Author Topic: Prerelease 3.181 (New CoN features, AI Ship Counts Down, 45 New Guard Posts)  (Read 12891 times)

Offline x4000

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The latest beta is available via the Updates window in version 3.060 or greater of the game.  Just open the game and you can quickly download the prerelease through the updates tab.  If you don't yet have 3.060 or greater, you can download 3.060 here.  This prerelease version is compatible with any vendor's version of the game -- Steam, Impulse, whatever.

Note:  If you have bug reports related to this release, please log them in the bug reports subforum with one bug per topic.  It makes things infinitely easier for us.  Thanks!

Looking for a Patch That Can Be Manually-Installed?
Because of the time involved in creating multiple versions of each patch, we only create manually-installable patches for official versions of the game, not each beta prerelease.  But you can easily create your own manually-installable beta patch!  Please note that current betas can only be successfully applied to version 3.060 of the game or later (if you later wish to revert to the official version for any reason, you can download the full raw files from the above link to do so).

To create your own manual beta patch, simply download these two files:
1. Current Beta Director Xml File.
2. Current Beta Zip File.

If you try to open that zip file, it will say it's corrupt -- that's okay, it's not really a zip file.  Finally, create a new zip file on your computer, and put both the director and the fake-zip-file inside it.  Call your outer zip file something that starts with Beta and ends with an extension of .zip.  Beta.zip will work just fine, or you can name it after the specific version number if you want to hang onto it.  And that's it!  Now you have your very own manually-installable package of the AI War beta version of your choice, which you can install by simply selecting via your Updates window in the game.  Please note that "Beta" in the filename is case-sensitive.

What's new since 3.180:
(Cumulative release notes since 3.120 are here http://arcengames.com/mediawiki/index.php?title=AI_War_-_Current_Beta)

-------------------

    *  Starships and warheads now build 3x faster than before, or basically an equivalent rate to space dock units.

    * AI planets now get fewer slots added to their ship cap per command station and guard post (it was 250, but now it is 150). Their overall max ship cap is also now lower (1000 per AI player, rather than 2500 per AI player), and on home and core AI planets it is a little higher but still lower overall (1300 now instead of 2500). These changes are logical given the huge new guard post strengths on the home and core planets (and the new ones coming for regular plants), making it now more about those large structures and less about the huge groups of smaller fleets grouping it out; though of course when the AI attacks the human players, you still get that same dynamic as always. Without changing the game TOO much, this really lets us save on sim/graphics performance as well as making the offensive actions less of a grindy.

    * AI planets now get only about 2/3 of the reinforcements per reinforcement wave that they used to. This avoids having all the planets hitting ship cap (and thus running border aggression constantly, etc). Between this and the above change, this should cut down on the occasional grindyness somewhat, and make sure that the sim speed doesn't have as much risk of dropping in battles.

    * The max starships that a starfleet commander can have are now 1/3 per planet what it was previously, hopefully making this AI type more reasonable.

    * The thresholds for the number of AI units that can be in cold storage before becoming part of border aggression and attacking the human players has been reduced by 2000 overall. This puts it into equivalency with the new, lower ship caps, but it also is going to lead to... well, pain, in the case of some existing savegames with massive numbers of ships already in place out in the galaxy.

    * The health of armored golems has been doubled.

    * The reinforcement penalties on all of the golems have been massively reduced, making them significantly more powerful.

    * Added Neinzul Preservation Warden minor faction. When this is enabled:
          o The game will periodically check if it should spawn one of these enclave starships. They are always allied with the AI.
          o The original spawn points are generally on AI core worlds.
          o The enclave starship will then wander towards human territory and be antagonized by any extractors on nearby planets and release its younglings to attack the humans.
          o Once it reaches human territory it typically thinks that the place is a dump and starts on a journey back to an AI core world.
          o The chance of enclave spawn and the rate of youngling production is directly related to the number of extractors currently running in the galaxy.

    * Added Neinzul Roaming Enclave minor faction. When this is enabled:
          o The game will periodically check if it should spawn one of these enclave starships.
          o When spawning, it randomly picks between AI-ally, Human-ally, and Enemy-to-all versions of the roaming enclave starship.
                + The AI-ally ones will spawn somewhere in AI territory and move towards human territory to raid it (typically having had time to build up a few youngling squadrons). When damaged to 50% or less it typically retreats to AI territory to regen.
                + The Human-ally ones will spawn on a human planet, produce (internally) at least one squadron of younglings, and then try to raid AI planets. When damaged to 50% or less it typically retreats to human territory to regen and rebuild its squadrons.
                + The Enemy-to-all ones will spawn on an AI planet that borders a non-AI planet, and typically run away as it gets shot at by lots of stuff. These don't really have anywhere to run and tend not to last long, but they can still spice things up a bit.

    * Added the Neinzul Youngling Nanoswarm (I-V) bonus ship type.
          o Actually composed of billions of microscopic organisms, this "ship" has no conventional weapons and attacks by ramming targets and exploding. This explosion damages the target and some nearby ships. More importantly, the now-liberated microscopic organisms will work together to take over the damaged vessels. They are unable to do further damage to the ship after the explosion, but can reclaim it once it is sufficiently weakened.

    * Grenade Launcher shots can now only damage a finite number of ships within their explosion radius (like the Flak Turret), specifically 8, 10, 12, 14, and 16 for the mark I, II, III, IV, and V versions respectively. The actual attack power of these shots has been increased by 50%, in hopes of maintaining the danger of the unit while removing the previous problem of them being capable of exterminating nearly infinite quantities of enemy ships (particularly when AI worlds could accumulate over 1000 core grenade launchers).

    * Added Neinzul Youngster (moderate) AI Type. Its waves' fleet ships are always Neinzul younglings (a mix of all 5, so basically always schizo), and it launches 2 times as many waves as normal. Its planets are defended pretty lightly.

    * Added Support Corps (easy) AI Type. It launches no waves of its own but mixes support ships (MRS's, decoy drones, etc) into the waves of its ally. Support ships are also mixed into normal reinforcements for all AI planets.

    * Added Warp Jumper (hard) AI Type. It can launch waves against any human planet without a warp jammer on it. If a wave is "remotely" warped in, it will spawn on the edge of the planet (50000-70000 range out from the center), rather than on a wormhole. As a consolation, this AI's planets will not have warp gates, and thus will cost 15 AIP instead of 20 to take.

    * Fixed bug where Heavy Beam Cannons were still firing at ships immune to area-of-effect damage (like Missile Frigates, which recently were made immune-to-aoe).

    * Increased the "on paper" health of all self-decaying Neinzul ships by 10x, but also increased the volatility "multiply all incoming damage" attribute by 10x. The only real difference is that the negative-regen rates will now work more properly. It's not really possible to have a negative regen of lower magnitude than -20/sec, so really really low health ships like vultures were dying much faster than intended, but now they should last closer to the intended interval.

    * Neinzul Silos now have a 1/15 chance of producing an emp warhead, instead of 1/5 like before. However the mk I and II versions now also have a 1/15 chance of producing a lightning warhead 1 mark higher than normal.

    * Added 24 achievements. 1 for the base game (win a game with the Avenger plot enabled), and 23 for CoN.

    * Signficantly rebalanced the Neinzul Viral Swarmer to make it not-totally-bat-crazy-to-call-this-an-easy-ai-type, and also to stop eating the CPUs of player machines.
          o ReplicationCostScalingFactor from 0 to 10, this results in a very heavy penalty to replication rate when the number of swarmers on a given planet (controlled by that player) exceeds its normal ship cap.
          o Set the normal ship cap to 1.5 the normal cap (i.e. a bit less than 300).
          o Decreased build-points-to-replicate from 5xAttackPower to 2x, to maintain some degree of threat in balance with the other changes.
          o Decreased time-to-live from 4 minutes to 1 minute, to reduce the scope of the danger to your overall empire. Unless you don't do a good job of denying them fuel, of course.

    * The internal calculations for border aggression have been revamped extensively in the wake of the recent AI ship cap reductions. It's hard to express exactly what effect these calculation revamps will have, since it varies by AI Progress, difficulty level, and other factors, but in general it should make border aggression not happen until later, while at the same time making it more pronounced for high AI Progresses on higher difficulties.

    * Fixed bug from recent versions where a ship being loaded into a transport would cause the simulation to skip the next ship, causing all manner of tomfoolery (or lack thereof). Notably, this fixes the behavior where ships loading into a transport would load by halves, and then halves of halves, etc.

    * Fixed a bug in recent versions that could cause move orders to occur with more latency.

    * Border aggression now only kicks in when there is Threat + Attack of less than 4,000, to avoid latency based on extreme amounts of border aggression on top of waves, etc.

    * New "AI Barracks" have been added.
          o Built by the AI to contain offline overflow units from its planets when it has too many units to keep online. Each barracks contains 200-1200 ships that will come active when the barracks is attacked or destroyed, or when the planet of the barracks no longer belongs to the AI.

    * Viral Clusters no longer cause AIP on death.

    * Scouts with cloaking boosters no longer will ever boost ships with a mark level lower than their ship level. Thus the in multi-level scout groups, the lower-level scouts will support the higher-level scouts, thus maximizing the chance of overall survival within the group.

    * Scout starships are no longer counted in the "EnemyStarships" group, which prevents them from very easily making AI planets go on-alert.

    * Ships with bonuses against starships (notably Dreadnoughts) now get a bonus against the hull of Hybrid Hives.

    * Hybrid Hive forcefield module shield-rating (not hp) was previously much higher than intended (4,000 at mark I up to 20,000 for mark V), cut down to what was intended (1,200 at mark I, 6,000 at mark V). This makes polarizers less useful against them, though hopefully still effective in numbers.

    * Hybrid Hive hull and forcefield module energy consumption increased quite a bit. This has no impact on the AI as it has no economy in the normal sense, but it does increase the damage done to them by Impulse Reaction Emitters.

    * PermaMines have been removed from the game, as the game has evolved to a point where they just didn't make sense any longer (free transports is a big part of that, plus the permamines just involved too much micro in general). PermaMines have been changed into regular mines.

    * The AI's ship caps on mines per planet have been drastically reduced in order to keep planets from filling up with mines and thus not having many actual ships given the new lower AI ship caps per planet.

    * The AI now has strict ship caps on turrets per planets in order to keep planets from filling up with turrets and thus not having many actual ships given the new lower AI ship caps per planet. This also prevents ultra-rare situations like turret-only AI homeworlds based on border aggression, etc.

    * The AI now slowly scales back its counts of mines and turrets, in the same fashion that it has long pruned starships. It does this mainly for the benefit of older savegames.

    * Fixed bug where minor faction ships wouldn't run any "what next?" logic if no enemies were in the system.

    * Fixed a bug where AI ships in cold storage on a planet with a planetary cloaker would not be treated as cloaked.

    * Fixed a bug where minor faction ships (like dyson gatlings) would sit around on a planet because some cloaked enemy units were present, despite the fact that said minor faction units could do absolutely nothing about said cloaked enemy units.

    * The icons that are shown at the top of the intel summary are now sorted by short name (displayed in the line below), rather than just being ordered effectively randomly as they were before.

    * Fixed bug where mines were not regenerating health if all enemies left the planet before they had a chance to regen.

    * External invincibility for command stations (provided by certain destructible guard posts) is now visually shown on the command stations, and shown in the hover info for the command station with a count of how many external guard posts are contributing to that invincibility.

    * Five marks each (I-V) of nine new guard posts have been added to the game. These are specifically NOT for the AI homeworlds, but are now used in place of all of the previously-existing guard posts and stealth guard posts that used to be in the game (special forces guard posts have not been altered.
          o These new, specialized guard posts vary in rarity and effect just as do their counterparts on the AI homeworlds, but these have very little overlap in terms of specific function with the homeworld-specific guard posts. Also, with the exception of the "AI Command Station Shield Guard Post," none of these new guard posts protect the command stations from being destroyed.
          o The primary function of these specialized guard posts is to make the assaults on AI non-homeworld planets more interesting and varied. These first 45 new guard posts should be considered the first steps into this new design paradigm for guard posts, rather than the end-all designs. In other words, there is lots of room for growth in terms of variety and function with these, same as with the guard posts for the homeworlds.
          o The secondary function of these new guard posts is to raise the difficulty on the non-homeworld planets. Or, more specifically, to counteract the lowered difficulty that is also contained in this release in the form of the lowered AI per-planet ship caps. These guard posts now form the centerpieces of more varied sub-battlefields within the larger battlefields of each planetary area.
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Offline x4000

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My narrative explanation: http://arcengames.blogspot.com/2010/08/ai-war-prerelease-3181-new-con-features.html


Copied:

This update has such a broad spectrum of new stuff that it's difficult to summarize.

First of all, on the Children of Neinzul expansion side we're getting quite close to done with the initial feature set -- though there's still a long way to go with bug testing/fixing, balance adjustments, other secondary features like new achievements, and so on.

The planned Youngling Mimics were problematic when it came time to actually implement them (they were either two powerful, too weak, or too fiddly every way we thought about it with detailed designs), so now those have been implemented as the Youngling Nanoswarm.  The nanoswarm fills the same conceptual space that the mimic did, but it does so in a way that can be effectively balanced and that isn't fiddly to use.  Speaking of Younglings, there were some problems in prior releases with their lifespan being a bit shorter than we wanted based on the granularity of the self-attrition when it comes to low-health ships.  This has been fixed.

Also for CoN, we now have two new minor factions for them: the Preservation Warden and the Roaming Enclaves.  The roaming enclaves are particularly exciting because of how unpredictable they are, but both of these minor factions add something new to the game (the preservation wardens try to kill all your harvesters, to great effect).  Along with these, there are now three new AI types/personalities: Neinzul Youngster, Support Corps, and Warp Jumper.  The Warp Jumper in particular makes it for a very different game since it doesn't use warp gates but instead is able to warp anywhere.  This makes the normal mechanisms for protecting your flanks completely ineffective, but it also leads to 25% less AI Progress since the warp gates are missing. All in all a challenging AI type.

Aside from those larger pieces of functionality, the CoN expansion has seen a lot of other tweaks both major and minor.  In recent releases, players were seeing the numbers of Viral Swarmers quickly climb to 35,000 units or more in the early game, which was obviously far too extreme, so those have been toned down.  There are 23 new CoN achievements, and some tweaks have been made to hybrid hives, amongst other improvements.

So far all I've talked about is the additions and changes for CoN, which are significant, but equally significant are the changes to the base game itself.  In the last prerelease the game received a completely new endgame, which really changes the feel of the end of the game for the better, based on a lot of player comments and a lot of long-term design thoughts we'd been mulling over.  This release extends that thinking into the early and the middle game, as well.

The first major change is to the AI per-planet ship caps.  Previously, the AI was limited to having around 5000 ships per planet, and it would gradually reinforce until it hit those caps, then it would eventually start upgrading the mark level on those ships.  This worked pretty well, but in the long games it made for really high ship counts on every planet, which led to epic battle after epic battle, and which could harm the framerate on non-latest-technology computers when the galaxy-wide ship counts were getting into the hundreds of thousands.  We've combated those performance concerns in a variety of ways, capping the AI to a maximum of 175,000 units galaxy-wide for example, as well as just making the code more efficient and using batch processing and such.

However, at this point we've decided to add on another layer of shifts that will help performance on older hardware and in those 30+ hour or 60+ hour edge-case games: we've reduced the effective ship count from 5000 to around 2600 on the AI home planets and around 2000 on all other planets.  The nuanced effect that this has on the game is hard to succinctly explain, but the shortest possible explanation is this: it will make the performance better overall, it will make attacking entrenched AI planets less likely to ever be a grind, it does NOT eliminate the massive 4000x4000 (or even more) ship battles, but it does make them considerably more rare on a per-campaign basis -- once or twice per campaign, perhaps, rather than every other planet.  Of course it could be a lot more common even now, depending on your playstyle.

Please note that these ship cap reductions affect the AI only; the human player ship caps are untouched.  On the surface, it would seem that this would make the game a lot easier, but this is not so.  Also added in this release are new AI Barracks, which store AI overflow units (between 200 and 1200 units per barracks).  Basically, the AI can now have more units than ever, but just with a lot of their units stored in a completely idle fashion in these barracks.  The human players then have a bit more choice of when and how to engage these barracks and the units they contain, and this can make things like command station sniping far harder without dragging down the framerate during normal play.

But the AI Barracks alone certainly would not compensate for the reduction in AI ship caps.  Thus five marks each (I-V) of nine new guard posts have been added to the game. These are specifically NOT for the AI homeworlds, but are now used in place of all of the previously-existing guard posts and stealth guard posts that used to be in the game (special forces guard posts have not been altered).  These new, specialized guard posts vary in rarity and effect just as do their counterparts on the AI homeworlds, but these have very little overlap in terms of specific function with the homeworld-specific guard posts. Also, with the exception of the "AI Command Station Shield Guard Post," none of these new guard posts protect the command stations from being destroyed.

The primary function of these specialized guard posts is to make the assaults on AI non-homeworld planets more interesting and varied. These first 45 new guard posts should be considered the first steps into this new design paradigm for guard posts, rather than the end-all designs. In other words, there is lots of room for growth in terms of variety and function with these, same as with the guard posts for the homeworlds.  The secondary function of these new guard posts is to counteract the lowered difficulty based on the lowered AI per-planet ship caps. These guard posts now form the centerpieces of more varied sub-battlefields within the larger battlefields of each planetary area.

All in all, this release really helps to push AI War forward by making it much more varied in the texture and scope of its battles.  Sometimes you'll just have golems or starships duking it out with the large, specialized guard posts.  More often you'll have a mix of scale of ships, including the larger centerpieces surrounded by the hundreds or thousands of supporting fleet ships.  Other times you'll still have thousands of fleet ships versus thousands of other fleet ships and/or turrets.  Increasing the variance between the many planets has been a big goal for us lately, and this is a huge step in that direction.

Enjoy!
« Last Edit: August 17, 2010, 01:04:43 AM by x4000 »
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Offline Spikey00

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I... you...

wall of changes already...

YOU MUST BE USING DARK MAGIC
I'd take a sea worm any time over a hundred emotionless spinning carriers.
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Offline ShadowSirius07

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Are you guys even sleeping well? wow I was waiting for this update  but its so BIG :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o well lets start reading
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Offline RCIX

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Impressive! Firing up AI war now, i wanted to start a new game anyway...
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Offline Diazo

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Wow, wall of text incoming!  :D

It`s going to have to wait until after work tommorow to try out at this point for me, but I`ll be jumping on it as soon as I can.

Faster starship building is the biggest thing that jumps out for me, with the starship constructor built at start, I`ve started using them a lot more and I`m looking forward to being able to get them out faster.

The rest, well, 45 new guard posts!?!?!?!?!?!  :o

Detailed comments coming once I actually play patch.

D.

Offline Vinraith

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So at this point, the change from 3.120 to 4.000 is going to be so drastic you could call it AI War 2 with a straight face. Wow.

I... can't even comment, going to have to try this out and see how it plays.  ;D

Offline Spikey00

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(Which is why I'm not going to bother posting this on Steam yet; this definitely won't fit the character limit, which is why I now use your narratives instead...)
I'd take a sea worm any time over a hundred emotionless spinning carriers.
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Offline Montaire

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While you are doing sorting .....

There's a bar at the bottom and you ca quickly activate powered down enrgy reactors from it.

Right now they are sorted by some odd metric. Can they be sorted by level ?


Offline x4000

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Glad it looks good!  I'm really excited about these changes.  This is probably the last release of quite this scale for a while; we have some last new things that we'd like to get in place, but then it's going to be focusing on the Unity conversion for a while (and of course, that's going to be a huge thing in and of itself, but it will probably be a month between releases of anything more than bug and balance fixes once we start on that).  And then after the unity conversion, probably another 2-4 weeks of testing and tweaking and all that good stuff (possibly some other latent additions) while we ramp up to the official release that we'll call 4.0

So at this point, the change from 3.120 to 4.000 is going to be so drastic you could call it AI War 2 with a straight face. Wow.

Indeed.  ;D  People who go straight from one to the next are likely to be pretty stunned, I'd wager.  Even the knowledge raiding changes, and the knowledge amount increases, etc, have happened since 3.120.  This is definitely the largest single official release Arcen has ever done, even counting the one that spanned the Zenith Remnant development period.  And it figures -- this is the longest time between two official releases we've ever had, too.  (It's been since March, I think!)

(Which is why I'm not going to bother posting this on Steam yet; this definitely won't fit the character limit, which is why I now use your narratives instead...)

Heh, in this case the narrative text turned out to be crazy over-long because there was so much to explain, but it's I think a bit shorter. ;)
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Offline RCIX

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I'm definitely loving the new guard posts: i was pushing for a change for them for a long time. Is there any plans to A: make their style of galaxy view mini icons imilar to the rest (with a white border), and B: make them look like less floating twisted junks of metal and more guard-post-y?

And no offense, but i don't really get a lot of "texture" in my battles. I just roll in with my mega fleet, set speed to +1 (if my computer can run that fast :P) and either:
 * take out a target
 * stomp on everything on the planet,
 * or run after getting my fleet sawed in half with a giant chainsaw
« Last Edit: August 17, 2010, 01:44:14 AM by RCIX »
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Offline Dragon

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While you are doing sorting .....

There's a bar at the bottom and you ca quickly activate powered down enrgy reactors from it.

Right now they are sorted by some odd metric. Can they be sorted by level ?

The odd metric you speak of is alphabetical order.  Which isn't all that odd, but it is a completely useless sorting order in my opinion.  Sorting by level, or status (on/off) would make more sense, and combining both of those sorts (with alphabetical for the tie-breaker sort) would be best, in my opinion.

That being said, now that I have realized how it's sorted, I have been making sure to always build my Mark 3 power plants in systems that start with A-E or something along those lines, so they are always on the list.  :-)

Offline LintMan

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PermaMines have been removed from the game, as the game has evolved to a point where they just didn't make sense any longer (free transports is a big part of that, plus the permamines just involved too much micro in general).

Yay!  I like mines in general, but these were just brutal.  One old game of mine had a huge cluster of permamines right in the center of an AI home planet, with a nest of turrets mixed in that lured my ships in lke one of those bug zapper lights.    ;D

Anyway, wow, awesome huge set of changes!


Offline Burnstreet

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Patch sounds great. Permamines removed might make me reenable mines for the next game.
The new Guard posts sound like they will make the game more interesting. What I see now is that a normal guard post has millions of hit points while Command station and Spec Ops Guard Post have just some hundred k hp.
Also this will make the game much more bomber-centric I think.

Offline vonkolberg

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B: make them look like less floating twisted junks of metal and more guard-post-y?

I *really* like the visual style of the guard posts.