Author Topic: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"  (Read 1456 times)

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #15 on: April 03, 2018, 08:48:33 PM »
Personally, I feel like having to unlock key defensive structures is a big learning curve thing.
We're still finding the middle-ground there, but not even AIWC gives grav-turrets for free, despite giving so much else. Here you get the three main things you can't defend without: tachyon (via each planet controller) to decloak, tractors to hold, and needler turrets to kill. The player will inevitably need more of each of those (including a wider variety of "kill") but those are the basics. Gravity is an advanced tool, as it was in AIWC.

I think the distribution nodes are skewing things relative to AIWC since it's such a different mechanic. They increase defensive surface area by quite a lot (that's kind of the definition of why we added them), whereas in AIWC players didn't need to care much about metal spots getting killed. I see two basic approaches to this problem:

1) Remove them. Planets will look pretty empty between fights, but at least defending them will be less annoying. Then maybe we add metal and fuel spots for decoration; kind of pointless, but possibly the option that causes the least overall annoyance.

2) Double down ;) The specific idea that comes to mind is: have the distribution nodes deploy defense drones like the carrier starship does. Like the carrier ones, they automatically go about their business of hunting and killing AI units on that particular planet. So if the AI is moving in any kind of strength they'll swat the drones like flies, but otherwise the nodes should be much less of a defensive liability.


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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.
It would be simpler from some angles, but it would put us back in an incoherent design: if turrets are under two separate per-planet caps (their ship-cap, and power), it makes unlocking higher marks pretty weird because you hit a saturation point where expanding the cap of that turret is irrelevant. You still get the stat buffs, but it creates cognitive dissonance to have the lower-mark upgrades increase both cap and stats and to have the upper-mark upgrades increase only stats (while still going through the motions of increasing cap, and charging Science as if that mattered).

An alternative would be to have turret upgrades only increase the stats and not the cap (power cost would stay the same). The stat increases would need to be exponential to match the current Science->Strength ratios (keeping them linear and reducing Science costs would be consistent, but would place a much harsher strength-ceiling on turtles), which would be a unique thing to learn about turrets. Also, it would mean that turret unit count would stay pretty low, though I'm not very concerned about that.

The biggest problem with that is that you still get to a point where there's no need to unlock more types of turrets because your existing unlocks saturate all possible available power. The really nice thing about galaxy-wide caps is that there's almost always a point in unlocking more turrets, because there's always some planet somewhere that you'd like to put some more turrets on.

Several versions ago I just removed power-costs on turrets so if you unlocked a turret type you could put the entire cap on every single planet and only pay a metal cost. It avoided the above incoherence, but ultimately it's not a good approach. It would be worse with the mark-upgrade changes we've made.

So basically there are three approaches that come to mind:
1) Turrets are per-planet capped and cost galaxy-wide fuel to support. This is what AIWC does.
2) Turrets are galaxy-wide capped and cost per-planet power to support. This is what AIW2 currently does.
3) Turrets are per-planet capped and cost per-planet power to support, but upgrades only increase the stats and not the cap (and therefore not the power cost). This has its own weirdness, but it would be different.


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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.
I think AIWC's approach of simply giving enough science is preferable to splitting it into two resources.


I need to run, but to respond briefly to chemical_art's latest: the King isn't supposed to start on a wormhole. Your ability to move it is to enable more "bend but don't break" defense: if you need to fall back, you can. In AIWC if you couldn't defend that one specific planet you were done.


For 0.719 I think we can just go ahead and give mark 1 of most (maybe all) of the "kill" turrets, and see if that alleviates the early game sense of "I can't defend".
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Offline etheric42

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Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #16 on: April 03, 2018, 09:13:30 PM »
1) Turrets are per-planet capped and cost galaxy-wide fuel to support. This is what AIWC does.
2) Turrets are galaxy-wide capped and cost per-planet power to support. This is what AIW2 currently does.
3) Turrets are per-planet capped and cost per-planet power to support, but upgrades only increase the stats and not the cap (and therefore not the power cost). This has its own weirdness, but it would be different.

Or 4) Turrets have no caps and just consume planet power.

You pay science in order to either upgrade stats (more expensive) or to unlock more versus armor types (cheap).

2) Double down  The specific idea that comes to mind is: have the distribution nodes deploy defense drones like the carrier starship does. Like the carrier ones, they automatically go about their business of hunting and killing AI units on that particular planet. So if the AI is moving in any kind of strength they'll swat the drones like flies, but otherwise the nodes should be much less of a defensive liability.

I think drones are great to make battles look more impressive but not add to the amount of things a player has to control (which I feel fleet ships are on the edge of being even in early game).  I would like to see this.

I need to run, but to respond briefly to chemical_art's latest: the King isn't supposed to start on a wormhole. Your ability to move it is to enable more "bend but don't break" defense: if you need to fall back, you can. In AIWC if you couldn't defend that one specific planet you were done.

I get this, but Arks are beautiful large models that you get to pick when creating your profile.  The optimal situation for your Ark is for you to never see it since it's well protected.  I almost wish the model for the Ark and the prototype flagship were flipped since you see a lot more of the flagship.

Offline BadgerBadger

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Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #17 on: April 03, 2018, 09:21:47 PM »
Well, there are going to be backer-designed models for Flagships; that was part of the kickstarter.

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #18 on: April 03, 2018, 10:00:53 PM »
Or 4) Turrets have no caps and just consume planet power.

You pay science in order to either upgrade stats (more expensive) or to unlock more versus armor types (cheap).
For that to work we'd basically need to have the player see:

1) 1 Mark 1 tech for each "type" of turret. Relatively cheap.

2) 3 "upgrade turrets" techs: Mark 2, Mark 3, and Mark 4. Very expensive.
- under the hood, each of these would be a bundle of _all_ the turrets of that mark level (but you couldn't use one you didn't have the Mark 1 tech for).

Is that what you had in mind?
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Offline BadgerBadger

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Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #19 on: April 03, 2018, 10:13:22 PM »
What about giving the player all the Mark 1 turrets, but nerfing the caps significantly. Then have upgrade to Mark 2 just give a bigger cap bump than it does now so that new Mark 2 cap and old Mark 2 cap would be the same.

Offline etheric42

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Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #20 on: April 03, 2018, 10:58:04 PM »
1) 1 Mark 1 tech for each "type" of turret. Relatively cheap.

2) 3 "upgrade turrets" techs: Mark 2, Mark 3, and Mark 4. Very expensive.
- under the hood, each of these would be a bundle of _all_ the turrets of that mark level (but you couldn't use one you didn't have the Mark 1 tech for).

Is that what you had in mind?

That might also be very cool.  But what I had in mind was the same tech progression as now but messing with the costs.

Mk 1 laser turrets: 100 science (because it doesn't give you any extra "cap" just allows you to target a different defense), Mk 2 laser turrets 2k science (stat bonus but doesn't affect cap), Mk 3 laser turrets 6k science... etc.

But... your refinement of the idea may be even better.

Going your route:

Needlers, free, laser turrets 100, etc.
Upgrade turret power (all turrets to Mk2) 4k science (or something).
Upgrade turret quantity (upgrades all planets energy generation) 4k science.
Upgrade turret regeneration? (increases repair rate of turrets, or allows multiple turrets to be repaired at the same time, or decreases cost of repairing turrets) Xk science.

And I put those costs as high because turrets can be used defensively or in certain circumstances offensively.  If those costs are too high, consider splitting them:

Upgrade turret power (all turrets to Mk2) 1 or 2k science.
Upgrade defensive turret quantity (upgrades all planets energy generation) 2k science.
Upgrade offensive turret quantity (upgrades flagship and Ark energy generation) 4k science.

Edit: looking back these numbers may still be too high, but you get the idea.  Let the player go "Yay science, more offense.  Yay science, more offense.  Yay scie.... oh those waves are getting nasty and I'm tired of sending ships back to stop pushes... okay let's boost defense...."

Edit edit: Since I'm not as "in to" the turret defense part of the game, maybe I'm the wrong person to say this but... when I get Mk3 bombers I go "yeah, my bombers are gonna bomb them!" and when I get Mk3 needler turrets I go "Okay, my defenses are a bit better against a certain kind of attacker."
« Last Edit: April 03, 2018, 11:03:15 PM by etheric42 »

Offline zeusalmighty

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Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #21 on: April 03, 2018, 11:04:02 PM »
2) Double down  The specific idea that comes to mind is: have the distribution nodes deploy defense drones like the carrier starship does. Like the carrier ones, they automatically go about their business of hunting and killing AI units on that particular planet. So if the AI is moving in any kind of strength they'll swat the drones like flies, but otherwise the nodes should be much less of a defensive liability.

I think it would be a mistake to get rid of the nodes; their relationship with turrets/defense makes defense require good decision making.

I'm inclined towards doubling down. I would actually be interested in seeing a tech just for them, in line with giving players something akin to the "Guard Posts" from classic. Maybe the AI can have stuff like this on their higher mark planets as well

Offline TheVampire100

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Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #22 on: April 04, 2018, 03:55:29 AM »
I played a little around with the new UI, so far it is very intuitive to use, easy to understand and a lot better readable than what we had before.
Some minor issues are still there with it.

First, all the tabs look the same. I like the idea of having different tabs that are dedicated to building, science, units and so on. This keeps things organized and no mater hwere I am, I can just look through my tabs when I need soemthing. No menu clutter anymore. In combination with the menu on the bottom for settings, saving and so on, this is the perfect solution for playing.
All I need for playing is right at my hand, no need to scroll through multiple menus and search for something.
Now back to what I was saying, the problem is however, the cons on all these tabs look the same (obviously because it are all ships/turrets and so on with your color). This lead for an example to upgrading a ship in science while all I wanted was to build it. Maybe you can somehow differentiate the icons from each other in soem way, add a lab flask icon on the ship symbols in science for an example, a hammer symbol in the contrsuction tab, so I see "allright, these are the ships to build not the ships to select".

On a side note, it was genius to merge the different mark ships in one icon instead of having a big ship clutter like in AIWC. See, this is the stuff that shows this is an upgrade to the older game not just the same with shinier graphics. These small quality of life changes make the game easier to understand for new players and make the game  alot better to read. I can see at one glane what ships I have aviable at hand and don't have to see the same ship icon 5 times and that for each ship type. AIWC had so many different ships and towards the end of a session you had a menu full of clutter.
This small thing alone, all mark ships merged into one icon, make the Ui such a big imrpovement. Thank you!

While were at this, add again the roman numbers to the marks in the science/construction tab. I don't actually need them in the unit screen because I can see the strentgh of my ships (and decide on that if I want to engage or not) but in cunstruction and science I want to see how far a ship has been upgraded. The colored name helps only a little, maybe it's just a matter of "get used to it" but  a number is a lot easier to process than a color. The human braon sees the number and thinks "okay, this is one, 2, 3, three is higher than two so this ship is better". However, we have first to associate colors to the number and THEN can understand what ship is higher tier.
I don't say remove the colors because the help too but you need both, colors and numbers, numbers are easier to read, colors make it easier to visually differentiate between things.

Offline Magnus

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Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #23 on: April 04, 2018, 09:10:03 AM »
I played around a bit with the new build and my experience has been different. I conquered 4 planets (2 Mark I, 2 Mark II) in just under 40 minutes, with the AI never really countering me in any significant way. At the end I had 5 planets, a fully built fleet with Mark II fighters, one special unit type, two starships, and science to spare.

I understand the start is supposed to be easy but I found it too easy and what's worse, the main problem was the AI behaving tactically like an utter moron, completely unable to get any efficiency out of its local forces during any given battle. Let me elaborate a bit further.


Stupid AI behavior while attacking

I was busy mopping up AI forces on a nearby planet, when I get the notification that there's a wave on one of my planets. I switch to it and I see a bunch of weak units incoming... and promptly splitting themselves in several different mini-groups, one for each power node plus one for the planet controller.
The overall size of the wave was so small that splitting made them utterly ineffectual. I went back to my offensive battle, and after one minute or so the AI forces were still pounding on my power nodes. I built 5 turrets of different types (one of the initial science spendings) near my controller and the end result was: the turrets were quickly completed and started destroying the AI units which were coming to me one by one, often even taking detours whenever the controller reactivated a destroyed power node.
A second wave later on was bigger and required more turrets but the end result was pretty much the same. Now admittedly I could not have gone on forever like this, due to the turret cap if nothing else, but keep in mind I was intentionally playing suboptimally (no tractor beams at all, for one) and besides, given the speed at which turrets are built and the fact that starting AI forces are so small, I could always scrap old turrets and build new ones during a future attack.

I suspect this is an artifact of extremely small scale AI forces during the very early game, but you'd probably want to code something in to allow for higher focus on single targets (presumably the controller itself) especially if the AI has such a weak force available.


Stupid AI behavior while defending

Mark I adjacent planets had such small forces that the starting deathball with no starship is more than enough to brute force them. This is the expected outcome, I guess, but already from those I noticed the AI had a tendence to keep most of its guardians in place and have them escape once the planet was deemed lost.
The real problem came with Mark II planets. Here the AI forces would have been enough to give me a decent fight, but once again, the AI kept most of the guardians in place while launching the small ships toward me. Those quickly ran out of range from even friendly sniper starships, which thus couldn't play the role of artillery support, and were destroyed due to my far superior attrition resilience. Once I had mopped up the small fry, I could then sistematically proceed to focus-fire one starship at a time.
The end result was "deathball + focus fire = dead AI". Which is still better than "deathball and nothing else", but it gives a really bad initial impression to see such a stupid AI behavior in a game called  "AI War".


To be fair, I played with default settings, and haven't tried yet setting the AI slider to maximum. I'll try it and give you further information, but if the aim is to have an extremely easy starting game for default settings, you might want to place a popup or some other notification for the first game where you explain the expected challenge level so that if someone is looking for a challenge he/she knows that you're supposed to increase that slider right from the word "go".

Other assorted musings:

- there's a bug with the new UI for fleet constructors. If you reach the point where you have 7 different types of units (the 3 basic ones + 4 special ones), every constructor needs a second row in the UI to show all of them. However the second line is not shown until you force a redraw by collapsing/extending the constructor interface.
- fuel costs are much higher and you can't have the fleet plus one starship until you conquer at least one planet. This feels right.
- my initial planet was placed in the nexus of the local cluster (i.e. the planet sitting straight in the middle of the cluster). This was good for me (quicker to get more planets, and weaker ones to boot), but it can be harder for a starting player which finds himself "surrounded". Maybe you want to place a "beginner button" for the first game which forces the generator to place your starting planet "in a corner" and maybe also to have a small (4-5 planets) starting cluster with only one outgoing wormhole, so new players can more easily establish a base of operations.
- an extremely annoying UI feature is to keep units from multiple planets selected even while you're in the galaxy map. I understand why it's needed, but it very often results in me selecting a few units from a border planet to check something, forgetting to unselect them, switching to the main fleet, selecting it, moving it to attack... and having the faraway units also start moving toward the target. It would be useful to have some kind of notification, in the galaxy map, of all the planets containing currently selected units.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2018, 09:26:33 AM by Magnus »

Offline etheric42

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Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #24 on: April 04, 2018, 11:01:40 AM »
- an extremely annoying UI feature is to keep units from multiple planets selected even while you're in the galaxy map. I understand why it's needed, but it very often results in me selecting a few units from a border planet to check something, forgetting to unselect them, switching to the main fleet, selecting it, moving it to attack... and having the faraway units also start moving toward the target. It would be useful to have some kind of notification, in the galaxy map, of all the planets containing currently selected units.

Are you saying that a left-click on another planet is adding ships to your selection instead of the expected replacing the selection, or are you shift-clicking?

In the planned galaxy map UI there will be an icon for your mobile military on each planet and if you have any MM on that planet selected it will get a selection halo/glow so you should be able to see that you have multiple planets selected.

First, all the tabs look the same. I like the idea of having different tabs that are dedicated to building, science, units and so on. This keeps things organized and no mater hwere I am, I can just look through my tabs when I need soemthing. No menu clutter anymore. In combination with the menu on the bottom for settings, saving and so on, this is the perfect solution for playing.
All I need for playing is right at my hand, no need to scroll through multiple menus and search for something.
Now back to what I was saying, the problem is however, the cons on all these tabs look the same (obviously because it are all ships/turrets and so on with your color). This lead for an example to upgrading a ship in science while all I wanted was to build it. Maybe you can somehow differentiate the icons from each other in soem way, add a lab flask icon on the ship symbols in science for an example, a hammer symbol in the contrsuction tab, so I see "allright, these are the ships to build not the ships to select".

I like the icon modifier idea.  How about the border of the sidebar/background of the sidebar have art/design elements that make it look like the appropriate tab?  The science tab has a sciency background/border.  The construction tab has yellow/black caution tape around the edges.  Etc.  Or do you think that would be too busy/not be the main thing looked at and the flask/hammer would be enough?  (My other concern is with both the flask and the roman numeral there may be too many little icons on top of your icons.)

Offline chemical_art

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Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #25 on: April 04, 2018, 11:09:53 AM »
I like the icon modifier idea.  How about the border of the sidebar/background of the sidebar have art/design elements that make it look like the appropriate tab?  The science tab has a sciency background/border.  The construction tab has yellow/black caution tape around the edges.  Etc.  Or do you think that would be too busy/not be the main thing looked at and the flask/hammer would be enough?  (My other concern is with both the flask and the roman numeral there may be too many little icons on top of your icons.)

A colored border may be best, or even a light partially transparent background  of a certain over the whole tab. By associating colors with different tabs a player can passively know which tab they are on and that will avoid confusion.

If for example I associate the color blue with research and yellow with ship selection then it will lessen the odds that I get to two mixed up.
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Offline x4000

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Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #26 on: April 04, 2018, 12:11:19 PM »
Lots of stuff here, and a lot of it is unrelated to my areas (GUI, performance, visuals), so please let me know if I missed anything in those areas.  I am of course armchairing a few things outside of my areas, like anyone else, aimed at Keith. :)

- What if on the first planet of the player, there were fewer distribution nodes, so it was easier to defend?  I guess that would mean that players would always try to keep their Arks there, though, so that might not be a good idea. :/

- Starting the Ark right near the controller, rather than off on its own, seems like a good idea to me.

- As far as the Ark being custom but staying home, I see the point being made, but I can't think of a good solution.  It is the thing you need to take with you to go hacking, so it's not like it never leaves home.

- For the custom flagship paint jobs, that's actually really interesting.  Since people have paid for that, rather than having it be something that you discover out in the wild blue yonder, having those all be skins for the prototype flagship strikes me as a cool thing.

- Removing turret caps makes a certain amount of sense to me, I have to say.  Then they're not under two kinds of caps at all, as mentioned by Eric.
-- But I like Badger's idea of giving all of the Mark 1 turrets from the start, but with super low caps, then making mark 2 giving a bigger cap bump.

- Instead of having drones that just automatically pop out of turrets, what if we had "drone warheads" that the player started with and could deploy at will.  These are warheads that, when deployed, instantly "detonate" and become a random bunch of fighters, bombers, and missile corvettes (drone-type).  Having players able to find more of these semi-frequently would make it so that warheads are used a tad bit more.
-- Or we could tie that into the same tab, but under the "reinforcements" thing, and this is a form of calling in mercenaries for metal.  These particular mercenaries would be a third-party, and always low-mark, so you wouldn't want to use them past the early game, but they'd help get things off to a good start.

- TheVampire100, you make good points about the tabs all looking the same, and I know just how to fix that.
-- As to the numbers on those secondary tabs, I'm not sure where we'd put them without making the ship icons impossible to view sometimes.  There's very limited space there that we're working in.  It's possible that we COULD add in the numbers, but I worry about how scary that will look and how much space it will take.  I'm inclined to see if you get used to it, unless it bothers you really a lot.  Mainly I view this as being a usability (not overwhelming) thing for new players.  What mark you're building really isn't super important at a glance, since you can mouseover to find that out, the text color is there to help, and you can't choose between marks to build, anyway.

- Magnus, thanks for the bug note on the sidebar, I'm aware of that one but need to take care of it sooner than later.

- As for the stupidity of the AI on various situations, I'm wondering if the default settings are such that it's in the actively-dumb range?  If so, we need to up the default difficulty such that that's not the case.  We need those actively-dumb lower levels, but the default AI settings should be smart, but with them simply being numerically outmatched by you for the first part of the game.  Having them numerically outnumbered AND on stupid-mode is overkill and will make people question the name of the game. ;)
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Offline Magnus

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Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #27 on: April 04, 2018, 12:34:18 PM »
Are you saying that a left-click on another planet is adding ships to your selection instead of the expected replacing the selection, or are you shift-clicking?

I left click and use rectangle selection on the first planet. Then, without deselecting (by clicking on empty space), I tab to the galaxy map, click on another planet, and select units there.
Until I stay in the second planet map, the game behaves normally. As soon as I go back to the galaxy map, the game suddenly "remembers" I never deselected the units on the first planet, and if I right click on a third planet to move my fleet, the game will move the units from both planets to the target location.

Offline etheric42

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Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #28 on: April 04, 2018, 01:11:49 PM »
 That isn't expected behavior (or at least I wouldn't expect it). It should require shift clicking to add to a selection.  And if you have ships on multiple planets selected it should rememver that in planet view as well.

Chris/Keith, could you confirm if this is intentional or not?

Offline Magnus

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Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #29 on: April 04, 2018, 01:23:31 PM »
All right, I tried to restart the game at difficulty 10. And while the AI promptly killed me, it did it due to overwhelming numbers, not due to any smarter behavior.

This is its starting attack on my second planet which I just conquered:

http://i65.tinypic.com/s4cq5h.jpg

You'll notice it's still splitting the forces to go after nodes / clusters of turrets and tractors. While theoretically better in the long run (you starve the economy), this gives the player an age to react by either building more turrets or moving the fleet to intercept. The A.I. here has a strong enough force to take the controller quickly, so that's what I'd expect it to do at maximum difficulty.

In the end it did kill me, but it was due to ridiculous numbers:

http://i66.tinypic.com/2i1goew.jpg

And then it came to finish me on the starting planet, with a 15k wave which ended up as a 25k one (with a further 25k threat):

http://i63.tinypic.com/f22b1d.jpg

Needless to say, this was extremely unsatisfactory. I fully expect to die at difficulty 10, but not because there's a moron which just happens to have infinite fleets at AIP 30 and less than 30 minutes in.
Maybe I'm misinterpreting here, and the smarter behavior is on the strategical level (which this certainly shows). If that's the case, you should explain it beforehand to properly set expectations.

Oh btw. When you lose there's always a crash (console red messages appearing) and more importantly, the whole galaxy map is revealed. You might want to adjust this, otherwise players will just lose on purpose to study the map then reload a previous savegame.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2018, 01:25:52 PM by Magnus »