Author Topic: Proposal: remove metal  (Read 1979 times)

Offline kasnavada

  • Hero Member Mark II
  • *****
  • Posts: 911
Proposal: remove metal
« on: September 10, 2016, 02:29:16 AM »
Ok, I'll be thinking WAAAAAYYY out of the box here.

One of the main issue in AI war is... the refleet time. It makes the game longer, but makes you vulnerable. Its main limitation was metal. The issue with metal is that, by itself, it "balanced" all constructions, special projects, turret construction, refleet.

To solve this, I'll be proposing two alternate mechanics around the partial, or complete, removal of the metal mechanic.

Partial removal of metal.
- All buildings that produce ships, will be called "constructors", and will have affixes depending on what they build. It would still be possible to mix and match, changing the affix is UI for the player / possibly an icon showing the ship build could be as good. Constructor are limited in the number of squads they can spawn. They have a metal maintenance cost equal to a percentage of the metal cost of ships produced there. Ships are tied to a constructor, and respawn automaticaly there a few seconds / minute after, depending on the "size" of the ship.

Complete removal of metal (edited, thanks zharmad for pointing it out, I hope it's clearer now).
- All command station but the home provide 1 "engineer", and constructor spots. Home station has 5 of each. Engineers build everything in the game but ships. Constructors work as in the partial removal but don't have, obviously, metal maintenance cost. Engineers respawn at command stations. Engineers are now the limitation on what can be built (and what speed it can be built), and have the possibility to FRD to other systems (semi-automated). Zones should be put in place to assign some engineer to areas. Special planets could give 2 constructors / engineers.


PS: same principle could be used to build turrets, have a "controller" in charge of rebuilding the defenses. It would "build" with time only defenses and then have a drone move, and place the turret where wanted by the player. Which, in turn, would remove most wrecks, and could remove associated mechanics.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2016, 03:14:17 PM by kasnavada »

Offline Pumpkin

  • Hero Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,194
  • Neinzul Gardener Enclave
Re: Proposal: remove metal
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2016, 03:10:27 AM »
Metal is a time gate, as often said, and it's important. Without metal, a fleet loss isn't a very bad thing anymore. Metal is the "regeneration rate" of the fleet; it tie total fleet health with time, and time is a crucial resource in AI War (that, thankfully, you can't "remove"). Compare that to a RPG or an action game and you are basically saying "screw health! infinite regeneration!" Lack of metal is punishment for reckless playstyle and strategical mistakes. Removing it is removing strategy: it would allow endless fleet throwing to break the AI.

Also, metal is the balance for AI reinforcement. If you remove metal, you need to provide the AI with infinite reinforcement budget...
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.
Pumpkin>> Do I need another cure about paranoia on top of overexcitement?
Mal>> We play AI War, enthusiasm and paranoia are both required!

Offline kasnavada

  • Hero Member Mark II
  • *****
  • Posts: 911
Re: Proposal: remove metal
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2016, 02:36:12 PM »
At least the idea is clearly understood, because that would be the exact point, actually. Removing that (IMO useless) time-gate.

Second point... I have proof that it does not, in practice, have the repercussion you're imagining. I'm copy pasting the idea from another game, called "Infested planet". This game shares a lot of the main points of AI war (asymetric evolving AI responding to the player, evolution on the player side, capture of new stuff), and... no, throwing things at the AI until it bends would not work anymore than in does in that other game. As long as the AI actually strike back, and rebuilds, unless of being mostly passive just like currently. There are minor balance modifications to be done to make the AI more responsive, but it's mostly taken care of by the current reprisal mechanics, and the fact that moving ships to where they are needed takes time.  Then, AI War II is already stated to have rebuild mechanics. So, no, "throwing whatever at the AI" would not work after a little balance work. However, the game would be much more responsive and fast without losing any of the strategy in it.

That means that, yes, if the AI rebuilds, and attacks back a fleet loss is still a bad thing to have: you'll have to rush with the new units to wherever it's counter-attacking, in order not to lose completely, while rebuilding on its side and making your failed attack a failure.

To continue with your example, a crapload of RPG have fast infinite regeneration outside of combat, like main hits of the genre like neverwinter nights (possible to rest in a few seconds after each fight for no cost) or baldur's gate (same). This proposal would mean that the AI would have to actually punish you for interfering, which it currently does not, and be much more responsive, which I admit is currently very lacking. Neither of which I see as a bad idea.

Funny thing is, there seems to be a consensus on "netflix time is bad", but once a solution that actually removes it is there, no one wants it. I'm open to other proposals, however.

Offline Cinth

  • Global Moderator
  • Core Member Mark II
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,527
  • Resident Zombie
Re: Proposal: remove metal
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2016, 02:47:16 PM »
Funny thing is, there seems to be a consensus on "netflix time is bad", but once a solution that actually removes it is there, no one wants it. I'm open to other proposals, however.

Except you didn't remove anything other than the player's econ.  I also don't think you fully understand "netflix" time.  Anytime you have to wait more than a few minutes for anything, you'll have someone complaining about netflix time.  In a game like this, you can't avoid it completely, only lessen it's effect.

This is why your solution won't work to remove netflix time.

respawn automaticaly there a few seconds / minute after, depending on the "size" of the ship

Take a full fleet wipe and you still have netflix time.

Quote from: keith.lamothe
Opened your save. My computer wept. Switched to the ST planet and ship icons filled my screen, so I zoomed out. Game told me that it _was_ totally zoomed out. You could seriously walk from one end of the inner grav well to the other without getting your feet cold.

Offline Draco18s

  • Resident Velociraptor
  • Core Member Mark IV
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,925
Re: Proposal: remove metal
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2016, 02:51:53 PM »
respawn automaticaly there a few seconds / minute after, depending on the "size" of the ship

Take a full fleet wipe and you still have netflix time.

This.

Not to mention that removing metal would mean that the player would never need to take other planets: their fleet rebuild time doesn't change by having fewer worlds, so why take any at all?

Offline Cinth

  • Global Moderator
  • Core Member Mark II
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,527
  • Resident Zombie
Re: Proposal: remove metal
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2016, 02:57:13 PM »
Not to mention that removing metal would mean that the player would never need to take other planets: their fleet rebuild time doesn't change by having fewer worlds, so why take any at all?

The fuel mechanic would make it necessary, if only to make those hops to the AI homeworld shorter.
Quote from: keith.lamothe
Opened your save. My computer wept. Switched to the ST planet and ship icons filled my screen, so I zoomed out. Game told me that it _was_ totally zoomed out. You could seriously walk from one end of the inner grav well to the other without getting your feet cold.

Offline Draco18s

  • Resident Velociraptor
  • Core Member Mark IV
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,925
Re: Proposal: remove metal
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2016, 03:04:12 PM »
True, fuel might hamper things.

Offline skrutsch

  • Newbie Mark III
  • *
  • Posts: 41
Re: Proposal: remove metal
« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2016, 10:08:23 PM »
Take a full fleet wipe and you still have netflix time.
Not if the AI defeats you 30 seconds later!

If you lose 75%+ of your fleet on planet(s) you don't own**, the AI detects your extreme weakness and sends five sequential H/K waves at your home system, or something equally violent that you are very unlikely to survive.  (If you do manage to survive somehow, you can spend that netflix time bragging in the forums.)

This would probably encourage fighting in half-fleets, one attacking and the other being rebuilt.  Could be some interesting strategy in deciding what ships go in each half-fleet, perhaps?

**If you lose lots of ships defending your holdings, that's just good defending in my book :)

Offline Draco18s

  • Resident Velociraptor
  • Core Member Mark IV
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,925
Re: Proposal: remove metal
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2016, 12:53:29 AM »
Not if the AI defeats you 30 seconds later!

If you lose 75%+ of your fleet on planet(s) you don't own**, the AI detects your extreme weakness and sends five sequential H/K waves at your home system, or something equally violent that you are very unlikely to survive.  (If you do manage to survive somehow, you can spend that netflix time bragging in the forums.)

Something something something reprisal.

Offline Cinth

  • Global Moderator
  • Core Member Mark II
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,527
  • Resident Zombie
Re: Proposal: remove metal
« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2016, 12:56:09 AM »
Not if the AI defeats you 30 seconds later!

If you lose 75%+ of your fleet on planet(s) you don't own**, the AI detects your extreme weakness and sends five sequential H/K waves at your home system, or something equally violent that you are very unlikely to survive.  (If you do manage to survive somehow, you can spend that netflix time bragging in the forums.)

Something something something reprisal.

I've never seen a reprisal that harsh, ever...
Quote from: keith.lamothe
Opened your save. My computer wept. Switched to the ST planet and ship icons filled my screen, so I zoomed out. Game told me that it _was_ totally zoomed out. You could seriously walk from one end of the inner grav well to the other without getting your feet cold.

Offline kasnavada

  • Hero Member Mark II
  • *****
  • Posts: 911
Re: Proposal: remove metal
« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2016, 11:28:44 AM »
Funny thing is, there seems to be a consensus on "netflix time is bad", but once a solution that actually removes it is there, no one wants it. I'm open to other proposals, however.

Except you didn't remove anything other than the player's econ.  I also don't think you fully understand "netflix" time.  Anytime you have to wait more than a few minutes for anything, you'll have someone complaining about netflix time.  In a game like this, you can't avoid it completely, only lessen it's effect.

This is why your solution won't work to remove netflix time.

respawn automaticaly there a few seconds / minute after, depending on the "size" of the ship

Take a full fleet wipe and you still have netflix time.

@Cinth
And... the current system works better, because ?

The current system actually waits for about 15 minutes for a wave (not sure about that one), around 3-4 hours for CPA / cross planet waves. Reprisal take 6-10 minutes to come in. As metal gains do not scale at all to the ship caps & ship quantities, the game slows down more and more as the game goes on. And, it does not matter because the AI does not actually do much to stop you.

The only thing you have to do in the current system to "protect your economy", is wait until your coffers are full enough to rebuild before attacking, and optimizing your defenses so you don't die. That makes waiting irrelevant because the AI gains from waiting are mostly irrelevant, and since the AI is very passive in behaviour, once a decent defense is put in place, most attacks fail without any user interactions. So I'm not calling that, an a "player's econ"... I call that waiting and patience.

Yes, I propose to remove the metal time gates from the game because my opinion is that there is little economy to remove in the first place, with only 2 ressources in it: time (irrelevant once you know how to defend yourself) and metal (dependant on time). There are only a few errors that newbies to the game can commit to burrow themselves into a hole.


With this proposal in it, AI War's 2 refleeting time would :
- be a fixed time.
- during which you actually have to defend yourself.
- irrelevant to the size of the player fleet, so times could be balanced to be short or long enough, after balancing, whether it's early, or late game.
- easier on players as metal would be mostly used to find litterally to build yourself a larger fleet, or conduct special projects (if partial removal only).

That would mean, of course, harsher reprisals from the AI are needed, and possibly, that the AI is basically harsher to begin with. Yes, the AI could become aggressive. And, that's one of the points in the design doc, that it actively tries to take territory.

Not if the AI defeats you 30 seconds later!

If you lose 75%+ of your fleet on planet(s) you don't own**, the AI detects your extreme weakness and sends five sequential H/K waves at your home system, or something equally violent that you are very unlikely to survive.  (If you do manage to survive somehow, you can spend that netflix time bragging in the forums.)

Something something something reprisal.

That's exactly my point, actually. The AI is currently too passive IMO. Deadly passive. Making reprisal deadlier is a part of the idea here.
Thing is, if the refleeting occurs irrelevantly of the current metal ressource time-gate, the AI can unleash real threats more often. Also, it would be possible to rework the refleeting time independantly of reworking other systems based on construction. Like rebuilding a golem.

Quote from: Draco18s on Yesterday at 02:51:53 PM
    Not to mention that removing metal would mean that the player would never need to take other planets: their fleet rebuild time doesn't change by having fewer worlds, so why take any at all?
The fuel mechanic would make it necessary, if only to make those hops to the AI homeworld shorter.

You could also limit the number of production center per planet. But, since fuel already makes an hard limit on the quantity of ships you can have, I don't think it's necessary. Also, researching other ships included, in AI War 1, taking over other planets. Finally, as much as I think the "why not keep a single planet" is good argument, I don't think it targets what I'm proposing much, since it applies equally to the current system. Last, on the first proposal I made, all production centers take a fixed amount of metal to work as a limitation, and the second one gives constructors as an additional bonus to building anything else than the fleetships.

« Last Edit: September 11, 2016, 11:39:18 AM by kasnavada »

Offline Toranth

  • Hero Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,222
Re: Proposal: remove metal
« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2016, 11:42:54 AM »
I've never seen a reprisal that harsh, ever...
Mimic - I had it send multiple Exodian Blades back at me, in one memorable event.


Yes, I propose to remove the metal time gates from the game becasue, I don't see an economy to remove in the first place, with only 2 ressources in it: time (irrelevant once you know how to defend yourself) and metal (dependant on time). There are only a few errors that newbies to the game can commit to burrow themselves into a hole.
If you've turned off AIP over Time, then yes, the time resource is meaningless.  But at even a medium 1 AIP per 30 minutes, every delay helps the AI get closer to killing you.
But the AI's attacks serve different purposes. 
Waves are there to harass you, and provide a little drain on your Knowledge and Metal.  If you've already entered the downward spiral, this just speeds up your inevitable doom... but most of the time, this is just an annoyance.
CPAs are the primary killer.  If you aren't strong enough, they WILL kill you.  If you are strong enough, then there's a good chance you can win the game... if you don't screw up.
Exowaves are the unaimed shot in the dark.  Strong, fast, and targeted, if you aren't prepared and aren't lucky, they can come out of nowhere to destroy your home system.  But they're weaker than CPAs, and the targeting will send many of them at targets you can afford to lose.

I personally would like to see improvements to the Reprisal mechanic.  However, I do not like the idea of getting rid of the economy, as limited as it is.

Offline Toranth

  • Hero Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,222
Re: Proposal: remove metal
« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2016, 11:50:01 AM »
But manners in replying to myself, but I wanted to emphasize something from my previous reply:

If you've already entered the downward spiral, this just speeds up your inevitable doom...

And that's the point of the economy in AI War.  Can you rebuild and expand faster than the AI can shave you down?

With the current system, there's a mixture:  If you've entered the spiral, you can escape by either gaining more metal, or by becoming more efficient is using the metal you have.  There's also a time factor, because certain units (Mk V TDLs) take a LONG time to build, so losing them can mean a major drop in combat efficiency.
If time is the only factor, then the time between AI attacks is all that matters.  If it is longer than your refleet time, good.  Else, you lose.  If you add a bunch of way to manipulate the AI's attacks (delay them, change size, spawn location, etc) then you've done the equivalent of adding a expendable time resource... but it still seems more limited than a Metal-based economy.

Offline kasnavada

  • Hero Member Mark II
  • *****
  • Posts: 911
Re: Proposal: remove metal
« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2016, 12:21:03 PM »
CPAs are the primary killer.  If you aren't strong enough, they WILL kill you.  If you are strong enough, then there's a good chance you can win the game... if you don't screw up.
Exowaves are the unaimed shot in the dark.  Strong, fast, and targeted, if you aren't prepared and aren't lucky, they can come out of nowhere to destroy your home system.  But they're weaker than CPAs, and the targeting will send many of them at targets you can afford to lose.

As you stated here. Thing is, that time is already the only factor.
Can you rebuild in 3 - 4 hours what the AI took from you ? Is it fun to take one hour to rebuild your empire ? 3 ? 7 ? That's my second issue. The game can, once you've learned it, kill you only every 3-4 hours. By removing metal as a time-gate to refleeting time it would be possible to increase refleeting times to points where killer moves from the AI could happen every 30 minutes, with none of the side effect than "just adding more metal to the player" could have.

More simply put, if you're on the downward spiral, the game should already have killed you.

About timing, even with AIP gain on time at 1 per 30 minutes, if you make the calculation of what the game throws at you, it's not the time that will kill you. It's the wrong assumption from player that this planet / structure that costs "only" 20 AIP is worth more than spending 10 hours playing and gaining metal. Games I've won have been won in about 20 hours, so basically one more planet, difficulty wise, is worth as much as half the metal I gained during the entire game. Something's wrong here. You can add extra hours here, but if you go over 50 hours, something else is wrong. 50 hours of game time is way too much.

There is a reason why the deep strike mechanic and CSG mechanics are in place in AI War : people abused the game and won by not taking any planet at all, and taking litterally dozens of hours to neuter every planet there is. And, while not that popular in the first place... I think they achieved their goal.


Finally, as much as I can understand this proposal not being popular, do anyone has a proposal to reduce refleet time ?
« Last Edit: September 11, 2016, 12:27:27 PM by kasnavada »

Offline zharmad

  • Hero Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,066
Re: Proposal: remove metal
« Reply #14 on: September 11, 2016, 02:45:31 PM »
does anyone have a proposal to reduce refleet time ?
(Fragmented thoughts)

Hmmm... it's difficult in the sense that all AI response times has to be balanced around it. Why not simply make everything tick four times as fast as classic Normal speed? There is a lot of leeway between  the existing AI War Classic timing windows of minutes to hours, and the limits of professional gaming (around 10~60-second in Starcraft 2, which we won't want).

...(more detail) If we set some arbitrary balance point of 5-minutes to max fleet size Y when the player holds X planets, then the AI has only that much time in order to launch a follow-up attack, however the game defines its resourcing model. Here the very soul of AIP is directed at balancing player growth with each additional planet taken, allowing players to keep spending time to experiment within limits.

 Exo-mechanics, CPA, etc. hinges around that balance. Reductions in the vulnerability window of players will need to be counterbalanced by increasing AI's ability to take advantage of it. Classic had very strict rules about how the AI engages the player by default, which go hand-in-hand with the long refleeting times. In order to combo players into submission via small hits, they need multiple additions like Shark-B AI-plots, offensive release of strategic reserves/dormant defenders, etc. - a practiced player will rarely allow a perfect storm to converge. The enemy fleet would never grow big enough as long as the AIP vs. player max assets is within a certain threshold discovered by experience.

= = = =
I'm also having trouble interpreting your proposal.

Quote
Model 1: constructors limit max player fleet size, fixed refleeting time.
Meaning if a player has progressed to 10 planets and lose 7 in a tough fight, they can rebuild only 3 planets' worth of forces against 10-planets worth of continued AI aggression, until they retake more planets?
 If this is what you mean, it's a very-fine balance (to put it lightly). With metal, the players can stockpile reinforcements before they lose the 7 planets, and have an larger effective army than what they have left in terms of planets to make a comeback. Without some form of buffer, snowballing by AI is likely (downward spiral) as you will lose constructors and therefore fleet capacity. (BTW, most RTS/4X games show this phenomenon, since fleet size and upkeep *is* generally a function of empire size. Only one interesting battle per game.)

Quote
Model 2: player fleet size is only dependent on maximum progress (knowledge unlocks). Constructors always build everything in N-time.
...Then losing everything but your command center is, in fact, no loss at all?

Quote
Model 3: player fleet size is only dependent on maximum progress (knowledge unlocks). Constructors build X units per Y time.
...Doesn't seem to be what you're suggesting. Here, you suffer larger vulnerability windows with more losses. This seems ok, but has the same fragile system applies as the others mentioned. There's a narrow gap between net-flix time, or reproducing so fast that you cannot be defeated.

Quote
That means that, yes, if the AI rebuilds, and attacks back a fleet loss is still a bad thing to have: you'll have to rush with the new units to wherever it's counter-attacking, in order not to lose completely, while rebuilding on its side and making your failed attack a failure.
...With appropriate automation, things turns into Liquid War? I mean, stalemating and victory can become a function of units produced per minute depending on the galaxy layout.

= = =
...I think you're imagining a meta-game where players have a fast-replenishing small fleet that can efficiently attrition large & slow AI forces, and that the chief purposes of gaining planets is to gain more buffer-zone against larger AI responses, moreso than a straight up force multiplier. That would a good suggestion per se, but one that requires more fleshing out. People do this in Classic already using macro-based builds.

Perhaps it's easier to reduce netflix time by removing the boredom instead, by allowing the AI to try to trump you immediately (ala heavier reprisal + automatic activation of sleeping guards + Shark-B).