Author Topic: Player progression/impact/agency against AI's operations  (Read 620 times)

Offline zharmad

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Player progression/impact/agency against AI's operations
« on: September 02, 2016, 01:51:16 PM »
I mentioned this in the Astrotrain talk thread, and realised it should be split out into its own discussion.

AI War Classic:
 One of the hallmarks of Classic is that the AI were too big to care about humanity at pretty much all points throughout the game. The advanced factories and research stations that we reallys we needed to progress sits disused in a forgotten corner of the AI's multi-galactic empire. Kill a few command stations, and it doesn't care. In the same vein, there was very little we could do to affect the main AI's resources or plans: CPAs and Exo-strike forces worked on their own rhythm, waves hit with semi-regularity, and reinforcements spawn by magic. The main variables we could influence was simply how many ships that spawns, and in some cases how often. All these reinforce the relative helplessness of humanity.

 What if the sequel decided to change this up a bit? Suppose the AI does still utilise resources from the human's galaxy (to a limited extent)? Suppose those key factories churned out units that the AI is warping out to its battles elsewhere? Then, disrupting them could very well make the AI rather... resentful of your continued meddling. If we shift some of the AI logistics back into the game-world, then there could be AI Plots where the AIs themselves are building superweapons for use elsewhere, which could be destroyed or captured.
 These create points of progress, and offer mid-game achievements and plot developments. If players conduct too much interference, the AIs might invert their strategic decisions and start pouring in intergalactic forces into this galaxy instead of exporting its assets. Interactive things of that nature.

 So, how did you feel about the way AI reinforcements is structured in Classic, along with the way players could influence AI plots and abilities? This was a little bit implemented in, e.g., Advanced Hybrid Plots, where you could actually stop the outcome.
 With respect to the sequel, would making the AIs more vulnerable negatively influence the core aspects of the game? That is, how much agency should players have to influence AI operations? If you would like more agency, how central is it to the overall game (determining what priority it gets in the design doc)?

Offline ewokonfire

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Re: Player progression/impact/agency against AI's operations
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2016, 02:58:03 PM »
I do very much like the idea of more plots that can be dealt with via some player action.  My default mode of play is to be one difficulty level lower than what I suspect I'm capable of, but to turn on Hybrids for both AIs.  Destroying facilities/spawners and feeling the Hybrids becoming less of a threat as the game goes on is, for me, one of the most satisfying parts of the game.  Other plots that give a similar feel would certainly enhance the game for me.  (I especially love your idea of capturing AI superweapons that were intended for extragalactic usage.)

I was initially sceptical about the idea of human sabotage affecting the AI's 'core' operations, but now I think about it it probably wouldn't be a bad thing.  Having multiple different ways to play is a central pillar of AI War, and this would be a logical extension to that.  If done right, it could easily lead to a kind of inverse-FS mode of play.   If FS aggravates the AI but you can survive it because you're so much stronger, maybe aggressive sabotage aggravates the AI but allows you to survive because it's so much weaker (if you're good).

Again, this may be changing the game too much, but I'd like to say I'm supportive of more ability to weaken the AI, providing it never feels mandatory (and is suitably punished with an appropriate amount of AIP).

Offline tadrinth

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Re: Player progression/impact/agency against AI's operations
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2016, 03:37:57 PM »
Okay, but what advantage does the player get from disrupting the AI's supply lines, if doing so makes it angry? 

It can't be the satisfaction of messing up the AI's primary plans, because we don't know what it's doing. Ergo, we can't indicate successful disruption to the player as a reward.  Unless we find out, which we might!

If we capture the supply line/harvesting output for ourselves, well, that's exactly what capturing systems does today.  Makes the AI angry, gives us the metal and energy.

If we capture a superweapon for ourselves, that's Golems. If that makes them angry enough to commit exogalactic resources, that's Golems!Hard.

It works thematically much better for hybrids because hybrids care primarily about killing humanity and don't have exogalactic resources.

That said, more and more interesting AIP reducers wouldn't be a bad thing, if you want more mini-missions.  I don't see anything wrong with adding a superterminal variant that doesn't require capping the planet and can be hacked for a fixed amount of AIP reduction. 

Offline x4000

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