Author Topic: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"  (Read 2310 times)

Offline x4000

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Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #30 on: April 04, 2018, 02:32:13 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?

100% not intentional.  On mantis and trello now: https://bugtracker.arcengames.com/view.php?id=19563
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Offline x4000

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Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #31 on: April 04, 2018, 02:35:52 PM »
@Magnus:

1. For the galaxy map being revealed, I've added a ticket: https://bugtracker.arcengames.com/view.php?id=19564

2. For the crash, I think I've either fixed it or mostly fixed it, for the next version.

3. For the AI complaints, those are longer-form and require more discussion with Keith.  I'll let him respond in this thread and work with you on it.  Suffice it to say, the more detail you can provide, the better.  Though from a skim of what you wrote (it's not directly relevant to me, so I just skimmed those bits), it looks like you did.  It also looks like Diff 10 is tuned up WAY too high in terms of unit counts.
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Offline Magnus

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Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #32 on: April 04, 2018, 05:00:32 PM »
Further impressions:

I kept playing the difficulty 5 game I started yesterday, and I take back the "it's too easy" remark.
I conquered another couple planets (bringing the total to 6 and the AIP to 130), and the A.I. finally reacted and hit me like a ton of bricks. The combined fleets strengths skyrocketed to 40k and in the following hour I got wiped off the galaxy.

The tactical intelligence is still nowhere to be seen (I think the speed of unit/turret/tractor beam rebuilding is throwing off your target selection algorithm; A.I. units flail ineffectually by throwing their dps at stuff which just keeps being replaced while ignoring the priority targets i.e. the rebuilder units) but the strategic reaction is definitely there.

I think my demise was appropriate, in the sense I was playing in a careless expansionistic mode; I awoke the A.I. and it crushed me like a bug. My only complaint would be that the AIP number is completely non-talking; I have no idea where I should have stopped to avoid awakening the A.I. There's also the distinct possibility that the current A.I. reaction is way overtuned, but without knowing how high is "130" supposed to be I can't really be sure.

Offline chemical_art

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Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #33 on: April 04, 2018, 05:13:38 PM »
but without knowing how high is "130" supposed to be I can't really be sure.

130 in a standard AIW 1 game was meant to be a point strong enough a lucky (from the AI point of view) strike could occur, but if a player were to pause any offenses and focus on defensive actions they should comfortably fend off any attacks. It wasn't until around 300 that things would start to get dicey but if you still managed to keep control it wasn't a given you would lose.
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Offline x4000

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Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #34 on: April 04, 2018, 08:25:46 PM »
Ideally we can keep the sense of AIP values somewhat similar between the two games, with responses roughly on par within each.  But both have different flavors, for sure.

I've had a sense that the strategic game from the AI is really there, based on all the work Keith has been putting into the hunter and warden fleets, etc.  Definitely seems like your beef is with the tactical game.  Keep us on our toes with that, Magnus -- you just became my go-to person for criticisms of the AI tactical game.  If you're not genuinely happy with what you're seeing in the tactical game, then we're falling short.  And don't start softening your views just because things improve, if you can avoid it.

Basically I use different players as yardsticks for different things, mainly based on what they complain about, and how they articulate themselves when they do.  Some people are generalists, like Badger, or TheVampire, who I listen to on a host of things but don't have as a specific yardstick about any one thing.  chemical_art and Cyborg are my general "does this feel like AIWC" pair, and the former is my "is the learning curve okay" person.  Eraser is my "is the learning curve REALLY okay" and my "are the graphics not too offensive" guy. ;)  You just became my "is the AI a tactical dead fish" guy.  Other folks have also commented on it, but you were the first to seem genuinely offended and explain why, and I mean that in the best sense.

We're heading to Early Access on the 26th of this month, is the current plan.  With that in mind, I want to have the AI in better tactical shape by then, among all the other various improvements we have cooking and potentially don't even know we need to cook.  The plan is to then spend a number of months in EA so that we can get lots more feedback and have a rock-solid 1.0 in October, because frankly we just aren't getting enough feedback at present and I'm not confident that we will even when we say "the floodgates are open for beta!"  So we're back to the original plan from the kickstarter of having an Early Access, after all.  And a two-year development period -- wowzers, twice what we had planned.

Ah well, at least it's coming together well...
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Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #35 on: April 04, 2018, 08:55:23 PM »
Much of the AI's tactical logic is in moddable code, and I can move the rest into it without too much effort. That way it's at least visible for review, and it's straightforward to define alternate logic to be used by a test AI type (or multiple different AI types), or something like that.
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Offline x4000

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Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #36 on: April 04, 2018, 09:02:15 PM »
Indeed -- if we have any modding-inclined folks who want to help us out in that area, we're always happy to have help.  There's a lot that needs doing right now.  Where is Red.Queen these days, incidentally? :)
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Offline BadgerBadger

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Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #37 on: April 05, 2018, 12:02:05 AM »
@Keith, if you want people to actively help out in the modding, you might want to include more comments to explain how all the pieces work ;-)

Offline TheVampire100

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Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #38 on: April 05, 2018, 03:59:14 AM »
You know, I came to think of something. The only reason we can attack the AI is because its attention is divided and it cannot focus too much on its home galaxy, mostly the small planets we capture at the start.
I like to describe this with ants. When ants grab some cherries from the bottom of the tree you won't bat an eye. Maybe you wated to take the cherries for yourself any maybe you try to safe them from the ants but there are still many cherries on top of the tree, so you mostly leav the ants alone if they aren't directly on your way to pick the cherries.
However, things will get more seriously when the ants start to climb the tree. You realize that they now have  ataste for cherries and want more, so they take your cherries from the tree. This is the moment when you activeley try to do something about them because you want to protect your cherries before they reach them.
And things go really downhill when the ants suddenly are on your doorstep and invade your home because they noticed there is way more food to be found. Suddenly you use everything you can to destroy them, call in extermintors. This has become personal.

The Ai has however one major advantage to a human player: It CAN be at multiple places at once. Even if dividing its attention means a loss in performance (maybe), it can still act at two things individually whiel the player can onl look at one pla et at a time.
My point is, the AI could notice when it is atacked at one place and use this to attack itself on another planet because it knows that you are currently occupied with something else maybe foricing you to retreat to save your planet or maybe simpl not noticing until you loose said planet.
The problem with this is however obvious: It could be too frustrating for players if this happens tool often, you attack soemthing,t he AI attacks in return and you don't want to split your attention all the time. But I still think this could make some interestint twists if this happens from time to time, the AI using your strategy against you. Would also help people understand the importance of turrets on your planets.


When it comes to attacking planets, the AI should have several priorit targets, maybe deciding on what units the AI uses and what defenses the player uses. If teh Ark is on the planet, the AI should always go directly for it (even if this sounds frustrating for players). This is the commanding station for players, the AI would be utterly stupid not to wipe out the one thing that commands all the ants to steal its cherries. Other valuable targets could be strong flasgships, golems and other stuff. Thse ships are a major thrteat when they land on your own planet, so better take them out before the player can use them.
Turrets should be really be downplayed as priority for multiple reasons. They are stationary. They have most of the time a very short range. You can simply fly past them (unless tractors). So unless htey are int he way and the AI has no better goal, it should try to fly past and reach more valuable targets. No one on this planet anymore? Take next planet.
I think theplayers should discuss, what objects should be significant for the AI, so it decides on that  what to attack first.

Offline Magnus

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Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #39 on: April 05, 2018, 06:05:08 AM »
Well, things are a bit more complex than that but yeah, the bottom line is that in most practical situations it makes sense to ignore the turrets for an attacking A.I.

The problem is that the A.I. seems to assign more or less the same priority to every stationary target in the system. This includes:

- the planetary controller
- any static structure (starship dock etc.)
- power nodes
- turrets
- tractor beams

The thing is: by doing this, the A.I. splits its forces in several small groups which become (especially during the early game) too tiny to be effective. And the controller is rebuilding turrets and tractors so fast that as soon as one of them is destroyed, the units go "hey my target is back up... let's go kill it again!". So they keep "hovering" around the clusters and the smaller the attacking fleet is, the longer this lasts.

From an overall strategic standpoint, this might even make sense: forcing the controller to keep rebuilding stuff wrecks the player's economy if it keeps going for long enough. But in practice, all this achieves is to give the player several minutes to finish whatever he's doing and then moving to intercept and wipe out the attacking fleet. At that point the economy goes back to normal extremely quickly so the end result is a failed attack and the planet still in the player's hands. In fact, I just thought of an even better way of taking advantage of this: just build a lot of clusters composed of a single tractor beam, and watch the A.I. split its forces in dozens of useless micro-groups which keep going back and forth every time the tractor is rebuilt. This way you don't even need to use turrets except to build all of them on the fly in the planet under attack, kill the fleet, then scrap them all to be available for the next wave. I'll have to try the tactic later on.

My hunch is that the controller should always be the highest priority whenever there is little to no defending fleet. If the player has a big defending fleet instead, then things become more complex as the A.I. should factor the expected controller-time-to-kill given the units it has at its disposal, their travel time to bear their damage on it, and the continuously decreasing dps due to the attrition rate caused by the player's defenses (including the standing fleet). That's a system of differential equations, but it should be easy peasy to solve for a sentient A.I.  :P
If the A.I. determines it doesn't have enough strength, it should kill whatever target they can quickly reach and then retreat. Or (far more evil) check if there is a nearby wormhole which can be used to travel to another player-controlled planet thus "bypassing" the defending fleet, or at the very least getting the jump on it by forcing the player to chase it and thus gaining more time to kill the controller on the other planet.

The immediate problem I can see with this is: assuming it can be done, the game difficulty would instantly skyrocket. My hunch is something along the lines of:
  • keep things most as they are for levels 1-3
  • make the A.I. increasingly focus on the controller for levels 4-7
  • implement more and more of the advanced considerations for levels 8-10, something like this:
    • level 8: do I have a good chance of killing it? yes --> kill, no --> run (which increases threat and makes future attacks much more dangerous)
    • level 9: if I can't kill it, can I at least kill something else nearby then run away? yes --> kill nearby, no --> run
    • level 10: if I can't kill, is there a wormhole leading to another player's planet which is near to me and far from his fleet? yes --> jump, no --> go for the level 9 opportunity kill


As far as defending goes, the A.I. tactics simply do not make any sense to me. What I've observed it doing is:

- if the attacking force is too big, leg it with only a few of its starships
- no matter what, throw the small ships to the attacker force
- no matter what, several of the guardians stand in place doing nothing except passively fire on whatever reaches their range

This makes zero sense. If the attacker is too strong and the planet is considered lost no matter what, the logical thing to do is to have everything which can run away and go defend something else.
Alternatively, it can make sense to sacrifice the local fleet if it can buy enough time to significantly slow down the attack thus enabling the A.I. to better pursue offense with the next wave.
In any case, whenever the decision is made to stand and fight, the A.I. ought to employ its forces optimally, which most of the time means: park the small ships on top of the controller, have the starships hover near their maximum range, and focus fire the best target (which is in itself a complex decision, which depends on available dps given the target's defenses, target value, expected time to kill given continuosly decreasing dps). If the player then tries to "game it" by using e.g. sniper units then wait till they come within their maximum range (where they will presumably stop and fire) then "charge" them.

Is there any document explaining how to mod tactical A.I. behavior? I know a few programming languages myself and could give it a shot.

Offline x4000

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Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #40 on: April 05, 2018, 09:40:15 AM »
Going to respond to a few things, Keith will I'm sure respond to more.

Well, things are a bit more complex than that but yeah, the bottom line is that in most practical situations it makes sense to ignore the turrets for an attacking A.I.

That's a good point.  Basically, the part of the AI that assigns where to move, anyhow.  When it comes to where to fire, then if turrets are in range, fire away.

The problem is that the A.I. seems to assign more or less the same priority to every stationary target in the system.

That does strike me as a problem, yes.

The thing is: by doing this, the A.I. splits its forces in several small groups which become (especially during the early game) too tiny to be effective.

I think there should be a rule that basically slows down reconstruction of stuff the more of an AI presence there is.  Maybe that would be too much of a nerf to static defenses compared to mobile ones, but then again maybe mobile fleet ships need to also construct slower when the AI presence on the planet is high.  Basically I'm thinking of a "construction penalty percentage based on AI strength at this planet" which would globally apply at that planet.

Fast refleeting is GREAT, don't get me wrong, but when it's during the middle of battle it gets into this strange territory you're talking about here.

Either that, or have a cooldown on turret remains and similar where they can't do any rebuilding for 2 minutes after being destroyed, or something like that.  A long and painful enough time for players to deploy other things elsewhere.  Then again, that would just make people want to scrap the remains and build fresh turrets, so that's really a no-go.

And the controller is rebuilding turrets and tractors so fast that as soon as one of them is destroyed, the units go "hey my target is back up... let's go kill it again!". So they keep "hovering" around the clusters and the smaller the attacking fleet is, the longer this lasts.

As you say, some of the AI's stupidity is based around these mechanics, so these also need to be addressed.

My hunch is that the controller should always be the highest priority whenever there is little to no defending fleet. If the player has a big defending fleet instead, then things become more complex as the A.I. should factor the expected controller-time-to-kill given the units it has at its disposal, their travel time to bear their damage on it, and the continuously decreasing dps due to the attrition rate caused by the player's defenses (including the standing fleet). That's a system of differential equations, but it should be easy peasy to solve for a sentient A.I.  :P
If the A.I. determines it doesn't have enough strength, it should kill whatever target they can quickly reach and then retreat. Or (far more evil) check if there is a nearby wormhole which can be used to travel to another player-controlled planet thus "bypassing" the defending fleet, or at the very least getting the jump on it by forcing the player to chase it and thus gaining more time to kill the controller on the other planet.

One of the things that makes an AI dumb, typically, is when it's too predictable.  Even if it's best to bumrush the controller, it shouldn't do that more than 60% of the time.  When the AI enters a planet, it should choose a tactic to use for a while.  What is its objective?  Kill the controller?  That's the most likely.  But other times it should randomly decide to kill a random power distribution node.  Perhaps with more desirable targets weighted more heavily, but still.  It's those surprising ones where the AI suddenly zips off toward the wrong end of your planet, accomplishes a semi-pointless objective, and is now in a different position and chooses a new objective from an unexpected angle that really make for a feeling of playing against something alive.

We're going to want to have as much of that logic as possible in place on lower difficulties, because that's what makes the AI feel like it's actually a cool opponent.  In my opinion, at the tactical level the AI should do almost as much as possible that is clever from difficulty 7 and down, and then keep a few truly devious tricks for higher levels.

Reducing the number of ships tends to also make things feel different (worse) for a variety of reasons, so simply having the AI get either lower-mark ships for a much longer time, or have a multiplier against their stuff that keeps them weaker in some other way, would be ideal for lower difficulties.  Perhaps from difficulties 1 through 6, the AI's damage per shot is reduced by some multiplier. 

Perhaps on difficulty 1-3, the AI's waves and reinforcements are always 2 marks lower than they normally would be, obviously minimum 1, so most of the game it's going to be mark 1 waves and reinforcements all over the place.  Some more nuance would be needed on that, but still.  And then difficulties 4-5 it's 1 mark lower than it normally would be.

Even on lower difficulties  (5 and down), we want people to go "wow, this AI is smart," but we want that to be followed up by "but it isn't enough, mwa ha ha."  Difficulty 7 is the default experience, and difficulty 6 is watered down just a bit to be something you can lean back and watch more calmly as you play.  And then on difficulties 8+, we want the AI to be pulling out extra tricks where the players go "WHAT?"

Difficulty 10, incidentally, is meant to basically be just extra curbstomping from more ships and higher-mark ships.  The last of the new tactics should kick in at difficulty 9, since 9 is meant to be incredibly hard but also fair.  Difficulty 10 is meant to be impossible to win, literally, but only barely so.  And that via pulling out all the stops as well as having unfair numbers.  Some people play exclusively difficulty 10, and try to find the chinks in the armor despite the overwhelming odds.  Whenever they win, they gleefully tell us how they did it, and we put in changes to "fix the bug" that they won. ;)  This tends to cause improvements for the AI at all levels, because we're not fixing the bug by just upping the numerical amounts more again.

As far as defending goes, the A.I. tactics simply do not make any sense to me. What I've observed it doing is:

- if the attacking force is too big, leg it with only a few of its starships
- no matter what, throw the small ships to the attacker force
- no matter what, several of the guardians stand in place doing nothing except passively fire on whatever reaches their range

This makes zero sense. If the attacker is too strong and the planet is considered lost no matter what, the logical thing to do is to have everything which can run away and go defend something else.
Alternatively, it can make sense to sacrifice the local fleet if it can buy enough time to significantly slow down the attack thus enabling the A.I. to better pursue offense with the next wave.
In any case, whenever the decision is made to stand and fight, the A.I. ought to employ its forces optimally, which most of the time means: park the small ships on top of the controller, have the starships hover near their maximum range, and focus fire the best target (which is in itself a complex decision, which depends on available dps given the target's defenses, target value, expected time to kill given continuosly decreasing dps). If the player then tries to "game it" by using e.g. sniper units then wait till they come within their maximum range (where they will presumably stop and fire) then "charge" them.

You know, in the first game the guard posts were immobile for a reason: you'd have to go around traveling to them, and each one was a bit different.  You had to be the one maneuvering your own ships for a change, rather than letting the AI come to you.  The AI was assumed to be pinned down to these positions, and the smaller ships were explicitly NOT ALLOWED to leave their post unless the post was destroyed.  Once the post was destroyed -- and it was not auto-targeted -- then they were free to flee or bumrush or whatever else.

I kind of miss that.  The guardians tend not to feel all that threatening to me, because I see them EVERYWHERE.  I kind of wish we had a really basic guard post that was just a passive thing like in the older AI War Classic 3.0 and below, and those were what you saw the most, with the above restrictions in place.

Then once AI ships are freed from a posting, they do the sort of tactics you're describing.  But before that, it's kind of reverse tower-defense.

And I feel like the guardians should be... I don't know.  Slightly more rare, maybe more powerful, to differentiate them more from starships.  They're like these roaming mini-fortresses on the AI worlds, and maybe they're really slow but also unable to go through wormholes at all.  So that way you have this one big scary thing (or more than one!) that you have to deal with on the planet no matter what, because it's the local goliath that just can't even leave if it wanted to.  It has to commit.

The other issue is how ships of the AI are stored in the guardians and then pop out.  That just feels bad.  I bet you didn't even know they were doing that; I knew from Keith and I talking about it, but otherwise I probably would have thought that new ships were just spawning.  Basically when reinforcements happen, they go inside the guardians and don't pop out until it's time to fight.  This keeps the targeting logic during large battles on AI worlds way simpler.  And it is a good idea, in theory, except that I can't see the entire battlefield properly.

For me, I think that we should keep the general mechanic in place...ish.  But basically make it so that the ships that would be "inside" the guardian are instead visible outside of it, in proper positions, but they aren't running their logic and can't be shot.  But then once you approach them, they come active and deactivate their shields... or something.  Right now the AI worlds keep feeling kind of empty to me.

Is there any document explaining how to mod tactical A.I. behavior? I know a few programming languages myself and could give it a shot.

Keith will have to fill you in.  I really appreciate the offer, though, and any help you can provide.  Already this thread is a goldmine of ideas.
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Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #41 on: April 05, 2018, 10:33:08 AM »
Short on time, but a few quick notes:

- The "won't move until you shoot them or get too close" guardians are the stationary guard posts. Even there, they will abandon the planet if it looks totally hopeless.

- The distribution nodes may well morph into guard posts, but they'd be guard posts that just revert to neutral when killed, and you can then reclaim. So we could have them be a variety, including stationary-carriers like I mentioned before, or turret-like, or planet-wide-buffers (I'd like them to all contribute to turret reload time as they currently do, but some could have a natural gravity effect, or a natural tachyon effect, ec).

I suspect that would solve several issues at once. Though no doubt it would raise others.
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Offline x4000

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Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #42 on: April 05, 2018, 10:59:26 AM »
10-4, makes good sense.  The guardians not moving are something that seems like a bug since they CAN move, though.
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Offline etheric42

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Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #43 on: April 05, 2018, 12:39:14 PM »
I think there should be a rule that basically slows down reconstruction of stuff the more of an AI presence there is.  Maybe that would be too much of a nerf to static defenses compared to mobile ones, but then again maybe mobile fleet ships need to also construct slower when the AI presence on the planet is high.  Basically I'm thinking of a "construction penalty percentage based on AI strength at this planet" which would globally apply at that planet.

For current design of fleet ships it seems to make sense to allow them to be plentifully created in response to threat.  However this creates a weird optimal route where you scrap your fleet ships at the front line in order to rebuild them on the planet being attacked if you can stall the wave long enough since rebuilding can be faster than traveling.  I'm not sure how to fix that under the current design.

As far as repairing/rebuilding fixed defenses go, I think it would make sense to not allow place units (turrets, buildings, etc) be be built/rebuilt at all as long as there is even a single enemy ship on planet.  I think this would fix some of the bouncing around issue.

Another weird thing I noticed with repairs is when taking a Mk1 planet (this happened to me twice), I had full caps of two out of my three triangle classes (one of which was Mk2) attacking a single turret that they did not have attack advantage against, and they seemed unable to make headway against the planetary controller's repairs.  The solution was simply to move in my third triangle class (who had the bonus) or just take out the controller, but it felt very strange.  On one hand this could be seen as a teachable moment: use your attack multipliers.  On the other hand it did not appear to occur until the AI was down to its last turret and it was a strange circumstance that had my third triangle class elsewhere, so it would be hard to control for to ensure it was taught.  (Does repair energy get divided by the number of targets to repair or was it just a coincidence that both times i noticed it was the last turret?)

I kind of miss that.  The guardians tend not to feel all that threatening to me, because I see them EVERYWHERE.  I kind of wish we had a really basic guard post that was just a passive thing like in the older AI War Classic 3.0 and below, and those were what you saw the most, with the above restrictions in place.

On the other hand, guard posts weren't that threatening to me in AIWC, they were just a an AI turret type and one of the objectives on each enemy planet I had to take one at a time.  Wheras guardians might let me take them one or two at a time, or I could get swarmed.  When I micro in the first half of planet engagements, it's typically to ensure I burn down the guardians (because they feel like "permanent" damage, as opposed to disposable fleet ships).

The other issue is how ships of the AI are stored in the guardians and then pop out.  That just feels bad.  I bet you didn't even know they were doing that; I knew from Keith and I talking about it, but otherwise I probably would have thought that new ships were just spawning.  Basically when reinforcements happen, they go inside the guardians and don't pop out until it's time to fight.  This keeps the targeting logic during large battles on AI worlds way simpler.  And it is a good idea, in theory, except that I can't see the entire battlefield properly.

This just needs an audio cue: "They're launching fighters!" (with a few variations).  Make it clear (or even play up) that guardians are small carriers.  Maybe have the AI spend it's resource points on building new fleet ships on guardians while there is an ongoing attack (so they get reinforced just like the humans do with their flagship).

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Re: AI War 2 v0.718 Released! "A Wild GUI Appears"
« Reply #44 on: April 05, 2018, 12:48:15 PM »
I don't think waiting till all the enemy ships are gone to start rebuilding makes sense. I think a "Your structure can't rebuild for 1 minute after being destroyed" restriction makes more sense.