BATTLETECH Needs an AI Boost and Other Things...

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SteelOnyx

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Even on the hardest settings, the game is entirely too easy and one dimensional. The following could help to change that and make it much more immersive:

  1. Improved AI
  2. Dynamically adjusting the Mech tonnage on story line missions to the tonnage deployed
  3. Multiple lances on the same mission
  4. A reason to actually use light and medium mechs as part of a mission strategy once the heavies become available
  5. Change up of the mech load outs
  6. World Play

Improved AI
The AI is entirely too predictable and doesn't behave anywhere close to the way real people would in a similar situation. If a lance just had two of it's mechs completely blown away and were still facing double the tonnage they would not charge forward, they would run. Most people are not suicidal, the AI should not be either and it would make it an additional challenge in the game.

In the same vein give the AI pilots names and make it so they can eject or run away if possible. It would make the game more personal than some random faction head appearing in a pop up message to tell the player how they will make us pay. It also would contribute to the strategy there would be some incentive to keep the AI warriors from amassing more XP with each encounter.

In attacking, a lance would not send the faster mechs ahead to battle the opposing lance by themselves only to get blown away by greater fire power. Put some logic in place so it actually checks what the odds are (based on sensor data) so the AI doesn't march its mechs single file into a hail of gunfire to uselessly die. Maybe the quick and dirty is to only have the AI deploy mechs with relatively the same run and jump capabilities.

Provide the AI with some actual strategy, at times they just seem to randomly attack the nearest available target instead of doing any kind of threat analysis to see which mechs it should target first. Some people go for the lightest armored first, others go based on who can do the most damage.

Give the AI the ability to target critical areas on player mechs. If I see a mech coming at me that has an AC20 or multiple PPC's, the first thing I do is look for the area on the mech to target with the least amount of armor that is easy to hit with a called shot and will disable the weapons.

Stop with multiple mechs in a lance opting to sensor lock. In my own play style I found sensor locking useful early in the game, but once the range enhancers are available it is a tool I almost never use. However the AI seems to love using it later in the game, I have been in situations where 2 out of 4 AI 80 and 90 ton mechs opt to hide behind a boulder and sensor lock me instead of actually firing or at least maneuvering to a position that will give them a better firing solution next round.

Lastly it would be nice if the game adjusted AI to the play strategy of the player. For example in my play style I almost never close to a range of less than 400m. It is stupid for the AI to throw a couple of Crabs mounted with AC20 at me since I have usually blown off their arms, legs or torso before they can even get in range to use them. To counter the AI should either switch more often to specialty long range mechs or mechs capable of closing the gap faster. The point is it should be tracking what the player does and adjusting accordingly especially if we have fought against that faction multiple times.

Dynamically Adjust Story Line Mech Tonnage
I usually get access to heavier mechs fairly early on because I go for the harder missions. The result is that by time I get to the story line missions my lowest tonnage mech is significantly higher than anything the AI deploys.

Multiple lances on the same mission
The original PC game supported multiple lances and from a systems standpoint there are multiple missions in this version where there are 12 or more mechs on the screen at any given time.

Late Game Light and Medium Mechs
At a certain point in the game keeping light and medium mechs becomes a waste of bay space and cash because they serve no strategic purpose later in the game. If there is a mission that requires a speed element, I just grab a heavy or assault mech capable of hitting 120 and great jumping. It would be nice to have situations that actually require the use of those mechs which would be made much easier with being able to have multiple lances.

Change Up the Mech Load Outs
The game appears to keep the AI mechs loaded out according to the base variants which in many cases means more weapons than they will actually ever use in combat resulting in wasted tonnage that could be used for extra armor or cooling thereby making them more effective in combat. While a mech having a balance of long, middle and short ranged weapons is nice on paper, more often than not it just winds up in them doing mediocre damage under AI control as the player deploys mechs and tactics for the purpose of maximum damage.

World Play
The original BATTLETECH is focused around putting a drop ship on a planet as a base of operations and accomplishing the strategic objectives, i.e. topple the planetary government. The missions would be a lot more engaging if it was up to the player to determine where to set up base camp on a planet, decide which targets to hit first, ie bases, factories, power plants, etc. while at the same time having to defend against counter attacks. It would make for nice level progression as the first mission might be to capture just a single town on a planet and eventually working their way up to a full planet assault.
 

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[Mod edit: don't reply to flame bait. Report it]
So let's be about this, shall we?

Truly and as I see it, the BATTLETECH AI is good at its intended purpose. :bow:

But once a player gains experience with BATTLETECH, comes to know its features and modes, mechanics and design...

...the AI becomes BATTLETECH's single biggest weakness in my opinion. To me the AI has a perishable gateway appeal. Great at getting a player introduced to BATTLETECH, but lacking once the gamer becomes proficient. BATTLETECH's Difficulty Settings then come to the rescue, but none of these improve the AI.


When a game gets to the point that I have to keep a crib sheet on all the things I must do outside of the game to make it fun ("Rule of Skulls," near Stock/Stock-only Mechs, MechWarrior-habitual Mechs, non-use of Morale Abilities, no Phase Deferment, etc) that game has lost something important. I am no longer playing the game developed... I am artificially extending its appeal to me.

Should HBS seize on and implement any of your suggestions, I would be very much in favor of it.

Though to be realistic given what we've heard from HBS lately, I do not expect HBS to undertake much new BATTLETECH development any time in the next year, two or more. It is quite likely that our Modding Community will become the beating heart of my BATTLETECH experience. : )
 

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When a game gets to the point that I have to keep a crib sheet on all the things I must do outside of the game to make it fun ("Rule of Skulls," near Stock/Stock-only Mechs, MechWarrior-habitual Mechs, non-use of Morale Abilities, no Phase Deferment, etc) that game has lost something important. I am no longer playing the game developed... I am artificially extending its appeal to me.
What's your total play time again? :):rolleyes:;)
 

Prussian Havoc

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What's your total play time again? :):rolleyes:;)
o_O;):rolleyes:

Was BATTLETECH worth the effort to develop that crib sheet?

Yes.

Does that invalidate my observations here?

Not in the least.


I find that the OP's suggestions would improve, refine and elevate the BATTLETECH experience. I hope HBS does more than take notice. :bow:
 

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o_O;):rolleyes:

Was BATTLETECH worth the effort to develop that crib sheet?

Yes.

Does that invalidate my observations here?

Not in the least.


I find that the OP's suggestions would improve, refine and elevate the BATTLETECH experience. I hope HBS does more than take notice. :bow:
I notice there was no answer provided.
I asked the question because it's not a mystery that some power gamers would inevitably out grind the content regardless of how much there is or will be (this includes difficulty)... something to keep in mind for reference as we frame suggestions for the future, which are welcome as always but sometimes lacking context.
 

Prussian Havoc

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I notice there was no answer provided.
I asked the question because it's not a mystery that some power gamers would out grind the content regardless of how much there is or will be (this includes difficulty)... something to keep in mind for reference as we frame suggestions for the future.
An answer?

Sure - north of six thousand hours, including my time in the Beta. And the great preponderance of that time was spent in Multiplayer... or engaging with the Multiplayer Lobby. I have found that nothing in BATTLETECH compares to the fun and thrill of sharing a match with a fellow member of our community. :bow:

While that helps clarify my frame of reference, what caught my attention here in @SteelOnyx ‘s thread is the topic of the BATTLETECH AI.

Given HBS decisions, Single Player BATTLETECH and its AI is front and center in the BATTLETECH Experience. Consequently, any improvement or refinement to the AI would be greatly appreciated. : )
 

Havamal

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An answer?

Sure - north of six thousand hours, including my time in the Beta. And the great preponderance of that time was spent in Multiplayer... or engaging with the Multiplayer Lobby. I have found that nothing in BATTLETECH compares to the fun and thrill of sharing a match with a fellow member of our community. :bow:

While that helps clarify my frame of reference, what caught my attention here in @SteelOnyx ‘s thread is the topic of the BATTLETECH AI.

Given HBS decisions, Single Player BATTLETECH and its AI is front and center in the BATTLETECH Experience. Consequently, any improvement or refinement to the AI would be greatly appreciated. : )
Seems good value for 6000+ hours of playtime to get to where one is "no longer playing the game developed... I am artificially extending its appeal".
Imho.
Thats all I had. Carry on.

[Addendum. Of course any additions would be most welcome. Agreed there. Just pointing out that this is a mature game at this point meaning that changes are really further additions of content(which is fine so long as we know that), and that the playerbase as a whole having long familiarity with the game (most having played it multiple times through) are bound to have perceptual differences from when they first started playing it especially regarding what they consider desirable difficulty for example.
Ultimately what we're asking for is "More Battletech" in specific.
Just a caveat.
 
Last edited:

SteelOnyx

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An answer?

Sure - north of six thousand hours, including my time in the Beta. And the great preponderance of that time was spent in Multiplayer... or engaging with the Multiplayer Lobby. I have found that nothing in BATTLETECH compares to the fun and thrill of sharing a match with a fellow member of our community. :bow:

While that helps clarify my frame of reference, what caught my attention here in @SteelOnyx ‘s thread is the topic of the BATTLETECH AI.

Given HBS decisions, Single Player BATTLETECH and its AI is front and center in the BATTLETECH Experience. Consequently, any improvement or refinement to the AI would be greatly appreciated. : )

6k hours of play time, that is impressive. I just broke 500 after letting the game collect dust for a while and went back to X-Com2. The AI in X-Com is not perfect, but it certainly counters any arguments made that more enemies would slow processing time down or that the AI can't be smarter.

I hadn't played Battletech since before the first DLC dropped. The game had gotten just too routine. Changing the settings just added to the grind, it didn't do much to alter the challenge The only reason I picked it up again was because I found MW5 unplayable and needed a Battletech fix.

The Urban DLC provided about two fights worth of newness before the same stupid AI quirks started bothering me again and in the end just made it easier to get the AI mechs to separate so I could pick them off one at a time.
 

Prussian Havoc

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6k hours of play time, that is impressive. I just broke 500 after letting the game collect dust for a while and went back to X-Com2. The AI in X-Com is not perfect, but it certainly counters any arguments made that more enemies would slow processing time down or that the AI can't be smarter.

I hadn't played Battletech since before the first DLC dropped. The game had gotten just too routine. Changing the settings just added to the grind, it didn't do much to alter the challenge The only reason I picked it up again was because I found MW5 unplayable and needed a Battletech fix.

The Urban DLC provided about two fights worth of newness before the same stupid AI quirks started bothering me again and in the end just made it easier to get the AI mechs to separate so I could pick them off one at a time.
A BattleTech “fix”... this is a concept I am well familiar with. :bow:

Being retired Military, it is much easier these days to indulge my gaming habits. : )
 

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A BattleTech “fix”... this is a concept I am well familiar with. :bow:

Being retired Military, it is much easier these days to indulge my gaming habits. : )
Nice! I'm not quite at the retirement point yet, but it is coming up fast and I can't wait. Maybe HBS will finally have halfway decent AI by then. I guess what I don't get is that if flight simulators can program AI for dozens of planes in the sky executing combat maneuvers as well as missile tracking, why can't HBS handle a few mechs....
 

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I am ambivalent on that 'mature game' point. We are talking of a game under the Paradox-umbrella. Sure, 1 base game with 3 DLC plus sprite pack is well done and good. But...there is so much more potential behind the franchise acquired. Given games like HoI and CK last long is clearly because of the rich background and the loyal customers backing a game over years. I concur with most of the OP's points in this thread.
 

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I am ambivalent on that 'mature game' point. We are talking of a game under the Paradox-umbrella. Sure, 1 base game with 3 DLC plus sprite pack is well done and good. But...there is so much more potential behind the franchise acquired. Given games like HoI and CK last long is clearly because of the rich background and the loyal customers backing a game over years. I concur with most of the OP's points in this thread.
I agree with you... and have “Agreed.”

But the one thing nagging at me is that BATTLETECH was not conceived of, designed or saw even 70% of its Development performed under ownership by Paradox.

HBS clearly had a plan in mind all along...

...a plan that may very well have been Base Game plus a single Season Pass of 3 DLCs.

:shrug:
 

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Considering plans made I always refer to Helmuth Graf v. Moltke: "Kein Plan überlebt die erste Feindberührung." -> more freely: No plan will survive an encounter with reality. In Business this might mean, sticking to a plan might forfeit chances to make gains, so adaptions might be necessary. I never stick to plans I make to the letter. I always try to adapt to the current situation with trying to not lose my original goal out of sight. But then again...I also do not run a software studio ;)

I can say, I can feel content with what I have bought and can stick to that. But I say: there is a lot of more chances out there to grab and I would be happy, if HBS would consider doing this.
 

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I am ambivalent on that 'mature game' point. We are talking of a game under the Paradox-umbrella. Sure, 1 base game with 3 DLC plus sprite pack is well done and good. But...there is so much more potential behind the franchise acquired. Given games like HoI and CK last long is clearly because of the rich background and the loyal customers backing a game over years. I concur with most of the OP's points in this thread.
Sure, absolutely there is potential. There is a lifetime of content in the IP to mine from (and probably not totally exhaust) absolutely. Sure the game could be transformed into another game ad infinitum by further release content, especially paid content which was the point being referenced by mature in that it's current iteration is well past release. I sure don't know where the line is but there's bound to be a point where it become more efficient to make a new game rather than alter the first one.
And these aren't numerical balance tweaks, rather theyre expansions and overhauls. Which is fine. But let's be clear that there's a lot of ground laid out above though, rework of ground already covered. Which is again absolutely fine but despite optimism it's also ground that is not necessarily easily covered, it's a good bit of work.

I'm sure we all do want more Battletech so that's a check in the plus column. And certainly we should list our wishes so that that the Devs know in what direction interest exists, but let's be certain to understand both the context and the scope and the logistics of what we're asking for. Imho that helps suggestion discussion evolve to be both more helpful, more specific, and more interesting.
Ymmv
 

Prussian Havoc

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Considering plans made I always refer to Helmuth Graf v. Moltke: "Kein Plan überlebt die erste Feindberührung." -> more freely: No plan will survive an encounter with reality. In Business this might mean, sticking to a plan might forfeit chances to make gains, so adaptions might be necessary. I never stick to plans I make to the letter. I always try to adapt to the current situation with trying to not lose my original goal out of sight. But then again...I also do not run a software studio ;)

I can say, I can feel content with what I have bought and can stick to that. But I say: there is a lot of more chances out there to grab and I would be happy, if HBS would consider doing this.
Sorry but being a former Joint Staff Military Plans Officer, this is a topic most near and dear to my professional heart. : )

A “Plan” for a large organization keeps 80% of the effort pointed at a shared goal along a shared path and according to a shared timeline.

A “Plan” that includes criteria for lifting and shifting resources away from that “Shared Goal/Path/Timeline” has the potential for being a “Good Plan.”

It sounds like you, Good @DocDesastro, well appreciate the finer nuances between the Letter and Intent of a Plan. :bow:



A Military Genius for War, say for example Napoleon, is only as successful as they can communicate their intent to Subordinates. “March to the Sound of the Guns” gets the job done to an important degree, but a proper Plan widens the aperture of what Subordinates can overcome and achieve.

So while pre-conflict Planning is invaluable, knowing when and where to lift and shift resources is priceless.

A Military Commander with Coup d’ œil / Fingerspitzengefühl is but better poised to take advantage of Tactical, Operational and even Strategic opportunities if they had first invested the effort to develop as good a plan as was possible/practicable. : )


*mini-professional rant over. Thank you for your patience. :bow:



During the last livestream from Mitch, I paid particular attention to Mitch and Eric’s comments about the HareJam, the various “Teams” of Developers and their Projects. Of course specifics were non-existent, but the comments gave glimpses to the Proof of Success that HBS has undergone since becoming a valued member of Team Paradox.

It seems to me that a heck of a lot is going on just below the surface of public perception. We may not know the exact Shape of Things to Come from HBS, but I am very content that Big (if not Stompy) Things are moving along, just below the surface when it comes to HBS and 2020. : )
 

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Maybe HBS will finally have halfway decent AI by then.
Halfway decent, you say. You know, the trick to a good AI isn't to make one that can beat the player - that's easy - but to make one that can challenge the player. Now, I'm sure there's a specific slew of settings that would challenge player A, but player B might well find those settings mind-numbingly boring and easy, and player C will find them too hard to beat or even enjoy.

And that's the real trick - to make an AI that is challenging but not too hard, predictable most of the time but not always, and that stays challenging for any number of players with different skill ranges, including as those skill ranges increase. What's challenging AI behaviour for a player on day one is less so for the same player on day 613.
I guess what I don't get is that if flight simulators can program AI for dozens of planes in the sky executing combat maneuvers as well as missile tracking, why can't HBS handle a few mechs....
AI is hard. It's as simple as that. Those flight simulators have easily exploitable AI as well - all games do. You just have to find the limits of the AIs behaviour and work around them. Although this can kill any further enjoyment of the game, since it removes the challenge.
 

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This past week I finally dipped my foot in the multiplayer pool. Admittedly I am late to the party and should have spent time there back in 2018 before I stopped playing the game as playing against another person was quite fun and a nice change up from battling the AI. It would be nice if multiplayer accommodated more mission variation than just destroy all of the other player's mechs. Base assaults, protect the convoy would make for nice options.

(This was originally all in one post, but I kept getting spam warnings....)

Halfway decent, you say. You know, the trick to a good AI isn't to make one that can beat the player - that's easy - but to make one that can challenge the player. Now, I'm sure there's a specific slew of settings that would challenge player A, but player B might well find those settings mind-numbingly boring and easy, and player C will find them too hard to beat or even enjoy.

And that's the real trick - to make an AI that is challenging but not too hard, predictable most of the time but not always, and that stays challenging for any number of players with different skill ranges, including as those skill ranges increase. What's challenging AI behaviour for a player on day one is less so for the same player on day 613.

AI is hard. It's as simple as that. Those flight simulators have easily exploitable AI as well - all games do. You just have to find the limits of the AIs behaviour and work around them. Although this can kill any further enjoyment of the game, since it removes the challenge.

I get that it is challenging finding ways to make AI balanced for the majority of the people who pick up a game. It is not hard to find comments in some mission videos of people complaining about how hard the missions are while there are other people who barely got challenged by the game.


Unfortunately far too many companies rely on making difficulty based on altering the odds through some combination of manipulating numbers in the form of unit quantity, quality or tinkering with key game statistics like accuracy or health. Pretty much all they did to change difficulty was to add to the grind, no substantive AI change. Offhand I can't think of any games outside of high end chess games where increasing the difficulty resulted in any kind of significant AI strategy change. Far too often it seems like AI gets the least amount of focus in game development when it can be a compete game change for a title like this.


My point about flight sim AI was not that it is always perfect and can't be exploited, I've gone on my fair share of rants about them. My point was there are hundreds more data points they have to track per second and make decisions on compared to a relatively slow moving 2D game like Battletech.

The game feels like the only strategy it employs is to march towards the player and fire at the nearest target with the occasional defensive move when health gets low. I'm sure that under the covers it is more complex than that, but that is not what it feels like when I am playing the game. I'd love to see the AI adopt a lance level strategy, use the units to execute on the strategy and then re-evaluate the chosen strategy based on any major change in the battle from the arrival of reinforcements to the destruction of a mech. For example a lance wide strategy in a simple battle might be to attack the mech with the most firepower first.



Each turn mechs typically are faced with an offensive choice or a defensive one with varying levels of effectiveness along each path and overall lance goal. Higher difficulty levels would result in the AI more consistently choosing the ones offering the best mathematical probabilities with the bets results towards the lance goal while lower settings would result in the AI picking more often from the low end of the favorable results pool. That would allow them to cater to a much wider user base than what is in place today.



This past week I finally dipped my foot in the multiplayer pool. Admittedly I am late to the party and should have spent time there back in 2018 before I stopped playing the game as playing against another person was quite fun and a nice change up from battling the AI. It would be nice if multiplayer accommodated more mission variation than just destroy all of the other player's mechs. Base assaults, protect the convoy would make for nice options.
 

Prussian Havoc

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This past week I finally dipped my foot in the multiplayer pool. Admittedly I am late to the party and should have spent time there back in 2018 before I stopped playing the game as playing against another person was quite fun and a nice change up from battling the AI. It would be nice if multiplayer accommodated more mission variation than just destroy all of the other player's mechs. Base assaults, protect the convoy would make for nice options...
You may be late to the party, but there are those of us who really enjoy BATTLETECH’s Multiplayer Skirmish Mode. : )

HBS has expressed an interest in returning to a Solaris 7 Gaming World Experience for its BATTLETECH Multiplayer Experience.

It may be quite some time in the future, but hopefully we’ll see a BATTLETECH Multiplayer Renaissance in due course and the fullness of Time. : )
 

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The game feels like the only strategy it employs is to march towards the player and fire at the nearest target with the occasional defensive move when health gets low. I'm sure that under the covers it is more complex than that, but that is not what it feels like when I am playing the game. I'd love to see the AI adopt a lance level strategy, use the units to execute on the strategy and then re-evaluate the chosen strategy based on any major change in the battle from the arrival of reinforcements to the destruction of a mech. For example a lance wide strategy in a simple battle might be to attack the mech with the most firepower first.
A couple of things:
  • HBS actually hired a dedicated AI programmer for BATTLETECH.
  • There is no lance-level AI, only individual 'Mech AI.
  • The AI does try to flank, to make pincer movements and other tactics than just "march forward and shoot at nearest target"; especially after the HM update it's much more keen on focusing down a single target (the most damaged one, usually) than it was before.
Could the AI be better? Of course. Is it too simplistic? I don't think so personally, I think it's an okay AI for a strategy game.
 

Prussian Havoc

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  • There is no lance-level AI, only individual 'Mech AI.
...
If I recall correctly, the last few Free Updates made some progress in approximating a “Lance-Command AI.” Fine tuning was completed to the weight the AI paid when it came to keeping its various “Pods” of Mechs/Vehicles near each other. This had the secondary and intended benefit of AI Mutually Supportive Fires.

I think some of this surfaces in the “focusing down of Single Targets” that you also noted above.

@HBS_dlecompte, any chance you can elaborate on this a bit?