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General Category => AI War II => Topic started by: tadrinth on May 29, 2019, 12:00:19 PM

Title: AI homeworld assault discussion.
Post by: tadrinth on May 29, 2019, 12:00:19 PM
Quote
On difficulty >= 7, the AI will start dumping most of its budget into the Hunter Fleet when you are attacking the AI Overlord or an adjacent planet
The feeling I get is that the actual AI Overlord combat isn't as exciting as it could be, so hopefully this will be more interesting.

Haven't been keeping up closely; does the AI in AIW2 have a Strategic Reserve it can deploy to defend the homeworlds?  The SR seemed like it did a good job of ensuring there would be enough 'ships in the air' during a HW assault to keep things interesting. 
Title: Re: AI homeworld assault discussion.
Post by: BadgerBadger on May 29, 2019, 12:35:02 PM
No current SR exists
Title: Re: AI homeworld assault discussion.
Post by: tadrinth on May 29, 2019, 05:24:09 PM
So, IIRC, the big changes to AI homeworld assaults in AIWC were to trigger ever-increasing exos if you took too long killing a homeworld, and the strategic reserve.  And having the core guard posts increase the AIP floor (so it didn't feel bad to take some planets on the way there).  IIRC the SR had access to some extra-annoying special units, like Spiders and Powerslavers, even if the AI hasn't otherwise unlocked those. 

The HW assaults are probably one of the hardest things to get right, I don't think anyone was perfectly happy with them in AIWC either.  So definitely room for experimentation.

Just don't bring back Wrath Lances.  Those things were awful.  Though a version of them with tractor beams or low damage and knockback or some kind of gravity-knockback effect might be okay. 
Title: Re: AI homeworld assault discussion.
Post by: x4000 on May 29, 2019, 09:59:49 PM
Ironically, early in the AIWC days it felt like people were pretty happy with the homeworld assaults, because it was being compared to other strategy games where at that point you were just walking over the AI if you were in a position to win at all.  And here you had raid starships sometimes slipping your lines and knifing your home command when you weren't looking.

But the more people played, the more things started to feel samey on the home planets, since the rest of the game could vary so much but this did not.  Past a certain point it was all Keith managing that particular uphill battle, because what was fresh and new when I had started had become the one part of the game that was always very samey.

I'm hoping that we can come up with some more creative ways to win the game long-term, although those would be post-1.0 expansion additions, I imagine.  Basically alternative victory conditions, or completely different styles of homeworld from time to time, etc.

I'm actually just kinda chatting, there's no real point to my commentary here. ;)

My main point is that I feel like we have a lot of latitude for making this increasingly awesome for the hardcore players in a post-1.0 era where there's money and time to focus on that.  But in the meantime, I love that Badger and others are thinking about this and working on making the current fight as dramatic as it can be.  I don't think that should stop, by any stretch of the imagination -- but there are certain limits, I guess, that we run up against in the vanilla AIW2.
Title: Re: AI homeworld assault discussion.
Post by: Draco18s on May 30, 2019, 10:51:30 PM
I'm beginning to wonder if we need something...I'm going to call them Linear Forcefields. Things to act as physical barriers between locations on the homeworld.

Either follow the maze or spend a lot of time (and incoming damage) to blow them up.
Title: Re: AI homeworld assault discussion.
Post by: x4000 on May 31, 2019, 08:22:09 AM
Actually in AIWC, pre-1.0 (so nobody ever saw this but my dad and uncle and myself), I had these things that were basically... I forget what the word was.  But they were basically "space walls." Enemies that  ran into them would get stuck to them like tracks and have to move along them in the way that you had originally set up.

The whole thing ultimately just felt... strange, though.  It is really nice to be able to have walls in space, but then  again walls in space don't make a whole lot of sense.  And trying to introduce go-around-walls pathfinding into the local AI would be something that is prohibitively slow on the CPU.

So I'm sure there are some options out there, and I tried a creative one about 10.5 years ago, but at the time it just didn't "feel right."
Title: Re: AI homeworld assault discussion.
Post by: x4000 on May 31, 2019, 08:25:06 AM
Oh: and I just now realized you meant on the AI homeworlds.  That actually does make a lot of sense!  And then no pathfinding required, per se... maybe.  I was thinking you meant as a defensive option for players, and that was something that I had explored previously

For the AI, having the core guardposts make the overlord invincible while they exist was one way I attempted that sort of thing before.   But after playing Breath of the Wild, I kind of wonder if the core guardposts should instead be massive buffs to the overlord (so they are a soft barrier, not a hard one).
Title: Re: AI homeworld assault discussion.
Post by: tadrinth on May 31, 2019, 10:20:18 AM
The idea of an AI Overlord getting a 'pop-out' version of each of the surviving Core Guard posts (like the human home command station gets pop-outs of each of the upgraded command stations you unlock in AIWC) is rather terrifying.  Killing the Core Guard Posts would usually be worth it to prevent the Overlord from getting them, I think, but if you have a tight timer on killing the Overlord before you start seeing Exos, then it might be worth skipping the least offensive such guard posts to focus on burning down the Overlord sooner.   If nothing else, you could have achievements for doing it the hard way. 
Title: Re: AI homeworld assault discussion.
Post by: Draco18s on May 31, 2019, 03:39:16 PM
Oh: and I just now realized you meant on the AI homeworlds.  That actually does make a lot of sense!  And then no pathfinding required, per se... maybe.  I was thinking you meant as a defensive option for players, and that was something that I had explored previously

Yep, AI homeworlds only. AI units are unaffected and can pass right through them as they could a friendly force field. Just that the shape is capsule-like instead of spherical. I suppose if you wanted to gussy it up so that it's an array of tiny spherical force fields visually, you could. They'd be classified as "Hardened" so they wouldn't shrink when they took damage and the entire array would share a single health bar (fluffwise its just the different generators sharing the load).

They're an issue for the player to deal with, not something the player can use against the AI. They'd still have to be used carefully (the intent here is to place them between guard posts and worm holes so you can't fly around the homeworld willy nilly, but either have to pick the path the AI lays out for you, or break down the walls), but "carefully" in this sense is something that can be automated. We have maze-generating algorithms after all, and that's all this really is at heart (though I wouldn't overlay a literal maze on the homeworld, but rather pick strategeic points that place a buffer between an attacking force and a guard post that keeps the player from sniping effectively).

In any case, its just a thought and I don't expect to see more than about six of them on a single planet.

Quote
For the AI, having the core guardposts make the overlord invincible while they exist was one way I attempted that sort of thing before.   But after playing Breath of the Wild, I kind of wonder if the core guardposts should instead be massive buffs to the overlord (so they are a soft barrier, not a hard one).

This is also a good idea.
Title: Re: AI homeworld assault discussion.
Post by: Toranth on May 31, 2019, 08:50:53 PM
Oh: and I just now realized you meant on the AI homeworlds.  That actually does make a lot of sense!  And then no pathfinding required, per se... maybe.  I was thinking you meant as a defensive option for players, and that was something that I had explored previously
Yep, AI homeworlds only. AI units are unaffected and can pass right through them as they could a friendly force field. Just that the shape is capsule-like instead of spherical. I suppose if you wanted to gussy it up so that it's an array of tiny spherical force fields visually, you could. They'd be classified as "Hardened" so they wouldn't shrink when they took damage and the entire array would share a single health bar (fluffwise its just the different generators sharing the load).
To me, this is basically introducing terrain.  In the traditional AI war sense, terrain is systems and their wormholes connections.  It sounds almost like what you want is a cluster of systems that collectively make up the "AI Homeworld", with Core Guardposts being scattered amongst the non-HQ node of the cluster - the same way you might have a series of pre-boss challenges (usually earlier game bosses) when approaching the final boss of an RPG.

I must say, a maze of strong AI forcefields that I have to navigate my fleet around, while the AI can move and shoot freely through them, does not sound like the best solution to me.
Title: Re: AI homeworld assault discussion.
Post by: Draco18s on May 31, 2019, 11:52:06 PM
I will agree that it might not be a good solution, but it's something I'd like to play with to see what it feels like.
Title: Re: AI homeworld assault discussion.
Post by: tadrinth on June 01, 2019, 10:29:00 AM
It sounds almost like what you want is a cluster of systems that collectively make up the "AI Homeworld", with Core Guardposts being scattered amongst the non-HQ node of the cluster - the same way you might have a series of pre-boss challenges (usually earlier game bosses) when approaching the final boss of an RPG.

This makes me think that having some systems around the map that have Core Guard Posts and are set up as miniature versions of the homeworld assault might be a good thing.  If nothing else, the mechanics will be seen more often by players which will help with figuring out if they're fun and iterating.   
Title: Re: AI homeworld assault discussion.
Post by: RocketAssistedPuffin on June 01, 2019, 02:44:46 PM
One thing to point out: With factions such as Dark Spire and Nanocaust that try to attack AI Homeworlds, you would need pathfinding for them around these barriers, despite them being AI only.

It's interesting, though. I wouldn't mind experimenting with it. Same goes for any of these other ideas.

I suppose I'll list some of the current AI Homeworld traits:

* Every Guardian is a Dire type.
* There is a very small chance for a Hunter/Killer MK5 to appear instead of a Dire Guardian.
* Each Dire Guard Post shields the Overlord (like Classic Core Posts).
* There is a random number of Posts, so the difficulty can vary wildly.
* There are no Brutal Guard Posts (Tethuida is a normal Dire Post, and I think the only Classic Brutal type that exists at all here.).
* Attacking the AI Homeworld causes the Hunter/Warden Fleets, Threat, and neighbouring planets (more hops out on higher difficulties) guards to rush to defend it.
* The already mentioned "dump budget to the Hunter Fleet" behaviour if attacked.
* If Dark Spire are enabled, Wards are on the Homeworld, instantly killing any Spire that arrive.
* The Overlord has a long range Tachyon system, but doesn't cover the whole gravity well like Classic did.
Title: Re: AI homeworld assault discussion.
Post by: MaxAstro on June 04, 2019, 06:56:58 PM
It sounds almost like what you want is a cluster of systems that collectively make up the "AI Homeworld", with Core Guardposts being scattered amongst the non-HQ node of the cluster - the same way you might have a series of pre-boss challenges (usually earlier game bosses) when approaching the final boss of an RPG.
This actually sounds like an amazing idea in some ways.  Like have whichever planet gets picked as the AI homeworld get turned into a "home cluster" - there's an "entry" planet that has the normal connections, and then a small cluster of planets that can only be reached from the entry planet, among which the Core Guard Posts are distributed (along with enough regular guard posts to make up t he difference).

So instead of the whole fight happening on the homeworld itself, you are bouncing between several planets hunting down one or two core guard posts on each before finally attacking the central planet that is the true homeworld.

That would introduce a lot of flexibility to make each "guard post planet" a unique challenge without making the homeworld itself a chaotic mess.

Of course the guard post planets would be impossible to capture, so you couldn't just take one as a staging point.
Title: Re: AI homeworld assault discussion.
Post by: AnnoyingOrange on June 05, 2019, 04:46:53 AM
A bit off topic, but are minor factions supposed to be able to win the game for you?
I just had the Dyson sphere destroy the AI Overlord on its own, but I'm having trouble reproducing it.
Title: Re: AI homeworld assault discussion.
Post by: BadgerBadger on June 05, 2019, 10:34:47 AM
I'm quite surprised the Dyson won the game, but yeah in principle minor factions are allowed to win the game for you.