Arcen Games

Games => AI War II => Topic started by: x4000 on October 11, 2018, 10:03:56 AM

Title: Dev Discussion: Equivalent of a Cultural or Science Victory...?
Post by: x4000 on October 11, 2018, 10:03:56 AM
So I was on a podcast last night for a couple of hours (it will be live on Friday I think, although it was recorded live at the time), and amongst the many things we discussed, one of the items was how AI War 2 makes things easier for players to get into compared to the first game.  The host was noting that he still was having trouble after a certain point in particular.  My thought was that this is based around how the game is designed in general, such that basically you HAVE to expand in some fashion, but you have to make your own middle-term goals.

This sandboxy nature is something I really love, personally, but I understand why it's intimidating.  The sudden realization I had while on the cast, however, was that basically AI War 2 is lacking some "easy outs" that a lot of other 4X games have when it comes to late-game victories.  I had never thought of scientific and cultural victories in those terms before, but basically in Civ games if you had to win by some sort of military strategy, those games would be a lot longer and more challenging.  It's a really big boon when you are able to hit a certain point and go "f it, this is as far as I can carry my military outward, time to focus inwards and race for a cultural or scientific or UN victory."

Basically... for a lot of people who are not too intensely military-minded, hitting the middle-game can be daunting and kind of a roadblock.  Even for those who are, I remember that with AIWC there was a really prolific player/tester named RCIX who confessed he never completed a game despite two years of playing.  He'd hit the midgame and just stall out.  He had a great time anyway, but ultimately it really limited his ability to fully enjoy the game.

One way to approach this is user education, of course: if people know to go into the game as a "find a fun story of defeat" situation and thus are a bit less afraid of choosing the wrong option, then that's the ideal case.  But it did get me thinking... what if there were alternative victory conditions that allowed the turtles among us to do what they do?

Probably these would need to be explicit lobby options that are turned on, and then baked into certain quick start scenarios as well.  But basically, I don't see any harm in making this an option where someone can stall out and then basically "double down on what they have already" in some fashion in order to win.  Stop expanding, start reinforcing what they have, and start... doing something internal while withstanding the howling winds around them.

We don't have any such mechanics at the moment, but that's not to say that we couldn't add something like that.  Not pre-EA, but during EA it's something I'd be interested in potentially exploring.  Maybe it's material for an expansion, I dunno.  But I wanted to toss it out here and see what folks thought.  Possibly someone will mod this in before I even get to it, in some fashion. ;)
Title: Re: Dev Discussion: Equivalent of a Cultural or Science Victory...?
Post by: RocketAssistedPuffin on October 11, 2018, 10:22:36 AM
Funnily enough, I had a similar problem in Classic. I did finish games but a lot were abandoned when it was just an annoying crawl at the Homeworlds, especially with Core Raid Engines and the Exo-Waves. At that point it felt like it was won, I only had 70AIP and everything good captured, so I usually just deleted the save.

I have wanted for a while to put in the "Astrid" from Ground Control, an ancient battleship that has an alien "Singularity Drive", allowing it to break the ingame barrier between galaxies. It's used to evacuate most of the one planet they have remaining to somewhere the Imperials can never reach. This' a defensive victory, though I don't think you can call "running away from the giant problem you made" a victory!

Not that I have knowledge of how to do that! If I could I'd definitely try that and the Virons - oh how I'd love that meld mechanic. Sadly my coding knowledge is really old BASIC (which I've been told is very redundant) and...XML.

I do really like this idea, though it is a lot of work. As for the expansion part...I wonder about that sometimes. I could go nuts and add in all the mercenaries and AI types and all that, but I worry that there might not be much left after if I did it.
Title: Re: Dev Discussion: Equivalent of a Cultural or Science Victory...?
Post by: BadgerBadger on October 11, 2018, 10:31:12 AM
I feel like there's some "Win by levelling up the Ark" motif that we could use. Maybe with certain options a Mark VII Ark is Exodian-blade level powerful (but you have to pay a ton of science)?

What if we had a minor faction that was an Alien Outpost in the galaxy; you could pay them <some hug amount of science> and get "Unbreakable Shield Technology", then by constructing 4 shield generators on somewhat separated Worlds and holding off a giant Showdown-Device style attack, you win?
Title: Re: Dev Discussion: Equivalent of a Cultural or Science Victory...?
Post by: HeartHunter on October 11, 2018, 12:06:29 PM
I dont like cultural and science victory, its for simcity players : D, i see feature, it will ez win.
Better increase game difficult.
Title: Re: Dev Discussion: Equivalent of a Cultural or Science Victory...?
Post by: Valtiel on October 11, 2018, 12:25:15 PM
Isn't this what the Showdown Devices and to a lesser extent the Fallen Spire campaign were meant to be? A victory relying on building up a powerful defense against escalating assaults, rather than taking out the AI Home Command Centers?

Part of the reason that Cultural and Science victories make sense in other 4X games is that the computer-controlled factions can go for them as well. If you look at Endless Legend, for example, enabling scientific victory means that you can lose the game if your opponent hits that final research first. So it's not just "turtle up and research stuff", it's finding a balance between investing so much effort into research that you leave yourself vulnerable to military conquest, or going too slow with the research and having to attack outwards to prevent the AI pipping you to the post.

There's no equivalent of that in AI War. The AI's attacks on you depend almost entirely on AI Progress, and I don't think an "AI beats you to scientific victory" outcome is very much fun.
Title: Re: Dev Discussion: Equivalent of a Cultural or Science Victory...?
Post by: zeusalmighty on October 11, 2018, 12:28:48 PM
I'm definitely a fan of multiple types of victory conditions. In this thread I proposed a Hacking-based win condition that I still think has merits:'hacking-the-ai-to-victory/ ('hacking-the-ai-to-victory/)

The idea behind a hacking victory is the goal of uniting the AI and humans. To me it represents the "best ending" because the AI and humanity become allies.

Other endings are really cool though. Wiping out the AI completely is certainly cool. Helping other minor factions with their victory-conditions is pretty cool too (e.g. dark spire or nanocaust)

Down the road there might be more variety, such as something akin to a cultural victory. The Age of Empires had the Wonder victory, and something in that vein might be pretty cool here.

Something else that came to mind is the importance of the warp grid. I don't have anything off the top of my head, but I suspect that there could be an interesting win condition based on exploiting the warp grid to the human's benefit

Title: Re: Dev Discussion: Equivalent of a Cultural or Science Victory...?
Post by: x4000 on October 11, 2018, 12:42:33 PM
To me, the existing science mechanics aren't really suited to this sort of thing because they still require expansion and taking new territory. My thought is that basically whatever we do for this style of alternative win condition needs to be "okay, I'm barricading myself in the house and going to stay in here until I win or die," while aggro then starts increasing over time. Doing that too early in the game would be silly because you'd be too poor to do it fast, and too weak to hold off the hordes. So it's something you'd choose to do after getting a certain amount into the game and going "I don't feel like being outside anymore, I'm staying home from now on."

Obviously other victory types are also great, and I think variety is wonderful. But in this thread I'm trying to get at a very specific type of victory condition which is basically for "stumped turtles who don't know what else to do in the midgame."
Title: Re: Dev Discussion: Equivalent of a Cultural or Science Victory...?
Post by: BadgerBadger on October 11, 2018, 12:44:40 PM
Technically there already is one alt win condition, of "Hack the Nanocaust to ally it with you".

I could give an alt-Dark Spire win condition, where after doing a fancy hack to each Vengeance Generator, the Dark Spire will become allied to you and go kill the AI. Note that since the Dark Spire are also pretty evil, once the AI dies they would probably turn against you (but their Vengeance Generators would no longer be unkillable), so you'd have to finish them off too.

Neither of those are for pure turtles, but they would allow you to win w/o killing the AI.
Title: Re: Dev Discussion: Equivalent of a Cultural or Science Victory...?
Post by: x4000 on October 11, 2018, 01:49:27 PM
I like those things, although agreed that they don't really get at the core of this particular thread.  But both of those would be fantastic additions.
Title: Re: Dev Discussion: Equivalent of a Cultural or Science Victory...?
Post by: BadgerBadger on October 11, 2018, 02:34:45 PM
I'm having trouble coming up with a "turtle win" idea that doesn't consist of "Go interact with something in the galaxy. After this, the AI will launch a series of brutal attacks; survive them and you win". Which is basically the principle of Showdown devices, but if you are struggling in the middlegame then you will just lose to that.

If you can win with a pure turtle strategy then I think it's going to be strictly Easier than killing the AI.

That said, having Allied Marauders/Nanocaust at a reasonable intensity should probably allow even a weaker player to win. So that might bandaid things adequately.
Title: Re: Dev Discussion: Equivalent of a Cultural or Science Victory...?
Post by: TheVampire100 on October 11, 2018, 02:55:00 PM
Let me take Civilization as example.
Civs Science Victory is basically "wait to win". You run against the time and research one thing after another until you have won. There isn't much to do about it but that makes it also an easy to achieve victory if you are ahead in research.
Cultural victory is a little more complex because you have to consider wonders, buildings, personalities and other stuff. Its basically expanding your influence without military force.

So the three big scenarios are either, take control with force, take control through influence or win by finish a big project by yourself.
The first two scenarios are interactions with other players, the last one (science) can be done by yourself.

If we want to apply something similiar on AIW2 we have to think a little abstract and look how the itneractions between player and AI behave compared to Civ.

Since AIW2 is asymmetric it is hard to consider what is similiar to Civ. The closest thing in similiarity is that you win if you take "the capital city".
Both games have science but in Civ you accumulate science indefinitely and the accumulated science is pooled into the next project which gets researched once you hit the mark.
In AIW2 instead you have science caps locked to the amount of planets you have captured (and with this to the total amount of planets in the game). Instead of pouring science intot he next project, it is gathered until you decide what to spend it on.
Civ has a fixed tech tree that tells you "research this if you want this" and everything is connected in some way, because of this the research tree is rather straightforward. It also means you HAVE to research everything for the final research result to achieve the victory. In AIW2 this is more complicated because of the unlock system. You start with the most basic researches but you have to unlock more by conquering other planets that belong to the AI. Either by hacking into backup servers or by conquering the planet they belong to you unlock more of the research projects. And because of this system we cannot have a complex science tree, instead we have more of a science chart, with each project being connected to its next upgrade (the different marks on the same ship).
So obviously there can never exist a "last" research project for the player to achieve. Which would be further hindered by the capped science points anyway.

But i wouldn't throw the idea of a classic science victory out of the window yet.
A big difference between Civ and AIW2 is how expansion works. In Civ you simply expand by increasing your borders through buildings, units and popilation. The key difference is however that in Civ everything is free at the start and you can expand freely until you reach another civilization while in AiWar2 everything belongs to the AI.
There will be never a victory condition that does not involve fighting with the AI, so we have to discuss how much the player should conquer until he can say "okay, I have what I need for science victory".

The showdown devices from AIWC were soemthing similiar to this.

An idea I have is that there are several "secret project" servers in the galaxy. Before mankind lost the war against the Ai they worked on a virus to shut the AI down. However, the research data for the virus was scattered when humanity lost the war and had to retreat in the last corner of the galaxy. The player has to find those servers and get them back online until the research is complete and the virus unleashed. Works like Showdown Device, people are familiar with it and I don't see a reason to not have it again.
Maybe as a somehwta variation, instead of holding all the servers at once, the player just has to conquer the server and defend it until the data got sended to the home command station (several minutes). Once he has the data of all 4 server he can research the virus in the science tab as the last project and win the game. This would mean he don't has to defend all 4 points at once but it also means he has to invest more time into it (accumulated time of the 4 servers).

Cultural victory is more difficult. There is no culture in AI War, the Ai does not care for anything like that because it controls everything.
Culture would be more of a "impress other races enough so they help you against the AI".
Or maybe that you can imrpress the AI that you are worthy enough to rule the galaxy? "Hey, that's some pretty dank memes you have there, I think I will let you live".
Anyway, cultural would mean of a more peaceful interaction either with the Ai or other minor factions. Which would mean you have to activate minor factions for a cultural victory to achieve.
The problem is, there aren't many non-military structures and units in the game.

An idea I had is that we could add a new structure, whatever it is, that basically is the equivalent of Civs wonders. It doesn't do anything for military purposes and is just there to awe humans and aliens a like. Maybe if we build a specific numbers of these buildings at different points into the galaxy, the AI will acknowledge that humans are not willing to be a threat anymore and just want to live peacefully in coexistance with the AI and because of this the AI ceases its attacks. Name of the structure can be debated, it should be something that shows that humans don't want to fight anymore. Obviously you have to defend those structures until the AI notices that you just want to end the war and don't want to harm them.
Title: Re: Dev Discussion: Equivalent of a Cultural or Science Victory...?
Post by: tombik on October 11, 2018, 04:38:43 PM
I think rather than having a separate win condition, for the ones that lose their interest for attacking the homeworld, you can simply divide the victory into smaller pieces.

I am not an expert in AI war, but what I am suggesting is something along the lines of a full victory, and a partial victory with objectives spread into different levels of galactic domination. You may win against an AI with full stars with destroying both capital worlds, or if you happen to have a sustainable production etc with enough spreading around, you get 1 star out of 5 etc. That way, for the ones who want to be done with their games sooner than a full fledged victory, there are nearer objectives to achieve. This gets near to the underlying problem you are trying to solve, rather than replicating the mechanics of an almost completely different genre.
Title: Re: Dev Discussion: Equivalent of a Cultural or Science Victory...?
Post by: zeusalmighty on October 12, 2018, 01:13:01 AM
I feel like there's some "Win by levelling up the Ark" motif that we could use. Maybe with certain options a Mark VII Ark is Exodian-blade level powerful (but you have to pay a ton of science)?

Here's an Ark-Themed proposal. Insofar as the Ark obviously alludes to Noah and the flood, perhaps a victory condition in this spirt that is obtained by outfitting the Ark WITH the Home Command Center, and getting "off the (warp) grid," departing to a distant galaxy in search of a new home beyond the reach of the A.I.

Something like this should have multiple objectives, but I think this is essentially a turtle style victory condition, plus it provides a lore-friendly victory condition based on the Arks. The premise seems sound to me, just a matter of figuring out interesting but simple objectives

Title: Re: Dev Discussion: Equivalent of a Cultural or Science Victory...?
Post by: Valtiel on October 12, 2018, 06:38:27 AM
It bears saying that part of the reason a lot of people stall out in the endgame is that attacking the AI Homeworlds is a very different style of game from everything up to that point. I've been thinking about it and I have a few custom victory conditions in mind, based on getting around that roadblock and with AI War's gameplay in mind, rather than trying to emulate another game's "cultural victory" or whatever.

Defensive victory

This is the equivalent of the Showdown Devices with a hint of the Fallen Spire campaign*. It basically involves claiming (or hacking, or something) a series of specific worlds - the spire signal worlds, or the showdown device worlds, or whatever - and then building something, or a series of somethings. Yes, that's awfully vague, but the basic blueprint is this:

Once you get to that point, the AI begins a series of gradually-escalating attacks, ending with a challenge that is approximately as difficult - and as interesting - as attacking the AI Homeworlds, but played as a tower defense-in-depth rather than the series of hit-and-run (or hit-die-and-rebuild) attacks that people used to crack the Homeworlds. The important thing is to keep the attacks varied. I like the thought of the AI using Warhead-like weapons that you can see coming and that you really want to intercept before they hit your worlds, and other tactics that force you to do more than just sit, wait, and rebuild losses. Rather than just being one whopper of an attack, it should be spread out over time, to give the player chances to take hits and recover from casualties. Managing power brown-outs could be an important skill, and I like the idea of being able to conduct hacks to weaken, deflect, or delay these attacks.

I strongly recommend that the difficulty of this defense should not change depending on which super weapons (golems etc) the player has available. That was, in my opinion, a major mis-step on the original Showdown Devices. The AI home command centers don't get any tougher if you have golems, so why should the alternate victory condition get harder? As for whether AIP affects the difficulty of the defense, I think it should. AIP reducers are interesting; I don't want them to be left out of this mode.

I love the thought that the final wave is literally everything the AI has in the galaxy, that it just dumps the strategic reserve, warden fleet, hunter fleet, every single guard pack, and mobile Overlords into one big fleet and comes at you like a drunk Glaswegian with a broken bottle. But that might be a bit too much.

There are many possible variations on this - maybe you need to hold the target worlds until the Game Ending Building is complete, but you can abandon them as soon as it's finished and the final countdown starts. Maybe you only need to hack them once each, or maybe you need to hold all of them right up until the end of the countdown, or maybe you need to start out holding all of them but only hold one up until the end. Maybe the Game Ender is a constant drain on resources, or maybe it actually provides you with power and metal to help deal with the waves. I know how I'd do it, personally, but there are plenty of options.

This is the victory condition for people who really enjoy the defensive side of the game and would rather win with a big defense mission rather than a big attack - it's the "turtle victory", but it's certainly not easier than attacking the AI Homeworlds. But in the early and mid-game, it plays quite a lot like the normal victory. Aside from needing to claim/hack the showdown-device-equivalent worlds and not needing to get within deep-strike range of the AI Homeworlds, your strategy is pretty similar. It's the kind of thing where you can play normally, scout the Homeworld defences, and decide you don't want anything to do with that and that you'd rather have the AI come to you.

It is not the victory condition for someone who let the AIP get too high and realizes they can't win by the usual means. That's the next one.

* Although not exactly - an important part of the Fallen Spire campaign is that the Spire Cities allow you to at least temporarily outpace the AI, giving you more power from each claimed world than the AI gets in AIP. Defensive Victory wouldn't do that.

Expansion victory

A kind of hybrid aggressive and defensive victory, but played very differently from the Homeworld assault. Getting AIP too high can result in a game that is both unwinnable and unloseable, where you'll never be able to crack the core defenses but, unless you do something stupid, the AI waves will never break you either. Here's an alternative to that, for when you realize you've pushed AIP too high for a proper win, but don't want to just call the game a loss either.

With a large enough science investment, you can research an "Exogalactic Conduit", a way to evacuate the surviving human population to somewhere the AI won't be able to reach. This will not result in the doomsday attack of the defensive victory, because the AI doesn't actually feel threatened. However, your challenge is that the surviving human population is distributed between dozens of AI controlled worlds. You need to claim as many of them as possible, build a few "city ships" at each to transport the people, and bring them all to wherever you're building the conduit. There's no "true victory" here - rescuing 100% of the humans would require claiming the entire galaxy except for the core and AI homeworlds. You are going to leave some people behind. But once you've got as many people as you think you can save, you can activate the exogalactic conduit, withstand one last AI attack (nothing like the defensive victory final waves; this is just the AI being displeased rather than facing an existential threat), and then flee through the newly created wormhole and close it behind you.

The victory screen here isn't "you win!", it's "Human population saved: X billion. Human population left under AI control: Y billion. Human population killed: Z billion." (where the "killed" number refers to worlds nuked, human settlements lost, and city ships destroyed in transit).

There are various ways you could tweak this. If there are only a few worlds that can support an Exogalactic Conduit, that's very different from if it can be built anywhere. The human population could be evenly distributed across the galaxy, or some worlds could have up to ten times as many humans as others and therefore be more valuable.

Regardless, this is the victory condition for people who have fun conquering the galaxy and want to see how far they can get before the AIP gets too high and they have to nope out of there. It's also the "cutting your losses" victory condition, for when you realize you're never going to be able to beat the homeworlds but you don't want to just delete your save.

Diplomatic victory

This is kind of a catch-all for victory conditions that involve allying with the minor factions. They're not actually true victory conditions in and of themselves, since they all end the same way as the default victory - a big pile of ships rolls into the AI Homeworlds and eats the Overlords (or you can go for a defensive victory with your minor faction allies to help you defend). Different minor factions have different requirements for getting them on your side, provide different levels of support, and behave differently as allies. Since I don't have a copy of the game and can't really see how the minor factions behave, I can't really offer much guidance, but as I understand the lore of the game, the Nanocaust and the Dyson Sphere are meant to be the only ones which could actually pose a real threat to the AI on their own - the others are just a supplement to your own forces rather than completely replacing them. With this in mind, the Nanocaust and Dyson Sphere diplomacy conditions should be longer, more difficult, and more involved than any of the others, on par with the AI Homeworld assaults or the defensive victory, because they can win you the game outright.

I've got a few ideas though.

Title: Re: Dev Discussion: Equivalent of a Cultural or Science Victory...?
Post by: BadgerBadger on October 12, 2018, 09:17:45 AM
Re: dark spire hacking. I think it should still use the "Hacking" mechanic, but we could give it a different flavour text/description to make it clear that you aren't "Hacking" them, but are instead communicating in some fashion. And the AI could attack you instead of the Dark Spire, perhaps, on the "Negotiation Hack"
Title: Re: Dev Discussion: Equivalent of a Cultural or Science Victory...?
Post by: x4000 on October 12, 2018, 09:27:52 AM
Wow I am enjoying this discussion. Lots of really good thoughts. I particularly like the observation that having different levels of winning might be okay. Maybe past a certain point there's an option to create a peace treaty with the AI, and that's a partial victory.  I also really like the idea of outfitting the Ark with the ability to just gtfo and you win by running away. And lastly, I also like the various ideas for not invading thr AI home world but instead playing something more similar to the rest of the game in order to win.

One random thought: some way to aggro the overlords into leaving their home planets and coming after you. It would be stupid of them, so thematically I guess it would have to be a hack.
Title: Re: Dev Discussion: Equivalent of a Cultural or Science Victory...?
Post by: Valtiel on October 12, 2018, 10:24:38 AM
There's also zeusalmighty's "Firewall hack" victory, as suggested here ('hacking-the-ai-to-victory/).
Title: Re: Dev Discussion: Equivalent of a Cultural or Science Victory...?
Post by: MaxAstro on October 14, 2018, 02:48:27 AM
I am also a player who often stalled out in the mid-game.

I'm also a really big fan of alt-win conditions, especially as you've implemented them before - the Fallen Spire and the Exodian Blade were both fun win conditions to chase.

I do think it's important that different win conditions use different resources, both so that they play differently and so that the player doesn't get locked out of all of them by the same mistake or the same lack of interest.  For example, if all the alt win conditions are hacking-based that's going to be unfortunate if a player doesn't really enjoy hacking that much.

I do like the "hack the nanocaust" win condition.  I also like the idea of a "turtle" win like the showdown devices - maybe "build, protect, and fire a superweapon" of some kind.  That could even be a "soft win" condition.  For example, it could be a Sins of the Solar Empire style superweapon that gives the player a massive edge in hammering the AI but doesn't instantly win the game for them.

Another option might be that there could be fragments of alien supertech on certain planets - sorta like Ascension Crystals from GalCiv - and capturing all of them nets you a win (maybe after holding them for a certain period?).

I would really like a Fallen Spire-style "summon bigger fish" win condition to still exist, though.  :)

Involving the Ark in a win condition would be cool.  Oh!  You could have a Mass Effect 2 style win, drawing on the old Nebula missions from the AIWC.  Some kind of mission you can send the Ark and a limited strike force on that wins you the game if you win, but it's a one-way ticket; you lose the Ark if you fail.  Would be particularly interesting if, like Mass Effect 2, it's something you can attempt reasonably early but will certainly fail, so it becomes kind of a game of judging when you are strong enough.  Could be another place to implement a "soft win" - like for example the thing the Ark does is destroy the exo-galactic relay, preventing the AI from getting reinforcements (or severely limiting their reinforcements).

EDIT: Can the ascension crystal style win condition be "take control of the Astro Train stations and make those bastards build you a superweapon"?  Please?  That would be so satisfying.  :P
Title: Re: Dev Discussion: Equivalent of a Cultural or Science Victory...?
Post by: PokerChen on October 16, 2018, 03:59:46 AM
I think there are a couple of other options for lore-compatible alternate finish conditions. You may want to rephrase the entire set as ways to finish the game, rather than the language of win/lose - the player's first priority is the survival of human species, after all. So you want methods to ensure this. So a number of non-military finish conditions might include:

Existing: High-level Ark that leaves the galaxy and goes dark.
Existing: Alliance with a minor faction(s) in some form of a Faustian bargain, and/for forcing a ceasefire with the Overlord.
1. An operation to destroy all connecting wormholes/planets, sealing yourself off from the AI. The player constructs up to four doomsday weapons and activates them at planets of their choice, while the AI spawns assault fleets from systems that are still connected to the player homeworld.
2. Turn your planets nomadic in the sense of being no longer connected to warp grid.

I.e., ideally you want to set it up such that the in-game character can ask: "is this really winning?", and then be able to carry out back-up plans in case one fails. Expand too much pursuing the destruction of AI overlord -> Try to blow up your own systems to seal off their incursion -> Escape in the Ark.
Title: Re: Dev Discussion: Equivalent of a Cultural or Science Victory...?
Post by: Draco18s on October 16, 2018, 12:32:46 PM
Read some of the early posts, but thought I'd note that "survive the slowdown" is just a"cut to the final boss" military victory.

The hack itself is easy and requires little forethought or effort on any metric. Surging the resulting waves is the challenge. And a challenge that is purely militaristic in nature.

Hacking the nanocaust might be non-militaristic, or at least more-so, I'm not sure. I've not actually played in a while ;)

The nomads victory only partially qualifies as smashing a planet doesn't really need that much militarily power...but smashing the right planet tends to be troublesome (how the bollocks do I get this thing over there?) And of course the game slaps you if you try and smash the obvious targets (separating an AI homeworld from the rest of the graph is a loss, separating yourself from the AI homeworlds is a loss...) You can either smash a homeworld (military style defend the thing) or smash an inconsequential planet.
Title: Re: Dev Discussion: Equivalent of a Cultural or Science Victory...?
Post by: Toranth on October 16, 2018, 01:14:38 PM
AI War is a military game, so most possible win situations are going to be military based.  For that matter, the only lose condition is military based, so it's the only source of risk.

I do like the idea of a "not-quite lose" condition, like escaping in the Ark.  In fact, I'd link it to an AIP value before it even becomes possible.  Something like, when you hit AIP 300, you get a message that says "Captain, intelligence analysts have concluded that we've attracted too much of the AI's attention, and that unbeatable forces are being mobilized even now.  Barring a miracle, we can't win.  Fortunately, they've come up with an alternate plan..."

The point being that while it is an alternate condition, it isn't something you can easily get without the military risk.  So no playing a minimal AIP game and then sneaking out the back without ever being in serious danger.
Title: Re: Dev Discussion: Equivalent of a Cultural or Science Victory...?
Post by: NickAragua on October 16, 2018, 10:02:23 PM
The only time I won a game of AIW:Classic was by getting the Spire to do it for me. Every time I assaulted an AI homeworld myself, I would just get plastered. I know, there's some trick to it, people have done it, etc. I wasn't one of those people though. Every time I went into one of those systems, my fleet would basically die in the blink of an eye, and then I'd get steamrolled by the counterattacks without a chance to rebuild.

Luckily, I had the Spire victory condition on, so I just built the requisite number of Spire cities and did the "tug the alien artifact back to the base" thing. The AI attacks were pretty brutal, but my elite Spire fleet was able to wipe them out pretty good, and then the main Spire fleet showed up and rolled over the rest of the AI.

So I guess what I'm saying is it would be pretty great to have a way to win without having to do the horribly tedious homeworld assaults.
Title: Re: Dev Discussion: Equivalent of a Cultural or Science Victory...?
Post by: Draco18s on October 17, 2018, 01:22:03 PM
My last victory wad before transports had attrition.  :P

The AI homeworlds have gotten stronger and player units weaker since then.