Author Topic: 9/9/9 Fallen Spire Victory and some Feedback  (Read 425 times)

Offline swizzlewizzle

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9/9/9 Fallen Spire Victory and some Feedback
« on: March 12, 2020, 10:20:10 AM »
Recently did a successful 9/9/9 full ensemble pursing a standard spire victory without the imperial fleet. Just wanted to share my thoughts while going through it and see if others in the community agree.

First - the end-game fleet... dreadnaughts and some scourge buddies managed to roll over everything... eventually. :)


Scourge was popped from the hackable beacon somewhere in the mid-game. I included the human resistance because, even though they are mostly useless, they add a lot of flavor, imo.


My thoughts:

Scourge
One would think that generally bringing the scourge on-board as an ally would be great, but they suffer from some major problems with their AI.

- On defense, they do a very poor job as a player ally faction (i'm not sure if this is different for the AI, as I haven't tested it). For instance, my scourge ally had ~500 strength of fleet patrolling (or sitting idly), in the middle of nowhere, in "safe" space, while a few exo-galactic units slipped through my main chokepoint. I didn't have the fleet strength to pull off my choke to chase them, so for about 40 minutes, they rampaged around while my scourge ally did absolutely nothing. Due to this, for most of the mid-game, I felt it was *much* harder due to the threat and exos being generated by this useless scourge ally.

*Sigh*
- Attack is better, but it needs to be improved, mainly by being more aggressive when playing as a player ally. Generally, the algorithm should consider player fleet "Strength" to be at least 1.3x or more powerful than if that same strength was used by the AI. Currently, the code is the exact same in terms of aggressiveness between being a player ally and an AI ally. What this ends up causing is the scourge to come "help" attack something, when I could pretty much handle it myself anyways.

- However, on the attack, the scourge love to suicide countless units straight through my chokepoints, into the waiting arms of a 1k+ stack of AI defenders. This is definitely a bug with the AI, and as far as I can see, it looks like the AI is trying to stage in enemy space, *or* doesn't gather it's forces before attacking. Sometimes they do a decent job at stacking, but other times they just suicide tiny bits of units for tens of minutes. Seems like this just requires some more Q&A by badger to fix up the AI.

- Sometimes the scourge seems to get "stuck" growing, and requires a certain amount of space before they, all of a sudden, grow very fast. I had about~30 planets of safe space for about 2 hours, and in that time, the scourge's entire force was literally about 60 strength or so. Then, after taking a bit more space (no more than 10 planets or so), they grew *very* fast, all the way up to hybrids and a fleet of 300 strength or so (that they couldn't use effectively due to the issues above, unfortunately!)

All in all, I feel that the game is easier without calling in a scourge ally, which is sad, because they are very flavorful.

(Side note: scourge allies should give vision)


Spire
- All in all, the spire is balanced very well, though there are some minor annoyances:
       1. I'm not sure if this intended, but at higher difficulties, unless you have control of 40+ planets worth of space, multiple officers/lone fleets, and basically are in the late game, the exos (and ESPECIALLY the chase exos) from even 1 and 2 cities will completely obliterate you. This makes, at least for me, the spire into a very binary faction that I only ever want to try calling in, in the extreme late game. The problem with this is that by the time I felt that I could deal with the insanely strong exo waves, my overall fleet was already strong enough to plow over the AI homeworld, pretty much. It would be nice if the spire was rebalanced so that early cities/waves were more controllable, so that spire could be considered at a different time other than extreme late game. The fact that the current code makes exo wave strength stack based on the # of previous waves only makes it harder to use early
       2. Relics of higher level cities need more HP - they are too weak to ever expose to *any* enemy fire. For example, at city 5, even with the entire spire fleet I had, plus most of the rest of my "normal" fleet, I couldn't kill AI ships fast enough to keep them from insta-killing the relic, which they force target. This leads to causing a similar problem to the first point, where the only time you can think about using the spire is in extreme late game when you have the AI behind massively defended chokepoints, at which case, the relic could have 1 hp and it would be the same.

- It seems that with spire, the initial waves are most fun, because they usually provide a strong challenge, since you don't have any spire stuff set up. The most challenging part of this run, and the most rewarding for me, was getting the galactic capital up at a good location. This first exo chase wave, combined with the strong hunter fleet (buffed by my useless scourge ally) caused me to almost lose the game three times (lost my entire northern quadrant of the galaxy over and over). However, after you get everything locked up with spire, the AI will, in my experience, not be able to penetrate your defenses. This basically leads to the spire being a fairly boring wait between city ~3 up until city 12 (or up to tier 5 capital -> imperial fleet). Things like wormhole attacks, CPAs, etc.. can be easily avoided by keeping standby units back, and the main chokepoints, at least in my experience this run (and my last 8/8/8 run), are basically unbreakable with proper micro & baiting.

- It would be nice if the mid/late game of spire was tweaked somehow to create a more consistent challenge curve that relied on something more than the AI just ramming larger numbers of ships against your face in an extremely predictable way (spend a few hacking points to watch planets down the path and it's very difficult to be taken by surprise). Since the exo-galactic waves are supposed to be the main challenge in spire gameplay, having them be super predictable is boring. I want epic battles, not train of soon-to-be-dead AI ships.
       
         My suggestions to improve this part:
         - Chase waves should not infinitely spawn - they need to be tied to AIP or something else that represents the AI getting worried/pissed off - a more intelligent wave attack followed by a retreat if the AI ships try to fly into hopeless odds would be more challenging, and force the player to do something other than just sit on their chokepoints.
         - The mid/late game of spire should be modified - exo waves are ok in the early parts, but one players get defenses up, it is too "solvable". I suggest more of an open "war" that includes spire ships/reinforcements/buildings/etc.. warping in across the galaxy, in additional to AI temporary wormholes, that represent the AI getting worried enough to start spending the mass amount of energy required to open such wormholes. This would convert the mid/late spire game into a true open war, instead of a chokepoint blockade to victory. The Ai would need to be tweaked to prioritize spire buildings, so that player chokepoints still have meaning, but at least this would force players to make decisions on splitting their forces, putting layers of defense, and the like. Perhaps a dynamic "front line" of sorts could be created with the Ai wormholes, instead of being completely random, which is a bit too chaotic.
          - Taking intensity 5 spire as "the way it's meant to be played", it would be nice if at high AI difficulties especially (9/10 - not intensity, AI difficulty), the spire is not an auto-win in the late game. Especially calling in the imperial fleet, the AI should get a *ton* of AIP, and it's AIP should tie strongly into the power of ships it sends in. Perhaps even a AIP multiplier to reward players that keep AIP down throughout the game. I mean, while calling the imperial fleet, if the AI is at a very high AIP, it would be going basically "all out" at difficulty 10, and "very strongly" at difficulty 9. Basically think about what the AI is actually doing in the exogalactic war, and bring those forces down to the front line. As it is, right now, even at spire capital level 6, difficulty 9, and 900 (!) or so AIP, the AI was only throwing a few tier 5/4 units at me, with a single planet cracker called the entire game... and of course those were all uselessly thrown at a chokepoint I had been sitting at for 3 hours or so (waiting for relics to plod their way to my safe space).


Besides that, I felt that the rest of the game - the core AI faction basically - is well balanced and a challenge to fight from start to finish at difficulty 9. Some of the officers felt a bit underwhelming (the thanos parasite ark could have been replaced by some parasite strike craft, for example), but i'm sure you will improve the balance of those as you polish things over the next few months so.. no feedback really to give there. :)

Let's see how long it takes to bring home a 10/10/10 win. ;)
« Last Edit: March 12, 2020, 10:37:16 AM by swizzlewizzle »

Offline x4000

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Re: 9/9/9 Fallen Spire Victory and some Feedback
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2020, 06:18:40 PM »
Glad you've been enjoying it!

Bear in mind -- without savegames at points where you want something changed, and an example of "see the allies on planet X, they really should be coming over to planet Y to help because reasons," there's not really anything we can do.  When we get such savegames from people, we work on things, because we can concretely do something about it.  Without such a savegame, we can do nothing, because we could spend dozens of hours just trying to recreate what you were talking about.

The same goes for anything to do with tuning responses during specific phases of the game.  That is vague and has a different meaning for different players, so we need concrete examples with savegames before we can make changes.

I'm sure you're right that things will evolve over the coming months, assuming that other people feel the same as you do and provide us with savegames.  That often happens.  But if you're looking for change based on your own feedback, savegames at the critical points are really going to be needed.

There are a long list of actionable requests that people have, and they've provided savegames or short steps for reproducing the issue, or error logs, as appropriate.  Those always get the highest priority, since there is more than we can ever do in the first place, and reports without savegames take anywhere from 10x to infinity more time to reproduce and then resolve.

I hope that makes sense.  Sounds like it was an excellent game regardless, but we do have the savegame policy for a reason.
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games?  Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!

Offline swizzlewizzle

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Re: 9/9/9 Fallen Spire Victory and some Feedback
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2020, 10:25:59 PM »
Ah, I see. If I see significant issues i'll definitely mark it in my saves next time. This run had quite a lot of saves actually, though I didn't sync them with where I saw problems. I'm not sure you would get value out of those saves, though, since just doing a play-through by someone on the dev team would make evident most of the general issues I posted above, I think? For instance, during a scourge run if you let a few exos slip through (or spawn them) behind player lines, you will very rapidly observe scourge allies incapable of reacting to those threats, allowing their armories/etc.. to be annihilated across the map. With the spire feedback, it's mainly about improving the gameplay, which is just offered here in the case that either you take my opinion with great weight, for whatever reason, or you see other players/testers agreeing with me. :)

Anyways, this expansion is the first time i've felt genuine enjoyment playing AIW2, and i'm happy you guys were able to work on and improve things to this point. Hope your player numbers keep increasing!


Offline BadgerBadger

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Re: 9/9/9 Fallen Spire Victory and some Feedback
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2020, 12:37:33 AM »
I can only speak for myself, but I really don't have time to sit down and play the game. If I have a bunch of time to devote to AI War 2 I'm either working on new features or bugfixing. The rare times that I've started to play I always get sidetracked making bugfixes and improvements from stuff I see.

Especially for mid-late game gameplay problems, we're extremely reliant on bug and save games in order to make improvements.

Offline swizzlewizzle

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Re: 9/9/9 Fallen Spire Victory and some Feedback
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2020, 08:23:15 PM »
I'm doing a 10/10 run, so i'll definitely make sure to set up saves as I reach the same issues as last time for you.