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Games => AI War II => AI War II - Gameplay Ideas => Topic started by: kasnavada on September 13, 2016, 05:21:35 AM

Title: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: kasnavada on September 13, 2016, 05:21:35 AM
Following the discussion in the refleeting thread... offense would be most of your fleet, as a player, and defense, most of the turrets, mines, forcefields, and so on. Yes, if nitpicking, the flagship for example can have a great role in defense too. Yes, whatever is in the offense group can also help at defending.

Thing is that any mechanic meant to kill you as a player would have to bypass whatever your defenses while you're "weak", and that "you're weak" could happen if your offense is dead, or if your defense is dead, or both.

In starcraft, for example, I estimate the "power of offense / power of defense ratio" it to 5, if not more. Civ 5, would be closer to 1. AI war... depending on your unlocks... I think "my" playstyle makes it a 0.1 or 0.2 or something. Others with 110 -planet capture gamestyle probably run it toward 0.001, if not less. Anyway, in starcraft, when your offense is dead, you also are. But, if your defenses are dead, your offense can save the day. In civ, it's more of "the cities can hold" while reinforcement arrive - but against an assault, you need both (AI stupidity concerns aside). In AI War, of course it depends on the playstyle, but mostly... it does not matter if your offense is dead, you're still mostly safe.

Retaking the "define how the game finds out that you're weak" idea before, my opinion is that in AI war, you're weak when your defenses are crushed, and that the state of your offense is a minor concern when calculating your "can I be killed" ratio.

I think that moving back the "slider" to a position where offense is stronger than what it is now could be a good move. Plainly removing some defense options could work but I don't imagine it being very popular - which does not mean that cutting some options could be a good move anyway. Another idea would be that defense is more dependant on offensive units being present (ideas that would help with this could be manning the turrets with ships, or having planetary boosts to damage and range to the "defending offense fleet").

What do you think ?

PS: depending on ideas, "ultra defensive" gameplay could be kept as a mod / lobby option.
PS2: while they were "refused", I think some ideas behind platforms could be of use here.
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: Cinth on September 13, 2016, 06:47:38 AM
Turtle strategies in StarCraft are completely viable and work really well against the AI.

You can take that further and fight a battle of attrition vs the AI there and still win.  Basically taking enough M/G and walling up and giving up the map.  Let the AI exhaust that trying to kill you then clean up after the fact.

Strong defense is a strategy that works in a lot of other RTS also.
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: kasnavada on September 13, 2016, 07:03:59 AM
Sorry, Cinth, I have strictly no clue about how to link what you just wrote to the subject I'm trying to raise, and am at a complete loss at finding out what point you're trying to make.

Starcraft was an example, not the point of the discussion that I'm trying to start, and while I do think of starcraft as mostly a pvp game (and ignore that its AI can be killed by attrition), I don't see where you're going, at all.

Yes, defenses work in other games, including AI War I. Again, no clue why you're pointing this up.
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: Cinth on September 13, 2016, 07:10:36 AM
Using your example and expanding on it, nothing more.

And it's not just "defenses work", its you can build a strategy around your defenses and be successful.
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: Pumpkin on September 13, 2016, 08:39:16 AM
I like that idea of changing the offense/defense ratio. I imagine the turrets would be a bit less powerful, the waves a bit smaller for a given AIP level... I think that could work. However that may require more back  and forth with the mobile fleet for more needed assist-defenses. Pour the fuel into that (the fuel mechanism, of course ;)) and balancing the whole game should become a fun thing. But it could work.

I have a different idea that wouldn't require a change in balance. But I'll put it in another thread.

Interesting idea, anyway.
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: kasnavada on September 13, 2016, 09:35:14 AM
I like that idea of changing the offense/defense ratio. I imagine the turrets would be a bit less powerful, the waves a bit smaller for a given AIP level... I think that could work. However that may require more back  and forth with the mobile fleet for more needed assist-defenses. Pour the fuel into that (the fuel mechanism, of course ;)) and balancing the whole game should become a fun thing. But it could work.

I have a different idea that wouldn't require a change in balance. But I'll put it in another thread.

Interesting idea, anyway.

I was thinking about being a bit more drastic than that... (cough) leaving the player with 3 turret types, mines, and the thing you called utility turrets in another thread (cough)... but that's balance details, and I'm more interested in keeping the thread on the general idea rather than the specifics.
I like the idea of tying this to the first proposed fuel mechanic though.
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: Draco18s on September 13, 2016, 10:58:49 AM
Reducing the player's defensive capability, for me, means that I end up using my fleet for defensive purposes more which leads to faster stalemates, not quicker deaths.
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: kasnavada on September 13, 2016, 11:07:17 AM
Reducing the player's defensive capability, for me, means that I end up using my fleet for defensive purposes more which leads to faster stalemates, not quicker deaths.

Fair point. It's certainly one way to reduce the ratio that may not work if the issue of being stalemated isn't resolved. I'll take you at your word though. "faster stalemates". Which means that stalemales are already an issue that needs to be resolved, am I right ?
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: Draco18s on September 13, 2016, 11:15:08 AM
Reducing the player's defensive capability, for me, means that I end up using my fleet for defensive purposes more which leads to faster stalemates, not quicker deaths.

Fair point. It's certainly one way to reduce the ratio that may not work if the issue of being stalemated isn't resolved. I'll take you at your word though. "faster stalemates". Which means that stalemales are already an issue that needs to be resolved, am I right ?

Correct.  I currently stalemate at a point* where the AI is sending a wave/exo/whatever at me just as I'm finished rebuilding my fleet and I need to use my fleet to intercept and kill or I will be overrun.  Thus my fleet is sent in to help defend.  Thus my entire fleet gets wiped out.  Thus I rebuild.  GOTO 10.

I never have the opportunity to push forward and take more territory, even if the move would actually make it easier to defend, because I never have the fleet to perform the maneuver.  If I send it in early before the exo arrives (because I've got about 10 minutes before it actually arrives), then I don't have a fleet to defend against the exo, and I get overrun.

*Note: I haven't played a game in forever, but it always reaches this point
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: kasnavada on September 13, 2016, 11:21:55 AM
I understand that... but following the forum & patch notes a bit I thought I saw Keith make a few modifications to threat reinforcements to help with that. Possibly, not enough though. After the first few stalemate, I played with different options to avoid being stalemated... Think it deserves its own thread ?

Assuming that stalemate isn't (somehow), an issue, what do you think of the proposal ?

Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: Draco18s on September 13, 2016, 11:49:20 AM
Even from a conceptual standpoint of "only three turret types" I feel pretty miffed.  I want heavy beam cannons, I want tractor turrets, fortresses, and so on.

Having only three types of turrets means that I can't really specialize if the AI starts sending particular units my way.  In the case of fast, melee units, I don't have the option to build flak turrets around my command center, or lightning AOE.
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: kasnavada on September 13, 2016, 12:06:20 PM
Even from a conceptual standpoint of "only three turret types" I feel pretty miffed.  I want heavy beam cannons, I want tractor turrets, fortresses, and so on.
Having only three types of turrets means that I can't really specialize if the AI starts sending particular units my way.  In the case of fast, melee units, I don't have the option to build flak turrets around my command center, or lightning AOE.

I knew I shouldn't have written that. Pumpkin's proposal of just "reducing the damage" would be enough for the idea to work. What I'm proposing is sensibly a bit extreme and would require a lot more balance changes to work.
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: chemical_art on September 13, 2016, 12:10:19 PM
On a fundamental level offense, not defense wins games. Defensive techs are great early to mid game. But with the current AI HW setup there is a minimal quota of ships needed to win. For that reason I feel things should be tilted on the defensive front.
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: Draco18s on September 13, 2016, 12:25:25 PM
If anything, that tells me that offensive units need to be made better, not making defensive ones weaker.
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: kasnavada on September 13, 2016, 12:28:15 PM
Fundamentaly, yes, AI War is a tower-defensish games, so... it has to be tilted on the defense side.

What trying to ask is that whatever the balance currently is, my opinion is that's it's tilted on the right side, but... a bit too much. And, that the game could be made more interesting if the balance was tilted a bit less. Or, a lot less. Basically, if defending against the AI involved destroying stuff in their home a bit more often. And, when the AI attacks, to make their attack more dangerous, as a whole.

The ideas I had with that would be either flat-out reducing defenses, or asking the "offense" part of the game to help with defense (Currently, there are heavy defensive set-ups where offense fleet does not bring anything, like a chokepoint with caps of 1-3 turrets + fortresses + whatever). That would have to come with reducing the AI's attacks accordingly. And / or have a high risk of creating stalemates, as drao18 pointed out. Kind of a fatal flaw here. If a solution is found for that it's probably at the cost of a significant part of the current game flow.

Last idea, making "offense" stronger. Not sure about how to do that "fairly" though. It would help with the "refleeting" issue because, basically, stronger fleet = less losses.

Short for other ideas, I opened a thread.


Things that spawned this idea is the "Fatal refleeting" discussion. In it, basically... in other threads too, the concensus that I get from those threads is that there are strategies, and defensive set-ups, which makes you close to complete invicibility from the AI, unless playing at very high levels of difficulty, or, for some reason, follow non-optimal paths in order to make the game (artificially) harder.

Another issue is that the AI is very, very passive, but making it more aggressive falls on the same pitfall as above. Making it attack more often is probably just going to just be crushing itself against something it cannot penetrate, or starting stalemates. Or, being cheezy, like EMP guardians.
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: Draco18s on September 13, 2016, 12:33:48 PM
The thing is, I feel that no matter what change you make my response to it is going to be "so I need to use my fleet on defense more" which causes refleets to occur more often which causes "so I need to use my fleet on defense" more which causes refleets to occur more often which...

Impenetrable defenses are less of a thing now than they used to be.  The last time I played a game with an insurmountable chokepoint world was version 3.8.  There were no exo waves, there were no golems, guardians, hunter/killers, spirecraft, jump-over-it-warp-gates...

Ironically, that's also the last game I won.

Again, this isn't saying that the balance is in the right place currently, but that the suggestions to alter that balance have the same general impact on what I'd see during play.
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: kasnavada on September 13, 2016, 12:43:26 PM
Quote
The thing is, I feel that no matter what change you make my response to it is going to be "so I need to use my fleet on defense more" which causes refleets to occur more often which causes "so I need to use my fleet on defense" more which causes refleets to occur more often which...
Yes, I know :D

Not sure what I can do about that. IMO stalemate come from the refleeting mechanics, which come from the metal mechanic, and from how AIP progress works. Neither seems touchable, as far as game design goes, and taking into account the replies I've got to proposal aiming to change those.

Quote
rest
Not sure about what we're calling impenetrable defenses is the same. To me it's just something that the AI can't crack at the current AIP level.

Last games I played, I went for low-AIP route and there was little challenge unless I was ready to strike. Then, I won. I built choke points, and the part of the defenses that I lost, I rebuilt in less than 30 minutes, which left me with about 3 hours before the next AI strikes. My fleet was mostly untouched. Kept as a back-up, it took care of stragglers and / or escapees like raid ships. The AI was killed "inside" a 3 hour window.

Sometimes I didn't care enough to upgrade my defenses, so I got scared a bit, but if I were to restart, I'll try to find a set-up that works for the first 20 hours of the game (as it can probably be built from the game start), and by then I'd have won.
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: chemical_art on September 13, 2016, 12:48:16 PM
If anything, that tells me that offensive units need to be made better, not making defensive ones weaker.

How so? If offensive units are improved there will not be a need for good defenses. Whether you weaken defenses or increase offensive it still relatively makes the difference smaller and thus diminishes defense.
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: Draco18s on September 13, 2016, 12:51:27 PM
You were playing low-AIP.  Your defenses should almost always be "invincible" at that level of play.

The problem occurs at the more moderate levels of AIP play, above 200 AIP.  The whole "if AIP goes over 200 you're fucked" style of play is the super-low-AIP playstyle.  The playstyle I play at is the "if you go over 600 AIP you're fucked."

Your proposals seem geared towards making the AI attacks meaningful at lower AIP, which ruins a whole two other playstyles:
1) higher AIP, but still relevant
2) AIP, what's AIP?

If anything, that tells me that offensive units need to be made better, not making defensive ones weaker.

How so? If offensive units are improved there will not be a need for good defenses. Whether you weaken defenses or increase offensive it still relatively makes the difference smaller and thus diminishes defense.

I mean making player offensive units stronger relative to AI defensive units, whereas AI offensive units remain constant vs player defenses.  The whole idea of "you must be this tall to assault an AI homeworld" bar goes down.
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: kasnavada on September 13, 2016, 12:54:37 PM
If anything, that tells me that offensive units need to be made better, not making defensive ones weaker.

How so? If offensive units are improved there will not be a need for good defenses. Whether you weaken defenses or increase offensive it still relatively makes the difference smaller and thus diminishes defense.

I disagree with that. It would be if "player offense" would clash against "player defense", but in the game:
- "player defense" cares for "AI attacks".
- "player offense" cares for "AI defenses".

The only parts where "player offense" would clash against "player defense", would be when AI defenses become AI attacks, or the opposite. Like, released threat as reinforcement (large stalemate issue), CPA (killer move) that leaves large part of the AI defenseless), AI fleeing from chokepoints after attacking (preventable, but potentially creating a huge blob of stuff that's annoying to deal with).

Your proposals seem geared towards making the AI attacks meaningful at lower AIP, which ruins a whole two other playstyles:
1) higher AIP, but still relevant
2) AIP, what's AIP?

I want to get rid of low AIP. If I support it / speak about it, it's to show that it's a meaningless playstyle, mostly.

You were playing low-AIP.  Your defenses should almost always be "invincible" at that level of play.

The problem occurs at the more moderate levels of AIP play, above 200 AIP.  The whole "if AIP goes over 200 you're fucked" style of play is the super-low-AIP playstyle.  The playstyle I play at is the "if you go over 600 AIP you're fucked."

Yup, I agree with that.
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: chemical_art on September 13, 2016, 12:57:30 PM

I mean making player offensive units stronger relative to AI defensive units, whereas AI offensive units remain constant vs player defenses.  The whole idea of "you must be this tall to assault an AI homeworld" bar goes down.

Ah yes this I agree with. AI HW are so unique in their challenges that they can force a player to build a strategy against them first then try to make it worst for the rest of the game.
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: kasnavada on September 13, 2016, 01:12:28 PM
Your proposals seem geared towards making the AI attacks meaningful at lower AIP, which ruins a whole two other playstyles:
1) higher AIP, but still relevant
2) AIP, what's AIP?

/rant
To elaborate on this... I've had, personally, the most fun with AIP between 200 to 400, and rising a bit. Then lost repeatedly. Then found the low AIP route. Then won, bored out of my mind. Tried a few more options, like golems, spire, and so on, had some fun discovering new mechanics. Tried a few "harder games", but the low AIP route crushed fun into a hole. Resumed back into new mechanics and lower diff (7-8), and higher AIP. Funnier game, and I like discovering new features.

I'd rather have made the game harder, provide some challenge at the same time I would have discovered the new features, but the challenge it's providing is a test of my patience, not of my skills. That's what I did with X-Com EW, cranked-up the diff with starting with mechs. Had more fun than ever.

The design of AI war II is plagued with people's conflicting playstyles. Nothing can change ever because some guy's playstyle is gone. I don't know where the game is going with those idea in mind, but I don't think very far. What, 60, 80% or 90% of suggestions on the forum can't be done because it alter's some guy's playstyle. I understand that, but... from a design, from a "what could the game be" perspective... feels very limited to me. Where the game should allow the game to do stuff, I feel likes it constraints itself into not really resolving stuff that caused issues for years.

I deemed obvious that given that it's a sequel, it'll be a somewhat different game, and that some of the extremes, or that some of the parts that are known issues since the start of the game, would stop receiving whatever band-aid they got, and got "more real" solutions.

Like: low AIP route (I think that's the part of the game that has received the most band-aid over the years, CSG, deep strike counter attack, multiple reviews of energy mechanics, dire guardians, dire lairs...), like the AIP feature and the stalemate it causes. Like, the refleeting mechanic (slow, boring). Like, the fact that the game is soooo damn long is not an issue if most of that time wasn't waiting time. Other issues are around. These are the few that come to my mind now.
/rant
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: skrutsch on September 13, 2016, 03:02:58 PM
In many respects, I like the slider at 0.1 or 0.2.  That means I can drop a standard defense on a new acquisition to guard it against local aggression, waiting to beef it up when a timed raid is announced.  That gives more time to move my multiple fleets around and plan and execute assaults, the fun part for me. 

But that isn't the way you fully defend a planet you can't afford to lose (whipping boy, chokepoint, home command system, call it what you like).  Kasnavada noted in a previous thread an excellent question, which I'm going to explore via algebra:  How do we make an AI counterattack defeat a full defense, but lose to a full defense + some defending fleet?

Well, the power-per-planet AIW II rule change (along with turret caps - are they per-planet or global now?) will define what a full defense looks like, let's call that a fixed strength of D.

Let A = the strength of the AI's strongest attack (CPA, reprisal, threat, Shark, whatever).

If A = D, then it's a 50-50 battle, heads your HCS survives, tails it doesn't.  Lots of dead things in either case.

The relationship between A and D is not the least bit linear... I have little sense of how to quantify A and D anyhow, so I'm going to go with this:
If A is only 2/3 the strength of D, your chances of defeat are only 1%.
If A is 1.5 times the strength of D, your chances of defeat are 99%.

Now for my preferences: yours may be different.

I wish to discourage losing the entire fleet in offensive operations. I'd like the AI response (regardless of mechanic) be a 50-50 proposition, so I want A to equal D.

But I wish to encourage losing half the fleet; my vision is to move and use the other half-fleet while the first half rebuilds.  (So I'm always doing something interesting, thus removing netflix time.)  Should the AI response occur at this time, I'll use the moving half-fleet to aid the defense.  And I would like the chances of my success to be 99% in this case.

Let F = the (defensive) strength of a player's entire fleet. Then I want A to be only 2/3 the strength of (D + 0.5F).  So 1.5A = D + 0.5F, so 1.5D = D + 0.5F, which works out to D = F, a "slider" of 1.0 .

Maybe this is just a big garbage-in-garbage-out?  Hope it illustrates something!
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: kasnavada on September 13, 2016, 03:09:42 PM
Well, the power-per-planet AIW II rule change (along with turret caps - are they per-planet or global now?) will define what a full defense looks like, let's call that a fixed strength of D.

Woah. I didn't even think of that. Me <- stupid. I did read the design doc multiple times though.

@skrutsch: thanks for your post, brings very nice ideas. Indeed, the limitation of power / planet and the rest of what you've written, does actually takes care of a lot of issues I've been meaning to convey. Including the part with "How do we make an AI counterattack defeat a full defense, but lose to a full defense + some defending fleet?".
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: Sestren on September 13, 2016, 03:21:48 PM
The design of AI war II is plagued with people's conflicting playstyles. Nothing can change ever because some guy's playstyle is gone. I don't know where the game is going with those idea in mind, but I don't think very far. What, 60, 80% or 90% of suggestions on the forum can't be done because it alter's some guy's playstyle. I understand that, but... from a design, from a "what could the game be" perspective... feels very limited to me. Where the game should allow the game to do stuff, I feel likes it constraints itself into not really resolving stuff that caused issues for years.

From lightly browsing these forums I think it might even be broader than that. Part of what people enjoy in classic is not just the presence of the different playstyles themselves but the capacity of the underlying game to be adjusted to house them. Its to some degree almost a roll-your-own-game so long as you are content with that game being an asymmetrical space rts. The requests for modding support are an outgrowth of that position.

I almost feel that, when having these conversations, the presence of modding flexibility needs to be kept in mind. On one hand, people should get out of the mindset that if the game their playing isn't the 'optimal approach given the official balance' that it doesn't count and embrace the ability to adjust the game to their desired taste. Yes that takes some effort, but unless your tastes are completely unlike anyone elses, you can find what worked for others and use that as a starting point. On the other hand, given that anyone who wants a particular playstyle (110+, ultra-low AIP) can recreate it via modding if not just lobby options so long as enough mechanics are available to be tweaked in xml.

This means that the 'default/official' version of the game is most important as THE NEW PLAYER EXPERIENCE, because that is almost universally going to be the first thing tried. If the game is, on the whole, more interesting when the ultra-low AIP route is NOT available/encouraged, then I am all in favor of removing it WITH THE UNDERSTANDING that the underlying mechanisms aren't changed in such a way that people who really want it can't put it back in afterwards.

====

On a semi-unrelated note, would expecting fleets to contribute to defenses be easier if human fleets moved significantly faster at the strategic level? The time taken to go to the fight is usually longer than the fight itself. Granted I don't have any ideas how to do that without messing up insystem fleet speeds in combat aside from a clunky system like movement 'modes' but maybe someone else does.
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: kasnavada on September 13, 2016, 03:48:20 PM
I almost feel that, when having these conversations, the presence of modding flexibility needs to be kept in mind.
+1

This means that the 'default/official' version of the game is most important as THE NEW PLAYER EXPERIENCE
+1

On a semi-unrelated note, would expecting fleets to contribute to defenses be easier if human fleets moved significantly faster at the strategic level? The time taken to go to the fight is usually longer than the fight itself. Granted I don't have any ideas how to do that without messing up insystem fleet speeds in combat aside from a clunky system like movement 'modes' but maybe someone else does.

As a whole, I tend to put my chokepoints near reinforcement points, which alleviates the problem. Also, home station is probably gone, and we've got a mobile command center now.
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: Toranth on September 13, 2016, 03:52:39 PM
Your proposals seem geared towards making the AI attacks meaningful at lower AIP, which ruins a whole two other playstyles:
1) higher AIP, but still relevant
2) AIP, what's AIP?
/rant
To elaborate on this... I've had, personally, the most fun with AIP between 200 to 400, and rising a bit. Then lost repeatedly. Then found the low AIP route. Then won, bored out of my mind. Tried a few more options, like golems, spire, and so on, had some fun discovering new mechanics. Tried a few "harder games", but the low AIP route crushed fun into a hole. Resumed back into new mechanics and lower diff (7-8), and higher AIP. Funnier game, and I like discovering new features.
<snip>
See, low AIP at low difficulties is boring to me, too.  So I play at higher difficulties.  At Diff 7, that first wave of the game will be approx. 40 bombers.  At Diff 9, it'll be 80 bombers.  At Diff 10, it'll be 160 bombers.  And that's the base, the minimum that all further AIP increases multiply from.  On Diff 10, when you take that first AI system, getting that first +20 AIP?  That's a more than triple in the size of the waves coming in.  You cannot be careless, and you cannot get above the absolute minimum AIP, because you WILL die.

It's all about balancing your gain vs the AI's gain.  You want to maximize your gains while minimizing benefit to the AI.  That means a lot of careful choices and a lot of tradeoffs.  Then, right at the end, it's still a major gamble.
I see you wanting to get rid of low AIP as trying to take away those options from me.  I don't even know how you'd balance the higher difficulties.  You may not care, because you don't play them, but I do and I like the danger and the careful, near-fatal, tradeoffs that are required.  On the other hand, I'm a terrible person to ask about Diff 5 balancing or fun, because I don't play there. 
But please accept that there are people that like that you can be required to keep AIP low, and carefully minmax your conquests - or lose.
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: kasnavada on September 13, 2016, 04:35:08 PM
I see you wanting to get rid of low AIP as trying to take away those options from me.  I don't even know how you'd balance the higher difficulties.  You may not care, because you don't play them, but I do and I like the danger and the careful, near-fatal, tradeoffs that are required.  On the other hand, I'm a terrible person to ask about Diff 5 balancing or fun, because I don't play there.
But please accept that there are people that like that you can be required to keep AIP low, and carefully minmax your conquests - or lose.

- The first counter-argument to that is that the game could be balanced so that "Keeping AIP low" meant be keeping AIP under 350, and have the EXACT same min-max conquest or lose issues. Currently it's not. But it's a matter of the game not being balanced around this, and not a matter of keeping a playstyle at all.
- The second counter-argument is that keeping ultra-low AIP (like below 100 for the entire game) prevents me from having a 600-700 AIP game at diff 9 and more. I appreciate the irony of the game I'd like being impossible, while yours must be kept... because ? Is your way of playing "better" than mine ? Not anymore than mine is.
- The third argument, rarely spoken of or countered, is the amount of band-aid that the low-AIP strategy has required over the years, to work. Which removed a lot of gaming possibilities for other people. It's also the cause of a lot of complaints and issues over the years, least of which is refleeting time, CSGs... and the amount of stuff that should work but does not, because low AIP in place (reinforcement...).


Anyway, now it's moddable with AI war 2 - at least I hope it is, and the design doc seems to indicate that it will be. I'm not preventing anyone from having his game fetish here, not even me. So... I don't know why you bring that argument again - no point.


The main question I'll ask from now on is this :
Quote
This means that the 'default/official' version of the game is most important as THE NEW PLAYER EXPERIENCE
The ultra-low AIP route is viewed by some as cheezy at best, and (IMO) required a lot of band-aid to get better. Do you want it to be the new player experience ? Is the game for newbies more enjoyable with this "mindset" in place, or is another way of playing more fun ?

My opinion is that a game where the low AIP route is viable and used ain't fun, because by definition it removes a lot of mechanics in place to make the game turn (reinforcement, waves scaling to territory size, allows you to get stronger without the AI getting stronger... and a few other issues). I'm open on discussing that, but really, it's becoming a minor point as time go by. Because moddable in part, and because of some stuff that is in the design doc that people don't notice (me included), that'll change the gameplay and removes a lot of cheese. Possibly adds new cheese too.


PS : I'll stress it again. I'm NOT making your playstyle go away, whatever flaws I see in it don't matter. I'm focussing on making the "vanilla" future game more fun - and think it goes via that.
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: Toranth on September 13, 2016, 08:20:02 PM
- The second counter-argument is that keeping ultra-low AIP (like below 100 for the entire game) prevents me from having a 600-700 AIP game at diff 9 and more. I appreciate the irony of the game I'd like being impossible, while yours must be kept... because ? Is your way of playing "better" than mine ? Not anymore than mine is.
To reply to this one:  Because that's how the game is designed.  Literally, that's the point.  AIP is the measure of the AI's attention to you.  If you attract too much attention from the genocidal ultra-being, it will kill you.  This is stated in the advertising, the lore, the instructions, and the mechanics.
AI War 2 may be different.  But that would be a BIG change.  Huge.  Like, the biggest change you could possibly make to the game.

If you look at Diff 10 as "If you play perfectly and are lucky, you will almost win", then you can look at every difficulty level below that as increasing the margin of error (or inefficiency, if you prefer) you can have and still win.  That allows you to play looser at lower difficulties, and me to have a brutally punishing game at higher difficulties.  Unfortunately, I don't think there is a way to require lower difficulties to rack up the AIP but allow higher difficulties NOT to do it.

So, yeah, while you say you don't want to take away the low AIP playstyle... if you make it impossible to play with low AIP, that's exactly what you're doing.
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: TechSY730 on September 13, 2016, 08:57:29 PM
While I wouldn't mind the "offense/defense" ratio raised (pushed towards offense) a little but (In AIWC, small armies take freaking forever to get anything done, including killing other small armies, which could make the early game sort of stale in lower difficulties), I still think it should be kept quite soundly in the "defensive" favored.
Part of what I feel is "AI War" is the slower nature of the game; the fact that you don't have to micro like a god or pause like every second to get reasonable performance out of your fleet; that you have time to "think" in battles. Also keeping the ratio on the "defensive" side helps to preserve the "player sets the pace" nature of AI War (which TBH, I'm not sure is still a design goal for AIWII like it was for AI War classic)
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: Cyborg on September 13, 2016, 09:15:54 PM
PS : I'll stress it again. I'm NOT making your playstyle go away, whatever flaws I see in it don't matter. I'm focussing on making the "vanilla" future game more fun - and think it goes via that.

This is a single player game with a variety of player preferences that need to be catered to. The reaction you're getting from people is because you are pushing your personal gaming preferences as the default and that we all should go mod it if we don't like it.

Why don't you try finding a way to recognize and include the various playstyles? For example, configurable sliders, flags, etc.
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: kasnavada on September 14, 2016, 01:26:19 AM
PS : I'll stress it again. I'm NOT making your playstyle go away, whatever flaws I see in it don't matter. I'm focussing on making the "vanilla" future game more fun - and think it goes via that.

This is a single player game with a variety of player preferences that need to be catered to. The reaction you're getting from people is because you are pushing your personal gaming preferences as the default and that we all should go mod it if we don't like it.

Why don't you try finding a way to recognize and include the various playstyles? For example, configurable sliders, flags, etc.

Hum, that's exactly the people that answer me are doing, answering me that their preference is the default. While claiming "hey you can put a slider". I'm not different from any of you guys on that point ;D. There's about 40k defaults here.

I'm only trying to find the default slider here. Of course I'm trying to push how the game was fun for me. Why would I do the opposite ?

AI War 2 will be different.  There will be BIG changes.

Here, fixed. Sorry. I hate to do that... it's disrespecful... very sorry. But it conveys the points well.

The game is already going to be completely renewed.
- From the energy mechanic, it's visible than defense will take a huge nerf, energy cap pre planet will reduce drastically the amount of defense that can be set on one planet. The capture 100 planet way of playing the game is probably already dead.
- The AI is going to retake territory.
- units will have upgrades.
- fighting will be completely redone, via squads.
- a lot of sliders have already disappeared.
- protector starships, snipers are dead already.
- minor factions are going to be completely reworked.
- champions are, for better or worse, already gone.
- from the sound of it golems could be renewable.

AIP is integral to the core experience will still be there, but the way it works will change somewhat as a result of all those changes. It has to, because the game changed, so the balance will change, so AIP will change. And... there is already a huge push in the design doc to make the game tick toward its conclusion without caring for AIP. I'm not remotely the one at the origin of that.

Oh, and, to me, the AI actually taking aggressive moves, and recapturing territory, rather than being passive unless you're doing something, like it was in AI War I, is the biggest change that could ever be. It's like a reversal of the spirit of the entire game. I see removing "low AIP" games is as just moving numbers around.

As far as I know, the low AIP route could already dead, because Chris will put mechanics forcing the player to capture 20 planets minimum. Or reinforced, but renewed because the command center is mobile, or dead because some other mechanic independant of AIP will force you to thread into the 200 -300 AIP range, whatever the difficulty level. Anyway, the only fact that low AIP mechanic was discussed around the previous years, by other people that I (I didn't exactly discover it, nor am the first one discussing it) show that there are issues with it.

I don't know where you're going with this. Are you pushing AI war II to be just AI war I with better graphics ? It's already not.


PS: the "band-aid" part never gets answered to.
PS2: I don't make much difference between sliders & mods. To me a slider is a dev-made mod. Sorry if I'm unclear on that one.
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: kasnavada on September 14, 2016, 01:39:12 AM
While I wouldn't mind the "offense/defense" ratio raised (pushed towards offense) a little but (In AIWC, small armies take freaking forever to get anything done, including killing other small armies, which could make the early game sort of stale in lower difficulties), I still think it should be kept quite soundly in the "defensive" favored.
Part of what I feel is "AI War" is the slower nature of the game; the fact that you don't have to micro like a god or pause like every second to get reasonable performance out of your fleet; that you have time to "think" in battles. Also keeping the ratio on the "defensive" side helps to preserve the "player sets the pace" nature of AI War (which TBH, I'm not sure is still a design goal for AIWII like it was for AI War classic)

Thanks for your answer.
I think that everyone agrees on that point. As the AI is going to be somewhat more aggressive now, I'm not sure about the pace thing.
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: Toranth on September 14, 2016, 02:24:26 PM
AI War 2 will be different.  There will be BIG changes.

Here, fixed. Sorry. I hate to do that... it's disrespecful... very sorry. But it conveys the points well.

The game is already going to be completely renewed.
- From the energy mechanic, it's visible than defense will take a huge nerf, energy cap pre planet will reduce drastically the amount of defense that can be set on one planet. The capture 100 planet way of playing the game is probably already dead.
- The AI is going to retake territory.
- units will have upgrades.
- fighting will be completely redone, via squads.
- a lot of sliders have already disappeared.
- protector starships, snipers are dead already.
- minor factions are going to be completely reworked.
- champions are, for better or worse, already gone.
- from the sound of it golems could be renewable.
Yes, I know.  None of those have to do with the core game mechanic I was discussing:  Raising AIP raises AI response, and too much AIP means you die.  While there has been discussion of modifying how AIP works (multi-factor AIP, temporary AIP, local AIP, faction-specific AIP, etc) the core mechanic is still on the list to be there:  Too much AI attention = death.


AIP is integral to the core experience will still be there, but the way it works will change somewhat as a result of all those changes. It has to, because the game changed, so the balance will change, so AIP will change. And... there is already a huge push in the design doc to make the game tick toward its conclusion without caring for AIP. I'm not remotely the one at the origin of that.

Oh, and, to me, the AI actually taking aggressive moves, and recapturing territory, rather than being passive unless you're doing something, like it was in AI War I, is the biggest change that could ever be. It's like a reversal of the spirit of the entire game. I see removing "low AIP" games is as just moving numbers around.

As far as I know, the low AIP route could already dead, because Chris will put mechanics forcing the player to capture 20 planets minimum. Or reinforced, but renewed because the command center is mobile, or dead because some other mechanic independant of AIP will force you to thread into the 200 -300 AIP range, whatever the difficulty level. Anyway, the only fact that low AIP mechanic was discussed around the previous years, by other people that I (I didn't exactly discover it, nor am the first one discussing it) show that there are issues with it.

I don't know where you're going with this. Are you pushing AI war II to be just AI war I with better graphics ? It's already not.
Here's the core issue:  There will always be some strategy that works at high difficulties.  It will involve being very careful and precise, and optimizing the player's gains while minimizing the AI's gains.  I don't know exactly what this strategy will be in AI War 2.  But it will exist.
When this strategy is played at lower difficulty levels, it will be even more successful.  At low enough difficulties, it will make the game so easy as to be trivial.  The solutions to this are to either raise the difficulty you play at, or play a sub-optimal strategy that you find more fun.
Whether the AIP is shifted to have a larger minimum or not is just sliding numbers around.  A gameplay range of 200-700 is the same as 0-500.  If AIWClassic suddenly doubled all the AIP gains, and halved the effects of AIP, the game would play the EXACT same as it does now, but you'd have everyone with twice the AIP.  The same 'low AIP' strategy as always would be the best.

Unless you can come up with some game mechanic that actually makes the game work fundamentally different at different difficulty levels.  There are some I can think of.  I just down think it's a good idea.
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: kasnavada on September 14, 2016, 03:52:32 PM
Quote
Here's the core issue:  There will always be some strategy that works at high difficulties.  It will involve being very careful and precise, and optimizing the player's gains while minimizing the AI's gains.  I don't know exactly what this strategy will be in AI War 2.  But it will exist.

Yes, it will. No issue with it. I thing I'm being misunderstood here. I can't blame that there is an optimal route to victory... there's always going to be one.

The issue I have is the other way, it's that the current optimal path has "gameplay issues", tied to being low-AIP.


Let's say that in a game there is 5 mechanics, aimed at providing difficulty to the player. Players have fun, some are more "efficient" than others. Some set their own challenges. Then some guy finds a strategy that enables him to win on from low to very high difficulty... By completely removing the effect of 3 of the 5 mechanics that aimed to provide difficulty, because of a probably unpredicted "flaw" in the game design.

Would you want the dev to re-enable the 3 mechanics that didn't work, by clearing out the "flaw" in the game design ? Or to implement 5 new mechanics to provide more difficulty when using the strategy that bypassed what the dev put in the game to provide difficulty in the first place ?

Example, if in Warcraft 3 the optimal way of playing was without heroes ? I'd want heroes back.


Back to the low AIP discussion, the ultra low AIP "worst abuse" for me was some guy winning the game with only one planet and people which played constantly at AIP floor. As I saw it, Arcen tried to block that with CSGs, deep strike counter-attacks, reduction in some of what's available to the player, energy management... loads of stuff, but the low AIP strat had gained a big following. Or something else. They also introduced some special mechanics specially for 10/10 games, if what I read of Kahuna's game is correct. Also introduced difficulty mechanics which that are not based on AIP (and plan to do more in the sequel). I've no clue if all of those mechanics are tied to said strategies being in place, but they do counter it from small to large extend... so. I count them as being in part for that.

My opinion is that in addition to CSGs, AIP reduction should have been nerfed enough so that the AIP floor was irrelevant, and the core worlds made stronger. Oh, and, when I speak about moving number around here, I speak about moving the AI responses to account for the AIP reduction being gone, the mechanics that scaled to AIP being boosted. It's a total rebalance of the game - hence I wouldn't advise it for AI War I. Too much work. But, for AI War II, complete balance is to be redone... so why not. Yes, moving numbers from 0-500 to 200-700 with no changes is pointless. I don't wish / aim to make the game more difficult "just because", and acknowledge that modification to AIP will imply huge balance rework.


Another issue I have about the low AIP route is the image I put in copy. It's the schematic representation, as I see it, of the relative power of the player against the AI (or AIP) during such a game, based on the low AIP games I played / AAR I've read. The "step" at the end is the core killing. (Of course, it's way more bumpy than that in reality, I'm trying to be VERY schematic here). What I'd prefer, from a "design" view, would be that both view go up a lot more "proportionally" to each other, depending on the difficulty level - because I sincerely think that players would have more fun with such a route, that "resists" more. I don't like games where the start is very hard, and then you know you've won because all of a sudden the game stops being harder.


Of course, whatever happened over the years is probably waaaaaayyyy more complicated than that, and possibly I'm missing information and / or issues. Possibly I'm dead wrong, or right, or out of the box, or it's completely irrelevant because something else will happen. That said, my opinion is about the only thing that I fully know... so. I'm pushing my agenda. As partial as my view is, it's the only one I got. About the AIP reduction being nerfed, there is possibly a huge thing about it that eluded me for years, and I'm dead wrong about it.


Conclusion:
Simply put, my opinion of the low AIP route is that, from what I've seen, it "disables", or neutralize heavily, mechanics that aim to provide difficulty to the game (more at lower diff levels than at high level, which is an issue for me), and it's cheesing the difficulty curve of the game. I'm therefore against letting it be the "default" option. Some other cheese will arise, but at least "more" of the game will be there accross all difficulty levels.

And, yes, sorry. I don't always say it, but the game's going to be moddable, and, Arcen has since forever answered to even some blatant balance issues with "ok, let's make it an option". So I kind of forget to say it now. Sorry about that. I don't need / want to remove any options from you. I am beginning to be a bit touchy about this subject because I don't remember seeing arguments stating that the low AIP route is great or fun to play. I remember people stating that "it's necessary because high diff, and I love high diff", which is solved, and could be attained, by rebalancing the game, and "don't touch my playstyle", which IMO is irrelevant (see first phrase of paragraph). I litterally don't care what's in "options" to make your life harder / easier. I'm focussed on making the "vanilla", the "default" options as fun as possible. That's about all I wish for AI war 2. ToO bring people in, and have fun, if possible with vanilla options.

If you disagree with me that the current low-AIP mechanics should be the "default" mechanics, I'm open to discussing it. Otherwise, I hope I covered the subjects.


PS: I did find my fun on one of the "non-optimal" routes. That AI War is a great game because it has options is an opinion I share, even if apparently, it does not seem so to other people speaking to me.

PS2: possibly this post sounds like I'm criticizing the huge design work that has been made over the years. I acknowledge that it's much more complicated than what I make it sound like and, if anyone is "bruised" by it... sorry. Not my intention.
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: kasnavada on September 14, 2016, 04:34:42 PM
I case people want to answer this, I edited parts of it for clarity purpose. I think I'm done, but I don't know any other way to point others to reading the final version. Sorry for making the "new post" icon to blink.
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: Toranth on September 14, 2016, 09:47:01 PM
<lots>
Let me see if I understand better now:  You don't object to the low AIP playstyle itself.  What you dislike is how the AIP reducers (Datacenters, Co-Processors, SuperTerminal) make the mid-game stretch boring.  Is that more accurate?

In that case, I would agree that AIP reducers need to be looked at.  The Datacenters (and usually Co-Processors) are a "Must Get" every game, and barring some weird map quirks, the player will get them without much difficulty.  If something is always done by everyone every game... maybe it needs to be adjusted, and the game rebalanced around the assumption that they're already taken.
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: kasnavada on September 15, 2016, 01:22:15 AM
That's about it.

Given that "AIP" is the way that the difficulty is done (more or less), "low AIP" route is always, more or less, going to be the optimal way. However I do have qualms against the current implementation of what the low AIP route is.
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: Tridus on September 15, 2016, 08:39:11 AM
<lots>
Let me see if I understand better now:  You don't object to the low AIP playstyle itself.  What you dislike is how the AIP reducers (Datacenters, Co-Processors, SuperTerminal) make the mid-game stretch boring.  Is that more accurate?

In that case, I would agree that AIP reducers need to be looked at.  The Datacenters (and usually Co-Processors) are a "Must Get" every game, and barring some weird map quirks, the player will get them without much difficulty.  If something is always done by everyone every game... maybe it needs to be adjusted, and the game rebalanced around the assumption that they're already taken.

They do tend to create interesting things to capture, though. Having objectives around that are important isn't a bad thing.

I prefer the SuperTerminal over them in terms of implementation because Data Centers are so easy to hit, but the SuperTerminal can get very out of hand if you get careless with it. It's got a higher risk/reward ratio.
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: kasnavada on September 15, 2016, 08:54:42 AM
I'd rather have capturables that gave upgrade, ships, metal... no shortage of rewards here.

With all fabricators, data center, hackable thingy (that gave / took away enemy ships), other capturable like the zenith power station, zenith ship cache, metal cache... on a 60 planet map, there was 1 capturable per planet or something. Possibly time to cut a bit in that ?

I do like capturables though. Not sure how I feel about that.
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: Tridus on September 15, 2016, 09:39:52 AM
Some of those don't need to exist anymore. Design backup servers and such were added when hacking was added, but this time that could be integrated into the hacking UI itself and not require a physical thing that you have to fly a hacker to. Power works totally differently, so it's not clear if the ZPG will even be in the game at all or what it'll do.

AI Progress reduction is important, so some kind of target that does that is always high priority. To me, the SuperTerminal is an obvious one to keep in some form. CoProcessors are next. Data Centers are kind of the least interesting because they're just "send a raid starship to shoot it for AIP reduction" and there's no reason you would ever *not* do that ASAP.

This is probably veering off into something that should be its own thread, however.
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: Toranth on September 15, 2016, 11:40:45 AM
I prefer the SuperTerminal over them in terms of implementation because Data Centers are so easy to hit, but the SuperTerminal can get very out of hand if you get careless with it. It's got a higher risk/reward ratio.
SuperTerminal, I like - It's fairly limited in effect, but it is a lot of fun (and !!FUN!!) to use.
The Data Centers, though... So few HP that even a single shot from a Raid Starship can kill them, and Raids shoot through Forcefields, so not even that can protect them.  There are games I don't touch the SuperTerminal.  I don't think there been a game that I didn't get all the Data Centers, though.
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: kasnavada on September 15, 2016, 11:57:17 AM
:D ;)
I don't have the energy to "pilot" a thread on AI reducers. Also, it seems I got a talent to be misunderstood around this issue. So, could you please ?
Title: Re: Offense / defense ratio in AI War II => Needs to change ?
Post by: Tridus on September 15, 2016, 12:32:30 PM
You bet. :)

http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,19141.0.html