Speaking about something as an law without a prove is really bad. I also think there are macro tool with different degree's of complexity. I also wouldn't let some macrotool handle my empire, but some minor things could be handed over. For instance in early game i care about anything but in mid/late game i don't.
Alright. I can't remember the exact quote: "I would have included the proof in the margins, but they are too narrow."
I have nothing to do for the next hour or five, so here's some wide margins:
There are "macrotools" that work. For example, selecting a group of units to issue duplicated orders to.
Then there are bots/viceroys/agents--tools that make decisions for the player. Here's a pale shadow of what I remember from OceanMachine's arguments against the use of macrotools:
1: First piece of evidence is anecdotal.....the lack of precedence. There's no such thing as a viceroy in a real game that does its job properly; feel free offer counter-examples. If teams of full time coders/designers couldn't create useful viceroys, then part time coders/designers probably aren't going succeed either.
Chess is fun. Chess is in-depth. Chess requires no automation. Indeed, it would be suicide to use automation vs. a great player. (unless you keep big blue in your back pocket.) If a game as well understood as chess, as simple as chess, successful automation is still considered a meaty problem to work on.
In a more complicated game (like Moo, Civ, or FO), where strats have not been examined for hundreds of years, I can say with a degree of certainty that the AI will be lackluster, as will the any decision making bots.
2: Often in microheavy games there are optimal or near optimal tactics that can only executed by a thinking, creative mind. For example, a person who micros his workers in Civ3 can achieve a much better result than either the AI or a poor player. Often, seemingly simple decisions (" do I want a mine or irrigation in this square?") require insight into the overall strategy the player is attempting and a great deal of foresight.
I have yet to see an AI with the level of comprehension required for real insight or foresight. Most "AIs" are just overgrown state machines with absolutely no insight.
Eventually, making bunches of tiny decisions becomes boring. So the AI bot is unleashed--and proceeds to perform a less than optimal job.
This is fine in a game vs. non-cheating AIs, since the AIs are straddled with the same piss-poor tools as the player. But in multiplayer, or against a heavily cheating AI, a player must make as many good decisions as possible.
Assuming expert level profiency, we end up with a prisoner game. If Player A gets bored enough to use the less than optimal viceroys, but Player B chooses to slog through microhell, then Player B almost certainly vastly outperforms Player A. The player who gets bored first loses, making the viceroys less than worthless. I won't be able to turn on my bots for fear that you are microing your way to victory.
3: It's tiring to police bots to ensure that they doing the right thing. There will be flaws in the design of bots, since they are unable to account for every possible situation.
Further, often a real player's strategy conflicts with the presumptions made by the AI coder/designer.
Therefore, even if the bot does an excellent job, it still won't be a perfect job. A player is forced to review decisions made by the AI bots, which in the end is almost as much work as simply making the decisions to begin with. When the bot does make some drastic errors, it can be more work to undo the damage.
The solution would be to allow players to assemble their own bots, or be allowed to greatly influnce the bot's actions. Custom build lists are an example of this.
These kinds of activities shouldn't be required to *play a game*.
Sidenote: I'm amazed when people propose macrotools that are teetering close to being Turning Complete. Most people are not computer programmers and have no desire to be computer programmers.
Me whining about custom build lists is perhaps a little silly in a forum full of linux users---but no where near as silly as proposing that players of a 4x game will have to have an understanding of boolean logic, conditional statements, and program flow.
4: If an activity is so boring that we feel the need to automated it, then why include it in a game that being played for fun? This is perhaps the most important reason to avoid macrotools.
People posting ideas to these boards often lay out elaborate schemes in the name of simulation (or worse “strategy” *), then wave the magic wand of automation in order to make the idea playable in mid to late game.
Here’s my own Drekish thing: even if automation is possible, why not shave a few steps off everyone’s day and come up with systems that don’t require automation?
It's true that a sprinkling of the proposed macrotools *might* work as intended (or they might blow up and make the problem 10 times worse. example: the tools that resemble programming languages).
But I wonder if it's lazy design. Considering the infinite possibilities there should be a game design for a Moo-ish game that's:
b: in-depth strategically
c: got plenty of "flavor"
d: in no dire need of automation
It's a challenge, a metagame: the trick is to invent a game that fulfills those four requirements. I know it's the realm of possibility--question is whether or not we've got the collective desire and creativity to invent it.
Cause really: what's better? A game meeting those four requirements, or a game that forces you into either micohell or automation.
(note: an unofficial challenge. No one's ever officially ruled out automation.)
My Jerry Springer-esque Final Word:
Some really fun games: Chess, Super Mario brothers, Advanced Wars on GBA, Europa Universalis, Axis and Allies, Magic the Gathering.
Not a single one of em require that an AI or macro tool holds the player’s hand, playing half the game for him.
* if it's strategic, then how is a dumb robot going perform the task as well as a human?