Author Topic: Core design: What makes AI war, AI war?  (Read 7764 times)

Offline Cinth

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Re: Core design: What makes AI war, AI war?
« Reply #45 on: August 31, 2016, 01:29:59 AM »
Actually I would say that the player driven pacing (part of the whole AIP thing) is a big deal.  Now how to cut out netfix time?  That's been asked and debated for a loooong 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 Kahuna

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Re: Core design: What makes AI war, AI war?
« Reply #46 on: August 31, 2016, 01:39:03 AM »
That is very true.. the AIP mechanic is the core of AI War, if anything it needs even more reactive AI stuff tied to it because even at AIP 600 I don't really feel the dread (I know how to build a decent defense..)
Time to increase the difficulty level then, no? I'd get bored on sandbox difficulty too.

One of the things the game doesn't do well is forcing an end-game.  You can grind to a long, drawn out stalemate easily where it's virtually impossible for the player to progress, but the AI doesn't do anything to actually crush the player.  That is, the difficulty doesn't continue to ramp up when a stalemate occurs (as the player is no longer causing AIP increases, so they languish at defending against a statically sized wave after wave of attacks that cannot breach their defenses).
Perhaps the auto AIP increase could be tied to the difficulty level of the AIs?

Now how to cut out netfix time?
Some things that increase netflix time:
-Waiting for resources for refleeting
-Grinding through AIs' brick wall defenses (I think this makes up the biggest portion of the nextflix time)
-Having to wait for a wave/CPA/whatever to hit just in case before the next (player's) attack
These are things that also deter new players from getting into AI War. Not sure how to fix them though.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2016, 02:03:06 AM by Kahuna »
set /A diff=10
if %diff%==max (
   set /A me=:)
) else (
   set /A me=SadPanda
)
echo Check out my AI War strategy guide and find your inner Super Cat!
echo 2592 hours of AI War and counting!
echo Kahuna matata!

Offline Cinth

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Re: Core design: What makes AI war, AI war?
« Reply #47 on: August 31, 2016, 02:10:36 AM »
Now how to cut out netfix time?
Some things that increase netflix time:
-Waiting for resources for refleeting
-Grinding through AIs' brick wall defenses (I think this makes up the biggest portion of the nextflix time)
-Having to wait for a wave/CPA/whatever to hit just in case before the next (player's) attack
These are things that also deter new players from getting into AI War. Not sure how to fix them though.

#3 is an easy fix.  #2 is half the fun for me.  #1 will probably always be an issue. 
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 ISJ-311

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Re: Core design: What makes AI war, AI war?
« Reply #48 on: August 31, 2016, 11:37:20 AM »
Personally, the uniqueness of each campaign and extremely flexible multiplayer support makes this game great for me.

Offline Draco18s

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Re: Core design: What makes AI war, AI war?
« Reply #49 on: August 31, 2016, 11:57:44 AM »
One of the things the game doesn't do well is forcing an end-game.  You can grind to a long, drawn out stalemate easily where it's virtually impossible for the player to progress, but the AI doesn't do anything to actually crush the player.  That is, the difficulty doesn't continue to ramp up when a stalemate occurs (as the player is no longer causing AIP increases, so they languish at defending against a statically sized wave after wave of attacks that cannot breach their defenses).
Perhaps the auto AIP increase could be tied to the difficulty level of the AIs?

I'm not sure that'd be enough.  It's certainly worth a try, I suppose.  But I don't think it'd have enough of a "kick."  Rather, I think it would accelerate the game towards the stalemate position (if instead of gaining 1 AIP per half-hour, I'd gain 7, right?  Well, if it takes me ~5 hours to reach Stalemate, then I've gained 60 additional AIP over that time: 3 planets worth, so I probably hit the threshold of stalemate a planet or two earlier and it won't be several more hours before the AI can actually crush me).

Offline Tridus

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Re: Core design: What makes AI war, AI war?
« Reply #50 on: August 31, 2016, 12:26:12 PM »
Now how to cut out netfix time?
Some things that increase netflix time:
-Waiting for resources for refleeting
-Grinding through AIs' brick wall defenses (I think this makes up the biggest portion of the nextflix time)
-Having to wait for a wave/CPA/whatever to hit just in case before the next (player's) attack
These are things that also deter new players from getting into AI War. Not sure how to fix them though.

#3 is an easy fix.  #2 is half the fun for me.  #1 will probably always be an issue.

Just throwing it out there, but what if resources were changed more to an "X resources per second = Y maximum ships" style thing? That is, instead of having 300/second from 10 collectors (or whatever) and having to wait 30 minutes to get enough to build your fleet, those same collectors mean that you can support 300 points of ships.

At that point, there's no particular need to wait forever to get the resources to rebuild after a fleet wipe. You already have them available, and can immediately start building again. It has to be delayed long enough that you can't just start an endless graveyard rush style thing where reinforcements are constantly joining the attack after a ship is lost, but it does solve the problem.

One of the things I really liked about Fallen Spire is that this problem was somewhat negated by the sheer number of systems you could/had to conquer to see it through. You would start gaining resources so fast that unless your Spire ships got taken out, you could rebuild everything at lightning speed. As an added bonus, it made some of the stuff from the Zenith trader actually viable, whereas it was utterly impractical to ever build it in a game where you're trying to conquer as little as possible.

The combination of "you can build anything, no matter how expensive, if you're patient enough to wait for it", and "the AI will wait for you if you don't antagonise it" really led to encouraging Netflix time.

You could probably also achieve something similar by having ships cost a resource upkeep, such that having a big fleet will lower your resource production, and eventually halt it entirely. That would let you still save for something huge (like a SuperFortress) if you wanted to, by running around with a smaller fleet for a while.

Offline Tridus

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Re: Core design: What makes AI war, AI war?
« Reply #51 on: August 31, 2016, 12:29:55 PM »

We will have that feel.  I will hound one developer to the ends of the earth to make sure it's there   >D

Spire campaign:

"You mean the game not only knows, but intends for me to potentially kick the door down on an AI HW so I can blow them to bits before I finish it?"

"lol j/k if you go to far we sick a mothership at you. but we gave you the illusion it was a sneaky path, right? and if you are smart it actually IS a smart path..."

There were many stages in the spire campaign that asked the player: "Do you want to continue down this path, or just use the power you have?".

That is something I missed in the doomsday plot. I keep calling it doomsday plot, but maybe it was shadow plots? Sadly the system was far to binary for me to remember, yet alone pursue.

IMO, the Spire campaign was the single best thing that got added. It changed the game substantially in terms of how it plays, gives a more objective based feel for players that benefit from that, and gives you this constant option of "we always try to avoid pissing the AI off, but the Spire *really* don't get it. Then again, they have fortress like defenses and ships that can tear through fleets in seconds..."

After a couple hundred hours of playing "keep AIP low because the AI will flatten you if it sees you as a real threat", having the option to suddenly switch to "conquer half the galaxy and launch a direct frontal assault" is a pretty great change of pace.

It got kinda laggy sometimes, though. :D

Offline Vinco

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Re: Core design: What makes AI war, AI war?
« Reply #52 on: August 31, 2016, 09:01:22 PM »
I'm also a big fan of the Spire campaign.  I'm not a "carefully selected series of disconnected planets" player, but rather focus on building an ever-expanding zone of human control with massive fortress worlds at the extremes.  My economy drops to its knees when I push into a new system.  I love the ability to have a long game where I'm carefully pushing into a new area, pissing off the reinforcements, then seeing the devourer running up my retreat path with slobbering jaws.

The interplay of unexpected, unpredictable events laid on top of a very basic goal of destroying two structures somewhere on the map leads to a game I continue to love.

I think one of AI War's strengths is that there's no one way to win on most difficulties.  You can go sneaky and low-AIP, or you can go face first.  Either way can work if you do it right.

Offline Kahuna

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Re: Core design: What makes AI war, AI war?
« Reply #53 on: September 01, 2016, 12:30:37 AM »
You could probably also achieve something similar by having ships cost a resource upkeep, such that having a big fleet will lower your resource production, and eventually halt it entirely. That would let you still save for something huge (like a SuperFortress) if you wanted to, by running around with a smaller fleet for a while.
That can already be done by rebalancing the energy costs.
set /A diff=10
if %diff%==max (
   set /A me=:)
) else (
   set /A me=SadPanda
)
echo Check out my AI War strategy guide and find your inner Super Cat!
echo 2592 hours of AI War and counting!
echo Kahuna matata!

Offline chemical_art

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Re: Core design: What makes AI war, AI war?
« Reply #54 on: September 01, 2016, 12:47:56 AM »


After a couple hundred hours of playing "keep AIP low because the AI will flatten you if it sees you as a real threat", having the option to suddenly switch to "conquer half the galaxy and launch a direct frontal assault" is a pretty great change of pace.

It got kinda laggy sometimes, though. :D

I do consider the spire campaign my favorite expansion element.

Imagine this description before it came out as a conversation (and for those players, if I misspell there is no malice, just drowsiness) :

"Commander, have you heard of the AI being defeated?"

"Of course. I remember the victory by Cinth. The ambush of Cyborg. The Kahuna gambit."

"But have you ever seen the AI being truly defeated. As in it was wiped out entirely out of a galaxy by a lack of firepower."

"Such a thing is not possible. For the AI is busy elsewhere..."

"What if that elsewhere came here? Would you bring it here of your own will? How far would you go down that rabbit hole?"

...

[Later]

"I did not think the AI would send Hunter Killers and golems at us together! I did not expect we would be winning either!"

I do consider that campaign the ideal of the "branches" that AIW2 can pursue. It's strengths are the story it tells and how it gives many plateaus that allow the play a choice to either go deeper to resume the standard route. It is never all or nothing until the final step.
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Offline Cinth

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Re: Core design: What makes AI war, AI war?
« Reply #55 on: September 01, 2016, 12:58:20 AM »
Most of the craziness I have shared on the forums comes from blown out Spire matches.  I love watching the Imperial Fleet fight the good fight.
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 Elestan

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Re: Core design: What makes AI war, AI war?
« Reply #56 on: September 01, 2016, 11:05:20 PM »
IMHO, the distinguishing feature is the premise of the AI's production facilities being mostly untouchable "elsewhere", couple with the AI's preoccupation with "elsewhere" being a resource you deplete (and occasionally gain) during the game.  That's what allows you to have a large strategic game that increases in tension as the computer gets pushed back instead of turning into a boring mop-up, and it's not something that I've not seen in any other game.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2016, 11:06:57 PM by Elestan »

Offline NickAragua

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Re: Core design: What makes AI war, AI war?
« Reply #57 on: September 02, 2016, 10:44:24 PM »
For me, it's the following (the things I enjoy about it):

Huge fleets duking it out
AI that doesn't act retarded (possibly due to asymmetric gameplay)
Coop with friend, trying to coordinate our defenses against a challenging opponent
Storyline that's present but doesn't bludgeon you over the head with endless cutscenes (fallen spire)
Multiple victory paths (especially once the spire and other expansions came out)
Variety of opposition and having to use different tools to defeat said opposition
Difficult decisions with various tradeoffs
Active support for the game by the devs years after it came out - bugfixes and fearless feature changes that you'll never see with any other game

What needs improvement:
Lag in multiplayer (and, uh, single player)
Micromanagement (I lost a couple of fighters here and there, now I have to spend a bunch of time redirecting reinforcements to the main fleet. Also, rebuilding fortifications all the frigging time.)
Irreplaceable captureables located four jumps into enemy territory
Champion missions
Changes to fundamental game systems every other patch (the dark side of active support) so that I have to re-learn the rules yet again
The game looks like a neon colored excel spread sheet with about forty different art styles

BTW, the best solution I've seen to the kind of micromanagement I describe is in Rome 2 Total War, where the units replenish automatically as long as they're within friendly territory and you add units directly to the army (the kind of units you can add being determined by buildings within the current territory) rather than screwing around with building units in a city then moving them to the army. Additionally, the automatic garrisons are nice, although they are pretty useless against significant opposition.

Offline Misery

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Re: Core design: What makes AI war, AI war?
« Reply #58 on: September 02, 2016, 11:12:29 PM »
Quote
I suppose I can say the one thing I would like to see changed, somehow, is for games to not take bloody forever.  Three to six hours would be ideal.  And I realized that epicly long games is one of the things AI War is known for, but I don't think it's really needed to make AI War AI War.  Should they be possible?  Sure, there are all kinds of playstyles and some of them favor longer games.  But it's not about the time component, but the nature of progression, the ability to make further gains.

Oh, yeah, this is a really good point.   I don't mind long games, with procedural stuff.   Some games are meant to be that way.  But some things in AI War do take a bit too much time.

For me, it's not so much the stalemate aspect of the game that does this.  It's the fact that sometimes I run into a single system that just takes what feels like a million years to finally conquer.

Like, last night I ran into a situation with a rather nasty setup that involved a Gravitic Command Station combined with other things that just made it pretty mean (I forget exactly what those were), and it just took freaking forever to finally drill into this place fully to take down that station.  I had to try a few different approaches, and each of those was sloooooowwww because of the gravity effects.  And then I finally had the "ah-HAH!" moment, figured out how to do it.... but that, too, was slooooooowwww.    And the game just does stuff like this sometimes.  Like when I find those systems with stuff like Superfortresses and their kersquillion HP, yet I have at the time no good way of dealing with them (and even when I have the right ships to deal with them, they still take ages to drill through).  It's fun and interesting to try to come up with solutions to complicated system layouts that the game generates (plus whatever loopy things it may try with it's ships while you're dealing with the installations), but it's less fun when it takes a silly amount of time to do it.  Instead of additional challenge, you just get an added bit of tedium where you're essentially waiting for your tactic to finish it's execution without having to think on it any further.   With the scale of the battles and stuff like this, this will always happen to some degree, but it's when the game really goes overboard with it that I find it to be a problem.

Offline PokerChen

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Re: Core design: What makes AI war, AI war?
« Reply #59 on: September 03, 2016, 04:20:12 AM »
To me, the main motivation of AI War is the attempts of humanity to claw back from the edge of extinction. To begin from zero and end with a decent chance at winning (or on easier difficulties a guaranteed final riposte). The expression "your final mistake was not finishing the job properly". So,my expected scale of the game is similar to XCOM or a Battlestar Galactica campaign.

This motivation drives the overall mechanics/progression of the game, which draws out abilities that humanity are collectively proud of (in their faulty imaginations):
- that we are supremely adaptable (player ability to change strategies and even win conditions. Here I'd like to examine scorched earth and refugee endgames, for example, which can resolve stalemates somewhat.)
- that we are resourceful (hacking and capturing as the situation offers themselves, hand in hand with above).
- that we are willing to sacrifice, and take mad risks (not very successfully explored in classic except by the players themselves. Dark Spire mechanics didn't appeal to me. We could not intentionally goad the AI into overcommitting against us, or critical human colonies/settlements).
- that we have hope in the face of dread, which is slowly built up over a well-played session (that the AI is overwhelming, but ultimately exploitable. Having said that, the actual AI is admittedly a paper tiger in classic, 90% of the time, right up until you make a series of bad mistakes).