#44147763)

He would probably watch the pitcher's body language and the way the ball was thrown to work out what the ball was going to do.

Re:I memorized the algorith! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44146987)

"the algorithm results in the pattern. if it's simple then yeah, he observed how the algorithms work." Of cause he observed how the algorithms "worked", GP didn't claim that that he did not, intact he specifically said that he did observe the patterns. BUT (- that is a big but right there) do you really think that the algorithm is its resulting pattern? Even for a simple algorithm this is not true. You can NOT deduce what steps were used to get a specific result just by having that result. (you can guess but that is not the same thing)

From Wikipedia:
"In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm (i/ælrðm/ AL-g-ri-dhm) is a step-by-step procedure for calculations. Algorithms are used for calculation, data processing, and automated reasoning."
This is the only definition of algorithm I have ever heard. I doubt that it has been changed to mean "the result of a calculation".

Re:I memorized the algorith! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44146371)

4. The person whining about this on a Sunday morning is a virgin

Re:I memorized the algorith! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44146949)

What if he's in Asia, and he's tired of bullshit on a Sunday night?

Re: I memorized the algorith! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44147429)

Then it's not Sunday morning anymore?

Re:I memorized the algorith! (4, Insightful)

munch117 (214551) | about 10 months ago | (#44146383)

In 1980, a 'pattern' was something your wallpaper had. The word had no computer connotations. You're judging the man on how well he used 21st century lingo back in the 1980's.

Re:I memorized the algorith! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44146551)

Pattern still doesn't have a computer connotation.

The word pattern has had the meaning the GP used for a very long time. It's not new lingo.

Re:I memorized the algorith! (2)

munch117 (214551) | about 10 months ago | (#44146685)

The word pattern has had the meaning the GP used for a very long time. It's not new lingo.

The meaning has changed, at least with the way it's used in software today. A GoF pattern includes the solution to apply - the algorithm, you might say - when the pattern is encountered. Sid Meier memorised solution techniques, a.k.a. algorithms. If he had used the word 'pattern', it would have said nothing about how he solved the situations he recognised by a pattern.

Re:I memorized the algorith! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44147159)

"Pattern" was common everyday layman term for talking about Pac Man. Seriously, Pac Man. I don't remember whether Pac Man or Red Baron was first, but they're pretty close.

Re:I memorized the algorith! (1)

greg1104 (461138) | about 10 months ago | (#44147197)

There was a very clear meaning for "pattern" in a computer gaming context by 1980. In 1980 Pac-Man was first released in the US. By 1981 the word "pattern" to describe navigating the maze was so popular that the "Pac-Man Fever" album included patterns for each level [hiwaay.net].

Re:I memorized the algorith! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44146549)

Which one do you subscribe to?

4. Sid Meyer said 'While you were playing, I memorized the algorithms.' for brevity since he counted on his coworker's ability to deduct that he meant "the patterns resulting from the algorithms" Smart people speaking to smart people don't need many words to say a lot. With precision.

Re:I memorized the algorith! (4, Interesting)

greg1104 (461138) | about 10 months ago | (#44147155)

It's (1), Sid Meier, super genius. I've spoken to the man twice, the tech side of Baltimore where we both live is pretty small. Sid is exactly the sort of guy who will stare at a game, note the patterns, and then figure out what algorithms must be driving them, all while a regular person is just playing. There is not a hint of boasting from the guy in person, he's just that good at what he does.

Hmm (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44146431)

This is what Red Baron looks like:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06vBHL51LBg

I don't think being a Air Force pilot would help a lot. The reason Sid won was because he was better (or more used to) playing computer games, including seeing patterns how the enemies arrives (from left or right etc).

Re:Hmm (3, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | about 10 months ago | (#44146523)

This is what Red Baron looks like:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06vBHL51LBg [youtube.com]

I don't think being a Air Force pilot would help a lot. The reason Sid won was because he was better (or more used to) playing computer games, including seeing patterns how the enemies arrives (from left or right etc).

back then for most people it was a foreign idea how a plane is controlled, you know, diving, climbing... reflexes. so for the guy who didn't think of them as machines, quite limited machines, it made sense for him to think that he would be better in it.

Real men... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44146501)

...they memorize algorithms and play red baron.

In other news I've been practicing jujitsu for 17 years and got beat by my cousin in mortal kombat. I am Jack's complete sense of embarrassment.

Civ was a great franchise, but 2 words about Sid (4, Interesting)

PingXao (153057) | about 10 months ago | (#44146541)

Railroad Tycoon

Still has never been outdone in the genre. Transport Tycoon, additional editions of RRT, not even the latest Rails, which I believe Sid lent his name to without really being involved.... none of them can hold a candle to the original Railroad Tycoon.

Re:Civ was a great franchise, but 2 words about Si (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44146791)

Cities in Motion 2. While it only deals with passenger transit in a single city and has a rather atrocious in game store where you can buy things that should have been included I'd rank it quite clearly above RRT. Especially with how it models every passenger with a separate start and end for their journey, and if you don't have a good enough transit network they'll get in a car or walk instead.

Re:Civ was a great franchise, but 2 words about Si (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 10 months ago | (#44147311)

Cities in Motion 2 is probably one of the best tycoon games available. Highly recommended.

Re:Civ was a great franchise, but 2 words about Si (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44147299)

Which version of Railroad Tycoon are you referring to?

For me, Civ3 (because you could do lots of crazy shit) and Railroad Tycoon II were the best.

Re:Civ was a great franchise, but 2 words about Si (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 10 months ago | (#44147853)

the original? the original had it's flaws though.

but it was a pretty great game.

Civ is overrated (3, Informative)

devent (1627873) | about 10 months ago | (#44146913)

Now Alpha Centauri was a really good game. I wish I would see innovations like in AC instead the x remake of the same game.
AC had:

* real 3D map
* real atmosphere and a good story
* innovated combat system
* innovated diplomacy
* and in my opinion way better game then Civ III and the remakes (Civ IV, etc).

perfectly logical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44146933)

pretty much why games have low appeal to me, i do not play a game i play against a programmer and try to work oit what they would do as well as memorising patterns,

Whole thing is dumb (4, Insightful)

pezpunk (205653) | about 10 months ago | (#44147149)

From the childish notion that immense intellect would manifest as gaming skill to the baffling assumption that being a real-life fighter pilot would have any bearing whatsoever on playing a 2d side scroller. Sounds like the perfect kind of imbecile to be impressed with Sid Meier hype.

Re:Whole thing is dumb (3, Informative)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about 10 months ago | (#44147277)

2D side scroller? No, the whole attraction of Red Baron [wikipedia.org] was that it was full 3D perspective, in a day when real-time 3D calculations were well beyond the reach of commodity hardware. (It ran on a 6502, capable of a blazing .5 MIPS, and used custom hardware for the 3D transformations.)

I mastered Battlezone, its sister game, but the one and only Red Baron game in our town spent most of its time out of order. The joystick mechanism just wasn't durable enough to stand up to drunken teens. (On Battlezone, you'd pull the cabinet over on top of you before the joysticks would break. Don't ask me how I know this.)

Assuming that a one-joystick "flight simulator" running on 1980 hardware would have anything in common with flying an actual fighter? Yeah, that was kind of silly.

Re:Whole thing is dumb (1)

NeoMorphy (576507) | about 10 months ago | (#44147739)

Battlezone was a great example of perfect AI play causing a weakness. The enemy tank only fired on you when you were in it's sights. You could turn in place until you heard it's shot, then move forward causing a miss. Repeat until you are almost(but not quite) facing it, then go forward until you pass it, then back up, turn, fire. If it was changed to randomly fire in front of you or at you then it would have been a lot tougher.

Favorite Sid Meier Encounter (4, Interesting)

StefanJ (88986) | about 10 months ago | (#44147357)

Well, really my only Sid Meier encounter, if you don't count sitting in an audience.

So, I'm at . . . COMDEX? CES? One of those big-ass electronics trade shows. Might have been Chicago, might have been Las Vegas.

I got away from my booth for an hour, and I head for the area where computer games are being shown. I'm totally jazzed to see a dummy box and demo of Colonization. I look over the material about it, and to another totally jazzed gamer next to me say something like "Cool, it's like someone did a decent remake of Seven Cities of Gold!"

A voice at my shoulder says "Good, that's what I had in mind."

SQUEEE!

Sid Meier, friend of Bob Houser (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44147501)

late of Inacomp corporation Advanced Solution Center Help Desk (c. 1990) . Where is Bob Houser today? Houser, are you out there? Dr. Burns, Jim Henley and JD Wise have all died.

Meier should be remembered for Railroad Tycoon.

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