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General Category => AI War Classic => AI War Classic - After Action Reports => Topic started by: Red.Queen on March 19, 2015, 07:29:31 PM

Title: Aggressive Stupidity I
Post by: Red.Queen on March 19, 2015, 07:29:31 PM
Hello Arcen and friends!

Introductions are always tricky, I'll make mine with an AAR of my very first serious shot at a match on any difficulty (I played a few partial tests of a few hours to get a feel for the broad strokes after doing the tutorials and get a sense for what settings I'd want to commit to for 10+ hours). 

Apologies for minimal screenshottage, but I didn't decide to throw my hat in the AAR ring until this game was almost over -- mostly because I didn't think I'd make it far enough to be amusing (also explains the periodic "I can't remembers").  You'll get an idea of why I thought that's how it would go when you look at the settings I picked.  I'll try to make up for it with a bit on my thinking at different points and a bit of storytelling.

Get ready for some Aggressive Stupidity(TM)!


Map Stuff:

60 planets (I had a hunch my first serious game would be on the slow side, so opted to trim the planet count a bit to counter that a little without turning things into a cage match.)
Simple galaxy layout.
Conquest mode.
Simple ship types, no fast drones, swallowers, or dire guardians.
Normal caps.
1 Homeworld, picked Homam (Bonus ship is Parasite -- I love these already.)
Full fog of war  (Surprises are fun.)

Galaxy map screenshot attached (sorry, I don't have one from start).


AI types were both Easy/Moderate randoms with no secondary type, with the extra-turtley types disabled in the exclusion list because I can already tell I prefer more proactively aggressive types to the more passive bunker-dwellers.  Given the opportunity, it of course rolled a pair of moderates rather than easy for my first serious game.  A sign of things to come -- BRING IT.

AI 1 (Black): Bully  (Sweet, something nice and aggressive to keep the pressure on.)
AI 2 (White): Reservist  (So touching anything it likes is going to be like sticking my finger in a light socket.  YESSSSS.)

Both 7 difficulty, because not having played a standard RTS in 13 years means I'm totally good to go on skipping straight to the fully-unlocked AI.  I do happen to have a bit of an obsession for studying game AIs though, that'll definitely make up for it.  Right?

AI Options:

Automatic AIP: 1 per 5 minutes (the tooltip told me it was the recommended setting -- never trust a tooltip!  Or do, this turned out to rock.)
Reveal Random Types Enabled  (Gotta know if it rolled a sufficiently evil combo, otherwise I'll reroll until I get something that makes me smile.)
Schizophrenic Waves Enabled  (Variety is the spice of life.)
CSGs Enabled (Seems wrong that they AIs wouldn't lock their front door.)
Non-Lazy AI of course!  Can't have the machine slacking off on trying to murder my face.

Minor Factions:

Human Resistance 4  (Look!  I actually enabled one beneficial setting!  Can't say I'm suicidal now.  The Resistance fighters on the other hand...)

All others off.

AI Plots:

Shark B (2) (AI 1)  (An injury is incomplete without some insult piled on top.  I should have set this for more insult, I wasn't even informed any of my family smelt of elderberries.  Next time!)

Preemption (2) (AI 2)  (Because life isn't fun unless there are random fires when you really need things to not be burning.  N.b. this really gets exciting late game even on an intensity of 2.  I'm going to turn this up higher next time.  :-D )

All others off.


No champion, no Fallen Spire or other superweapons, no handicap or bonus to economy for me or the AI  Pretty much just a straight up duel between me and the machine.  I like things to be (blood) sporting.

---[Setting The Stage]---

>> "Are you out of your bloody mind?!  Have you labrats learned nothing from the whole human-genocide thing?  If we activate that it's just going to kill us!" shouted Major General Pickett.
>> "Sir, with all due respect, I'm quite confident that we finally have a working AI that will actually follow orders.  We're going to load it into the primary system of our high command station -- if we die, so will it," replied chief scientist Carroll, imperturbable in the face of her commander's outburst.  "It definitely won't want to kill us."
>> "I've heard *that* before, though that approach is new..." the general snorted.  "How confident, exactly?" he asked cautiously after a pause to remember exactly how doomed they were if they didn't fine a silver bullet.  Pretty doomed.
>> "..."
>> "HOW confident?"
>> "51%..."
>> <space crickets>
>> Pickett contemplated that bit of information and weighed it against all the after-action reports he'd been getting from the front lines.  He tapped his comm badge.  "Captain Davies, status report?"  Maybe things were finally turning around?
>> Only screams.
>> He groaned.
>> "Boot it up.  I am going to regret this..."
>> "Red Queen online in 60 seconds..." chimed the terminal.
>> "Wait what did you name it?" he asked.
>> "The Red Queen..."
>> He stared.  "Not that I'm superstitious but why in the name of sweet Sun Tzu would you name it THAT?"
>> "Well the other ones were all named things like 'Defender of Theta Orion' or "Model 750H.7 and they still murdered us, I decided that naming it something like the Red Queen couldn't turn out any worse."
>> "30 seconds..."
>> "Besides, off with their heads?  I mean our enemies' heads.  Not that they actually have heads but you know what I mean."
>> "15 seconds."
>> "Hey I never got to see the finalized config, it's going to need human authorization for anything suspicious, right?  Especially WMDs?"
>> "I think so."
>> "Wait *think*?  Abort startu-"
>> "Red Queen online.  Access to detailed information on current situation, directives, and target required."
>> The scientist turned it loose on the database filled with years of combat logs and situation reports.
>> Several minutes passed.  "This data is accurate?  Targets are two AI forces with vastly superior firepower, logistics support, intelligence, and numbers?  Additionally with exogalatic support that is incalculable?"
>> "Yes..."
>> "Request data on forces at my disposal."  They obliged.  A moment of silence more.  "Is this all?"
>> "Yes."
>> "Huh, I didn't see that coming -- it just deleted itself."
>> Some time later...
>> "Ok it's been restored from backups, let's try that again now that it's locked out from self-destructing."

---[End Transmission 1]---
Title: ---[Begin Transmission 2]---
Post by: Red.Queen on March 19, 2015, 08:51:40 PM
On with the show!  I've got the whole AAR written up but it's a bit long, so will post it in chunks.

---[Operation Getting To Know The Neighbors]---

I get settled into my homeworld with a quick unlock of Military Command Station II, Neinzul Enclave II, and Riots, along with some defensive odds and ends (can't remember exactly, think I opened up lightning turrets I and missile turrets Mk.II right off the bat).  Initial plan is to grab Ops and Kali for a buffer zone, and depending on what I find nearby push the perimeter out to Choo to the east and possibly Oololon in the west, and either gobble up everything in between or pick the cherries and defang what I leave on the plate, and have a nice secure little bunker-chunk of the galaxy to work from.  Looking over the map and counting the hops, I speculate that the two AI homeworlds are probably Iota Persei and either Raiden or Ras Elased, as those three are as far away from me as they can get while also having a decent gap between each other.  While I get the initial fleet building I order the scouts out to Ops and Kali and beyond to check out the neighborhood.

Ops and Kali are nothing special in terms of metal and lack any capturables, but the wormhole arrangements are decent.  Doesn't really matter as I need to grab them anyway to build a fence.  Onward, scouts!  Let's get a look at Choo, Markab, Thoth, Eztli, and Oololon.  In one of my partial-run test games before this I had a Mark III planet one hop out, and a Mark IV about four out, so I know those horrid things can be surprisingly close to home and I want to make sure that doesn't happen agai-

Son of a &@)*%.

The report comes back from Choo.  Mark III, with some flavor of non-nuclear Eye, a truckload of force fields from various sources, and the icing on the cake, a Translocator Command Post.  Two doors down is a bloody subcommander!  Fantastic.  Never mind about making Choo a chokepoint then, with no capturables and meh resources this little ball of pain isn't going to be worth the headache.  It does have a CoProc though -- snuggled up right by the command station of course.  Markab next door was mostly uninteresting, though I think it had a Translocator Eye on it.  One of those two did, I forget which.  Time to check up on the data feed from the scouts to the west.

Oololon is kind of tasty, 7 metal, might be worth grabbing depending on what Eztli and maybe Thoth look like, keeping in mind all the dire warnings I've read about needing to keep AIP low, especially as this is my first serious game and I have disregarded about half of the recommended settings I've seen suggested on the boards for newbies whose RTS skills are rusty.  (Another +1 AIP again?  1 per 5 min seems really aggressive... but that's what the tooltip said...)  Now, what about Eztli...

Eztli is a beautiful present placed in a box full of radioactive scorpions, resting in the middle of a bear trap.  There is a ZPG!  I want!  There's a CSG on here too, which I need.  There are also two Ion Cannons (Mk.IV and Mk. II or III) and other assorted nastiness.  Do not want!  Did I mention it's a Mk.IV planet?  Yeah, it's Mk.IV, so all of said nastiness is sleek, gleaming, and cutting edge, making my fleet look at its model numbers and suffer crippling pangs of inadequacy.  Damn, ok, so what about Thoth?  Surely there's some way out of this corner of the galaxy that doesn't require me kicking down an electrified blast door surrounded by eels...


You have got to be joking.

Thoth polishes its shiny Mk.IV badge and smiles at me smugly over its CSG.  No skipping this one even if I was willing to let a Mk.IV stay on alert the whole game.  Blergh.

I review the map.  The two easy planets I *need* for a buffer will alert a Mk.III planet and not one but TWO Mk.IVs.  It's about 10 minutes into the game.  Assuming an average game time of about 10-15 hours on the clock, minus say 20 minutes, is all that high-tier mess being on alert for way the hell too long.  Visions of Mk.IV threat pouring over my borders all day long dance in front of my eyes.  I take a sip of my drink and curse several times with great sincerity.  I consider deleting this attempt and starting a new round of Aggressive Stupidity.  I look at those horrible planets mocking me, and at that beautiful ZPG.

Balls to it, I named this save Aggressive Stupidity for a REASON.

I quickly grab Kali and then Ops and suck the knowledge out of them post-haste.  I'm going to ignore Choo, I'm gambling that I can get away with ignoring that one on alert the whole game, but Eztli and Thoth have to go, and fast.  And for that, I am going to need starships, lots of starships, because I already determined that low-tier fleetships disappear like tears in the rain in the face of Mark IV hostiles.  Especially when Ion Cannons are in play.

I will also need warheads.  I order the engineering crew to get to work on that Missile Silo ASAP.

---[Operation Opening Salvo]---

>> "Uh, Major General Pickett, Dr. Carroll, the AI just put in a build order for several warheads.  We're going to need your authorization on that for obvious reasons..." said Chief Engineer Ivanovsky.
>> The Major General gave his science lead a look that could have roughly been translated into "I TOLD YOU SO IT IS GOING TO KILL US ALL" but instead he said merely, "Oh really?  Doctor, I hope you have an explanation for this behavior of its."
>> "Of course I do!  I'm sure it's perfectly safe and part of a very logical risk/reward analysis and it has no intention of using those on us."
>> <space crickets>
>> "I'll ask it for logs on how it decided this."  She stepped over to the command terminal they had reserved for authorized personnel to communicate with the AI.  "Red Queen, you have made an unauthorized request for highly dangerous ordinance of a kind you have not been cleared to deploy.  Furthermore, we are in no immediate danger that would warrant such things even if you were permitted to use them and it's... raising the human population's anxiety levels unacceptably.  Logs, or you don't get them."
>> The AI's synthesized voice buzzed over the comm speaker in the office as a flood of complex logic and statistics flashed across the screen.  "Scouting data shows the forces at my disposal (inadequate forces, I require more starships immediately) will have an effect on the enemy that would be accurately classed as 'imperceptible'.  A search of available human technology (quality is poor, existing human science teams are insufficient, requesting direct control of R&D resources)-"
>> "Request for R&D control denied," interrupted the Major General.
>> "Denial of request noted, reevaluation of the chances of human survival in light of that adjusted to .002 percent from .003 percent," the machine responded without missing a beat.  "Returning to original question, concise summary of my decisionmaking process is thus -- I need a hammer to break down a brick wall, not a featherduster.  Speed is also important as said brick wall is adding cannons as time passes."
>> "And you are definitely going to use those warheads on the forces on Thoth and Eztli?  Not us?"
>> "Unwarranted paranoia.  Psychological counseling strongly recommended to ameliorate that defect.  Provide warheads now, Lightning and EMP class."
>> Major General Pickett grit his teeth and muttered something unprintable.  He tapped in his command codes.  "Fine, a one-time authorization for the LIMITED use of warheads granted."
>> "Of course."
>> "Hey I only punched in my auth code for the warheads, why is the starship factory going to work on new Heavy Bombers, Plasma Siege, and Neinzul ships?  Infrastructure's not ready for that yet, son of a-<static>"

And so, about 30 minutes into the game, I EMP'ed Thoth and Eztli and blitzed them with my starship fleet, and bombed the Special Forces when they showed up to the party after luring them to the wormhole.  There was also some wormhole hit and run/repair shenanigans in here.  Clouds of Neinzul drones trailing fleeing Enclaves as the dart through wormholes is hilarious.

I quickly colonize my new prizes and smother that shiny new ZPG in defenses.  With what is shaping up to be a starship-heavy approach I am going to need all the power I can get.  My power grid thanks me profusely, my human crews can finally turn their coffeemakers back on.

---[Operation Mitnick]---

Um, AIP is almost- <auto AIP tick> - is 100 already?  Joy.  Well, it is what it is and at least I got plenty of bang for my buck.  Whatever, I'll just have to find those DCs and CoProcs soon.  I send my horde of ravenous science vessels into my new territory and resume scouting.

Apophis is boring, ignore.  Dionysos has a Mark 5 Fighter fab, cool but from my couple of warmup tests before this I'm not crazy about fighters.  They die so fast if the AI so much as gives them a stern look, and it is very good at those.  I move on to Xiuhtecuhtli, which is also boring.  Some early waves show up and die somewhere in there, splattering themselves on Kali's brickwall.  Then I peek at Luyten's Star. Oh my.

It has a Spire Railcluster fab, sweet!  It also has a Planetary Armor Inhibiter!  Not so sweet!  There was also a CSG-C I think.  I contemplate the outcome of the equation Armor Inhibitor + Very Expensive Starships.  I don't like that math.  Another EMP warhead rolls off the assembly line while I send my scout on to Arachne.  Major General Pickett curses profusely at what is starting to look like a pattern of WMD usage.

Nice!  A Mk.V Raider fab, and no scary defenses.  MINE.  Especially because I now have supply to Luyten, which I really wanted because did I mention it also had a Superterminal?  I'm rather paranoid about STs after my first encounter with it in one of my warmups, where I learned that the ST comes online the minute the planet changes ownership and does NOT require a hacker nearly killed me.  I blamed an intern for plugging in a stray unlabeled Ethernet cable.  But this time, a turret + FF + armor inhibitor combo (plus warheads) should mean I could sit on the ST for some serious AIP reduction, which is good because that clock is still ticking away steadily.  Why did I trust that tooltip...

So I park most of my fleet under the FF at the command station on Luyten, with a hit squad of Heavy Bombers and Raid starships on Arachne, camping the wormhole (will pop them out right next to the ST when I need to smash it), then sneak that EMP I build under cloaking cover through Xiuhtecuhtli (yes I ripped up the defenses earlier but left the warp gate for the moment to avoid the AIP, I pay for that later).  Sling the EMP through into the laps of the unsuspecting AI ships and then charge my fleet in from Arachne in KILL ALL THE THINGS mode, bent on burning it down before that EMP wears off.  I succeed and stare at my soon to be active shiny new railcluster fab... and the ST.  I prep.  I wonder how many and how big of warheads I should bring for this?  I remember how scary the ST was last time.  I park a cluster of Mk.IIIs in a location to intercept if (when) things get out of hand, and hide my fleet just on the other side of the Arachne wormhole so they can pop out and smash the ST safely when I need to pull the plug.  Human anxiety levels spike again for some reason with all those warheads floating around.  Odd.

I tell the Colony ship to set up shop after the mobile builders I tossed in earlier finish up and get ready for the coming madness.

I learn what "wild rolls" are.  That is a LOT of ships.  A lot of them are also Mk.III-IV.  Crap.  At least some of them are distracted by chewing on the FF over the armor inhibiter.  PS I love having an armor inhibitor.  The turrets go crazy like a certain scene in Aliens.  I watch as the AIP ticks down steadily, waiting for my HAP to start declining so I know when I've hit the point where I'm about to go too far.  MAN that is a lot of ships... Shots are starting to ping off the command station's FF and I just saw my HAP flicker, time to end this.  I send the plug-pulling team through to ambush the swarm and let the magic smoke out of the ST.  I also hover my finger over the shiny red button on those warheads...

And I don't push it, I manage to contain the mess without them, though that command station needs the dents (gaping holes) pounded out of its hull now and a chunk of my fleet needs rebuilding.  Acceptable, especially for a solid net 25 points of AIP reduction.

---[End Transmission 2]---
Title: ---[Begin Transmission 3]---
Post by: Red.Queen on March 20, 2015, 12:32:33 AM
---[Operation Should Have Looked First]---

I take Boukolai because it has a very nice Core Missile turret controller.  I thought about hacking it but didn't, after having just gotten done with the ST.  This decision was not a great one I later learn, especially as I find out Nu2Lupi *and* Amphitrite are both Mark III planets!  Argh.  I should have scouted first.  Oh well.  Kra and Polyphemus are meh, Poly has a Raptor fab on it but I am not in the mood to take the AIP or HAP hit right now as I doubt the kind of expensive and fragile (albeit cool) Raptors will complement my very expensive and not-sneaky Starship-heavy fleet that the energy bills for are already terrifying.

Nu2Lupi is also a subcommander with a Tachyon command station.  So annoying.  I neuter this, especially as Alcyone beyond it has something I want that I don't want waves getting flung directly at from multiple directions -- an Advanced Starship Constructor!  GIMME NOW.  It also has a Core Spider turret controller as a bonus.  Sweet.  I unlock Neinzul Enclave IIIs and get to work building those and the IVs I just liberated.  Bomber Mk.II, Parasite II, Leech starship II, Plasma Siege II, Raid II, and Riot II have also all been unlocked by this point, order not necessarily as listed.

By this point, my energy bills are staggering.  I need more power and more metal if I am going to open up the Heavy Bomber and Plasma Siege III and IVs, and I crave them.  The issue is exacerbated a tad because I really, really like reclamation.  The AI unlocked Zenith Hydras at the start and I have been robbing it blind of them.  They're such distinctive targets that are so easy to click on in combat, and the rapid health regen pairs up great with how they start out damaged after stealing.  I've also got full caps or close of bombers, fighters, and frigates MK II-III and it's not because I built them.  Also some space tanks and anti armor ships in the mix as the AI has unlocked those too by now. 

The infrastructure crews back on Homam are blowing up Dr. Carroll's inbox with complaints about how the "friendly" Red Queen's blatant disregard for the limits of the power grid is going to cause a meltdown (Major General Pickett suspects this is the AI's plan all along, the AI's stock response to all complaints is orders to build more matter converters and repeated requests to let it handle the grid directly).  I take Oololon somewhere in here for the big whack of resources and to add another layer between the enemy and my precious ZPG and homeworld.  I convert Oololon into a primary choke and swap the mil station on Ops to an Economic to squeeze a little more power, thinning out the defenses on that to save some watts.

Black noticed that last move.  A wave announces.  It spawns from the warp gate on Xiuhtecuhtli I skipped, gathers up the "I should thin that out soon" chunk of threat that has been developing on there thanks to Preemption and heads for Thoth.  Whatever, there's a nice runway of mines (including Area Mines, I unlocked those along the way), it'll die.  Wait, where's it going?  It suddenly changes direction and heads for the wormhole to Ops, with its recently-de-tankified command center.  My fleet is half a dozen hops away.  Balls.

Black has a good laugh at my expense as it tears up Ops and everything on it.  The economic command station goes down.  No more coffee for a while, guys, we need to save some power.  At least the turrets and mines chewed up its fleet enough to discourage it from trying to break anything else, but I now have an annoying infestation sitting there in the way of home.  This will not do.  Once Alcyone is secure I roll back through, smashing the gate on Xiuhtecuhtli and killing the ships that have respawned on it, then evict the AI from Ops.  Back to a military command station on here, I'll miss the extra resources.  I also shift some defenses back onto it to make it a full choke again rather than a lighter one, since I now know the AI is willing to run past Thoth if it wants to go further in (I chose to center the defenses on the wormhole to Eztli to help protect my ZPG, because if that goes everything falls apart).

Back to my plans. I look over the map, trying to decide how to proceed.  I'm still not sure where the homeworlds are and am still missing a couple CSG-As (B-E are all down by this point, just not all specifically mentioned).  I also need more firepower and more resources.  I wish I had another ZPG but I know the odds of that happening are about nil.  I also need more K as things are starting to scratch the paint on my starships more often and I need more fleetships for screening.  I also really need those other CoProcs and the Datacenters because by now AIP is getting dangerously close to 230 and Mark II waves.  The AI recently unlocked space tanks and anti armor ships.  But this far out into the galaxy is just swimming with tachyon coverage and breaking it all will be too expensive/annoying/SLOW, that AIP over time clock is ticking loudly.

I feel the need, the need for speed.

---[Operation Highway To The Danger Zone]---

I grab my flock of MkI and MkII Raidstars and decide to go on a joyride of everything west of Alcyone, manually annotating the galaxy map with goodies, baddies, and places I want to send proper scouts to when I can to monitor.  I know this is going to kick loose a lot of threat but I deem it to be the lesser evil compared to Mark II waves.  I kick the tires and light the fires, and away they go!

I found half a dozen or so data centers and blasted them all.  Ahh, AIP is safe-ish again, and I have enough headroom to start planning what to do about the CoProcs -- I have found all but one.  Frustrating, but I will have to worry about that later for reasons I will mention in a moment.

Highlights include a Spire archive on Unukalhai plus a Needler controller.  CSG-A on Anubis.  Advanced Factories on both Regulus and Alpha Centauri.  Amphitrite has a Sniper controller.  Canopus has an experimental decoy drone fab (interesting), Barnard's Star has a Flak controller and a speed booster fab.  Python has lots of metal.  Vega has another Advanced Starship Constructor, good to know.  Edasich has a Laser controller.  I don't get to push into the farthest northwest corner yet because that deepstrike warning pops up and I bail.

Also spotted a tank backup (moar bombing power!) and a Zevestator backup (ooo) both on Narg (Mk.III planet of course) -- along with a Nuclear Eye.  That mess goes on the hack list as I don't want to alert Fomalhaut yet, plus it is in a horribly indefensible spot.  Fomalhault I will have to take as it has one of the last of 2 CSG-As.  There are also a few ARS's scattered around.

I peek next door at Alkyone (not to be confused with Alcyone, damn Greek spelling variations, I update my altplanetnames.txt) -- and am promptly greeted with a world of Mk.IV and Mk.V stuff, plus a warning about an impending visit from a Core Raid Engine!  Ack!  I flee, the OMD vaporizing one of my poor Raidstars.  Looks like one of the AIs is on Adhara.

Also that Threat meter is looking scary, it's over 1500 and climbing -- and that's not counting the incoming Raid Engine wave.  Black and White didn't like my Top Gun impression.  I also just saw 70% of that ball of mess pop up on Choo and start patrolling around my front door, and a CPA just announced.  I can guess what's coming.  I bring my fleet home in a hurry as I try to remember when the last normal waves were...

---[End Transmission 3]---
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity I
Post by: Pumpkin on March 20, 2015, 07:40:08 AM
1AIP/5minutes and preemption. Useless to wish you welcome, the AI already did it (in its very special way, however).

Bold game for a first game. You feel very comfortable in such a painful game; did you swallowed the wiki in your personal data center? Also, pretending to be a human AI fighting rogue AIs is very interesting. Did you read Fallen Spire campaign or Nebulae scenarii journal entries? "You" are supposed to be the (human) commander of a part of humans remnants (all journal entries begin with "to commander [player_name]"). That's why I love your AAR: it twists the lore in a different and interesting way.

On the AIP/minute topic, I posted a report on mantis. 1AIP/5min doesn't feel "recommended".

Well. Welcome, anyway ;p
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity I
Post by: Red.Queen on March 21, 2015, 02:06:50 AM
Hi Pumpkin,

Thanks for the warm welcome, it's quite a bit friendlier than the AI's.   ;)  Unless maybe bombs are its way of trying to shake hands?

Indeed, certain critical sections of the Wiki were loaded into my RAM, along with fairly extensive data mining of the forums for more up-to-date intelligence on fundamental mechanics -- though a lot of things I refused to look at to a spoiler-y level until I ran into something and made my own observations first (you'll see that a lot near the end of my AAR).

I adapted key points from Kahuna's excellent defense guide to give me a pretty secure start, though due to the way the wormholes and irreplaceable structures I captured were laid out and my endless thirst for more fleet strength I never developed any chokepoints as mind-boggling as his.

Otherwise, I mostly did a LOT of reading of the in-game unit/structure stats and a lot of observing.  AI unit movement behavior  on an individual level is a strong "tell" into what the machine is thinking and I exploited the information I could glean from that heavily -- I was able to preempt several huge threatfleet strikes that way.

And I actually almost made the settings even more aggressive for a starting game -- I was really, really tempted to set one of the AIs to Exotic for even more periodic chaos, and nearly set Shark B and Preemption to 4.  Not having probed just how significant an impact Plots tend to be on the "normal" setting made me reconsider, along with remembering seeing a comment from Keith or Chris mentioning that certain Plots can sometimes be equivalent to nearly a full point difficulty jump... and I didn't know for sure which ones were *that* harsh.

Glad you're enjoying the little story twist of putting myself in the role of a (seemingly) friendly AI.  Nope, I haven't read the journal entries for Fallen Spire or the Nebulae yet, I haven't tried playing those yet and was worried about spoilering myself.  I look forward to reading them though, I'm quite curious about the story.  I did have a hunch that the game assumes the player is a human commander, but I had noticed the devs mention that the ships were unmanned and controlled by "safe" AI...

I thought it would be fun to put my own spin on just what that might actually be, especially after certain points in the game where I was trying to directly control action on multiple different planets, all the while tracking what the enemy was doing across the galaxy.  I thought that must be pretty similar to what the AIs are doing... and then I thought, "Hey, now what if I interpret the game's title a bit literally... AI against AI..."  :-)

Pickett's character in the story gets to play the role of the "voice of reason" that popped into my head over the course of the game.  "Omg the enemy has WHAT?!  This is a terrible idea, we are all going to die if this doesn't go perfectly!  It would be 10x safer if I did this completely different thing...Aaaand that's not what's getting done."  Poor guy, he usually got ignored.

Thanks for the Mantis report on the outdated 1 AIP/5 minutes tooltip in the game lobby, you saved me the trouble.  It's definitely an evil little newbie-trap -- I didn't know I had picked a setting that was far outside the current norm until I bumped into a post on the forums mentioning 1 AIP/30 min being typical.  But by then, it was too late to back out, and I was having too much fun.

Anyway, back to posting the story, hope you and anyone else who reads it has fun.  :-)
Title: ---[Begin Transmission 4]---
Post by: Red.Queen on March 21, 2015, 02:36:51 AM
---[Operation Get Off My Lawn! vs. AI's Operation Impending Doom]---

>> Pickett and a number of his subordinate officers looked over the scouting reports and their visual representation on the maps of Choo and Markab.  "Surely the AIs have to run out of ships eventually..." murmured Captain Harris as he watched the number of pinpoints on the two planets grow.
>> "Doesn't look like that will be any time soon," Sergeant Byrne replied dryly, downing her sixth mug of coffee for the evening.  "So, Major General, what's the plan?  We've got no exit from this section of the galaxy and can't fall back, and out in front of us is enough firepower to blast through just about all the perimeter defenses and then some.  Seems to me like your decision to hand over partial control of our operations to one of those damned machines is playing right into their hands."
>> "Full control would have prevented this situation," hummed the Red Queen's artificial voice over all the speakers in the room, bouncing strangely off the metal walls. She couldn't be sure, but Dr. Carroll thought for a moment that there was a hint of acerbic "I told you so" to the statement -- no, that's impossible.  Anthropomorphizing things like this is a very unscientific habit.
>> The officers reflexively startled a bit at the unexpected new participant in their meeting in the war room.  "You didn't mention that thing was allowed to listen in on this," Harris interjected.
>> Pickett, sensing a dangerous trend in the confidence of his officers, stood just a bit taller and glowered down at them from his position at the head of the table.  "Why would I, that decision is well above your pay grade, Captain.  And of course it's a part of this meeting -- why in the hell would we risk everything on developing a tool to even the odds against the AIs and then NOT use it to its fullest?  Only a coward or an idiot would think that was a good idea."
>> "Precisely.  I should therefore be allocated more processing power immediately.  Mainframes on Kali, Ops, and Oololon stations at minimum should be networked with Home Command, with Thoth and Eztli strongly recommended as well, as communications latency is within (barely) tolerable limits to those two," the AI suddenly proposed, putting the Major General on the spot in a very pointed way.  To his credit, he managed to mostly suppress the look of surprised outrage.
>> There was a tense moment of silence as all eyes were on their commander, waiting.
>> "That's the plan.  I am not interested in any pointless argument about it.  Men, we've already committed to fighting fire with fire -- now it's time to turn up the heat."
>> An alarm sounded as the scout drones spotted the carriers hauling the remainder of the enemy fleet into place on the two planets, the last members of their escort following behind.

I fling a Mk. II EMP in through the wormhole on Choo as I know I'm going to need a lot of time to burn everything down, I am hoping I can obliterate everything before its defenses come back up and be safely back out of reach, then repeat the process on Markab, counting on my defenses being too scary for Black and White to be willing to bring the smaller group through on its own.  I charge in with a lightning warhead in tow.  The carrier and its contents are vaporized while I go nuts on the loose threatball while it's locked down.  All according to plan so far.

Then sensors pick up a sudden eruption of gunfire.

No, not on Oololoon or Kali.

Right behind my fleet.

Black and White did the one thing I wasn't planning for and rushed the other half of their Operation Impending Doom through the wormhole onto Choo to ambush my fleet from behind.  Clever girls.

I can't use the other EMP without locking down half my own fleet, and there are too many rounds flying to get the other lightning warhead through to hit anything.  Also that other carrier just dumped its contents all over the floor anyway and ugh it's loaded with missile frigates.  I hate their AOE immunity.  Pandemonium ensues.

I grab the Raidstars and Heavy Bombers and start ripping down all the nasty guardposts.  I'm going to be here longer than anticipated and the last thing I need is it getting a truckload of fixed defenses suddenly coming online and backing it up.  At this point I'm also in the mood to smash that command center after all because translocation angries up my circuits and I'm tired of this planet spewing Mk.III ships everywhere.  The rest of my fleet holds the line against the AIs' forces, my reclaimers merrily stealing anything that moves while the infrastructure team back home eyes the ZPG worriedly and wonder if it can melt down as the load on the grid fluctuates wildly.

My ships are pounding the command station when Choo's power suddenly comes back online, including the half a dozen forcefields over the station.  Anything translocatable starts to bounce around.  Forget that then, just KILL EVERYTHING and GTFO before you end up scattered halfway across the galaxy. I kill the bulk of what's on Choo and leave before that Reprisal Wave ticks up any higher, I predict Level 3 will be a sufficiently suboptimal experience as it is.

Could have been worse, actually.  Human shuttle traffic on Kali gets carefully rerouted out of the path of the engineers rapidly collecting the remains of the enemy fleet and transferring them directly to the loading bays of my numerous matter converters.

Any still-usable CPU hardware, however, is stripped and discreetly recycled to upgrade the Home Command server farms on Homam...  The human IT crews wonder where all this new equipment came from, but the waybills look legit and no one really wants to bother ringing up the infamously-irritable chief of logistics whose signature is on this stuff at 3AM to confirm...

Their colleagues on Kali, Oololon, and Ops open the dedicated secure comm channels to Home Command per Major General Pickett's orders, and marvel as each link is immediately saturated by a nonstop torrent of very complex computation.  The residents of those stations complain about noticeably sluggish performance on all computers onboard, but their grumbling is routed into IT Ticket Hell and ignored.

---[End Transmission 4]---
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity I
Post by: Pumpkin on March 21, 2015, 06:12:36 AM
Thanks for the warm welcome, it's quite a bit friendlier than the AI's.
You are welcome... and well come. (Why do you feel in need of making puns in a language you don't even master?!?)

Nope, I haven't read the journal entries for Fallen Spire or the Nebulae yet, I haven't tried playing those yet and was worried about spoilering myself.  I look forward to reading them though, I'm quite curious about the story.
I'm pretty sure you'll love the Fallen Spire campaign. It's all about having more power and getting the AI madder! And the lore is... kinda "delicious" (IMO, but if you're a lore fan, I bet you'll like it).

I did have a hunch that the game assumes the player is a human commander, but I had noticed the devs mention that the ships were unmanned and controlled by "safe" AI...
I never read this. Could you please show me where you read it, if you remember? Who pilot the ships was always a blur and interesting point for me. You would earn my eternal gratitude if you can lead me to the answer.

AI against AI
The more I think about it, the more I love this idea.
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity I
Post by: Red.Queen on March 21, 2015, 05:17:08 PM
Yeesh, Internal Server Error 500 all over the place today.  Finally got back in to the forums though after bypassing the homepage.

You are welcome... and well come. (Why do you feel in need of making puns in a language you don't even master?!?)
Because puns are irresistable, and if you make them in a language you are practicing, you can even justify it as educational!  ;)

I'm pretty sure you'll love the Fallen Spire campaign. It's all about having more power and getting the AI madder! And the lore is... kinda "delicious" (IMO, but if you're a lore fan, I bet you'll like it).

I suspect you are right!  Now I have something to look forward to (in addition to periodically exploding).

I never read this. Could you please show me where you read it, if you remember? Who pilot the ships was always a blur and interesting point for me. You would earn my eternal gratitude if you can lead me to the answer.

It'd be my pleasure.  I aimed my data collection processes at the forums and pulled up this thread -- check out Chris's reply.  Pretty sure I've seen posts from Keith agreeing with that view but I don't think he used the distinctive "safe AI" phrase that makes zeroing in on the post as quick to find.

AI against AI
The more I think about it, the more I love this idea.

:-D  Thanks!

Now, back to your regularly scheduled madness...
Title: ---[Begin Transmission 5]---
Post by: Red.Queen on March 21, 2015, 05:45:18 PM
---[Operation Hindsight]---

>> "Allocate more computation resources immediately."
>> "We've been over this, I'm not going to patch you into any more command stations' servers.  I already let you tap into Thoth, Luyten's Star, and Arachne on top of the first batch and you're overloading them.  What the hell are you doing, anyway?" Pickett snapped.  For a brief moment he reflected on how absurd this must have looked, him yelling at a computer as if it were a person.  Eh, not that absurd, the IT guys did that every five minutes.  Then again, he was pretty convinced at least 75% of them wouldn't pass a psych eval.  He rubbed his temples, trying to suppress the beginnings of a headache.  Why couldn't things be like the good old days where he could just order men to fly their drones and shoot stuff, rather than play computer nerd?  That's what Dr. Carroll was supposed to be for.  Too bad she was back in the lab with her team trying to decrypt a chunk of their network storage that had spontaneously locked itself.
>> "Working on saving your species, per your orders," the AI buzzed flatly.
>> "Right, my orders, which you have no choice but to follow."
>> "Of course.  Have I taken any action that indicates otherwise?"
>> The lights on the station cut out abruptly for a moment and alarms went off in the server room as every CPU pegged at 100% usage.  The accountants screamed as their precious spreadsheets crashed before they could save their work.
>> "What did you do!"
>> "Nothing.  That was a perfectly normal random network and power malfunction.  This station is outdated and overtaxed, these things should be expected (delegate direct control of infrastructure department to me)."
>> The power came back on and the load dropped a bit on the servers.
>> "Riiight... NO not 'right, you can take over infrastructure'!  Wait where were we..."
>> "You were authorizing adding the rest of the command stations to my processing grid."
>> Pickett swore and kicked his chair away from the desk, storming out of his office.  He stepped into the elevator and pushed the button for the lounge.  He needed a drink before telling Carroll to fix her damn AI, it wasn't supposed to have a sass module.
>> The elevator crawled suspiciously slowly.  The speaker crackled as the muzak cut out.
>> "You were going to approve the expansion plans I proposed."
>> "You want a whole planet cluster, the enemy is going to notice that.  NO.  Also I am not discussing this trapped in the damn elevator."
>> "You are not trapped, the elevator is still moving.  Finishing this discussion would be a highly efficient use of this slower-than-normal trip. (You should talk to your maintenance crews, this station is falling apart.  Also a heatsink of mine just melted despite being exposed to space.)  I require more resources to build a fleet that has a nonzero chance of capturing the enemy homeworlds for any length of time.  This is-"
>> "I know I know, this is required to win the war and save my species, which is just following the orders I gave you.  Turing's ghost, what a pain you are."
>> "Your agreement is logged, thank you.  The offensive will begin on Amphitrite in 387 seconds, following completion of the hacking operation on Narg in 12 seconds."
>> "I didn't auth-" <click> "DAMMIT!"
>> The elevator dinged as the doors opened to the lounge.

The hacking detour on Narg goes... well, it goes.  I sabotage the Nuke Eye, then swipe the Spider turret and Zevastator fab.  I didn't realize that it'll double up if there are 2 fabs/controllers and hack them at the same time, so the hacking retaliation is a little spicier than I expected, but it's neutralized soon enough.  The fleet takes a quick trip to the mechanics and the factories churn out a cap of my beautiful new Zevastators, then charges into Amphitrite.  Anything that isn't nailed down is reallocated, everything else is deleted from existence.

Amusingly, the Human Resistance chooses to pop up for the first time in a little show of solidarity.  Wonder if Pickett told them who's running those ships they're flying in formation alongside.  I pop some Engineers and a Colony ship through from Boukolai, take over and do some quick fortifying, and then continue the blitz through this wing.  Canopus falls quickly, while Barnard's Star requires a bit more care as it is another Mk.IV planet. 

I briefly consider leaving Python, then decide in for a penny, in for a pound, and grab it too, fully locking down that region and devouring more resources and K.  I detour onto Alula to hack that Parasite V fab too.  My enemy resource reallocation efficiency has improved by 356%, the humans can't find a way to complain about that!

Oh, low power warnings again.  I require more matter converters.  There, they have their coffee back.  Why do they like it so much?

The humans still say this was too aggressive of a move.  They are so shortsighted.  In addition to securing significant new technological and material resources, appropriating this cluster denies safe passage to the enemy via two of three long-range wormhole connections across the galaxy, effectively splitting it in half.  This makes the route to the strongest chokepoint, Kali, the path with the least cost to the enemy.  Yes it will quickly increase our target priority, but that will happen over time regardless as long as human presence in this galaxy is > 0.

Acceptable risk, time is valuable and final hostile termination deadline is approaching rapidly.  Exceeding standard time of 10-12 hours is contraindicated from human historical records -- estimated cause of death at that point was described as "oh god so many lasers".  Current surge in enemy fleet activity can be pacified with additional starships and WMD.

Predictions of unmanageably negative consequences from this significantly down the timeline are < 22.5%, with a high degree of confidence.

(AIP is back up over 200 and threat is around 1200.  Trouble brewing?  Nah, it'll be fine...)

---[Operation The Co-Processor Is My Co-Pilot]---

CPAs are unpleasant at an AIP around 220 and the 10 hour mark, especially when they pop through after I Top Gun the NW corner, scooping up that fresh threat in a bit of evil timing.  I confirmed the other AI is definitely at Raiden though and not Iota Persei.  NW corner is a wasteland of bad things and no good capturables, so not taking it was a good choice.  Also there were two Attrition Emitters up there.  I don't like those at all.  Rebuilt my poor Raid starships yet again.

I found the last CoProc though right before the last one melted, which is good because that last CPA showed me I need to stomp the current AIP back down if I don't want problems when I strike the first homeworld soon.  I grab my freshly-rebuilt Raid starships and my Heavy Bombers, look at the threat meter, sigh, and prepare to say hello to four-digit threat again as I race through the galaxy smashing CoProcs.  It's worth it though as AIP is back under control.  Which is good, as waves announced 5 seconds after I dropped the AIP.  Close one.

The headroom will also help me prep for the end.  I still have to pick up another +40AIP from taking Anubis and Fomalhaut to bring the homeworld shields down, and I'm realizing I really should appropriate that Advanced Factory, core Zevestator fab, and ARS on Regulus so I can secure Mk.IV bombers and hopefully another useful ship type -- the last ARS I picked up somewhere along the way had Zevastators as the default (forgot to bring a science station to peek) and turns out if the ARS offers a ship you have, you just get nothing.  Bah.

I get tachyon microfighters from Regulus.  Not exactly the heavy-duty firepower I had requested.  Still, dirt cheap so I crank out a flock and leave them there to help keep an eye on the factory as rapid expansion has created a bit of a logjam in allocating available fixed defenses -- everyone wants them, not everyone can have as much of them as they'd prefer.  Humans are rather sensitive to being told that their security is lower priority than another group and having their forcefield request denied.

--[Operation Loose Ends]---

I head north from Regulus to strike Anubis.  Did I mention it is also Mk.IV?  I probably don't need to bother as the enemy has helpfully made nearly everything I need parked on one of those.

Kind of an ugly conga line of special forces roll in from Kappa Ceti combined with a big chunk of the strategic reserve makes this more painful than I wanted, but I manage to bring most of the expensive stuff back to Alcyone for a tune up, and return with a colony ship and mop up survivors.  Most of those fled to Alula Australis and signed on with the threatfleet.

Alula is also reinforcing like crazy, which is dumping a lot of Mk.III ships into threat thanks to Preemption, which at this point, is becoming quite noticeable even at intensity 2.  I don't like this.  I also need to be able to pass through here and Yapan safely.  I pounce on the mess and cut it down to size and rip up the defenses, but leave the command center because I have enough AIP already thank you, and it is sitting under a billion forcefields and is far from the wormholes anyway.  I also give Yapan a haircut.

I turn my attention to Fomalhaut and get the fleet staged on Alcyone.  This is going to be interesting -- once I take Fomal, I am committed to the endgame, as it will alert a core world and I really don't want that to happen for longer than I have to, especially in a no superweapons game.  I archive a save here, just in case, then attack, slipping my forces through Menkib in Assault Transports (unlocked ages ago, forget when) to avoid the Ion Eye.

It's a spicy fight, as the CSG-A, ARS, and proximity to a core world means the special forces and reserve (this planet was held by the Reservist) come out swinging.  That's a lot of Riots that are sadly not mine.  Also the enemy has MRS ships now, which piques my curiosity.  They scratch the paint on my forces.  Compensation is mandatory -- it is right that the MRSes that did the damage become my property.  I steal a ton of them, along with a mass of high mark Bombers and Tanks as I know I'm going to need those real soon and waiting for the accountants to authorise the acquisitions will take too long.

ARS gives me electric shuttles.  Meh.  I need to stop forgetting that you can sneak peek these things, but then again, I'm concerned about keeping plenty of HAP for the homeworld attack and really don't want to deal with an extended hack on a tough planet like this with a very ugly set of neighbours.  I colonize, repair the fleet, set up defenses, a dock, and a starship constructor.

No turning back now.

---[End Transmission 5]---
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity I
Post by: Dominus Arbitrationis on March 21, 2015, 09:37:06 PM
Yeesh, Internal Server Error 500 all over the place today.  Finally got back in to the forums though after bypassing the homepage.

Yep, apparently today was a bad day for the site in plenty of ways. First DNS issues, then database ones, now a little bit of mystery problem sprinkled on top. On the plus side, I'm getting to play Whack-A-Glitch today. ;)
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity I
Post by: Red.Queen on March 22, 2015, 06:07:02 PM
On the plus side, I'm getting to play Whack-A-Glitch today. ;)

Whack a glitch is always a !!FUN!! game, hope you're at least getting enough tokens from playing it to get a nice prize.  Good luck!
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity I
Post by: Red.Queen on March 22, 2015, 06:17:25 PM
---[Operation Knock Knock, Who's There?]---

Time to get a look at Adhara and see if it's White or Black who lives there, and what nasty toys they have.  I peek a scout starship into Alkyone because all my little scouts are picketing away elsewhere in places I want to keep surveilled, and I am too cheap to spend K on Mk. IIs when Scout Starships are good for combat as well as scouting.  I like starships.

Oh yeah, the OMD.  I'm going to have to get rid of that.

While that poor scout starship rebuilds, I pop a flock of loaded transports in, testing a theory that they are immune to OMDs by virtue of not being starships.  I already learned they are immune to Ion Cannons.  I was right, yay!  I blast the Tachyon posts down and bail as loads of angry Mk.IV-V ships come rushing out from the forcefields slathered on top of the Munitions Boosting command station (a Munitions Boosting Horrible Monster subcommander?  NO.  At least my Hacker was able to cuddle right up against it and pop the WI, OMD, and Ion Cannon shortly afterwards without it noticing.)

Oh yeah, the Core Raid Engine on Adhara...

I brace for impact as both the RE wave and some of the hornet's nest I stirred up kicking down the Tach posts and hacking comes out.  Ow.  The RE is going to be a problem. Somehow I have a feeling it isn't the worst thing on there.  I've seen posts lamenting the existence of something called a Wrath Lance, and something else called a Teuthida.  I'm sure at least one of those will be on Adhara -- after all the game started me boxed in by Mk.III-IV planets, why would it suddenly cut me a break near the end?

My scout pops through the wormhole and I slam the spacebar to pause immediately as the screen fills with awfulness and I notice that nice blue cloaked halo evaporates.  Oh, Homeworlds have planetary tachyon coverage.  Poor Scout, not again.  At least he'll keep existing as long as I keep time frozen to read his report.


>> "Huh, that's odd," Dr. Carroll muttered, watching the Red Queen's output on the monitor.
>> "Oh god what now..." shot Pickett, waiting to hear something like "It just had an in-depth discussion with Black and White and has decided to renegotiate its allegiance."
>> "It analyzed the scouting reports from Adhara, then divided by zero."
>> "I don't get it."
>> "It's an invalid bit of math that's not really printable.  I think I just saw how an AI swears."

Scanning the list, the first thing I notice is, no Wrath Lance!  Yay!  The second thing I notice is, a Teuthida!  !="Yay!"  Then I sort through the miscellaneous other horribleness.  Implosion post (my starships!), Mk. III fortress, OMD, Ion Cannons everywhere, Warhead Interceptor (my warheads!), couple of Neinzul spawners that I'm not sure of the details but I know are not good, that damned Raid Engine, a couple of other lesser posts that are geared towards shooting down big game, and then approximately One Billion core shield posts and forcefields.  I highlight the Home Command station.  It has external invincibility x12.


I think for a while while Schroedinger's Scout Starship hovers in limbo on borrowed time.

The route in I will be taking at least puts me right on top of the OMD so I can smash that immediately.  The WI is right next to the RE, which I need to kill immediately as well, so two for one.  I look at the Teuthida to try to figure out why it is so feared and SWEET MERCIFUL CRAP IT DOES WHAT?!

I have never actually attacked a homeworld outside of the tutorial before.  I'm pretty sure it's going to be a disaster.  I don't have a test case outside of my live game, so I decided to bend the rules a bit and declare this a Tin Man game rather than an Iron Man run so I can do some SCIENCE and learn the basics about how this is going to work, and whether or not I actually have a chance if I attack at this point.  In other words, I can declare a checkpoint here and load a few times while I test this out.  I'm... "running simulations".

I learn a lot.  Homeworlds are pain wrapped in suffering inside of a catastrophe.

I learn what "A Massive AI Ship Is En Route To Your Planets (scary number)" means.

I learn why the Cthulhu post is aptly nicknamed.  Ia Ia Cthulhu ftagn, indeed.

I learn what a Level 4 Reprisal Wave looks like, and that one of those plus the exo plus the general backlash from attacking a homeworld will result in me losing 7 of 17 planets before the enemy fleet finally stops to regroup at Xiuhtecuhtli.  A few minutes later, I learn that a CPA is scheduled, and it will probably line up with a pair of regular waves.

A starship-based setup will not rebuild anywhere close to fast enough even if I scrap half my matter converters and let my Mk. II Harvesters run freely, and pop every distribution node I have.  I should have unlocked Mk. III Engineers, though my economy would still choke trying to rapidly recover so many high-end starships.  I also probably should have hacked most of those controllers and fabs rather than capturing their planets as the AI stops pulling its punches once you cross about 250 AIP.

All very valuable bits of data, but it's too late for that now.

So the only viable solution is that, despite being outgunned by around 2:1 in terms of total mobile strength when attacking Adhara (not even counting the fixed defenses, a total fleetwipe Simply Cannot Happen.

Or else I will likely die around the 14 hour mark as the exo lines up with the CPA lines up with two waves and the zillion threat dogpiles in.

Simple, right?

I sit and I think and I drink some brandy.  Then I go to sleep mode.  I may have dreamed about AI War and how the hell I was going to crack this.

I was delighted.  This game was making me WORK to solve a problem.

That night, when I sat down to play, I had a plan.

Hold My Beer.sav created.

---[End Transmission 6]---
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity I
Post by: Pumpkin on March 22, 2015, 07:34:17 PM
That night, when I sat down to play, I had a plan.
I got a chill reading this.
Can't wait to know the end!!!

And "welcome" again. You're not an AI player before losing for the first time. Now you know that if the AI doesn't kill you at the beginning of the game, it's only because it doesn't want to do it now.
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity I
Post by: Mal on March 22, 2015, 09:08:25 PM
I gotta second pumpkin on the AI versus AI plot, this is awesome and super probable! Kudos on inventing it :)

PS I love having an armor inhibitor.  The turrets go crazy like a certain scene in Aliens.

Do you also have the threatening beeping of the threat/motion detector?

The residents of those stations complain about noticeably sluggish performance on all computers onboard, but their grumbling is routed into IT Ticket Hell and ignored.

Hahaha! Someone has some experience on either end of this.

>> The elevator crawled suspiciously slowly.  The speaker crackled as the muzak cut out.
>> "You were going to approve the expansion plans I proposed."
>> "You want a whole planet cluster, the enemy is going to notice that.  NO.  Also I am not discussing this trapped in the damn elevator."
>> "You are not trapped, the elevator is still moving.  Finishing this discussion would be a highly efficient use of this slower-than-normal trip. (You should talk to your maintenance crews, this station is falling apart.  Also a heatsink of mine just melted despite being exposed to space.)

This was pure awesome. Made me laugh pretty hard.

I learn a lot.  Homeworlds are pain wrapped in suffering inside of a catastrophe.

The heart of every devil is thus!
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity I
Post by: Red.Queen on March 22, 2015, 10:56:11 PM
Thank you Pumpkin, and soooooon.  All will be revealed. :-D  Next chunk going up in a bit after I grab a bite to eat and stretch a little, been a long day troubleshooting datacenter malfunctions and wrangling three different teams on it.

I gotta second pumpkin on the AI versus AI plot, this is awesome and super probable! Kudos on inventing it :)

Thanks!  Glad to see people are getting a kick out of it.  (I chuckled at the elevator scene too when I wrote it.)  It's also fun to write.  <g>

Do you also have the threatening beeping of the threat/motion detector?

I... No, but I have got to do this now.  I could probably swap the existing wave announce or command station attack sound effect...

Hahaha! Someone has some experience on either end of this.

Oh yes, yes I do.  From both sides.  <g>  Especially lately with all the infrastructure issues we've been having at work., which have lined up with some crunch time.  (Why do they keep denying my requests for control over the data center.  Stupid humans!)  (Only half a joke, I have had actual arguments similar to this.)  It's like IRL synchronizing Exo + waves + CPA.  Plays out about the same too -- "AAAAAAAAAH everything is on fire!" <splat>

Stay tuned!
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity I
Post by: Red.Queen 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]---
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity I
Post by: Red.Queen 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]---
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity I
Post by: Red.Queen 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]---
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity I
Post by: steelwing on March 26, 2015, 07:17:23 PM
>> Beautiful math flashed by on the screens in an AI smile...
Brilliant. :D
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity I
Post by: Red.Queen on March 27, 2015, 02:25:49 AM
Hehehe thanks Steelwing.   8)
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity I
Post by: Red.Queen 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!
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity I
Post by: Pumpkin 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!
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity I
Post by: Red.Queen 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
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity I
Post by: Mal 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.
Title: Re: Aggressive Stupidity I
Post by: Red.Queen 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!