DoomMunky, I felt the same way about the GalCiv games. They’re just a tad bit more complex, with lots of little tricks you have to learn beyond just what’s obvious. And what made it worse for me is that the AI seemed to know all those tricks from the beginning.
That’s one of the reasons why I still like MoO2 better than the GalCiv games. In Galciv 1, after playing on and off for years and continuing to lose to the AI, (And by on and off, I do mean, trying a game once a year or so) I finally was able to learn enough about the game and the system to be able to game the system a little bit and actually beat the AI on a decent difficulty level. The key in GalCiv 1 was that you needed Constructors to build those space station module thingies, which were the key to the whole game. And I hated that the AI seemed to know all that from the beginning of the game even on lower difficulty settings, but I had to kind of stumble my around and figure it out the hard way.
And then, just when I finally thought I had that concept down, GalCiv2 came out. And suddenly, I couldn’t win again, because it added new subtleties that the AI knows about and how it games the system, but that I don’t know about yet, and instead of trying to learn them, I just kind of gave up and went back to playing MoO2.
The equivalent example I can think of for Civilization 2 was the Caravans. If you wanted to beat the game on higher difficulties, the key discovery every Civ2 player eventually makes is that if you build lots and lots of caravans, you can actually compete with the AI on getting wonders built first. The caravans help you finish your wonders fast, so having lots and lots of caravans was one of the ways “game” the system and get ahead even on the higher difficulties.
But if Civ2 had been a GalCiv game, the computer would have been building caravans and using that technique to game the system from the beginning of the game, making defeats even more crushing even on lower difficulties. I just think GalCiv’s AI is what’s to blame here. It’s just a little TOO good. Instead of acting out roles of races with its diplomacy, and behavior, it acts out roles of other competing human players and what they would do to try to win. It’s certainly a more interesting way to do AI when you’re looking to give players a challenge, but I think it makes the game less immersive. I actually kind of prefer games like Civ2 and MoO2, where the AI kind of behaves and acts out like you would think a Darlock would act out, or the French would act under Napoleon, or how the repulsive rock-eating silicoids would act out. I don’t want the AI to act like its a bot in a botmatch in Unreal Tournament where its kind of trying to emulate human behavior and be challenging by being like a human player.
On the other hand, Unicorn McGriddle’s offer of help is a very generous one. If I’d had somewhere to turn to when I first trying to learn GalCiv2, it might have made for a lot less frustrations at the hands of the AI and its gaming of the system. I’d take him up on the offer myself if Halo 3 wasn’t coming out in 3 days. :)