Author Topic: Core design: What makes AI war, AI war?  (Read 6992 times)

Offline Orelius

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Re: Core design: What makes AI war, AI war?
« Reply #60 on: September 03, 2016, 07:57:24 PM »
Here's what I like:

-Huge fleets smashing into one another
-Asymmetrical warfare, needing to fight against a stronger opponent by taking advantage of terrain, positioning, using force multipliers to overcome the strength difference
-Generally speaking, streamlined macro gameplay, being able to churn out ships en masse and having reserves

Issues in AI War:
-The importance of micro - certain kinds of micro are way too good in some cases and pretty much necessary in others, the ship AIs are pretty dumb in general.  Critical targets like hunter/killers and EMP guardians need to specifically be focused down in every single engagement if you want to keep your fleet alive.  Plus there's no real way to know if your ships are doing things efficiently, if they're getting their bonus damage in, etc.  It's practically impossible to play the game in real time.

-The blobbiness and mish-mashiness of fleets - your fleet always composes of every single ship type you can make - there's no way to specialize.  Your fleet will always be stronger if you add more things to it - there's no way to make your fleet stronger against golems or whatever in a reasonable time scale.  The best way to do things is either go on a thirty minute quest to find additional ship types to use or to just smash your entire fleet into it

-Lack of actual strategic or tactical options.  Blobbing is way too effective, there's no collision, there's no real way to actually implement strategy.  Flanking is pointless, surrounding is impossible, etc.  There's no actual way to 'take advantage' of the AI.  You just see if the AI has lots of ships in an area, and if you're stronger, smash them, and if you're weaker, send things elsewhere.  It throws a wave at you and you stack turrets there.  Oh?  An exogalatic strike force is coming?  Better reinforce that chokepoint with more stuff.  There's just not really much that actually encourages real tactics.

-On a similar note, the AI hardly ever does anything or any action that is actually exploitable.  I never really feel smart and think 'Aha! I got them there!'.  The AI is way too predictable but also way too cautious.  There's no way to actually goad the AI into attacking you, they just mass up in overwhelming force and take you out.  There's no way to intelligently assault a fortified planet, etc.  I think the game would stand much to gain from a more predictable AI that can be exploited.

-Turrets and mines.  It's extremely tedious to plop down an your entire planetary quota of turrets and mines.  There really should be an easier way to do this.

-Turrets and mines.  They're stationary, but do they really need to be?  It just makes things more of a hassle than they need to be.  Just make them mobile defense bots that don't have warp drives or something so they can't cross wormholes.  They'd be more effective obviously but I think they'll feel better if they were weaker but were actually more consistently useful.  Often, enemy ships will just break through your line and run right past the turrets, making them pretty much pointless.

My (pretty radical) suggestions:
-Improve ship AI (this will probably happen anyway, obviously), make sure important things actually get attacked first.  I don't want to have to target fire snipers with my own every single time I encounter them.

-Maybe remove the ship cap and put in some other system?  The ship cap system is pretty emblematic of AI War, but I really don't think it does anything better than just having a supply system.  It just means that your fleet will always be diverse and never specialized.  Perhaps there could be a compromise, maybe you get a smaller cap for each ship, then some extra supply that you can then spend on any type of ship.  So if I unlock mark II fighters, instead of being allowed to build 96 markII fighters, I can build 48 mark II fighter and 48 of any other mark II ship.  This still keeps the whole 'ship cap' idea while allowing us to tailor armies to different circumstances.  Maybe I want to go knock down a fortress - I'll just use my excess ship cap to mass bombers.

-Add some sort of collision?  Currently, your ships can overlap with eachother infinitely, having a large fleet is pretty much the exact same to having a small fleet except you have more firepower and durability.  Then, things like flanking and encircling might actually mean something tactically.  There should be a meaningful way to make your weaker fleet be capable of defeating a stronger fleet due to certain circumstances.  Things like an encircling or flanking bonus would be great.  Maybe even a sneak attack bonus or something for ambushes!  I think it'd be pretty cool to just power down your fleet and hide them, wait for an enemy fleet to fly by, then wake up in the middle of them and catching them with a surprise opening volley.  I want to feel like I'm playing as an insurgency, fighting against a superior force with an inferior army and still coming out on top.

-Maybe change turrets into something like a defense fleet - they're local to a planet because they can't cross wormholes, they're stronger, slower, and have a per planet cap, and are less energy intensive compared to your mobile fleet.  Defending should be easier than attacking, and having a large empire should be meaningful to stopping an AI advance.  Currently, once the AI defeats your main fleet, you're completely defenseless while you're refleeting because turrets are completely incapable of dealing with anything in decent number alone due to their immobility - they just get killed from outside their range or ignored entirely.  They're also entirely too weak to actually deal with anything other than small raids.

-Make mines a lower cap and just make it an attachment to a wormhole  - when units pass through, they get damaged.  Line placing mines on a world is a huge pain in the ass, and the worst part about it is that it's difficult to quantify its effectiveness.  I have no idea how much the mines are doing.  They could be doing a lot of work but I have no idea that they are.

-On that note, it would be pretty cool to have a 'kill counter' that tells you how many ships that your different kinds of forces have destroyed - such as your mobile fleet, your defense fleet (or turrets), your mines, your superweapons, etc.

Anyway, these are just some of my thoughts on some of AI War's core mechanics. 
« Last Edit: September 03, 2016, 08:01:43 PM by Orelius »

Offline Cyborg

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Re: Core design: What makes AI war, AI war?
« Reply #61 on: September 03, 2016, 11:11:23 PM »

-Add some sort of collision? 

No reason to. There is a Z direction.
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Offline Orelius

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Re: Core design: What makes AI war, AI war?
« Reply #62 on: September 04, 2016, 12:01:51 AM »

-Add some sort of collision? 

No reason to. There is a Z direction.

That's true, but I do think there should at least be something to discourage blobbing and promote actual tactics.

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: Core design: What makes AI war, AI war?
« Reply #63 on: September 04, 2016, 01:31:20 AM »

-Add some sort of collision? 

No reason to. There is a Z direction.

That's true, but I do think there should at least be something to discourage blobbing and promote actual tactics.
Blobbing is a tactic, and not a smart one. It's effective when facing smaller enemy fleets to benefit from the protection of long ranged units, but against matching forces, splitting, baiting and interception are much more effective.
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Offline Orelius

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Re: Core design: What makes AI war, AI war?
« Reply #64 on: September 04, 2016, 04:33:27 AM »
Blobbing is a tactic, and not a smart one. It's effective when facing smaller enemy fleets to benefit from the protection of long ranged units, but against matching forces, splitting, baiting and interception are much more effective.

Uh, what do you mean benefiting from the protection of long ranged units?  Blobbing is just literally selecting your whole fleet and moving it on top of the enemy fleet.

I find that I never really have the opportunity to ever split, bait, or intercept sizable enemy fleets.  Enemy fleets that invade your territory travel as one large clump and beeline towards your home command center.  If you attempt to intercept them, they just run past your entire fleet and suddenly you can't shoot their fleet because they've gone through a wormhole.  Defense fleets are either scattered around a planet mostly in hibernation and easily picked off piecemeal, or are so overwhelmingly powerful that it's better to just run (looking at you,  37k ship special forces fleet).  There's no way to do any of the things you mentioned in a worthwhile situation.  The AI is practically impossible to bait without actually putting yourself in a compromising position (i.e. moving your fleet significantly far away from the worlds you want to defend, or actually losing your fleet and the AI thinking it can take your chokepoint world), and AI fleets never ever split except to attack your vulnerable capturables.

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: Core design: What makes AI war, AI war?
« Reply #65 on: September 04, 2016, 06:53:45 AM »
Eh, I won't debate AI War Classic strategy here. But maybe you're not playing at the edge of your skill.

I assure you, I was bored at 7/7. I first turned the Golems off and found a new game at 7/7. Once I relearned the basics of the game, I jumped straight to 8/8. First CPA was a steel wall. I learned again and carved my first >7 victory. I then jumped at 9/9 and spent months and many games on the first CPA. I'm currently at the gates of the endgame and I don't know if I'll make it through without starting it all over again.

Trust me, wherever you are on the difficulty ladder, bump it a notch. You'll learn... or die.
 ;D
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Offline Tridus

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Re: Core design: What makes AI war, AI war?
« Reply #66 on: September 04, 2016, 08:48:35 AM »
-Turrets and mines.  They're stationary, but do they really need to be?  It just makes things more of a hassle than they need to be.  Just make them mobile defense bots that don't have warp drives or something so they can't cross wormholes.  They'd be more effective obviously but I think they'll feel better if they were weaker but were actually more consistently useful.  Often, enemy ships will just break through your line and run right past the turrets, making them pretty much pointless.

Tractor turrets, gravity turrets, EMP mines, the Military Command's translocation shots, and those kinds of goodies are there to make this harder. But yes, some stuff is meant to blast through. Turrets aren't a universal "stop everything". I tend to think that's okay. You can stop an awful lot with them once you figure out how to build a strong defense.

It takes away a lot of personality if they're changed into ships that are worse than your other ships, instead of something else entirely.

Offline Timerlane

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Re: Core design: What makes AI war, AI war?
« Reply #67 on: September 04, 2016, 11:48:31 AM »
-Turrets and mines.  They're stationary, but do they really need to be?  It just makes things more of a hassle than they need to be.  Just make them mobile defense bots that don't have warp drives or something so they can't cross wormholes.  They'd be more effective obviously but I think they'll feel better if they were weaker but were actually more consistently useful.  Often, enemy ships will just break through your line and run right past the turrets, making them pretty much pointless.

Tractor turrets, gravity turrets, EMP mines, the Military Command's translocation shots, and those kinds of goodies are there to make this harder. But yes, some stuff is meant to blast through. Turrets aren't a universal "stop everything". I tend to think that's okay. You can stop an awful lot with them once you figure out how to build a strong defense.

It takes away a lot of personality if they're changed into ships that are worse than your other ships, instead of something else entirely.
Yeah; can I just say, give this a read. You don't necessarily have to go all out with it, but even the simple lesson of 'concentrate your Turrets near your Command Stations, instead of splitting them up among all the possible wormholes' is very useful.

Offline Orelius

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Re: Core design: What makes AI war, AI war?
« Reply #68 on: September 04, 2016, 06:38:43 PM »
Eh, I won't debate AI War Classic strategy here. But maybe you're not playing at the edge of your skill.

I assure you, I was bored at 7/7. I first turned the Golems off and found a new game at 7/7. Once I relearned the basics of the game, I jumped straight to 8/8. First CPA was a steel wall. I learned again and carved my first >7 victory. I then jumped at 9/9 and spent months and many games on the first CPA. I'm currently at the gates of the endgame and I don't know if I'll make it through without starting it all over again.

Trust me, wherever you are on the difficulty ladder, bump it a notch. You'll learn... or die.
 ;D

I mostly play 9/9 Random Harder Fallen Spire games on honeycomb maps.  I also fail to see how the difficulty level is of relevance here, the AI uses the same general tactics for difficulty 7+.  Again, my issue is that I never get to do cool stuff with my fleet aside from hurl it at the other fleet.  I don't get to split the enemy fleet, or ambush them, or intercept them.  I mostly just either fight them on their planet or have them smash their heads on a brick wall on mine.

I think that a couple of interesting ways to fix this could be, for instance, to introduce new warhead types.  Perhaps a a blackhole warhead that disables wormholes for 30 seconds (so new ships cannot enter or leave)?  That would be pretty interesting and allow for tactics at a steep price.

-Turrets and mines.  They're stationary, but do they really need to be?  It just makes things more of a hassle than they need to be.  Just make them mobile defense bots that don't have warp drives or something so they can't cross wormholes.  They'd be more effective obviously but I think they'll feel better if they were weaker but were actually more consistently useful.  Often, enemy ships will just break through your line and run right past the turrets, making them pretty much pointless.

Tractor turrets, gravity turrets, EMP mines, the Military Command's translocation shots, and those kinds of goodies are there to make this harder. But yes, some stuff is meant to blast through. Turrets aren't a universal "stop everything". I tend to think that's okay. You can stop an awful lot with them once you figure out how to build a strong defense.

It takes away a lot of personality if they're changed into ships that are worse than your other ships, instead of something else entirely.
-Turrets and mines.  They're stationary, but do they really need to be?  It just makes things more of a hassle than they need to be.  Just make them mobile defense bots that don't have warp drives or something so they can't cross wormholes.  They'd be more effective obviously but I think they'll feel better if they were weaker but were actually more consistently useful.  Often, enemy ships will just break through your line and run right past the turrets, making them pretty much pointless.

Tractor turrets, gravity turrets, EMP mines, the Military Command's translocation shots, and those kinds of goodies are there to make this harder. But yes, some stuff is meant to blast through. Turrets aren't a universal "stop everything". I tend to think that's okay. You can stop an awful lot with them once you figure out how to build a strong defense.

It takes away a lot of personality if they're changed into ships that are worse than your other ships, instead of something else entirely.
Yeah; can I just say, give this a read. You don't necessarily have to go all out with it, but even the simple lesson of 'concentrate your Turrets near your Command Stations, instead of splitting them up among all the possible wormholes' is very useful.

I'm very aware of how to make a strong defense.  I just think that the current way of doing it is really really tedious and boring, it could really benefit from being streamlined.  Do we really have to place all of the mines and turrets and position the gravity turrets just right?  Why can't we just do something like upgrade the command station to do these things, like create a planet-wide gravity field, long range tractors, etc.?  Why not just place a booby trap right on the wormhole that damages passerbys in a certain area around the wormhole, instead of having to place mines manually using line place?

I'm not really sure about the whole 'personality' thing here.  Though now that you say it, replacing turrets with new kinds of ships is kind of an asinine idea.  However, do the turrets really need to be completely stationary?  Even if they have a movespeed of 1, I think it would be fantastic if it were possible to reposition them without having to tediously tear them down and build them again. 
« Last Edit: September 04, 2016, 07:12:35 PM by Orelius »

Offline Cyborg

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Re: Core design: What makes AI war, AI war?
« Reply #69 on: September 04, 2016, 08:18:43 PM »
Do we really have to place all of the mines and turrets and position the gravity turrets just right?  Why can't we just do something like upgrade the command station to do these things, like create a planet-wide gravity field, long range tractors, etc.?

The reason is, placing your turrets, choosing which ones to buy, and having range limitations gives meaningful decision points to the player. That creates a game.

That being said, I think the line place tool is hidden from the average player who doesn't even know it exists because the GUI needs improvement. And I think we'll get that GUI improvement.
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Offline Elestan

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Re: Core design: What makes AI war, AI war?
« Reply #70 on: September 05, 2016, 12:40:01 AM »
Do we really have to place all of the mines and turrets and position the gravity turrets just right?  Why can't we just do something like upgrade the command station to do these things, like create a planet-wide gravity field, long range tractors, etc.?

The reason is, placing your turrets, choosing which ones to buy, and having range limitations gives meaningful decision points to the player. That creates a game.

That being said, I think the line place tool is hidden from the average player who doesn't even know it exists because the GUI needs improvement. And I think we'll get that GUI improvement.

I think the problem here is not mines and turrets per se, but the UI for placing them.  When placing a single unit, the forbid zones of all units should be visible, and the placement shadow should always stay in the closest legal location to the pointer (it should never turn red).  That way, it's really easy to put a new unit flush to an existing one, and the player always knows exactly where the unit will appear when they click.  The UI for mass placement should (IMHO) be:  First click sets your center point, hold and drag to expand the area, release to set the area, then one more click to set the rotation.

Offline tadrinth

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Re: Core design: What makes AI war, AI war?
« Reply #71 on: September 05, 2016, 06:40:55 PM »
On memorization:
I remembered another thing I like about AI War, but that probably isn't something that needs to be emphasized in AI War 2. A quote from HPMOR:

"One of the requisites for becoming a powerful wizard is an excellent memory. The key to a puzzle is often something you read twenty years ago in an old scroll, or a peculiar ring you saw on the finger of a man you met only once."

AI War is FULL OF THIS.  The enormous amount of organic complexity means that remembering all the little details can be extremely powerful, and there's a part of me that LOVES THAT.   On the other hand, having to read through 6 volumes of patch notes to understand all the game mechanics is really brutal to newcomers. And, applying those details is often more gap-in-the-wall; bullheaded targeting on carriers makes them vulnerable to photon lances, for example. Or splitting the graph to counter Special Forces. 

On tactics:
I also fail to see how the difficulty level is of relevance here, the AI uses the same general tactics for difficulty 7+.  Again, my issue is that I never get to do cool stuff with my fleet aside from hurl it at the other fleet.

I think the tactical/puzzle aspect comes through more in the very early game, and in the AI HW assaults (at least in low AIP/no superweapon games). 

Fallen Spire seems like it erodes the mechanics that give rise to tactical play; exos don't vary in speed, photon lances don't care about hull type, etc.  But, some people still really love doing Fallen Spire. Fallen Spire probably needs its own thread to dig into what people like and don't like about it.


Offline zharmad

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Re: Core design: What makes AI war, AI war?
« Reply #72 on: September 06, 2016, 04:37:16 AM »
Fallen Spire seems like it erodes the mechanics that give rise to tactical play; exos don't vary in speed, photon lances don't care about hull type, etc.  But, some people still really love doing Fallen Spire. Fallen Spire probably needs its own thread to dig into what people like and don't like about it.

Fallen Spire exchanges tactical play for strategical play, specifically on open maps such as Simple and Realistic. It gives you multiple-front conflicts as well as the means to defend them via Spire Cities. For example, I run about 4-6  navies in a FS+Golems game, divided by role: main, reserve, starship, rapid response, carrier, engineer corps, and botnet, and there might be three separate routes of defence due to the layout.

Commanding at that level, one no longer cares as much about tactical details. It's more about how long your reserves will delay and attrition an incoming force, priorities for your raiding fleet, etc. I would argue that this is still core AI War, and is part of what enables a conventional war instead of guerrilla war.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2016, 04:42:04 AM by zharmad »

Offline Cinth

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Re: Core design: What makes AI war, AI war?
« Reply #73 on: September 06, 2016, 03:05:16 PM »
Yep.  Those major factions literally change the way the game is played.
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Offline chemical_art

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Re: Core design: What makes AI war, AI war?
« Reply #74 on: September 06, 2016, 03:28:42 PM »
I will tomorrow make a thread for Fallen spire, because I need more time myself to identify with what makes it so special and also to hear from others what make is so.

For myself:
1) It presents a story not limited in scope. The more you learn, the more you learn about how the AI is attacking other galaxies.
2) It provides scale. You think the AI is oppressive in this galaxy? The AI is devoting far more resources in other galaxies, and they still cannot compete in scale.  Our galaxy may (emphasis: may) be the origin of it, but other forces are taking it to a new scale. A bit humbling.
3)If you finish the campaign, seeing a force greater then the AI is among the most intense and unique moments in AI wars you can see.
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