Author Topic: Doom Clock  (Read 2105 times)

Offline Sestren

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Doom Clock
« on: September 16, 2016, 03:54:05 PM »
Which also means that game has to provide better incentive to actually have the player raise his AIP. CSG forced you to do some capturing, but apart from that... Frankly, assuming default options (1 AIP / 30 minutes I think ?), unless floored, there is little reason to take an additional planet. The AIP raise from taking one is it's the equivalent of playing 10 hours more. There are very few planets in a game, if any, which give you enough of a boost to be equivalent to playing 10 more hours.

Possibly, "forcing" the player to want to raise his AIP needs another thread though. ::)
Quote from: AI War II Design Doc
9. That said, their attention is divided quite a bit as they wage a many-many-front-war against parts of the galaxy both known and unknown to human settlement.
a. Some of the larger spire factions are in particularly fierce conflict with the AI well away from where the humans have ever traveled, and this is fortunately deflecting enough processing power that the AIs are not instantly murdering everyone here (they’re giving it a pretty good shot, though).

I've seen a couple of different complaints that I think could be addressed at the same time with one mechanic.
1) Games are 'typically' too long. Part of this comes down to specific balance numbers, but a large part is that the optimal strategy involves a lot of patience and waiting for advantageous openings between AI attacks.
2) The benefits of increasing AIP are vastly outweighed by the increase in AI reinforcements, especially at higher difficulties and therefore the best option is to always minimize AIP.

So I propose adding a flexible Doom Clock. Flexible how? Increasing AIP *increases* the time left on the Doom Clock, trading a long term defeat for short term stress. This clearly makes ultra-low AIP nonviable, encourages spending AIP to get an advantage now because the game is going to be over in X many hours (no digging in for a 30 hour campaign) and generally results in faster and larger conflicts.

Super easy to justify lore-ways too. The doom clock is the approximate time until the AI finishes defeating those other powerful unseen spire factions. At which point, rather than just handing the player a "You Lose" actually flood the playable area of the galaxy with the ships from that offensive. Would make for a cool spectacle and allow for rare but neat stories in 11th hour victories as well. More time is added to the clock as AIP goes up because the AI is redirecting focus and resources from fighting the elsewhere-spire to fighting you, thus giving you more time until the other faction loses and the main fleet arrives. For bonus points, if AIP goes high enough, the AI switches primary targets and dumps the main fleet on you IMMEDIATELY (I'm talking like the equivalent of current 1200+ AIP, some absurdly large number).

The main and obvious con is that this suggestion would completely annihilate the idea of leaving the game tempo with the player, so I would of course advocate it being a toggleable option, but it could very well make for a faster and more entertaining default version of the game.

So what do people think? Good idea? Relegate to an option somewhere? Kill it with fire?

Offline Lord Of Nothing

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Re: Doom Clock
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2016, 05:08:10 PM »
I definitely like the idea of this as an option, possibly with an intensity setting, possibly varying with difficulty. I don't like the idea of it being in any way mandatory though.
As for the AI's main fleet showing up to kill you, that would be cool, but might have to wait a while as to do it justice is going to require some VERY big toys for the AI that are probably of a scale too big to have in the base game for any other reason...

Offline havikryan

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Re: Doom Clock
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2016, 05:09:36 PM »
personally I've always hated timed missions with a passion, for me personally it no longer is about fun and screwing around and becomes more serious and a job, however as long as it's an option I'd say why not, dead rising 2 is an entire timed campaign and people seem to like that, so yeah just make it an option and I don't see why not.

Offline kasnavada

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Re: Doom Clock
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2016, 05:19:37 PM »
I'm for it too.
Option is kind of mandatory. Setting the pace was a defining part of AI War. Then again, there was a complaints against its passivity. So, default or not default ? (I'd go for default).

About timers as a whole, they generally force you to take risks, and pry you away from the safest paths. I like that idea, that you've got to choose your risks. If you can stomach it, however, you can go see Firaxis X-Com 2 VS X-Com 1 threads for the complete argumentation against each side repeated for months.

Offline tadrinth

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Re: Doom Clock
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2016, 06:05:12 PM »
For comparison, how does AI War Classic solve this problem?

1) AIP auto-progress.  If you sit around, the AI will eventually consider you a threat no matter what you do.  The higher the auto-progress, the more worthwhile it is to save time by paying AIP (either in the form of capturing planets or using warheads).

2) CPAs.  If you sit around long enough, the AI will throw ever-larger chunks of threat at you, and eventually you will be overwhelmed... unless the AI runs out of ships. Ideally it wouldn't run out unless you went well out of your way to force that situation.   

3) Core guard posts having +10 AIP floor on death.  The first AI HW you kill is guaranteed to raise the floor by 80.  That encourages you to accumulate some AIP before then, or to take some planets afterward.  On high difficulties, the floor goes up by 1/3rd of any AIP gained.  In effect, if you're riding the floor, you get a 66% discount on any AIP gained.  However, on sufficiently high difficulties at sufficiently high AIP, even a 66% discount might not be enough to justify taking more planets. 

4) Exos?  I believe some exos just keep getting bigger every time they launch, up to a very high maximum.  This encourages you to win before they get too big to handle. 

5) 200+ AIP reinforcement => wave redirect.  Once you go past 200 AIP, the AI reinforcement budget is capped, and the excess instead adds to the next wave. This results in VERY large waves past ~AIP 250 or so.  On the flip side, it makes AIP below 200 very cheap, because it doesn't increase waves all that much; ergo, you might as well capture some planets.

6) Playtime: I'd rather not spend 10 hours clearing if I don't have to; if I can take 20 AIP and win sooner without dying, I'll do that. However, some people are clearly willing to spend the 10 hours. 


If you want shorter games, play on smaller maps! I'm using 60 planets as my default going forward.

I feel like more auto-progress would actually solve this problem pretty well, possibly combined with increasing the impact of the core guard post floor increases and/or upping the threshold for reinforcement => wave redirection.  Increase the time pressure a bit but also increase the headroom a bit.

I really want a graph of AIP over time for a game displayed when you win or lose.


Offline Sestren

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Re: Doom Clock
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2016, 06:27:11 PM »
Note that I'm not trying to disagree with you here, I just think that a lot of these measures tend heavily towards 'encourage' rather than 'force' and I'm interested to see what a game where AIP is an inevitability would look like.

2) CPAs.  If you sit around long enough, the AI will throw ever-larger chunks of threat at you, and eventually you will be overwhelmed... unless the AI runs out of ships. Ideally it wouldn't run out unless you went well out of your way to force that situation.

This one is largely dependent on difficulty level. At the lower levels I hang around, my games tend around something like 12-16 hours. The final CPA I see usually isn't all that much larger than a regular wave, even if I hit AIP ~300 or 400. This could be the single biggest incentive to go faster at high difficulties, but from what I have picked up by osmosis from 9+ players is that they still ride the floor, they just ride the floor FASTER.

3) Core guard posts having +10 AIP floor on death.  The first AI HW you kill is guaranteed to raise the floor by 80.  That encourages you to accumulate some AIP before then, or to take some planets afterward.  On high difficulties, the floor goes up by 1/3rd of any AIP gained.  In effect, if you're riding the floor, you get a 66% discount on any AIP gained.  However, on sufficiently high difficulties at sufficiently high AIP, even a 66% discount might not be enough to justify taking more planets. 

Most of this effect doesn't kick in until the very end of the game leading to exactly one high-risk period inbetween the two homeworld assaults. Doesn't solve the boring midgame. Means you put off the homeworld assaults until you are absolutely confident you can break both of them further drawing out the midgame if anything. Because there's no reason to take the floor increase until you're ready to go for the win. You don't 'get' anything for taking out just one homeworld.

5) 200+ AIP reinforcement => wave redirect.  Once you go past 200 AIP, the AI reinforcement budget is capped, and the excess instead adds to the next wave. This results in VERY large waves past ~AIP 250 or so.  On the flip side, it makes AIP below 200 very cheap, because it doesn't increase waves all that much; ergo, you might as well capture some planets.

Further incentivises riding the floor for as long as possible to stay below that magic number. Not having sudden behavioral cliffs like that, ESPECIALLY not ones that are invisible to new players makes 'maybe I can afford that extra planet' much more tempting while not making it a hidden gotcha.

---

Auto progress works if you set it high enough, but for it to make a big enough mathematical difference you have to set it much more aggressively than 1 every 30 minutes, AND you don't get any benefit from the extra AIP the way you would if you had gotten it yourself. Makes for a psychological incentive perhaps.

Exos are a good reason to go faster. Not every game has exos.

Regarding playtime, I feel like I'd rather spend 15 hours getting a win than say two ten hour games that were both losses because I decided to push and accidentally overextended myself. Once you overextend, there's not really a good way to recover aside from reloading, which is intentional, but it disincentivises risk taking.

If you want shorter games, play on smaller maps! I'm using 60 planets as my default going forward.

I feel like more auto-progress would actually solve this problem pretty well, possibly combined with increasing the impact of the core guard post floor increases and/or upping the threshold for reinforcement => wave redirection.  Increase the time pressure a bit but also increase the headroom a bit.

Smaller maps might be the easiest solution...

===

Ultimately there's a difference in gamefeel between a scenario where you 'can' take risks and where you 'must' take risks and the weak incentives in classic leave it firmly in the first category for better or worse.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2016, 06:32:18 PM by Sestren »

Offline kasnavada

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Re: Doom Clock
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2016, 06:30:37 PM »
For comparison, how does AI War Classic solve this problem?

Doesn't exactly... solve it IMO. As you said, 10 hours of gametime is 20 AIP. In very high difficulty games, 20 more AIP can kill you... but that's still 10 hours. 10 full hours during which you can advance a game. At lower diff (7 to 9), how much is needed ? 40 more AIP ? 60 ? 100 ? Not even sure it's not more. Hours of gametime multiply here. And... that's assuming that you're not AIP Floored, because in that case, the game might not kill you for even longer. That gives you some time to win the game. Working as intended ? Probably.

But... there is a point that's causing issues in this curve. Problem is that, in every game, unless you purposely make a "bursty" raise in AIP, players will find themselves at an AIP step where where they litterally cannot do anything, for up to dozen of hours, while they rebuild, get attacked again, rebuild... until the AI finishes playing around and finally reminds itself that it's here to kill you. Or the player suicides by taking out lightly defended structures with AIP increase. Or restart a game, or never does.

It's a consequence of the player setting the pace, the AI not being aggressive enough, and timers not being there.

Higher auto-progress would reduce the time during which the stalemate occurs, but not eliminate it. And, depending on the diff level (and player skill level), it might still last for dozens of hours. Newbies can probably get, like I was when learning the game, stalemated at 300 AIP on 7/7. And it's an awful experience to have.

While a timer might not be the solution, I think that this "playing around" stalemate AI behaviour requires at least a brainstorm.

An idea: after 8 hours of play, every 10 minutes, the game pops a structure that raises AIP by 100 if it lives for an hour (numbers arbitrary and subject to balancing).
« Last Edit: September 16, 2016, 06:34:16 PM by kasnavada »

Offline tadrinth

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Re: Doom Clock
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2016, 07:31:23 PM »
Note that I'm not trying to disagree with you here, I just think that a lot of these measures tend heavily towards 'encourage' rather than 'force' and I'm interested to see what a game where AIP is an inevitability would look like.

That is a good point, and I am not really trying to disagree with you either.  Just like having a retrospective around for comparison.   Also, I should have said 'how does AWC *try* to solve this problem', because to kasnavada's point, it isn't solving it all that well. 

 
Regarding playtime, I feel like I'd rather spend 15 hours getting a win than say two ten hour games that were both losses because I decided to push and accidentally overextended myself. Once you overextend, there's not really a good way to recover aside from reloading, which is intentional, but it disincentivises risk taking.

I think this is also an extremely good point.  What I think would be ideal is to have in-game options that increase the number of balls you are juggling, such that you become tempted to try to have more and more in the air, and when you realize you have too many, you have to drop some.  Trying to hold a large number of capturables can kind of be like this, but losing capturables is irreversible and you don't get back the AIP you spent on them, so I think people tend to reload rather than drop them.  Perhaps the new background factions will work like this? This is a good reason to bring back Dire Guardian Lairs, I think. 

Problem is that, in every game, unless you purposely make a "bursty" raise in AIP, players will find themselves at an AIP step where where they litterally cannot do anything, for up to dozen of hours, while they rebuild, get attacked again, rebuild... until the AI finishes playing around and finally reminds itself that it's here to kill you.

Ouch.  If you're having to burn your entire mobile fleet to survive regular waves, you've probably already lost, but it might take until the next CPA or exo for you to actually die (or maybe just until the waves happen to sync up).  I mean, the correct response there is actually to start using Lightning Warheads to kill waves, which will buy you time but also accelerate your end, but a new player isn't going to do that. 

This sort of thing is exactly why the redirect mechanic was added, though; at least this way you're not constantly fighting through endless hordes of AI reinforcements on their planets.

That's also why salvage was added; if you take a wave big enough to wipe out your fleet on a choke, the salvage should allow you to refleet relatively quickly. Then you can make progress between waves. 

Offline Draco18s

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Re: Doom Clock
« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2016, 07:43:13 PM »
Ouch.  If you're having to burn your entire mobile fleet to survive regular waves, you've probably already lost, but it might take until the next CPA or exo for you to actually die (or maybe just until the waves happen to sync up).  I mean, the correct response there is actually to start using Lightning Warheads to kill waves, which will buy you time but also accelerate your end, but a new player isn't going to do that. 

Its not the regular waves that "take the whole fleet."  It's the exos and CPAs, which occur at the same frequency as full refleets.

I get hit by an exo, require the fleet to defend.
Lose whole fleet.
Refleet.  Exo is 90% complete.
Repeat.

Offline kasnavada

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Re: Doom Clock
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2016, 01:58:38 AM »
tadrinth: you're partly right, but Draco18 nailed it. Exos & CPA destroying your entire fleet + defenses will take hours to rebuild. Salvage did not even remotely solve this, unless you geared your defenses on the homeworld. If you lose your fleet to regular waves, then you die on next CPA / Exo... it's another issue entirely, but I wished that regular waves weren't just things for the newbies to be wary of.

Before that, it was possible to actually be stalemated due to reinformcement, I actually whined so much successfully made an appeal on the higher powers, on the forum, so that it does not occur at lower diff level. Others changed the mechanic even more after that.

Quote
Prerelease 6.019
Normal AI reinforcements now have an "effective AIP cap" of (AIDifficulty^2)*5.
    So, for example, a Diff 7 AI's normal reinforcements will not increase from AIP increases past 245 (on Diff 8 it'd be 320, on Diff 9 405, and on Diff 10 500).
    The main reason for this is that reinforcements tend to produce stalemates rather than player-loses outcomes. If the player really oversteps the viable AIP range then waves or CPAs or something like that should step in to kill them, but reinforcements generally aren't going to do that.
    Thanks to kasnavada for inspiring this change.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2016, 02:06:47 AM by kasnavada »

Offline Lord Of Nothing

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Re: Doom Clock
« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2016, 04:08:01 AM »
Just a note on why I like and would play with the timer, but I never play with auto AIP:

The timer encourages you to "spend" AIP on something nice. The auto forces you to throw it away.
It's a relatively minor point from the gameplay perspective with any reasonable auto AIP level, until you actually get to the stalemate stage, but it (to me, anyway) makes a big psychological difference.

Offline tadrinth

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Re: Doom Clock
« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2016, 07:59:27 AM »
The timer encourages you to "spend" AIP on something nice. The auto forces you to throw it away
Good point on the psychology.

I looked more into how CPAs and Golem/spirecraft exos work.  Both of them incorporate a notion of an alternative minimum AIP based on game time.  In other words, the higher your AIP, the bigger the CPA... but if you gain AIP slowly, then CPAs get bigger anyway.  Much like being below the floor, being below the alternative minimum AIP represents a sort of AIP discount, where increasing AIP isn't going to make the next CPA bigger or make the next Golem-prompted Exo charge any faster. 

Unfortunately that alternative minimum isn't obvious, so it doesn't have any psychological effects.


Exos & CPA destroying your entire fleet + defenses will take hours to rebuild
What's prompting these exos, and what's in your fleet that it's taking hours to rebuild?  I'm assuming Fallen Spire...?  I checked the wiki and unless that's been changed, Fallen Spire exos don't take AIP into account at all.  The more cities you have, the faster they charge. Every exo is larger up to a cap based on the number of cities.  Ergo, I'm a bit skeptical that this 'bursty AIP management to avoid stalemate' thing is really an issue with AIP. 

If they're golem-prompted exos, then I am surprised that you have long refleets where you can't make offensive progress, because you have golems. 

Also, you mentioned getting stalemated for long periods as a new player; ideally, very new players would not be facing any exos. If you're facing exos, you asked for it. 

I wished that regular waves weren't just things for the newbies to be wary of.
The reinforcement => waves mechanic can make for pretty dangerous waves at high AIP; I remember Peter Ebersen reporting that this mechanic was more than doubling his wave size at one point.  I was eating 8k waves by the end of my last game, at somewhere between 230 and 300 AIP, on diff 9.  That was enough to keep me on my toes.   

Note that in FS games, every spire city you build reduces that mechanic by 20%, until it doesn't happen at all once you have five cities.  If you're playing FS, you're not getting the full brunt of this mechanic, and since that mechanic replaced the old 'effective AIP' cap for reinforcements, you're eventually facing uncapped reinforcements.   

So if you're bored by regular waves, try doing the control-120-planets challenge without doing FS.  Should get exciting in short order.

References:
http://arcengames.com/mediawiki/index.php?title=AI_War:Cross_Planet_Attack
https://arcengames.com/mediawiki/index.php?title=AI_War:How_Exogalactic_Strikeforces_Work

Offline Draco18s

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Re: Doom Clock
« Reply #12 on: September 17, 2016, 10:38:23 AM »
Exos & CPA destroying your entire fleet + defenses will take hours to rebuild
What's prompting these exos, and what's in your fleet that it's taking hours to rebuild?  I'm assuming Fallen Spire...?  I checked the wiki and unless that's been changed, Fallen Spire exos don't take AIP into account at all.  The more cities you have, the faster they charge. Every exo is larger up to a cap based on the number of cities.  Ergo, I'm a bit skeptical that this 'bursty AIP management to avoid stalemate' thing is really an issue with AIP. 

If they're golem-prompted exos, then I am surprised that you have long refleets where you can't make offensive progress, because you have golems. 

Golems and/or spirecraft (not fallen spire, asteroids).
Just because I have golems turned on means I get exos, not because I own one or more golems.  Plus, golems/spirecraft help remarkably little against exos.  It really depends on the golem, its range, the size of the exo wave, and its composition.

Offline Yavaun

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Re: Doom Clock
« Reply #13 on: September 17, 2016, 10:50:47 AM »
personally I've always hated timed missions with a passion, for me personally it no longer is about fun and screwing around and becomes more serious and a job, however as long as it's an option I'd say why not, dead rising 2 is an entire timed campaign and people seem to like that, so yeah just make it an option and I don't see why not.

Agreed. If it wasn't for the option to disable time base AIP (or at least pause scumming) I probably wouldn't have liked AI war at all...

Offline kasnavada

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Re: Doom Clock
« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2016, 12:08:47 PM »
Exos & CPA destroying your entire fleet + defenses will take hours to rebuild
What's prompting these exos, and what's in your fleet that it's taking hours to rebuild?  I'm assuming Fallen Spire...?  I checked the wiki and unless that's been changed, Fallen Spire exos don't take AIP into account at all.  The more cities you have, the faster they charge. Every exo is larger up to a cap based on the number of cities.  Ergo, I'm a bit skeptical that this 'bursty AIP management to avoid stalemate' thing is really an issue with AIP. 

If they're golem-prompted exos, then I am surprised that you have long refleets where you can't make offensive progress, because you have golems. 

Golems and/or spirecraft (not fallen spire, asteroids).
Just because I have golems turned on means I get exos, not because I own one or more golems.  Plus, golems/spirecraft help remarkably little against exos.  It really depends on the golem, its range, the size of the exo wave, and its composition.

Yes, and the "activated" part is really important. In some maps the golems are really far from the start... Also, 3 possible exo now => botnet, golem + spirecraft (asteroids).