EU4 - Development Diary - 27th of February 2018

Good day all. Tuesday rolls around as it often does and we're back with another Dev Diary for Europa Universalis IV. Today we'll talk about 2 things: Improvements to the Naval AI and the new National Ideas of the various Irish Earldoms.

Firstly the AI. For this I will pass the mic to the living legend among AI programmers @Chaingun

#####

Hello, I am Chaingun aka. Skynet, although my real name is Petter (non-Swedes feel free to pronounce as Peter). Today’s dev diary will put the lens on what kind of new AI bugs (and occasionally WAD behavior) you may expect from the 1.25 update accompanying Rule Britannia.

The main [AI] focus of 1.25 has been to sort out the less than ideal naval behaviors. Some of you may have the perception that France transporting all their troops to an island in the Pacific is a recent thing, though in fact the AI’s logic has always permitted that to happen. It has been showcased far more frequently beginning when @Gnivom fixed overseas war declarations, due to the increased frequency of AI troops transport attempts overseas.

This overall situation is interesting because it highlights some of the many perplexities of game AI development, of which I would like to recap:

  • Fixing an issue can make the AI worse indirectly because of another latent issue, as the naval transport situation illustrates. Another example would be reducing the AI’s siege army sizes to reduce attrition when it doesn’t understand how to distribute cannons in their armies.
  • Fixing an issue can make the AI worse because we actually create another issue by breaking something.
  • A symptom often has multiple causes. An example is the famous sleeping army bug which is in very general terms can be explained as the AI getting into an external or internal state it cannot handle, resulting in all the commands it attempts (if any) being invalid.
  • A cause can have multiple symptoms that seem entirely disconnected or otherwise have very far-fetched causal dependencies. Ottomans falling behind massively in tech due to AI refusing to invade a rebel held island (due to having fewer transports than rebel regiments times a constant) would be an example.
Game AI programming is not a recommended job if you don’t like hearing how stupid you are on the forums forever afterwards not tweaking for their pet issue when working on a fixed time schedule. The line between bug and feature is thin indeed.

Returning to transport issues; in 1.25 the naval invasion AI is constrained from moving more than 50% of their troops “abroad”, where abroad is defined as a different landmass on a different continent, and army divisibility is not subject to said restriction (so if France does just have one army, it may be found in South America all the same). However, this is just the naval invasion logic… the land army AI may still decide to walk across Eurasia with all their armies for obscure reasons. It’s something I would like to rectify in the future if I get time for it.

Another big problem with the naval AI of previous patches is that it’s simply extremely slow in transporting troops. This issue turned out to be complex, and a number of sub-issues were identified and dealt with to various degrees:

  • There were several bugs where AI fleet and/or an army awaiting transport actually would be forever stuck until reload or even after.
  • The AI can now actually split a fleet if not all transports are required.
  • Sailors had been rebalanced to actually matter for some countries. Nobody had taught the AI this, resulting in many large countries having 0 sailors all the time, in turn leading to fleets spending most of their time in repair. As this was a surprise to me as well, and the issue is highly complicated to fix, the AI may now cheat on sailors by conjuring them out of thin air if they run out. This allows seamlessly working towards fixing the sailors handling without the naval AI being utterly handicapped in the meantime.
  • The AI’s transport fleet (of e.g. Spain) would often be found sailing around in Indonesia or some other far away place, taking years to respond to anywhere else. For Great Britain, this was even worse as the warships that were needed to defend against invasion partook in said expeditions. A fairly intense rework in how the structure their fleets has been made as detailed in the next paragraph.
Initially, when I set out to improve the AI’s fleet response times, I thought it would be a matter of having fleets based in appropriate ports around the world. Unfortunately, the AI (and neither do human players) have enough ships for this. Even the largest colonizers in the world can at most field a couple of hundred warships and transports. Splitting up warships lightly can therefore be disastrous.

The solution settled for has been to make the AI place the bulk of its warships into a Home fleet, which is forbidden from venturing far from the home coast, and does not contain any transports. Because it does not contain transports, it will never be busy transporting troops. This behavior is conservative, but conservative behavior is better for AI in practice. Europeans will not attempt to challenge Ming with a large fleet of heavy ships, they do however pose a token challenge to someone attempting to land troops on their shores.

So were these changes enough to make the AI a formidable force at sea then? Astute players may have noticed the AI barely built any ships whatsoever. During Christmas, the AI’s economy was tweaked to build far more warships, force limit buildings, and float less money. It was bloody perfect for a while with the Ottomans fielding 1.5 million men. Much later, new army maintenance costs came into the picture later as a surprise wrecking AI economic balance, so the 1.25 release may have regressed in this regard. Still, it should be better than it was on the naval front.

The implication of this rework on the whole makes the AI a bit more capable at naval stuff. Its micromanagement is still terrible, and skilled players will still be able to play “lure the fleet away” tactics to invade Great Britain with ease. Players using house rules or otherwise not exploiting AI behavior may however find some challenge in making naval invasions sometimes where previously they would not.

It’s worth some amount of extraposition explaining why the human player will always beat the AI as it’s coded in EU4. The crux is, the AI in Paradox games is using a fixed manual coded strategy. The extent to which is changes its behavior in response to what a human opponent does is limited to the exact tactics pre-programmed by the human author. Merely the fact the AI will not change is enough for the human to pick counter-strategies that are very effective against whatever the AI is doing, whereas they can not go into the same extreme degree of specialization against another human opponent.

Lastly, let me state I’ve been here since the Autumn on EU4 as a consultant (I was working with PDS full time until around 18 months ago), but I am being reassigned from EU4 to SECRETPROJECT, still at PDS, where I have freedom to create many new and wondrous AI bugs, or maybe even let the AI create the bugs itself, as any intelligent being would.

That’s all for now.

#####

Cheers Chaingun. Next up we'll look at New National Ideas for the Irish. Ireland is one of those places that could honestly be divided up but we are satisfied with the setup we have reached in 1.25. The following National Ideas have been either added or amended, with credit to @macd21 who made considerable contributions to these:
  • Leinster
  • Kildare
  • Clanricarde
  • Tyrone
  • Ulster
  • Maccarthy
  • Ormond
  • Faly
  • Tyrconnell
  • Repurposed group set for united Ireland
With this the entire Island's nations have their own unique National Ideas, with a formable Ireland having their own set. Let's pick 3 to look at: Meath, Kildare and Ireland

MTH_ideas = {
start = {
fort_maintenance_modifier = -0.2
global_garrison_growth = 0.25
}

bonus = {
leader_siege = 1
}

innefectual_overlords = {
global_tax_modifier = 0.10
"The English government in Dublin and their Irish Parliament puppets have been weakened as result of England's many conflicts in the Hundred Years War and the War of the Roses. Their influence no longer holds any sway over the true lords of Ireland, and now is the time to strike out for our independence."
}
foreign_nationals = {
diplomatic_reputation = 1
"In 1487, the Irish lord John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, invited a host from Burgundy to Dublin to support the crowning of Yorkist English pretender Lambert Simnel. Ireland would make for a fine base of resistant against the English mainland, and forever keep the would-be occupiers at bay. We may also one day gain powerful supporters, such as the Kingdom of Spain."
}
mth_parliament_of_ireland = {
stability_cost_modifier = -0.10
"When the English were expelled from Dublin, they left behind an institution called the Parliament of Ireland. Meant as an instrument to subjugate us, we will instead use it to organise our efforts to resist a return of English rule."
}
mth_englishtown = {
culture_conversion_cost = -0.15
"Once known as Irishtown and a ghetto for native Irish in Dublin, we have turned the tables. The district is now relegated to the Englishmen who remain, there being forced to integrate into the new order."
}
mth_the_cess = {
global_tax_modifier = 0.1
"The Cess is a special tax for the purpose of maintaining the extraordinary garrisons required to keep our towns safe. The people resent the tax, but understand its necessity."
}
mth_trinity_college = {
adm_tech_cost_modifier = -0.1
"Ireland lacks an institution of higher learning. A Catholic university in Dublin would put Ireland on the academic map."
}
mth_siege_mentality = {
defensiveness = 0.20
"The people of Dublin and Meath have had to endure many sieges through the years. We understand how to survive them and how to resist them."

KID_ideas = {
start = {
global_unrest = -1
defensiveness = 0.20
}

bonus = {
prestige = 1
}

kid_lords_of_ireland = {
diplomatic_reputation = 1
"Through strategic marriages and alliances with both Gaelic and Anglo-Irish families, the rulers of Kildare maintain a degree of influence throughout the island of Ireland unmatched by any of their rivals. Such is their power that successive English monarchs appointed them as their Lords Deputy over the island."
}
kid_ear_of_the_king = {
improve_relation_modifier = 0.2
"Despite repeatedly betraying the crown, the FitzGeralds of Kildare talk their way out of trouble, returning home with a pardon and a promotion."
}
kid_silken_finery = {
land_morale = 0.10
"When Thomas FitzGerald renounced his allegiance to the English king, he did so accompanied by his retinue of armoured gallowglasses, who were bedecked with silken fringes on their helmets. When Thomas wavered in his course of action, an Irish bard recited to him a poem, calling upon the Silken Lord to avenge his father’s death."
}
wizard_earl = {
technology_cost = -0.05
"The 11th Earl of Kildare spent many years abroad, studying and learning much of the world. When he returned home, he brought with him a keen interest in alchemy. Such was his knowledge that his neighbours referred to him as the wizard earl, for he was thought to have magical powers."
}
the_curragh = {
cavalry_power = 0.1
"The wide open plains of the Curragh have long been used as a gathering place for armed forces, but also make it a popular site for horse racing, and later, horse training."
}
kid_architects_of_nation = {
build_cost = -0.1
"The ancestral seat of the FitzGeralds at Carton House is grand, but our fortunes have improved of late. We have drawn up plans for an even grander residence, that could serve not only as a family seat but also as the Earl's court."
}
kid_royal_irish_army = {
global_manpower_modifier = 0.1
"The forces sent by the King of England to subdue the Irish can easily be repurposed by the Peerage. By simply offering better pay the Earldom of Kildare could command a sizable force of English soldiers."


irish_ideas = {
start = {
land_morale = 0.1
trade_efficiency = 0.1
}

bonus = {
legitimacy = 1
republican_tradition = 0.5
}

irish_endurance = {
shock_damage_received = -0.1
"Decades of disease and famine have mostly pushed the English invaders from our lands. Meanwhile, the Irish people grow all the stronger from their harrowing experiences. Yes, there is no stronger man on God's green earth than an Irishman!"
}
the_clanns = {
same_culture_advisor_cost = -0.2
"The Clanns of Ireland make up a strong political body for land and family management. In smaller families, the family elected chieftain is in charge of maintaining the family and protecting their lands. Land and leadership is passed through the family electorate system of Tanistry. From the royal clanns the symbolic high king of Ireland is elected, creating a bond of union between the Irish families."
}
more_than_irish = {
global_unrest = -2
"Heartily did the Norman invaders embrace the Irish traditions; so much so that it was said they put on the airs of being 'More Than Irish'. The very nature of our culture is contagious, and for centuries yet will men embrace our way of life."
}
loyal_catholics = {
papal_influence = 1
global_heretic_missionary_strength = 0.02
"While the English may toil and spin in the winds of the Reformation, the Irish people as a whole are determined to remain under the wing of their lord The Pope."
}
ire_abundant_harvests = {
global_trade_goods_size_modifier = 0.10
"Now that the greedy, neglectful English landlords have been driven out of Ireland, our farmers are finally able to manage their produce in peace. Blights and crop failures are addressed as matters of critical state importance rather than as peripheral concerns of an irrelevant colony."
}
unconquerable_ireland = {
war_exhaustion = -0.02
"No English lord could contain the will of the Irish for long. Despite all efforts, rebellion after rebellion sprouted in an attempt to displace English rule. Insurgency after insurgency will spring up in their path, and Ireland shall never truly be theirs. And, as they sail from our lands, we shall further influence resistance against the protestant imperialists to on our eastern flank."
}
ire_gallowglasses = {
discipline = 0.05
"Formerly loose mercenary bands, the Gallowglasses are being consolidated into a national army. Their institutional experience is almost unrivalled, and their septs are the perfect foundations for regiments."


And that's our lot for today. Well, if I don't add an image then the front page won't be happy, so here we go:

meathinks the time for change is uppon England.jpg


Next week we'll show off the new unit models and music which will both be included as part of Rule Britannia. See you then!

Don't miss today's Rule Britannia Feature Stream with DDRJake on our twitch channel at 15:00 CET - the stream will as usual be available on Youtube if you can't make the livestream
 
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earlofbrigand

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Really looking forward to this one! Keep up the good work.

Not fussed at all about the Irish minors. They're basically fodder - but I guess for the hardcore players out there, the Irish ideas look quite good once you've gathered together the relevant provinces.
 

DragonAtma

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If the AI blatantly cheats in sailor shortages, that encourages players to do the same. I'm sure another idea would work out better, such as:

* Limit the AI's shipbuilding urges so they stop using all their sailors.
* Have sailors recover faster; there's a long history of soldiers pointing at people and going "Congrats, you're now a sailor!".
* Lower sailor maintenance.
* Go with Kypton's negative sailors idea (although you may want a malus that scales based on just how negative the sailor percentage is).
 

Kukumarro

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I would like to point out how funny is that the AI send all its armies to defend a colony from native uprisings... while always picking the native coexistence as colonial policy, therefore having 0% chance of native uprisings.
 

Res_Ipsa

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Sadly, seems like we'll still have to deal with the bizarre AI behavior in 1.23 and 1.24. While I thought removing the AI's limitations on overseas wars, getting allies, and in not targeting the player was, in theory, great, in practice it leads to incredibly bizarre and unbelievably stupid and immersion-breaking behavior. I am hoping that, along with the naval behavior, other aspects of the AI's military forces will be worked on--esp. for allies, which are more of a detriment than anything in these past two patches. Example: In a war with an ally, the ally had the chance to siege down the level 1 capital fort of the enemy--who was sieging down their level 3 capital--but they chose instead just to sit in one of the adjacent provinces. They even teased me by moving to the fort for a day and then moving back. They would have easily won that base race. But they lost. Then peaced out--as I was at a~35% siege chance with the enemy's capital with the walls bust open--and the enemy would have peaced out immediately once I had captured that and the AI ally would have had all their provinces unoccupied.

That sort of stupidity, while not making it technically unplayable, is so rage-inducing that I simply cannot play past 1.22. I hope @DDRJake et al realize that while it seems like a good idea to keep pushing out content while fixing bugs and AI behavior, there comes a point where people like me will just stop buying new content until we know the AI is at least back at the last acceptable level. I really want to buy the new pack--honestly, just for Anglicism, which I have been wanting since I first started playing--but I refuse to deal with the AI as it is. At the very least, I would like the 1.23/1.24 changes rolled back, and then new work can be done on the old code to try and implement the desired AI changes in a far better manner. (Granted, I'm not a coder, so I do not know how feasible that is.)

I really want to enjoy CoC but I feel that I threw my money down the drain, and I won't make the mistake with any future DLC. Sometimes it's worth it to take the time to fix issues even if there's a temporary dip in new money, just to get people who have been put off by recent mistakes to regain trust and to restart purchasing DLC.

Just my two cents, though. I'll be okay to just play on 1.22 and never buy any more DLC--I just would think PDX would want to maximize how many people are willing to buy the DLC.
 

Dr Rainfrog

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Is it me or does rule Britainia feel really empty? Like there is so much more they could have done like a parliment rework and yet it feels like every dev diary has been about ideas and the mission system.
 

gia257

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I don't really think that's a realistic problem. If he managed to create an AI smarter than a human at playing a grand strategy game like EU4 he would probably win a Nobel prize and be recruited as chief software engineer by Google.
you are overestimating the problem, as many knobs as it may have, as far as i can see, the game is very simple, even more simple if you decide to destroy the player and make them ragequit. War is a graph problem, big graph, but graph problem, ai already shows its potential by dodging you to the day and knowing the shortest path everytime, its main problem is when it splits forces really. "oh but attrition and stack size this is so diffcult waaah", bullshit, the ai puts 200k on a single tile everytime it can already, splits, into 70k zones, realizes thats bad too, merges again into 200k, and so on, solving attrition is irrelevant atm. Stack size, mirror the player or fill CW, whatever is greatest. Goals: wargoal, forts, scaring/wiping player off siege if they have inferior forces, capital, player stack, pick goal that is the closest/even possible to be completed, key change: never overextend forces, when leaving fort for an opportunity goal, leave 1 to 10 stack to hold progress, fully abort if all troops needed/cant ensure safety, wait for NERF OTTOMANS, done.

trade can be mazimized already since it is not even a graph but a tree, buildings can be maximized, player rules for building buildings is baby level, so all you need to do is write that in code and cross fingers that you will also fix all other expenses so the money doesnt get mismanaged overall

army composition can be, if not maximized, balanced so it always is at least good enough (no russian 50k stack with 6 cannons)

alliances are already a pita for players so I dont see a need to modify that code

monarch point expenses seem fine unless some ais are lagging on military tech due to other expenses, no need to change otherwise

i cant/dont see estates or states so i dont care so long as they pick offensive options enough and without falling to disaster (mostly cossacks), basically using the same rules as a player already does and arent overcomplicated NP crap

ideas can be maximized to murder the player but the current "random" is fine

naval is a pita, the best i can think of is mirroring the player, and if inferior, avoiding them, which it already does, ai could always save their inferior navy by getting fleet basing on neutral ground just like it saves its army by getting exiled (and then it can save both when transporting and getting trapped). AI cheats on sailors yet sends troops to defend colonies, what, mark that land as impassable unless captured, and when captured mark it as low priority, to be recaptured by single stacks when nobody's around and only if it is causing exhaustion, and use the cheat that natives wont attack, or if you want to not cheat, just murder the natives. Thats what a player does, when in doubt, mirror the player.
 

Battlex

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Is it me or does rule Britainia feel really empty? Like there is so much more they could have done like a parliment rework and yet it feels like every dev diary has been about ideas and the mission system.
Well if you don't have common sense then you can't access parliament, no dlc for dlc.
BUT SERIOUSLY GIVE PARLIAMENT A UNIQUE SOUND the house of lords is divine but it is not the papacy.
Expanded events for money whilst parliament is open and debating would also be appreciated.
 

Brynjar

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If the AI blatantly cheats in sailor shortages, that encourages players to do the same. I'm sure another idea would work out better, such as:

* Limit the AI's shipbuilding urges so they stop using all their sailors.
* Have sailors recover faster; there's a long history of soldiers pointing at people and going "Congrats, you're now a sailor!".
* Lower sailor maintenance.
* Go with Kypton's negative sailors idea (although you may want a malus that scales based on just how negative the sailor percentage is).
Noone is stopping you from using console commands to cheat your way to endless sailors, if that's the way you prefer playing the game.
The AI is already building too few ships, limiting their urge to build ships would make the game worse.
How would the game become better by making sailors even more irrelevanty?
 

sr999

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Well if you don't have common sense then you can't access parliament, no dlc for dlc.
BUT SERIOUSLY GIVE PARLIAMENT A UNIQUE SOUND the house of lords is divine but it is not the papacy.
Expanded events for money whilst parliament is open and debating would also be appreciated.


In EU4, nobody can hear the English Parliament scream...

Until Rule Britannia.
 

Chaingun

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you are overestimating the problem, as many knobs as it may have, as far as i can see, the game is very simple, even more simple if you decide to destroy the player and make them ragequit. War is a graph problem, big graph, but graph problem, ai already shows its potential by dodging you to the day and knowing the shortest path everytime, its main problem is when it splits forces really. "oh but attrition and stack size this is so diffcult waaah", bullshit, the ai puts 200k on a single tile everytime it can already, splits, into 70k zones, realizes thats bad too, merges again into 200k, and so on, solving attrition is irrelevant atm. Stack size, mirror the player or fill CW, whatever is greatest. Goals: wargoal, forts, scaring/wiping player off siege if they have inferior forces, capital, player stack, pick goal that is the closest/even possible to be completed, key change: never overextend forces, when leaving fort for an opportunity goal, leave 1 to 10 stack to hold progress, fully abort if all troops needed/cant ensure safety, wait for NERF OTTOMANS, done.

trade can be mazimized already since it is not even a graph but a tree, buildings can be maximized, player rules for building buildings is baby level, so all you need to do is write that in code and cross fingers that you will also fix all other expenses so the money doesnt get mismanaged overall

army composition can be, if not maximized, balanced so it always is at least good enough (no russian 50k stack with 6 cannons)

alliances are already a pita for players so I dont see a need to modify that code

monarch point expenses seem fine unless some ais are lagging on military tech due to other expenses, no need to change otherwise

i cant/dont see estates or states so i dont care so long as they pick offensive options enough and without falling to disaster (mostly cossacks), basically using the same rules as a player already does and arent overcomplicated NP crap

ideas can be maximized to murder the player but the current "random" is fine

naval is a pita, the best i can think of is mirroring the player, and if inferior, avoiding them, which it already does, ai could always save their inferior navy by getting fleet basing on neutral ground just like it saves its army by getting exiled (and then it can save both when transporting and getting trapped). AI cheats on sailors yet sends troops to defend colonies, what, mark that land as impassable unless captured, and when captured mark it as low priority, to be recaptured by single stacks when nobody's around and only if it is causing exhaustion, and use the cheat that natives wont attack, or if you want to not cheat, just murder the natives. Thats what a player does, when in doubt, mirror the player.

You're forgetting the little detail of dealing with legacy code and not having infinite time. If I could rewrite the EU4 AI I could, not going to get time time allocated for that for good reasons.
 

fuckregisterin

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For the love of god:
-Remove transports
-Allow AI naval fleets to stack with each other and player to contest naval superiority better, instead of hiding in port all the time.
-Allow players to completely disable fleet hiding
-Fix naval battles so adding smaller ships to a heavy ship stack does not make it perform worse in battle anymore.
-Allow very damaged ships to retreat (at least to the backline) depending on rolls, fleet sizes, admiral stats, ideas etc. Even in hoi4 ships have the ability to be less suicidal.
-Allow AI to use allied transports (if you really can't or won't remove them). Even (landlocked) subjects don't use overlords ships to e.g. invade britain from calais or morocco from iberia.

Other:
-Remove condottieri renting requirement "cannot reach capital" on normal, at least for players. Black flagging can be used as an workaround but the player still cannot rent troops to e.g. England. Raising the difficulty nerfs having lots of subjects playstyle.
 

gia257

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You're forgetting the little detail of dealing with legacy code and not having infinite time. If I could rewrite the EU4 AI I could, not going to get time time allocated for that for good reasons.
yes, even more if you are tasked with more games than this, I was disagreeing exclusively to "'insane' difficulty is Nobel material" and listed things, many already present, that would turn the ai into a monster, its not like you would _solve_ the game, you need far less to frustrate a player into rage quit. By the way, as I already stated, 'insane' difficulty would not be fun, Im happy with an average ai
 

Chaingun

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I was mainly pointing that out due to your attrition remark. Attrition handling never working without merge split loops is a consequence of the code structure as it is. It for sure could be better when written from scratch, though even then I suspect the weighting issues of attrition versus force concentration would remain.
 

bbqftw

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@Chaingun Despite my notorious rants about eu4 AI I'll still point out that you guys do a pretty good job.

In other games ludicrous AI cheats are accepted as norm (think VH campaign AI in total war series) whereas the eu4 AI is still competitive to many players on normal.

So it is amusing to see people complain about cheating sailors. Though it does make me wonder what sort of gameplay purpose they serve.