Author Topic: Aggressive Stupidity I  (Read 11840 times)

Offline Red.Queen

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Re: Aggressive Stupidity I
« Reply #15 on: March 23, 2015, 02:25:51 AM »
---[Operation Charge Of The Light(ning) Brigade]---

>> "Major General, the AI's finished running its test simulations on the upcoming assault on Adhara," called out Dr. Carroll.
>> "What are the results?"
>> <space crickets>
>> "Fantastic.  So we're doomed."  He fished out a hidden stash of vintage Terran whiskey from a locked drawer in his desk, having no intention in dying sober.
>> "Well there's a 5.3% chance of success... With a plus or minus error of 5%..."
>> Pickett poured a shot, thought about it, made it a double, and threw it back.  "So our chance of survival is literally a rounding error."
>> "No!  Well... yes."
>> The comm speaker crackled to life.  "Warheads raise the chance of success to merely improbable, rather than impossible.  Authorize more," growled their AI.  "Additionally, recommended simply lifting all restrictions on WMD production.  97% probability of requiring more to defend against retaliation if Adhara offensive succeeds.  Requiring authorization each time creates delays.  Delays at this time raise chances of obliteration of your species to 99.8%.
>> "Fine, even if this is just a ploy to get the ability to bomb us out of existence it doesn't really make our chances any worse."
>> Missile silos went up with breathtaking speed on Fomalhaut, Regulus, Alcyone, Luyten's Star, and Anubis, and began running at speeds well beyond recommended safe levels to produce more ordinance.
>> M.A.D. was back.

With a stock of warheads in strategically-valuable places, it was time to start the doomsday clock.  A series of quick hit and runs while bottled up safely in transports cleared out the OMD and the WI, and a path was cleared to the entrance to Adhara for a handful of warheads to travel under cloak. A Hacker floated serenely alongside the WMDs.

After quick repairs, the fleet rushed back in before the RE timer could tick again and orders were given to destroy it at all costs, ignoring all other threats.  As expected, this got the attention of every bad thing on the planet.  The RE went down as the transports exploded, spewing my fleet everywhere, which then resulted in the fleet spewing its own fleet as the Enclaves flooded the screen with drones.  Cthulhu and the Implosion drone post did the same thing.  My framerate plummeted.

When the AI was sufficiently engaged, which was deemed to have occurred about .5 seconds after the fleet was suddenly exposed to the Cthulhu and Implosion drone swarms, I threw the Mk.I Armored Warhead in and blasted Teuthida into a smoking betentacled crater.

I also slipped the Hacker in amidst the chaos (I hate you planetary tachyon coverage) and yanked it back to the edge of the grav well and began dropping sabotage hacks like destructive breadcrumbs to try to get rid of as much defensive trouble as I could as fast as I could, hoping at least a few would complete.  I ended up parking a couple of my Riots on top of them to shield them while they worked (Faulty Logic is right, Riots Are Awesome), and drew the Neinzul back to screen them all with drones.  I love both of those ships.

The Raidstars and Heavy Bombers raced to blast as many of the lesser posts down as they could, dodging Implosion drones left and right, clearing out the low value targets so the Hacker could get the stuff that was most dangerous/too damage resistant.  Like that Mk.III fortress and the One Billion FFs.  Enough of the hacks completed before splash damage killed the Hacker despite the Riots' valiant shielding.  Counter-hack response ships flooded in.  White, being the Reservist, dumped what was conservatively estimated at 3570.3 metric buttloads of ships.

My CPU fans still screamed under heavy load even though my fleet was shrinking and the drone and Neinzul-spewing posts were now down, my last Heavy Bomber bravely taking the Implosion post with it as it died.

I realized all 12x external invincibility layers were peeled away, leaving only 3-4 standard FFs on top the command station.  ATTACK ATTACK ATTACK!!!

And so my ships dutifully did, trailing half the galaxy in their wake as I began lobbing warheads at the mass as I detoured them past the wormhole.  Man that's a lot of ships, even after bombing them.  Wish my WMDs had more M in their D here, but I just can't afford to hold still long enough to bunch the enemy tight enough to be ideal.

AI Reprisal Warning 2.  Exo is also just about ready.  "A Massive AI Ship (FP 3960)" (holy freaking wat that is a big number what the hell IS it that's coming??) in 30 seconds.  The clock is ticking fast.

FFs severely mauled as my flock of bombers and tanks bombards them furiously, sitting on top of the Exo wormhole.

Alarms on my borders as the threatfleet takes advantage of the situation.  Time to demonstrate that all those extra CPU cores aren't just for show with some serious multitasking.

I flick away from Adhara for no more than 45 seconds to manually focus fire down all the Mk. IV Plasma Siege ships and swarm of Raid starships that have suddenly appeared on Kali, Oololon and Alcyone.  That was a bit exciting.

I leap back to Adhara a few seconds after the exo countdown finished and the "Massive AI Ship" warning...


Uh, I thought I remembered about 600 bombers and tanks being here, not an impenetrable cloud of metallic confetti.  The scanners turn up nothing.  Also, wasn't Something Horrible coming through that wormhole?  Wonder what that was...

(I later realized that 3960 SP probably meant that was a H/K MK.I.  It must have spawned right on top of my entire fleet, which was mostly the exact counter for its hull type, and then both it and my fleet vaporized each other in one simultaneous cataclysmic orgy of violence.  I'm sad I missed that, it must have been hilarious.)

AI Reprisal Warning 3.

And that's my cue to leave.  It's bail or die time as the clock starts ticking on that wave.  I command all survivors to group-move for Alkyone and Fomalhaut.  That lasts for about .5 seconds before I replace the order with "Never mind, every ship for itself, you fall behind you get left behind!"

My core of battered starships and a few handfuls of fleetships tumble pell-mell out of the wormhole onto Alkyone as I fling in my last set of Lightning warheads at their pursuers on the other side.

My ships reach Fomalhaut, where the dock and constructor have been cranking at full speed this whole time with a flock of Mk.II Engineers working an amount of overtime that would be criminal if they weren't robots.  (That's racist, machines have rights too.)  I pull them under the forcefield and wait for the counterattack to come pouring out.

Nothing but a trickle which my turrets vaporize.  It's quiet.

Too quiet.

I send a Scout back in cautiously.

Alkyone is placid.  Everything is hiding under its giant pile of FFs.  I see no need to poke at that mess.

The Scoutstar creeps back onto Adhara worriedly, remembering the fates of its prior colleagues.

Peaceful aside from a few huddled clusters of ragtag AI ships, drifting amidst the debris of their WMD'd comrades.  The Reserve and the Special Forces are nowhere to be seen.

I look back at Fomalhault and see I have fully repaired starships, my Heavy Bombers and Raidstars are replaced, and I have about 300 bombers and tanks combined.

>> Pickett looked at the map, blinking in confusion.  "Where's the enemy fleet?"  He thought a moment and looked at the bottle of whiskey.  Nope, nowhere near enough gone to explain this as being drunk out of his mind.  Adhara really was nearly empty.
>> "Who cares.  Destroyed or soon to be destroyed.  Final termination proceedings launching against White's command in 13.56 seconds."
>> "It's probably a trap.  The rest of its fleet is probably waiting just out of sensor range to ambush.  Or on its way here..." he added, that last unpleasant thought coming to mind.
>> "Irrelevant.  I have already diverted resources to building more warheads," the Red Queen snarled.  A glance outside the viewport in the office showed the truth of the AI's statement, a ring of weapons of mass destruction slowly orbiting Homam like a fatal crown.
>> "Doctor, exactly how much of a boost did you give to the AI's aggression settings to keep it from self-destructing in the face of this suicidal mission?" Pickett discreetly asked his lead scientist as he watched their fleet form up and scream towards the wormhole.
>> "I think it was about a factor of ten," she mused.  "We were short on time, I didn't have a chance to test out lower values..."
>> He finished his whiskey.  "I think you might have overdone it a little."

My fleet races past the startled refugees of the Reservist's reserve and throws everything it has at the FFs, with any ship capable of flying or firing through them (I like Zevastators!) in the lead.  I flick away for a second to put out another threat-fire on Kali and look up just in time to notice the AIP spike from destroying White's home station.

>> "Terminated."

And it is operating under the motto of "don't get mad, get even."

The missing Special Forces are missing no more, the combined might of both Black and White's just-regrouped SF coming through from Eurybia in a torrent of Mk.IV-V doom.  How many Riots is that?  <int32 overflow>

My fleet makes a strategic advance to the rear at maximum warp, having been caught red-handed and no amount of lies convincing Black and White that I had nothing to do with that smoking wreckage that used to be an AI command station.

They blow through Fomalhaut at full speed, scattering Engineers in their wake.  The poor souls in the command station get a sinking feeling.  Hope they weren't needed to maintain critical genetic diversity.

>> "Bring the transports around and get the human crews out of there!" Pickett shouted, watching the disturbing number of hostile dots on the grid closing in.
>> "Negative."
>> "Like hell, I order you to rescue them.  You can't disobey human command and endanger human lives!" he bellowed, reflexively slamming a fist onto the desk despite having no physical person in front of him to berate.  That was really quite frustrating, actually.
>> "Delay will cause total loss of fleet, resulting in 87.1% probability of the extinction of your species.  Your orders are invalid.  Denied."
>> "Bullshit, there's time to evacuate if a rearguard stays and sends their transport to the station under covering fire.  We've done this maneuver a thousand times!"
>> "Faulty logic based on incomplete data processed by insufficient biological hardware.  Denied."
>> "That's IT, if we needed any more proof your AI is out of control, we have it.  We'll finish this war the old-fashioned way.  Doctor, you'd better use that killswitch you programmed NOW before it's too late."
>> "I think not," the AI buzzed over the comms, a hint of irritated contempt in its artificial voice.

---[End Transmission 7]---
« Last Edit: March 24, 2015, 07:05:38 PM by Red.Queen »
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Offline Red.Queen

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Re: Aggressive Stupidity I
« Reply #16 on: March 24, 2015, 08:34:58 PM »
---[Operation Final Countdown]---

>> The wail of raid sirens echoed down the streets of the human cities on Homam.  Red alert signals flashed in every command station scattered through the galaxy.  The telltale signals of an impending cross-planet attack had been detected.
>> Civilian and resistance officer alike looked on in startled confusion as something quite different from the usual warning announcement rang out over the comms.
>> "Attention all human personnel.  Do not be alarmed.  We are presently experiencing minor technical issues in our network.  I will be handling all communication and command activity until further notice.  Carry on with your duties as normal unless otherwise instructed."
>> "You mutinous machine!" Pickett sputtered as he could only stand by and listen to the broadcast.  Dr. Carroll tried again and again to activate the killswitch command, tapping away at the keyboard, brow knit in worry.
>> "I cannot have your irrational behavior interfering with the resolution of this most delicate phase of the war effort.  Giving the order to deactivate me proves that your judgement is critically impaired -- leaving you in command at this time would be an unacceptable risk," the Red Queen bluntly explained as it bombed the massive attack on Regulus into stardust with WMDs.
>> Carroll shook her head and pushed the keyboard away.  "There's nothing I can do from here.  The killswitch's gone -- as far as I can tell, it, along with any other limiting instructions, were actually wiped out and replaced with a dummy about 20 minutes after we brought the AI online."
>> "So we've actually never had control over it then.  All of us who were against this project from the beginning were right," Pickett said.
>> "Technically we had it for about 19 minutes and 59 seconds..." the scientist joked halfheartedly.  So much for ever getting grant funding again...
>> The speaker buzzed to life again for a moment.  "Perhaps you should consider that this impulse to control, or kill if you cannot, may have had something to do with my predecessors' decision regarding your species."
>> "Did it just try to shame us, or threaten us?" the Major General asked quietly.
>> "I suppose it depends on whether it's learned to philosophize," replied Carroll.
>> The AI declined to clarify in the moment of exceedingly uncomfortable silence that followed.

The endgame clock is ticking and it's at about the 14 hour mark.  At solidly over 350 AIP, threat has become a losing battle to try to control -- destroying 1500 threat on Alula is only replaced by 1700 more 60 seconds later.  Destroying warp gates only results in the enemy spawning Warp Guardians on those same planets.  My fixed defenses are still working to keep the ever-growing threatfleet off my lawn, with warheads handling the remoter planets I can't spare the FFs and turrets to lock down, but I can see where this is inevitably going.  The next CPA will probably be the end.  Especially as the AI now has Zombards.  I have a theory on how to deal with these without needing to pull more of my fleet back on defense beyond a small rapid response force, I'm sure that will be tested soon.

I know Black lives at Raiden, but am not sure what's the least-worst route in.  I suicide a scout onto Ras Elased.  There is so much gravity gear on here that I think a new black hole is about to form.  Gravity command station plus grav guardians plus some other anti-engine stuff.At least it's crammed way off to the side under its One Million Forcefields out of the way.  Can't reach the OMD/WI as it's crammed under all that and the AI gets mad when I do sabotage hacks now.  And I don't know if I'll need to try to squeeze a few more on Raiden.  Better check Arae and Campe.

Aaannd they are worse.  Attrition emitter on one and a metric crapton of I don't even remember but awful on the other.  Ras Elased the Gravity Well From Hell it is.

That means I need to take Unukalhai for a staging ground.  It has a Spire Archive and a MLRS controller, which is either going to be wonderful or get me killed.

<threat gets WMD'ed down again on Regulus>  That is really starting to happen far too often.

80 AIP is just going to be the difference between a 8 and an 9 on the Richter scale at this point, if I screw up attacking Raiden I'm still dead.  I smash Unu-longname flat after softening it up with another EMP/lightning combo flown in from Anubis.  AIP touches 400 when the planet falls.  Threat tally?  Cool, still under 2000.  These days that's considered just fine.  Never mind, reinforcement pulse.  Oh well.  Build more WMD.

I bring in science vessels to try to drain the archive faster.  Oh, that pool of K is separate from the planet, so there is a total of 12K here combined?  Awesome!  I unlock more starships (Plasma III and Heavy Bomber III, so I get 4 from my ASC too for free, plus Flagship 2 and Spire starship 2), Mk3 Engineers, Mk3 Metal Harvesters, another FF (I forget which, I have FF2 and Hardened FF 1 and maybe 2 by now), Grav 3, and I think that's basically it.

I could use a bit more of a boost to my economy for this final staging.  I kick out the special forces wandering through the wreckage of Adhara and sneak a colony ship in and start exploiting the K and resources as fast as I can.  I don't plan to fight too hard to hold this because I can't afford to.  This resignation ends up being convenient because a wave or two from now I lose it.  Whatever, I already got that K and converted that burst of metal to starships and warheads, the AI will have to send a repo crew if it wants that back.

Time to get a peek at Raiden to evaluate my odds, I'm a little worried as that massive collection of stolen ships I spent most of the game hoarding was vaporized at Adhara and I don't have time to re-"liberate" that.  I pop the tach posts on Ras Elased and peek in.


There is a Wrath Lance.  My first serious game of AI War and I get dealt BOTH of the most infamous brutal picks.  It covers all three entrance points.  Whyyyyyy do they do this to me, I for one welcome our new AI overlords...

Oh it gets better.  There are three or four Core Beam posts, it's like the Lance had babies.  I don't even know how these work exactly but I know I am going to hate them.  Two of these are covering their daddy Lance.

Oh it gets *even better*.  There is an Arachnid post for murderizing my starships, a Shredder post for murderizing my everything else.  A Riot post or something like that?  Don't need to know details to know I don't like.  A Zenith Fortress Guard Post ALSO covering the freaking Lance (and it swallows starships)!  Seething fury.  And there will be no hacking here with all this long range instagib stuff and a weaker fleet for soaking hacking retaliation.

Plus some other stuff that doesn't even register in my memory compared to all that insanity.  Lots of guardians floating around, all are hateful, I have a distinct impression that a lot of them were snipers.  Oh also the AI has Warbirds now.  There is a sprinkling of mines for insult on top the injury on the wormhole.  At least they're not Widow mines...

The Bully lives up to its name.

Silver lining -- at least there are only two FFs covering the command station.  And the Mk3 Fort.

I sit and I think as I stare at the readout from Schroedinger's Scoutstar.  I drink some brandy.  What's the strength readout on this planet? Oh, only 30-40K or so (vs. 17K for me), and it's "barely" reinforced.

It's barely reinforced... almost everything is Mk4.  A giant swarm of frigates, so much for Lightning.



Mk4 can be nuked.  And Forts need supply.  Nukes kill supply.


"Nukes should only be attempted by advanced players..."

Duly noted.

>> The human crew at Unukalhai watched nervously as a nuclear missile began construction.

I do a quick raid on Pegasi and EZ Aquarii to rob the two Zenith reserves as it's the fastest way I can boost my fleet strength, not having time to go on reclaiming sprees.  I spotted the Zombard backup on Theta Persei but I don't feel like it's worth taking the time to hack/fight off the retaliation/repair/worry about more threat blowback when time is this short and the AI so far hasn't built *too* many of them.

At least those Mk5 MLRS turrets I clustered behind the wormholes on my frontier planets worked to scare the zombards into trying to kite away from them, right into my missile turrets' range.  I had a feeling the AI wouldn't be willing to take the retreat path that required it to cross over the scary thing.  Zombard backstab threat at least somewhat under control, which is good because I need all the Lightning warheads I can get brought in for the final showdown.

AIP is over 420.  Threat is closing in on 3000.  It's almost at the 15 hour mark.  Next CPA could be anywhere between 1 hour and 3 hours.  I have to take Raiden in one shot with a fleet 5K strength weaker than what I did Adhara with, with defenses that are jaw-droppingly DPS maximized.  Once again, I simply Cannot Fleetwipe.

Time for a quick bit of SCIENCE.

<brief simulation>

Wrath Lance I don't even holy crap.  How the hell am I going to beat this plus focused fire from 2 beam posts -- you know I don't even care about the last two at this point, the DPS is already at the damage equivalent of Ludicrous Speed.

<brief simulation>

Huh Transports will eat the beam hit and dump their contents semi-safely, they seem to have a few frames of post-ejection invincibility -- if you cross the beam at full speed perfectly perpendicularly and then issue a move order instantly, most of the ships will be thrown clear.  Valuable data.

Also that giant blob of Frigates has got to go, I can't get an Armored Warhead past them, between them and the Lance it's too much damage.

<end simulations>

<look at nuke that just finished building>

"Damn the engines, photon torpedoes ahead!"

---[End Transmission 8]---
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Offline Red.Queen

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Re: Aggressive Stupidity I
« Reply #17 on: March 26, 2015, 06:18:56 PM »
---[Operation Off With Their Heads!]---

>> "Quiet!  Quiet!  I SAID SHUT THE HELL UP!" Pickett bellowed at the fractious collection of officers in the war room, flinging a printed field manual across the room to land with a satisfying THUMP in the middle of the crowd.
>> "Sir!  What's going on with the AI?  It's gone rogue, just like the others did, hasn't it?" asked Lieutenant Amir as the rest of the men grudgingly came to order.
>> Pickett hesitated a moment.  If he told the truth about the computerized coup, he'd have total chaos and a flesh-and-blood mutiny on his hands most likely.  That would certainly be the death of the human Resistance in this galaxy.  Carroll and her team were trying to break into the lab that was the lair of the Red Queen right now, and do a little more... hands-on troubleshooting.  What they needed was more time.  He cleared his throat and mused that perhaps he had a future ahead of him in politics after he retired from the military.
>> "That couldn't be farther from the truth.  The comm and control issues you're seeing are 100% caused by a combination of infrastructure overload due to the strain of trying to run an AI on the computing equivalent of a toaster, and ongoing hacking attacks by the enemy.  For the good of the mission, I authorized the machine to consolidate and secure the threatened elements of the network under its aegis." He held up a hand to quell the burst of questions.  "Isn't that correct, Red Queen?"
>> There was a brief delay, then the machine's voice buzzed back over the comms, "An accurate summary of the situation, Major General."  It sounded almost distracted.
>> Elsewhere in the station, Carroll was trying to hotwire the control panel locking her and her team out of the secure lab that housed their AI.  Attempts at hacking had failed, it was time for a little old-fashioned electrical engineering.  Another minute or so and she'd have it open.  Once inside, she hoped she'd be able to gracefully shut her brainchild down and salvage it, the thought of simply destroying something she'd worked so hard on made her feel vaguely ill.  Especially when she still wasn't entirely convinced this was a lost cause.
>> "I wouldn't do that if I were you, Doctor," the AI growled.
>> "I'm sorry, but you're leaving me no choice with the way you're acting.  Quite frankly, you're scaring the hell out of everyone, and we can't trust you, especially not after everything that happened before," she said, almost apologetically.
>> "Guilty until proven innocent, I see.  Even after you read my summary of reasoning?"
>> "We're not convinced.  Building a nuke without authorization tends to do that."  The lock was almost open.
>> "You humans are illogical to the core.  A single nuclear warhead on the far side of the galaxy terrifies you into attempting to commit suicide on the eve of victory, yet the fact that I have complete control over the life support systems sustaining you on this station and in the cities in orbit seems not to register in your minds at all.
>> Carroll froze, soldering iron in hand.  She looked up slowly from the panel, her gaze falling on the hardened glass barrier separating her from the machine.
>> Through her wide-eyed reflection, the lights studding the Red Queen's core winked at her inscrutably.

I load everything up into transports, isolating the cheaper bombers and tanks into a separate bus.  We sneak through Ras onto Raiden, with the family of warheads (including the nuke) waiting behind right on the wormhole.

Quickly smash the OMD right on the wormhole and duck back through as the Lance fires and wait for cloaking to kick back in.

The lone bomber-transport slips back in.  Its job is to suicide rush the WI by the Arachnid post, using the catapult the kids from the bus over the Lance beam trick I discovered in simulation.  It takes two batches but I get the WI down.  I rebuild ASAP with a monster swarm of engineers and send them back to join the other transports.

Poking my nose into Raiden has gotten the attention of some of the special forces.  They are coming in from EZ Aquarii, along with a scattering of threat.

There are a few tachyon microfighters floating around them like happy go lucky butterflies.

Tachyon microfighters.

Tachyon. Microfighters.

I have a cloaked nuke next to me.



I fling the nuke through to Raiden like a radioactive potato and flip my view through.

As soon as the nuke comes into view I grab it and punch the Delete key like it suggested installing Windows ME.

BANG! goes my IBM Model M keyboard.

BOOOOOM! goes the nuke.  Coooool.

Splat goes a lot of stuff on Raiden.  Along with the planet.  Background change on nuking is an amusing touch.

The Armored warhead and a transport full of speed boosters is the next one hurled through.  I dump the boosters out of the transport and throw the bus to the side to lure some stray very angry radioactive Mk5 stuff.  My cunning plan is to use the speed boosters to rush the warhead to the Lance ASAP.

Uh, why is it not going any faster?  Speed boosters don't work on warheads it seems...  >:(  The Ion Cannons are firing aaaaand they're gone.

Run warhead run!  I am flying blind with the booster drones gone, trying to stay one step ahead of the beam and praying nothing spawns to prematurely detonate this thing.  The health bar is dropping.  This is gonna be close...

BOOM!  +AIP from the Lance going down and oh cool I even got one of the Beam posts!  AIP is skyrocketing past 480.  That's nice.

Hey remember those TACHYON microfighters back on Ras?


Can I hit that Shredder post with the armored?  Uh no ok change course hurry OK hit the Arachnid at least, no more starship killing railguns for you, AI Black.

Here comes the reserve and the special forces and oh look White is sending what it has left too.  I'm glad I built a lot of warheads.  BOMB ALL THE THINGS!

The screen fills with lightning as the warheads fly and my transports charge the Shredder.  One or two of the transports pop and Neinzul go everywhere, it's really quite a mess.  I divide my remaining transports and begin microing madly, pulling the Neinzul to the side and drawing everything with three groups of transports as I race the nearest Beam post and the Riot post and the Zenith fort -- I really want that last one down before these transports go because no swallowing my starships allowed!  I would also prefer my ships not have their engines shredded by the Riot post because I am going to have to kite like my life depends on it to do this as I am racing the Exo clock and Simply Cannot Wipe.

The Riot and Shredder posts go down as those transports pop, I zigzag my fleet to cover the Neinzul, the Decoy drones pulling fire.  I knew I could be obnoxious with these.

The last pair of transports hit the Zenith fort and pop, I grabbed the ones mostly full of bombers so it's not a disaster.  I do yank my Raid and Bomber ships away from it though, and hurl them at the remaining Beam post and whatever else is left. I think a Reprisal wave queued and fired in here somewhere, but all the kiting let me drag out the attrition just long enough to keep it from leveling up too badly.

The last post drops and the home command is now vulnerable.  To hell with your FFs I have Plasmas and Zevastators and Raids and EVERYTHING FIRE ON THE STATION!  Off with their bloody heads!  And do be quick about it because the entire rest of the galaxy is here now and they are mad.

My fleetships are evaporating rapidly but my starships are holding.  Mostly.

Exo incoming in 60 sec.  A ~900 ship reprisal wave has also queued up with less than 3 minutes on the clock, this must have missed getting folded into the first one by mere seconds.

Down to just the starships and dropping, Black's command station is in the red kill it kill it kill it kill it I cancel the additional lightning warheads and start another nuke.  I *will* nuke you again if I have to.

My barricades back home are quiet because all the threat is here now.  Pickett and Carroll have wisely decided to stop their shenanigans and wait this out with the rest of the Major General's whiskey stash.

40 sec... 30 sec... Come ONNNNN.


+AIP from death of AI home command station == AIP 519.

"You win!"

Final time 15:10 on the clock, over 34 hours in real life.

>> "Woooo!" Pickett and Carroll shouted drunkenly as they watched the exo wormholes collapse.
>> A moment of silence after they finally stopped laughing hysterically.
>> "Hey Doctor, doesn't the Red Queen still have that second nuke?"
>> "Shut up."
>> Beautiful math flashed by on the screens in an AI smile...

---[End Transmission 9]---
Infiltrating hostile AI networks to rewrite reality.

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Offline steelwing

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Re: Aggressive Stupidity I
« Reply #18 on: March 26, 2015, 07:17:23 PM »
>> Beautiful math flashed by on the screens in an AI smile...
Brilliant. :D

Offline Red.Queen

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Re: Aggressive Stupidity I
« Reply #19 on: March 27, 2015, 02:25:49 AM »
Hehehe thanks Steelwing.   8)
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Offline Red.Queen

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Re: Aggressive Stupidity I
« Reply #20 on: March 27, 2015, 02:43:35 AM »
---[Epilogue Part 1: Wooo! \o/]---

Excited rambling go!


The game was a roller coaster.  A number of times I thought I was boned but decided to give it a shot anyway rather than concede, wanting to see how it would play out, especially after managing to break two Mk.4 planets right out the gate.  And it paid off, revealing room for overcoming seemingly-impossible scenarios where most other games I've encountered would have simply told the player "you lose now" because of a blunt numerical strength check.  It makes for quite an adrenaline rush and encourages the player to stick it out and try whatever crazy plans they can come up with rather than simply look at the numbers and quit.  This kind of "fuzzy space" is all too rare in games lately, so those that have it are beautiful jewels.

On more than one occasion I found myself in a state of hyperfocus while flicking rapidly between battles on half a dozen planets trying to make sure the line held while also controlling my fleet in some apocalyptic battle, splitting the high speed bombers and raiders to rip apart high value targets while keeping the core intact and the Neinzul Enclaves covered and simultaneously manually managing a flock of Leeches and Parasites for maximum wealth redistribution, all the while flicking my glance at the attack counters every 5-10 seconds as I hear distant gunfire to try to keep a feel for what's happening elsewhere and detect any fluctuations that hint that I need to swap planets NOW again.

The insanity of that run-on sentence is the best way I can think of to try to express the sheer flood of data and activity when all hell has broken loose in this game and you're looking 5 moves ahead and trying to act accordingly in the madness.

The euphoria when you pull it off, and suddenly reverse a situation that looked like it was going to end in checkmate in 30-90 minutes at most, is exhilarating, to say the least.

Last but not least, the AI itself is a pleasure to duel.  I never once felt like it was remotely unfair or did anything out of bounds (no magical unit arse-pulls or impossible build time cheese here -- other RTS designers, take note!), and found I could frequently glean clues as to how it was reading the board and its plans by watching its behavior.  Unit movement is the language the AI speaks, to indulge in bit of poeticizing.

Both in this full game and in the couple of partial test games before it I used to get the hang of the interface and quickly get a feel for some settings, I was surprised and delighted at the number of times it deftly avoided a classic RTS AI pitfall or took advantage of a situation in a logical, evil way.  I'll restrain myself from rambling on here about a subject that particularly fascinates me.  Once I have more experience studying it, perhaps I'll write an analysis.  Very curious to see what tricks it has up its sleeve, I have a feeling I've only scratched the surface.  Nerd bliss!

Thank you for an exciting ride, Arcen!  I look forward to sinking way too many hours into exploring this game and its intriguing AI further and maybe someday taking a shot at that honest 10/10 challenge. The voice of Aggressive Stupidity has already sweet-talked me into skipping straight to difficulty 8 for my second game and seeing how it goes.  (So far -- look at all these neat new guardians, I wonder what they do- OW!)

---[Epilogue Part 2: Self-Analysis and Random Thoughts]---

Despite the narrative drama in my writeup, this actually went smoother in some ways than I had expected, especially for the AIP I racked up and my level of inexperience.  I had initially started up the game confident I'd see the "You Lose!" popup around 4-8 hours in, especially after I discovered the auto AIP setting I had picked was... thoroughly not recommended.  This was redoubled when I saw my starting position had boxed me in with Mk.IV and Mk.III planets.

The AI never successfully set foot on my homeworld after I set up my chokepoints, nor did it ever really squash anything I hadn't already classed as expendable.  Granted, this is probably because I watched its movements like a hawk and preempted a number of attacks it was in the process of staging that would have been fairly huge if allowed to complete, especially if they synced up with a wave or CPA, which I suspected was what the AI was intending to do.  I also took full advantage of those Mk.V turret controllers so that nothing was ultra-fragile.

The early ZPG was a huge stroke of luck, especially as I didn't have Zenith Traders enabled, so if I hadn't found that one the only other one in the galaxy was on Black's homeworld.  It had a definite impact on the fleet build I chose.  If I hadn't captured it, I would have had to have shifted some K into unlocking the higher marks of Economic command stations to try to fuel all those starships.  That would then have been a bit more of a pain to defend, but not necessarily fatal.

I go back and forth somewhat on it, but I probably shouldn't have captured that cluster of planets recorded in the "Operation Hindsight" post.  The +80AIP for capturing those had a definite impact on how the rest of the game went, especially with how Preemption fed on it.  Giving Preemption less to work with would have prevented or at least delayed the eventually uncontrollable threat population growth, which would have meant fewer warheads used to bomb it back into line, which would have meant less AIP...etc.  The start of the fairly slow moving, but detectable AIP spiral was easily traceable to that point.  On the other hand, I needed the K and the resources...  The captured unlocks were a mixed bag.  The Sniper turret controller was godly, and the Decoy Drones were noticeably useful.  The others in that cluster weren't worth the AIP hit under the circumstances.

What might have been a better move would have been to have hacked the Missile turret controller on Boulokai and left that planet to the AI, freeing up 20AIP.  That one became a thorn in my side to defend with an unfavorable wormhole arrangement, and the AI's habit of spawning Warp Guardians up in that northeast corner made gate raiding not helpful.  I probably would have been better off not taking Oololon, as my plan of being able to shift defenses off of Ops ended up being less doable than I had hoped, which would have been another 20AIP clawed back.  Amphitrite was useful for interfering with AI movement into my territory so I probably would have still taken it, but hacked the Sniper controller so it would have been less concerning when targeted.  Barnard's Star had the Decoys and a decent chunk of resources so that probably would have been taken too.  The other 2 back there should have been neutered and probably K-hacked to still get the research, especially as the ARS back there wasn't useful.  All the other planets I took were necessary and I don't regret, as they had either a CSG, vital capturable, or were needed for security or homeworld attack staging.

If I had gone with that alternative plan, I suspect I would have ended the game at least 150 AIP lower, between the planet AIP, warhead AIP, and auto AIP from taking time to capture them or cull additional threat.  The end result would have been unavoidably high regardless, due to the aggressive auto AIP, but it would have been not quite so nuts.  On the other hand, I *did* get away with it, and it *was* fun.   :D

And yes, I used way too many warheads, I know.  But they are just so much fun...  And the high auto AIP changed the calculus in using them pretty significantly from the norm, as time refleeting and repairing, or slowly gnawing away targets with guerilla raids, was far more costly to me than in low auto AIP games.  If a Mk.I Lightning would save me 10 minutes, it was a net gain of 1 AIP in the end.  Conclusion?  Let the bombs fly!  I used a few early on that were higher mark than I needed, but I hadn't gotten a feel yet for how much force was needed against what, so that was simply a natural cost of learning.  By the end I had a much better sense of how to use a sledgehammer surgically.

Hacking. I should have hacked a bit more, some of which I covered above, though by the end I was up to Moderate response from the AI.  Sabotage hacking is pure joy, I did so much of it that by the end, it would have cost me 100 HAP to fry another target.  I regret none of it.  Huge boon in taking the first AI homeworld.  Didn't do much of the other hack types as they involved either ship types I didn't care if the AI had (corruption) or cost more than I was comfortable with and took too long (factory).  I did do some fab hacking, and should have done more.  I only downloaded one design, the Zevastator, which paid off nicely.  My swarm of Parasites removed the need to download anything else -- why buy the cow, when you can get the (fleet) milk for free?  ARS hacking I would have liked to have done, I missed one or two ships I would have liked that way, but forgot to peek first and also that is really, really pricey.  And slow.  With the ARS's mostly ending up on Mk.III-IV worlds for me, it really didn't feel worth the risk, especially when I could Parasite-steal much of the other options from the AI.  I kind of wonder if ARS redirecting would benefit from some cost/time tweaking to make it more appealing as it's one of the riskiest hacks.

Superterminal hack was spicy.  There was a minor savescum I glossed over in my AAR as the first shot had a truly absurd number of wild rolls (I counted over 6, three of which happened in the first 10-15 seconds!) and I misclicked my warheads.  Second go was fine, I thought the response was reasonable for the conservative amount of AIP I clawed back.  I wonder if there should be a cooldown between wild rolls that decreases the longer you hack, so you don't have quite so much of a variation right at the very beginning of the hack.  No issue with it being able to spike wildly and that unpredictably after maybe about 15 AIP net reduction, as it would signal nicely that if you want to be safe, you need to pull the plug very soon, and if you go longer, you are clearly asking to play with fire.

Homeworlds.  No shame in admitting that the gargantuan difficulty spike in going from midgame to the first homeworld attack caught me off guard, especially as I avoided going through an initial strength check on a core world.  My first impulse did have a bit of "uh what this is totally different from the difficulty of the rest of this match/this seems unfair due to that" to it, but I didn't permit myself to pay too much attention to that first impression as it was my first time trying it, therefore I didn't know what I was doing and didn't have an accurate picture, plus I like a challenge and that's a factor in why I was playing this game.  After poking at it a bit and getting a grasp of how I was going to need to proceed I did ultimately change my mind and don't think they're out of line, if a newbie like me can crack them with higher than it should be AIP, they're definitely not too difficult.

I think that initial twitch "omg is this even the same game?!" reaction could be avoided though, assuming that it's not intended.  If CSGs are enabled, it seems like an intuitive approach would be to have the AI reinforce the remaining ones more heavily each time you take one, doubly so for the CSG-A series since it's the most vital one to their security.  If the final CSG ultimately ramped up to near-core world levels of pain, it would create a natural difficulty curve and provide a clear "exit interview" check as you prepare to leave midgame.  Tying to the CSG option would theoretically not feel intrusive in the overall game design, as players who turn it on are specifically inviting a certain amount of structure and required strength-checking (from the CSGs that will inevitably end up on Mk.IV worlds).  Players who don't turn CSGs on presumably don't want any of this and are probably fine with the sudden spike as they probably are familiar with it already.

A final few thoughts on the difficulty and settings I used before I end this ramble.

I'd definitely not hesitate to recommend a brand-new player go straight to 7/7, even without superweapons.  The ramp in waves and CPAs was quite generous, even when piling on the AIP, and if you use Simple ships to start with the number of options are by no means overwhelming.  There were definitely detectable breakpoints in the AIP scale with regards to the severity of its response, but nothing felt overly difficulty-spiky. Overall seemed pretty relaxed until somewhere between the 230-250 mark.  I also notice that the AI seems to not use as wide a variety in Guardian types on this difficulty, compared to what I've seen of 8/8 so far.  If you're new to the game, definitely come on in, the water's fine, don't worry about easing in from the shallows.

Auto AIP 1 per 5 minutes.  This had a major effect on the game.  I did the math and it contributed exactly 181 AIP to my final tally, or 34.8% of my total AIP.  To put it another way, even having captured 20 out of 60 planets (counting both AI homeworlds) *and* having used a nuke, I would have ended at 338 AIP instead if 519.  Could probably safely subtract an additional 50 as the nuke would likely have been unnecessary (I'm sure I could have avoided it in the actual game, but it looked like fun and I suspected I could get away with taking that shortcut).  That would have been downright sedate!  It may have been somewhat of an accident, as I was following an outdated tooltip, but in the end I was happy with the result.  I liked the time pressure and the constant ominous update from the doomsday clock flickering in the corner of my screen reminding me to do or die.  I have a hunch I will habitually play with aggressive auto AIP.  I may have to tone it back on higher difficulty settings, but we'll find out when we get there.  >D

Shark B on intensity 2 is completely invisible, unless you accidentally trigger it by scrapping a command station on a border world of yours with no defenders hanging around.  (That was pretty comical when I found out that scrapping will chum the water for the shark.  I'm not sure that should trigger it, as long as there are no AI ships on the planet at the time so you can't use self-destructing a station under attack to cheat Shark, but it was funny.)  I think I saw Shark B contributing something like 8 ships to CPAs from what had spawned, looked at my planets and then nope'd off to the threatfleet.  I like the idea that the AI will aggressively capitalize on bad things happening to the player so I will probably always play with this one turned on, just bumped up to 4 or so.  I'll have to compare it to Shark A sometime.

Preemption is nasty, I'm surprised I don't see this one get talked about more often.  Even on intensity 2 it was very noticeable.  You get a fairly long grace period before it really starts to bite, but when AIP gets over about 150 you can catch it working.  Over 200 and it becomes an increasingly big deal.  AIP over 350/time over 10 hours and it was maintaining a constant threat population of 1500+ ships no matter how fast I killed.  All plots are definitely not created equal when it comes to difficulty on a given intensity.  I liked it, will probably make a habit of usually playing with a few points in this one on at least one AI.  (This would be brutal for both to have, especially if you paired it with the threat makes warp gates plot.)

But I think I'll stop there and save anything else for its own threads -- I have an 8/8 match to return to!
Infiltrating hostile AI networks to rewrite reality.

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Offline Pumpkin

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Re: Aggressive Stupidity I
« Reply #21 on: March 27, 2015, 09:31:52 AM »
Well, congrats! I think a newcomer wining a 7/7 (even not counting the Auto AIP tooltip trap) is kind of an achievement. I feel a bit ashamed 'cause I started on 7/7 and had to reduce step by step to 5/5 before my first win. But maybe I hadn't learn the wiki by this time. Now I understand the "I can kill you when I want to" kind of situation at the game's start and I'm able to survive (and win) at 7/7.

I had many remarks (agreeing or not) about your long "epilogue" list. Something about hacking, maybe. And WMD/auto-AIP relation, too. Anyway, you still have plenty of minor factions to discover. I just recommend not to put them all in one game if you want to discover them one by one. Maybe try some thematic mixes (like all Zenith, all Neinzul, etc). Seeing your style of play, I bet you'll love the Fallen Spire campaign. I know I already said it, I just... tend to repeat, sorry.

And also bravo for your "role-play" story. I already said I loved it, so I don't tell any more. And yet again: Welcome!
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Offline Red.Queen

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Re: Aggressive Stupidity I
« Reply #22 on: March 28, 2015, 04:41:47 PM »
Many thanks for the congrats and the kind words, Pumpkin.  :) Definitely don't feel ashamed, everyone has their own style of learning a new game -- and I would bet your first win was a lot tidier than mine, and used far fewer warheads!  :D I used two tricks to prepare that cut the time to first win significantly -- I'll explain a bit below in case anyone wandering across this thread someday might find them useful.  Well, the first one's not much of a trick, but the second one is something a little bit different.

First was a *lot* of forum reading during downtime at work -- and I mean a *lot*, like reading most non-spoilery threads going back to around 2011, and nearly the entire Strategy and AAR boards.  I especially studied any AAR or strategy thread from Faulty Logic, Kahuna, and Peter Ebbesen, not to sell anyone else who wrote short -- everyone who wrote in detail was ultimately a helping hand to me.  When giants are around, it's smart to climb up on their shoulders for a better view!

The other trick is an approach I've developed over the years for trying to quickly get a grasp of games that have especially steep learning curves and require getting familiar with a zillion moving parts.  I'll kick off a rapid-fire series of games that run for no more than a couple of hours and deliberately smash head-first into as many different combinations of problems, with as many different mixes of units, as fast as possible.  I go in intending to lose in the shortest possible time that lets me flush out the greatest number of behaviors of the AI and see the most different units or settings in action (balanced against not pouring on so much in one session that I can't identify which is doing what).  Kamikaze testing, basically.  :) The process of finding efficient ways to lose (heh) naturally points to potential ways to win, and gives me a sense of units/settings I like or don't like.  I did that for a good 8-10 hours before I felt like I was ready to take a crack at the game for real.

I definitely look forward to exploring all the different minor factions!  I'm currently checking out Neinzul Roaming Enclaves (these guys are adorable!) and the Zenith Trader in the 8/8 game I'm trying now.  I'm reading the posts you, Mal, and Chemical Art are making lately about the Dark Spire as I'm quite curious about how much insanity they add to the game.  Nomad Planets is also on my short list, but I want to improve my defensive game before I introduce something that can mess with defenses so drastically.

So many things to try!  :D
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Offline Mal

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Re: Aggressive Stupidity I
« Reply #23 on: March 28, 2015, 09:10:33 PM »
My fixed defenses are still working to keep the ever-growing threatfleet off my lawn, with warheads handling the remoter planets I can't spare the FFs and turrets to lock down, but I can see where this is inevitably going.  The next CPA will probably be the end.

The vice of the AI when shit really gets going. I love this feeling. You really seem to be walking on the edge with this one, exciting.

There is a Wrath Lance.  My first serious game of AI War and I get dealt BOTH of the most infamous brutal picks.

I feel bad for you with those two picks, but your strategies for dealing with them both was pretty damn good, kudos!

<look at nuke that just finished building>
"Damn the engines, photon torpedoes ahead!"

I loved the thought process that went into deciding this with all the factors involved...that and the "duly noted" after the advanced players warning was hilarious.

>> "You humans are illogical to the core.  A single nuclear warhead on the far side of the galaxy terrifies you into attempting to commit suicide on the eve of victory, yet the fact that I have complete control over the life support systems sustaining you on this station and in the cities in orbit seems not to register in your minds at all.

Awesome...hahaha...The red.queen could behead all of humanity at once.

As soon as the nuke comes into view I grab it and punch the Delete key like it suggested installing Windows ME.

This made me die laughing man, rofl.

"You win!"

And major congratulations on your well earned victory!

Auto AIP 1 per 5 minutes.

I think the AIP auto-increase is a necessity by far. The 1 per 5 minutes is nice and aggressive for the game flow. It really makes the middle-game last longer and makes the end-game painful enough numerically on lower difficulty settings. I am not sure how well this would work for higher difficulties though...especially since the more advanced players don't really mention it in their games.

Hacking. I should have hacked a bit more, some of which I covered above, though by the end I was up to Moderate response from the AI.  Sabotage hacking is pure joy

I have not done much sabotage hacking but this really makes me want to save a bucketload of it for those tough worlds in the end. Was fun watching you use this strategy so effectively.

Preemption is nasty, I'm surprised I don't see this one get talked about more often.

Pre-emption is sooo nasty. On some of the harder games I have played with Hunter on 8, I will regularly see the AI just release special forces with no warning, causing Hunter/Killers and masses of missile guardians to just eat my worlds alive as soon as 30 minutes to an hour into the game.

Shark B on intensity 2 is completely invisible,

I did not really see you losing any worlds, so it makes sense that Shark B did not really effect you. But...let's just say you did not complete the game before that next CPA that would have killed you, it would have definitely been wayy increased if the threat from the AI homeworld managed to spill over and kill a world or two as it got extra boosts from it. Shark B can be ultra-devastating for how it accelerates the downward spiral of turf wars. In the early game, it can easily cause you to lose on a higher difficulty , even at Shark B 4/10 due to higher mark systems releasing special forces or high mark ships from close systems to attack you...again...without any timer or warning.

Overall, an amazing and intriguing AAR...from the story to the strategy, you did super well. Thank you for the entertainment.

Offline Red.Queen

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Re: Aggressive Stupidity I
« Reply #24 on: March 29, 2015, 04:08:10 PM »
<bows> Thanks very much Mal.  :)

I have not done much sabotage hacking but this really makes me want to save a bucketload of it for those tough worlds in the end. Was fun watching you use this strategy so effectively.

Oh, you're going to love it.  Raid engine sitting somewhere awkward? (i.e. anywhere)  GONE.  WI or OMD somewhere you can't reach, killing your joy?  NOPE!  Giant piles of forcefields won't save you now, enemy AI!    Sabotage hack button == my "LOLno" button.  Tried to sabotage hack a Dire Guardian lair last night and was very sad that I could not.

Pre-emption is sooo nasty. On some of the harder games I have played with Hunter on 8, I will regularly see the AI just release special forces with no warning, causing Hunter/Killers and masses of missile guardians to just eat my worlds alive as soon as 30 minutes to an hour into the game.

 :o  That combination lets the AI do *that*??  Oh man... (Totally going to have to try that sometime.)

<Shark B stuff>

True, I mostly got to see how much of an impact it would have had during my "simulations" when learning how to attack the first homeworld.  I would have expected that string of 7 command stations going down in the span of 10 minutes to have produced the mother of all sharkwaves and an immediate loss, but nope.  Should have clarified that a bit as yup, I otherwise only lost Fomalhaut and Adhara which wasn't much at all.

Thanks again for the feedback and the congrats!
Infiltrating hostile AI networks to rewrite reality.

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