Author Topic: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"  (Read 1424 times)

Offline keith.lamothe

  • Arcen Games Staff
  • Administrator
  • Zenith Council Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 19,504
AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« on: April 03, 2018, 11:13:59 AM »
Release notes here!

This one is the first publicly-available release with part of the new UI that Chris has been working so hard on. Specifically, the UI you see in planet-view and galaxy-view in the game itself. There's still a lot of work-in-progress but, wow, that sidebar. MANY thanks to Eric T. Edwards in lending his mighty powers of UI/UX design. We've undoubtedly slaughtered that design in various ways, but the result is still way better than we could have come up with ourselves.

The other major advance is in the in-depth feedback from players like chemical_art and Magnus, which is tremendously helpful in our actually balancing this thing and resolving tensions in the design. Notable changes on that front this round:
- The AI planets you start next to are now MUCH easier to conquer, getting back towards how AIWC handled it.
- Starships are now a bigger deal: they're now so expensive in metal and fuel that you can't really even support _one_ at the start (though you generally can after conquering your first planet, it's just going to tie up most of that fuel). But they're now also 3x as strong, making even a single Mark 1 starship a significant presence in the early game, and they're now easily the most efficient way to spend Science to increase your mobile striking power.
-- So in many ways these aren't like Fleet Ships at all anymore, except that they're both part of your mobile fleet. You can choose how much to invest in each category (which may vary based on whether you've got more Fuel or Science available), but you're going to need both.

Also notable is the beginning of the integration of real shot graphics. Still a ways to go on that, but at least now you can see those menacing plasma torpedoes that are about to kill all your missile corvettes :)

Oh, and the model for the second Arkitect backer-reward Ark, the Orchid, is now done. Maybe the AI will be moved to sympathy by this giant space flower... but I wouldn't count on it ;)

And there's a lot of various bugfixes and other improvements from Badger, Chris, and yours truly.

Enjoy!
Keith
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games? Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!

Offline x4000

  • Chris Park, Arcen Games Founder and Lead Designer
  • Administrator
  • Zenith Council Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 31,049
Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2018, 11:48:17 AM »
This is such a satisfying one to have out the door. :)
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games?  Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!

Offline chemical_art

  • Core Member Mark IV
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,944
  • Fabulous
Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2018, 12:01:00 PM »
I've got to say that this is a keeper of a mine. 10 minutes in and I'm feeling the goosebumps of excitement that I was getting playing AIW 1 for in terms of excitement. This update is a huge step in the right direction. Grabbing worlds quickly just gives me such a good high and yet also makes balancing things earlier. If you hadn't made them easier to take I'd be a bit concerned at not having a starship at start due to fuel constraints. But I can take that first one quickly, then I pop out a starship and then seeing it with a new fleet then piledrive through a second world...so good. Since I don't feel the need to take four an individual one gets time to shine and I'm already eager to see the build up as I get more over time. Making fleetships the fuel and metal cheap yet science expensive and making starships a foil makes for great synergy.

Today I will finally hit mid game, with pleasure.  :)
Life is short. Have fun.

Offline x4000

  • Chris Park, Arcen Games Founder and Lead Designer
  • Administrator
  • Zenith Council Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 31,049
Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2018, 03:07:35 PM »
Sweeeeet!  :D
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games?  Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!

Offline eRe4s3r

  • Core Member Mark II
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,819
Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2018, 04:39:54 PM »
So is this the time to start playing this for first time in-depth impression for real? Or is still much in flux regarding mechanics and GUI menus setting and stuff?

Don't wanna waste the first impression ;)
Proud member of the Initiative for Bigger Weapons EV. - Bringer of Additive Blended Doom - Vote for Lore, get free cookie

Offline chemical_art

  • Core Member Mark IV
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,944
  • Fabulous
Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2018, 04:51:26 PM »
So is this the time to start playing this for first time in-depth impression for real? Or is still much in flux regarding mechanics and GUI menus setting and stuff?

Don't wanna waste the first impression ;)

I haven't put the mid game or late game through the ringer yet, so it is possible you can't finish. Also the GUI finally has a framework that works, but it will still need to be refined I think.
Life is short. Have fun.

Offline chemical_art

  • Core Member Mark IV
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,944
  • Fabulous
Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2018, 05:18:57 PM »
At 70 AIP, the AI somehow got 3.5k threat. If they were smart enough to actually attack, they could wipe me. I have no idea were this threat comes from, I haven't moved my king unit once and have cleared every planet I have captured. It is frustrating.
Life is short. Have fun.

Offline etheric42

  • Jr. Member Mark II
  • **
  • Posts: 85
Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2018, 05:28:44 PM »
The GUI's initial setup for the HUD (for lack of a better word) is complete.  Some of the buttons have yet to be wired up and turned on (like rally) and features like wave/combat notifications and planet information on the galaxy map have not been completed yet.  I'd hold off until Chris can finish those if you want to wait for an extra special first impression.  It's playable and fun now, but a number of things have been discussed and planned but not implemented yet.

Online BadgerBadger

  • Hero Member Mark II
  • *****
  • Posts: 837
  • BadgerBadgerBadgerBadger
Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2018, 05:31:34 PM »
@chemical_art, re: threat. Do you have any minor factions enabled?

Offline chemical_art

  • Core Member Mark IV
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,944
  • Fabulous
Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2018, 05:32:15 PM »
Turrets feel very under powered. When you have to spread them out so you maybe 5 of each type covering the many wormholes and AI threat moves in groups of a few hundred they really don't do much. The AI able to destroy the turret controls at will because you cannot possibly defend them, there are too many and too spread out. Since my own fleet doesn't move faster on my planets I find myself chasing threat.
Life is short. Have fun.

Offline chemical_art

  • Core Member Mark IV
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,944
  • Fabulous
Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2018, 05:33:14 PM »
@chemical_art, re: threat. Do you have any minor factions enabled?

I play with whatever the default settings are, I haven't glanced. Many, if not most, players will do their first game like this so I feel it the mode that gets the most testing / attention to balance.

Match dropped after 45 minutes. Threat was at 7500. Insane. They are growing faster then I can kill them at AIP 70.

EDIT: I played with sentinels, wardens, and hunters. The sentinels were the ones doing the thrashing.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2018, 05:41:33 PM by chemical_art »
Life is short. Have fun.

Offline keith.lamothe

  • Arcen Games Staff
  • Administrator
  • Zenith Council Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 19,504
Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2018, 06:45:31 PM »
At 70 AIP, the AI somehow got 3.5k threat. If they were smart enough to actually attack, they could wipe me.
The threat numbers are in terms of strength (ship count is meaningless when it includes fleet ships and guardians and whatnot).

Your starting fleet (flagship + triangle) is 1.6k strength. A single Mark 1 starship is 600 strength. A single cap of Mark 1 turrets is 1000 strength.

So 3.5k isn't especially concerning.

Quote
I have no idea were this threat comes from, I haven't moved my king unit once and have cleared every planet I have captured. It is frustrating.
When you show up with overwhelming force the guardians defending a planet will often abandon the planet and retreat to come after you later as threat. Is that a possibility here?

Also, I don't know if waves are sometimes being launched simply as threat, as we were doing that for a bit, but I think Badger made it not-on-by-default.


Quote
Turrets feel very under powered.
I'm fine buffing them again, but it would help to understand what exactly you're expecting. Currently turrets cost half as much science as fleet ships and have 5x the HP and DPS. That's a pretty stark difference.

Quote
When you have to spread them out so you maybe 5 of each type covering the many wormholes
How many wormholes are you covering? Is there another way to structure your defenses to reduce the number of "hard" entry points by allowing certain planets to fall while still blunting the attack?

I don't understand what you're facing that would cause you to need to do even that, however. For 1000 Science (1 low-science planet's worth) you can research 4 Mark 1 turret types. Added to your starting Mark 1 Needler turrets that's 5,000 strength. Yes, you have to spread it around to some extent, but that's a really good deal on a strength-per-science basis.

Also bear in mind that you start with Mark 1 Tractor Arrays, which have a per-planet cap.

Quote
and AI threat moves in groups of a few hundred they really don't do much
A few hundred strength or a few hundred ships? If ships, 400 Mark 1 fighters is 200 strength, though for lower-cap stuff like missile corvettes it's 120 ships => 200 strength. Nonetheless, even that cheap 5,000 strength of turrets could stop quite a few groups of 500 ships each.

Quote
The AI able to destroy the turret controls at will because you cannot possibly defend them, there are too many and too spread out.
I did halve their number in 0.718. I could do so again, though it does beg the question of why-bother. The point of their existence is to have tactically-important terrain beyond "everything beelines from wormhole to wormhole or wormhole to controller". Metal/Fuel spots would be terrain, but they would not be tactically important most of the time. Is there a better approach we can take there?

Quote
Since my own fleet doesn't move faster on my planets I find myself chasing threat.
You can slow down enemy ships with a focused gravity generator (1000 science to get the mark 1). It has a planet-wide effect that's spread among all the enemy units on the planet (so the more enemy strength, the less the effect). It may need to be buffed again, as it received several nerfs due to the annoyance of the AI having it on so many planets (it's much rarer in AI hands now).
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games? Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!

Offline chemical_art

  • Core Member Mark IV
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,944
  • Fabulous
Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2018, 07:45:08 PM »
At 70 AIP, the AI somehow got 3.5k threat. If they were smart enough to actually attack, they could wipe me.
The threat numbers are in terms of strength (ship count is meaningless when it includes fleet ships and guardians and whatnot).

Your starting fleet (flagship + triangle) is 1.6k strength. A single Mark 1 starship is 600 strength. A single cap of Mark 1 turrets is 1000 strength.

So 3.5k isn't especially concerning.

I guess I'm going to have to disagree here. Having that many ships floating around just from taking border planets is too many. It is scary and confusing, the AI should just be waking up. It shouldn't have a fleet as strong as yours already buzzing from a very simple action. I would understand if I was doing something gamey but if I am doing what I am supposed to I feel like I'm being punished. It is not a good feeling.

Quote
I have no idea were this threat comes from, I haven't moved my king unit once and have cleared every planet I have captured. It is frustrating.
When you show up with overwhelming force the guardians defending a planet will often abandon the planet and retreat to come after you later as threat. Is that a possibility here?

Guardians have been very tenacious in my experience, they fight to the death unless they have been "freed" due to me popping the controller before they are dead. To prevent this I always ensure I kill them and everything else first. That is why I am so confused about the sky high threat. I haven't hacked, deep striked, failed an attack, or any of the other behaviors that would cause this. I was very good at managing threat in AIW 1 and considered it one of my strategic strengths. Right now I feel powerless to prevent it which is not a good feeling.

Threat hurts a lot more now because turrets are global instead of per planet. If I could put 1k strength on each planet then 3.5k isn't a problem. But with 4 planets I'm putting more like 250 strength on each planet. I know with practice and experience I can make it work but I shouldn't be getting these defensive headaches in the first hour. These headaches should be mid game issues where I have 200ish AIP and am now am really taking the time to plan strikes for taking objectives in preparation for the end game.


Also, I don't know if waves are sometimes being launched simply as threat, as we were doing that for a bit, but I think Badger made it not-on-by-default.

I may have gotten a wave at minute 5, but now that you bring it up I didn't get a wave since. That would explain why my threat would jump 2000 at a time, and how suddenly I have threat to have 2.2k infiltrators bum rushing my planets in a confused manner. DO NOT LIKE. Sorry for the shout, but this is the first time I had to shout in displeasure at even the possibility of it happening. Keep it like AIW 1 where if a player wanted that they would choose it, but it is not default. 

Quote
Turrets feel very under powered.
I'm fine buffing them again, but it would help to understand what exactly you're expecting. Currently turrets cost half as much science as fleet ships and have 5x the HP and DPS. That's a pretty stark difference.

Quote
When you have to spread them out so you maybe 5 of each type covering the many wormholes
How many wormholes are you covering? Is there another way to structure your defenses to reduce the number of "hard" entry points by allowing certain planets to fall while still blunting the attack?

I don't understand what you're facing that would cause you to need to do even that, however. For 1000 Science (1 low-science planet's worth) you can research 4 Mark 1 turret types. Added to your starting Mark 1 Needler turrets that's 5,000 strength. Yes, you have to spread it around to some extent, but that's a really good deal on a strength-per-science basis.

Also bear in mind that you start with Mark 1 Tractor Arrays, which have a per-planet cap.

Having Tractor arrays be per planet instead of per planet changes the whole defense game entire, so I reserve all judgement until I can see what I can do to make it work.
Quote
and AI threat moves in groups of a few hundred they really don't do much
A few hundred strength or a few hundred ships? If ships, 400 Mark 1 fighters is 200 strength, though for lower-cap stuff like missile corvettes it's 120 ships => 200 strength. Nonetheless, even that cheap 5,000 strength of turrets could stop quite a few groups of 500 ships each.

Quote
The AI able to destroy the turret controls at will because you cannot possibly defend them, there are too many and too spread out.
I did halve their number in 0.718. I could do so again, though it does beg the question of why-bother. The point of their existence is to have tactically-important terrain beyond "everything beelines from wormhole to wormhole or wormhole to controller". Metal/Fuel spots would be terrain, but they would not be tactically important most of the time. Is there a better approach we can take there?

All a player needs is a measure to fend off a half dozen raiders who keep killing the buildings without dragging in a mobile fleet. If this was AIW 1 I would say something like the minifort would be perfect solution for it had 1 per planet and could move to clean up loose threats. Something like that. Or provide a tech option which gives the structures extra HP and a light gun so it can win a fight with 5 or less standard fleetships.

Quote
Since my own fleet doesn't move faster on my planets I find myself chasing threat.
You can slow down enemy ships with a focused gravity generator (1000 science to get the mark 1). It has a planet-wide effect that's spread among all the enemy units on the planet (so the more enemy strength, the less the effect). It may need to be buffed again, as it received several nerfs due to the annoyance of the AI having it on so many planets (it's much rarer in AI hands now).

I see those are per planet two so shall certainly become a part of my defense tool kit. I will work with it and the tractor beams to see how defense feels.
Life is short. Have fun.

Offline x4000

  • Chris Park, Arcen Games Founder and Lead Designer
  • Administrator
  • Zenith Council Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 31,049
Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2018, 07:56:29 PM »
Personally, I feel like having to unlock key defensive structures is a big learning curve thing.  Having to build it is one thing, but balancing your ability to have basic defenses versus just Getting On With Things on the attack is not a good choice in my opinion.  It's likely to lead to players who want to just get on with it skipping some defensive tech and then taking losses simply because they were in a hurry.  And then feeling like they are being time-penalized if they do it the "right" way, later.

I'm not really trying to lay down an edict about any particular item -- gravity stuff, tractors, whatever.  But if something is considered a basic part of the defensive pattern for even non-turtles, then we ought to be giving that for science-free at the start.  And then let them spend science on getting more of those things, if need be, or better ones.

Having just a few of these things, so you can't do a really turtle-level defense, but you do have the basic pattern there, might do the trick; then letting the turtles choose to invest further in something everyone is using, and non-turtles focus elsewhere, sounds on paper better to me.

Also, I don't know if it's just me, but personally I think it would be simpler in every respect if we made all of the power-using stuff have a per-planet cap rather than a galaxy-wide one.  There's no telling what sort of galaxy-wide empire people might want, and having to choose HOW they spend their power at each planet, versus how they spend their limited turret cap between planets, is I think better.

The reason for upgrading to higher mark levels of a turret would be for the increased killing power, and maybe actually slightly reduced power costs per turret, even.  Who knows.  But in general, I'd want to be choosing which turrets I'm doing on a given planet, or if I want to increase my metal output instead, or if I want a fortress, or whatever.

I still also think that the idea of offensive science and defensive science has some merit.  Right now the tension between offense and defense seems a bit stark, with science being so tough to come by.  Science being tough to come by in itself is not bad, but people will be hard-pressed to spend on defenses in that scenario unless you really hammer them, and if you really hammer them, that's less fun and also makes getting more science harder...

I'm not sold on that idea, fully, but it keeps coming to mind.  There are a few things in chemical_art's general list of issues there that seem to me to be "we are training you to do this wrong with game mechanics, then telling you how to do it right verbally."  The game mechanics ought to be training enough for those things, ideally.
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games?  Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!

Offline chemical_art

  • Core Member Mark IV
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,944
  • Fabulous
Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #14 on: April 03, 2018, 08:27:39 PM »
Personally, I feel like having to unlock key defensive structures is a big learning curve thing.  Having to build it is one thing, but balancing your ability to have basic defenses versus just Getting On With Things on the attack is not a good choice in my opinion.  It's likely to lead to players who want to just get on with it skipping some defensive tech and then taking losses simply because they were in a hurry.  And then feeling like they are being time-penalized if they do it the "right" way, later.

I'm going to try to give a fuzzy feeling impression description:

In AIW 1 I start zoomed in on the king building. This building is guarded by a shield. As I zoom out, I see this building is far away from the wormholes. At very low AIP, for example if I did not attack at all, maybe 2 dozen enemy units will attack from the wormhole. I observe that is where the enemy starts and will observe the AI goes for the king building and the supporting civilians, the supporting "home base". But thanks to the shield, I am unlikely to die if I build anything at all. I bring this up because it provides an in game explanation of how waves work and provides the bread and butter core tactic: Stick the shield over the command building and keep it far away from wormholes. I figure out the rest and having a diverse tool kit to do so with many turrets so can experiment with what works. Organically I can figure out that the AI bum rushes a planet's command center and moves on until it eventual hits the king one, and builds a defense knowing this. I have access to all but the most exotic turrets so I can mess around with them, figure out which ones I like and upgrade them. I upgrade most of them anyway, but I can start figuring out which ones I like before I have to start dropping K.

In AIW2 The king is on a wormhole.  There is a controller too, but it isn't really important. I mean it *is* important for using your turrets but if it dies its OK, your king ship needs to live. Every planet gets a controller, they are like mobile command stations, although the AI doesn't seem as focused on them and sometimes ignores them, but we will get back to that. The King can move. But should it move? Why would it move? Oh! It is used for offense because it can build things and move. The brave King leads the way! That's why it is on the enemy wormhole! If it was meant to stay away from combat it would be tucked as far as possible from all wormholes, under a shield. Oof. Game is very angry I attacked with the King. So no attack. But it does move. So I guess I just hide it in a corner? Alright, so I need to build a defense around this. But I only got one turret type. What should my next turret be? I don't know, I don't know what the AI can throw at me? I don't have means to gather such intelligence. Turrets are now global instead of planet based, so I have to spread them out, attempt a defense in depth approach. But turrets can't chase those annoying raiders...

From a game mechanic standpoint AIW 1 was more straightforward in how to defend the King works at start. AIW 2 has this weird hybrid of flirting with the idea it can do things it really shouldn't. This is a huge ramble but I guess I'm saying is that because the ark is mobile and can produce things the player gets confused on what to do with the thing. 


I'm not really trying to lay down an edict about any particular item -- gravity stuff, tractors, whatever.  But if something is considered a basic part of the defensive pattern for even non-turtles, then we ought to be giving that for science-free at the start.  And then let them spend science on getting more of those things, if need be, or better ones.

Having just a few of these things, so you can't do a really turtle-level defense, but you do have the basic pattern there, might do the trick; then letting the turtles choose to invest further in something everyone is using, and non-turtles focus elsewhere, sounds on paper better to me.


Also, I don't know if it's just me, but personally I think it would be simpler in every respect if we made all of the power-using stuff have a per-planet cap rather than a galaxy-wide one.  There's no telling what sort of galaxy-wide empire people might want, and having to choose HOW they spend their power at each planet, versus how they spend their limited turret cap between planets, is I think better.

The reason for upgrading to higher mark levels of a turret would be for the increased killing power, and maybe actually slightly reduced power costs per turret, even.  Who knows.  But in general, I'd want to be choosing which turrets I'm doing on a given planet, or if I want to increase my metal output instead, or if I want a fortress, or whatever.

I still also think that the idea of offensive science and defensive science has some merit.  Right now the tension between offense and defense seems a bit stark, with science being so tough to come by.  Science being tough to come by in itself is not bad, but people will be hard-pressed to spend on defenses in that scenario unless you really hammer them, and if you really hammer them, that's less fun and also makes getting more science harder...

Since we have prototype starships, can we have prototype turrets? They can have a global cap and act in power as MK I turrets and the player starts with all of them unlocked. If a player unlocks a "proper" MK I turret, it gets turrets that have a planet cap instead. This gives the player an anchor to experiment defenses with early game. If they find a turret they like they can place it on all their worlds. Or, if you really want to go all out on the offense / defense science tree, you can have each turret have two branches: One branch has a per planet cap, the other branch a global cap but is individually stronger.

EDIT: This would be balance nightmare I could never wish on Keith. We got to pick on or another, not both. The checkpoint static defense using global caps or the defense in depth per planet caps. Having the mobile defenses be per planet while the turrets are global is crazy wrinkle I'll have to experiment with.


I'm not sold on that idea, fully, but it keeps coming to mind.  There are a few things in chemical_art's general list of issues there that seem to me to be "we are training you to do this wrong with game mechanics, then telling you how to do it right verbally."  The game mechanics ought to be training enough for those things, ideally.

This is a bit why I made that fuzzy feeling AIW 1 vs AIW 2 paragraphs. 1 seemed to in game convey what it wanted me to do more then in 2. It is wonderful that you and Keith can tell me what to do and over time I will pass this on to other players, but the goal really is for the game to do the teaching.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2018, 08:35:04 PM by chemical_art »
Life is short. Have fun.