Author Topic: Please keep core mechanics deterministic  (Read 1541 times)

Offline TechSY730

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Please keep core mechanics deterministic
« on: September 11, 2016, 04:01:49 PM »
Something I liked about AI War was that its core mechanics (combat model, per ship mechanics, and per-ship AI) was deterministic, or at least, did not explicitly include any sorts of randomness. It helped avoid the desire to "save scum" in order to game the RNG, and it made it easy (well, easier) to reason about how units interact.

Now, things I don't mind randomness coming into is "macro" level things. Map generation, AI players' macro-decisions (where to retreat to, where to attack) I don't mind randomness. For things like map generation, that is "one time randomness", that doesn't deny information to the player (long term at least). Similarly, some randomness in the AI players' decisions helps to keep the feeling that you are playing against someone else (the future actions of other "player agents" is one of the few places where "obscuring information" to the player is a good thing to have in game design).


Now, this isn't a "deal breaker" for me. If there is a "core mechanic" deficiency that can be solved elegantly through some randomness, and no one can come up with deterministic alternatives that don't have worse shortfalls, then I can understand that.
An example of this is the "50% chance miss of low ground to high ground" mechanic of SC1/BW.
In SC2, there is a real issue where having high ground does not confer enough advantage, which leads to (among other things) compromised defenders advantage and "snowball" situations being too easy to trigger.
Lots of the members of the community have though hard about some way to fix that for SC2, but so far from what I have seen no one can seem to come up with a better way than the randomized advantage of the SC1/BW. So, I could live with that if it came back (not that Blizzard has even tried to address this yet, but still).


Also, on a note about randomness, I appreciate the dedication to true randomness. Sure, there are tweaks in the algorithm that uses the random numbers that avoid "worst case" scenarios (the "brutal picks" system of AI HWs, etc), but there has been no compromise to the randomness of the RNG itself. I like that, and for where randomness will be used in AIWII, I would personally like to see that kept.

Offline x4000

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Re: Please keep core mechanics deterministic
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2016, 04:27:52 PM »
You're basically referring to the one new ability that I proposed about the Life Roulette, right?  I can understand the unhappiness about that one.  There are a lot of games with a miss chance or other chances for nondeterministic results, but that does go against the grain of what AI War itself was.  Frozen Synapse works brilliantly partly because it is NOT quite deterministic in this way, but that's a very different experience (and the audience overlap is not going to be remotely full, either).

So I'm fine with that.  Right now it's one mechanic that I proposed, and there's pushback, and I'm happy to rework it.  Rather than just erasing it, though, I'm curious if you have ideas on how to redo the protector starship that gets at the same sort of general feel but in a deterministic way.

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Offline TechSY730

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Re: Please keep core mechanics deterministic
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2016, 04:36:09 PM »
You're basically referring to the one new ability that I proposed about the Life Roulette, right?

Actually, no. I had not seen anything about that.

I was just thinking in general.

Like, for example, I like the new armor system, for all its faults, compared to the old, probabilistic shield system. It got randomness out of the core combat model.

Things like probabilistic, unique ship mechanic buffs, while I also find a bit annoying for an RTS, I can live with. I personally take more issue when it touches everything, like the old shield system did.

Offline x4000

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Re: Please keep core mechanics deterministic
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2016, 04:48:00 PM »
I don't recall having anything probabilistic in the old armor model, honestly: it was a flat reduction of damage, but never more than 80% of the original damage to be dealt.  Or are you referring to forcefields?  Maybe something changed in those areas since I was more involved with things -- if so, I'd love to know what it was so that I'm clear on where things are and were.

If you're okay with the Life Roulette thing, then I think we're probably on fine footing from a larger point of view.  I, too, don't care too much for non-deterministic core mechanics, which is why things like a "miss chance" aren't in many of our games.  I think that Final Fantasy Tactics basically beat any love I had for that sort of thing out of me. ;)  That little noise it makes when an enemy dodges your archer shot still makes my fists clench, heh.

But for some of the secondary things like that, where you're not counting on the life roulette to work, but sometimes you get a "hey, neat bonus!" sort of thing, I think that's kinda fun.  Could be a huge problem, I dunno, but on paper it seems okay from my end.
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Online Draco18s

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Re: Please keep core mechanics deterministic
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2016, 07:36:17 PM »
We haven't had non-deterministic rules since 3.8.
* Draco18s whistles
Anyway, I like the idea, figuring out how to make it deterministic is hard.

Offline TechSY730

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Re: Please keep core mechanics deterministic
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2016, 08:57:13 PM »
I don't recall having anything probabilistic in the old armor model, honestly: it was a flat reduction of damage, but never more than 80% of the original damage to be dealt.  Or are you referring to forcefields?  Maybe something changed in those areas since I was more involved with things -- if so, I'd love to know what it was so that I'm clear on where things are and were.

Oh, I am talking "ancient" AI War history. Before the current subtractive armor mechanic, in the SlimDX days, we had a system where you had "shields" that higher values meant more likely for shots to miss, or something like that (it was something sort of complicated)

Offline Tridus

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Re: Please keep core mechanics deterministic
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2016, 10:55:20 AM »
You're basically referring to the one new ability that I proposed about the Life Roulette, right?  I can understand the unhappiness about that one.  There are a lot of games with a miss chance or other chances for nondeterministic results, but that does go against the grain of what AI War itself was.  Frozen Synapse works brilliantly partly because it is NOT quite deterministic in this way, but that's a very different experience (and the audience overlap is not going to be remotely full, either).

So I'm fine with that.  Right now it's one mechanic that I proposed, and there's pushback, and I'm happy to rework it.  Rather than just erasing it, though, I'm curious if you have ideas on how to redo the protector starship that gets at the same sort of general feel but in a deterministic way.

Probably not surprising that I have some issues with that one. ;)

Is that something you even want to discuss right now, though? It seems like most of the focus right now is on design and mechanics, rather than the exact details of how one individual bonus ship works. I'll spin up a thread for it if you want, but I get the impression you're kinda swamped by more important things right now, and this seems like something that can be sorted out just as easily post-KS.

Offline tadrinth

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Re: Please keep core mechanics deterministic
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2016, 12:12:08 PM »
Mechanics like Life Roulette can instead trigger every N triggers instead of at random.  IE, the first 3 times a ship dies in range, the protector starship keeps it at 1 hp, then the fourth ship just dies, then it repeats.

Dota has a mechanic for making random procs more consistent: http://dota2.gamepedia.com/Pseudo-random_distribution

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: Please keep core mechanics deterministic
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2016, 12:19:13 PM »
Mechanics like Life Roulette can instead trigger every N triggers instead of at random.  IE, the first 3 times a ship dies in range, the protector starship keeps it at 1 hp, then the fourth ship just dies, then it repeats.
I love this idea. I tried to explain something like that, but you did far better than I could have.
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Online Draco18s

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Re: Please keep core mechanics deterministic
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2016, 01:29:51 PM »
Dota has a mechanic for making random procs more consistent: http://dota2.gamepedia.com/Pseudo-random_distribution

That's the same method I suggested that Valve use for drops in TF2 before they revamped the system.
(I had a friend go 2 weeks running the game in idle mode--about 300 hours--without getting a single drop of any kind, a 1 in a million probability*....in a game with 2 million active users. I'm interesting in making contact with the other guy that had that happen to him.)

*Calculated at the time, I don't remember the numbers

Offline zharmad

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Re: Please keep core mechanics deterministic
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2016, 02:35:46 PM »
You could also decide if a Protector starship procs on the first death with a single RNG value, and then increment it consistently after that (Path of Exile). That would be a bit harder to game when you're driving a starship fleet.

Offline Cyborg

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Re: Please keep core mechanics deterministic
« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2016, 09:31:57 PM »
I checked the Life Roulette perk in the design document. It looks like a bonus that only applies to specific ships. No cause for concern.
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