It is getting frustrating - still nothing is resolved

It is getting frustrating - still nothing is resolved

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coodav

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OK gents, started a fresh game, 11 AI opponents against just me, all on a team. I set everything to the most difficult settings, and just rolled in the way I wanted to.

Now it's turn 48, and I am ready to start the invasion. My doom squad is up, and there is nothing the AI will be able to do about it:

Still the same1.png


The units are effectively unstoppable at this point:

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So a couple more turns capturing the back landmarks, and I will wash over them like a wave.

But as per usual, the computer has already thrown it. There are five NPC factions:

Still the same3.png


And the NPCs are already at war with the AIs:

Still the same4.png
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Still the same6.png


Still the same7.png
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And the NPC armies are already everywhere:

Still the same9.png


And as usual, they are wiping out the AI resistance quick, like here where the AI hero stack is about to get totally jacked:

Still the same10.png


So I expect there won't be anything left when I get there. They are just doing the work too fast for me.

And also as usual, the computer's economic foundation is garbage:

Still the same11.png


I think that if you just picked sectors at random, you would do better than this. Is it purposefully trying to avoid compatibility? I honestly can't see but maybe one or two fully compatible sectors.

Past that, there are gobs of flaws. Like the psi-fish rewards being stolen when they evolve. So I leveled these hunters up from crysalis:

Still the same12.png


And naturally the evolution re-sets when the unit fully evolves:

Still the same13.png


And this is the problem with most units like this. They can't figure out how to make the transition work. Happens with most innate abilities and city bonuses. They always lose like 2/3 of their bonuses when they evolve.

And there are plenty of other errors, such as this city that magically lost a sector expansion because of the Promethian landmark event:

Still the same14.png


The landmark appeared on the sector that was being annexed, and it just cancelled the annex and blocked the city from expanding elsewhere. Which completely ruined this city. This was initially an excellent place for my capital - it was in reach of 3 gold/silver landmarks and had 2 industry sectors. It would have had it all, but now with only 3 more sectors maximum? DOA. Plus because of where the city is located, it is extremely difficult to get another city half as good to take its place. It almost has to be razed and started again.

It's just tough. And this is how it goes almost every time. The games increasingly all look the same, with few exceptions. Maybe some different details, but this is how it always is once you get to a certain point.

So what is happening right and wrong here? The game does a lot right, but carries a lot wrong with it. Let me hit a few.

Flagship / Paradox rightly simplified city management. The point of management in a game like this is to stack one more level of strategy on top of a complex combat simulator. And that part is great. You are forced to balance the key components: troops (maintenance), tech upgrades, and growth to scale better than your opponents. The winning strategy maximizes growth while keeping enough energy and forces to ensure a commanding lead. You can monkey with that some, such as running an all-in, to punish greedy players.

So simplification went a long way. Further, there are only four resource types in AOW PF, not the whopping 49 resources plus from Civ 6. Add onto that the legion of buildings, units and pointless upgrades in Civ, and you have a handful of viable strategies buried in an ocean of nonsense. Further, the most boring parts of city management are now phased out, such as building roads and setting up trade routs. This is all now instantaneous, and handled fairly well in dialogue screens.

But where everything goes wrong is the same as always. The computer does not know how to prioritize builds, so it relies almost completely on gobs of cheating. According to Akazury, this looks like:

DifficultyProductionFood/EnergyKnowledge/Influence/CosmiteExtra UnitsTechnologyCities v. Player*
Easy+0, x1+0, x1+0, x1NoneAquatic Deployment+1
Normal+0, x1+0, x1+0, x1NoneAquatic Deployment+2
Hard+0, x1.165+10, x1.33+5, x1.33NoneAquatic Deployment+3
Very Hard+0, x1.33+20, x1.66+10, x1.66+1Aquatic DeploymentNo Limit
Extreme+0, x1.5+40, x2+20, x2+2Aquatic DeploymentNo Limit

Which still isn't enough. As is well described in other threads, the computer is incompetent. It's incompetent, and it is pretty clear that Flagship / Paradox tried to do it right, but couldn't. So the computer is still stuck on routines that have limited strategic value. In essence, I could summarize the computer's entire combat strategy as: maximize damage on 1 or 2 of the weakest units, inflicting highest current-turn damage on them, even if means hopelessly over-extending. Then die miserably.

So what you will see is armies rushing headlong into entrenched killing-field style concaves that just wipe them out, maybe killing 1 or possibly 2 minor units. Check it out yourself. Attack a big mob of computer units in a city sometime. It will reliably run out of the city walls through a tight choke (city ramps), ensuring that it will be hit with maximum AOE attacks, plus exposing its long-range attackers to all sorts of damage.

These are all problems of one kind. The result is an AI too limited to make any true strategy work. You can only get real strategy if the computer is capable of generating it. It is clear that is not happening yet. So stop making it try. If you want a satisfying PVE experience, you CAN'T DO THIS.

Try these for now:

1. Stop it with the NPC factions. The computer cannot handle them, and please stop making it try. Take all race relations away from the computer and make it dependent on the player. Assume that the computer always gets the quest reward if the timer runs out. Plus remove the AI's NPC faction penalties. Then allow the player to steal quest rewards if he gets to them and wins before the timer runs out. Make it so that the computer will lose relations, and the player will get relations, if the player can snipe the AI quests. You may have to lower rewards, but anything will help.

2. Stop it with AI city management. Give every city a base level of production, a high one, and don't have the AI build buildings in its cities. Have them basically build all-in-one exploitation buildings that convert when a player conquers the city. Then keep the buildings the player selects, but ignore them, assuming it was still all-in-one if the AI conquers it back.

3. Allow the players real flexibility on start-up. Allow larger starting area scans, and allow the players to specify the number of colonizers it starts with, plus the population in each colonizer. For instance, if I started the AI with 3 12-pop colonizers to my 1, that may help.

4. Finish the damn game. Get the build order que finished for god's sake. Seriously.

5. And stop it with the sector exploitation. Have the exploitation building automatically build INDEPENDENT of the buildings and units in the que. Pick what you want it to be in the end, and have it convert within the resource type (food biofarm to food export) in 1 turn, or convert to other sector exploitations in 2 turns (food biofarm to energy optimization). Don't make me go in and manually unbuild 2 levels and re-build 2 levels from the que.

6. Fix the unit evolution / capture. The new unit combinations are some of the most interesting parts of the game. It would be great if they worked.

7. Stop it with the covert operations. First, allow it to be disabled completely. Then consider a PVE version which works on buffing your own cities and units, but not debuffing the opposing player. Currently, the only thing the ops do is drag the game out senselessly. Maybe doomsday is the only alternative.

8. Have multiple attack routines. I can currently only see one combat routine. For instance, all units with grenades always run in starting on turn 2 and throw them. It doesn't really seem to matter what they can hit, they always do just that. This is so predictable that I basically set one or two tough units up front to soak up the grenades. Then I use mine to much better effect. Have the AI mix up a few styles, and see what works. Hell, maybe have a player-base competition for adjustments to the strategies. Whatever the case, have a few approaches, not just one suicidal one.

9. Allow units to upgrade to the bonuses of a city. Whatever city a unit is in, have them pay an upgrade fee, and upgrade to whatever build upgrades the city offers. Maybe even have a 3 turn timer or some such. It feels bad that the units that saved your life 10 times are cursed to suck their whole lives because the game won't allow them to change clothes.

K then. That was a lot.

Thoughts?
 

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Sinsling

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My thought is why was this post needed if there hasn't even been an ai update? It's not like they could take your feedback from the previous threads and push it in to the ai code within a week. My suggestion while waiting to see what they do with the ai in the third expansion(since realistically we arent getting any more updates until then) would be to challenge human opponents if you want to push your strategic and tactical abilities for now.
 
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HousePet

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There hasn't been an update, and you expect things to have changed?
You know that your world settings are breaking the AI, and that using Apex DNA Manipulators are OP; but you keep doing it and complain that it isn't a challenge.

coodav needs a patch too.
 
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coodav

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Just had to say it, bro. I want this to stay on their mind. Thing is just 'killin me.
 

HousePet

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They are a small studio, and they are likely trying to get stuff sorted for that third expansion that they promised.
I'm sure they know what issues are in the game( and their list will be 10 times longer than yours), and it is probably killing them more that they don't have time/money to get everything working as well as they would like it to.
 
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Leon Feargus

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I hope they will address the AI soon because I also feel a lack of challenge. My guess is though that, aside from some small tweaks to AI, they are focussing on delivering some more awesome content to complete the season pass. After that I trust they will work hard to fix the major problems.
 

Ericridge

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I know they are currently working on a major patch, there has been small hints of it here and there. I'm fine with waiting. I have a current game in progression at the moment. I made a thread on it, its named Es'teq the tomb world of piz'za. the AI isn't getting overrun with npc armies in there. I had to bribe the npcs to start wars with them xD

It seems that in games where there is too many AIs to defend against the AI will pritorize its armies to fight the opposing AI and let a NPC quest/demand lapse and end up in war against NPCs. Only reason it hasn't happened very much in that current game is because there's only four teams even when there is 11 ais on field + me. Syndicate marklov managed to bring pretty good armies against me. I think its time for a update.
 
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HousePet

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Maybe they didn't try too hard on the AI, as they knew that they would have to redo it every time they added more content?
 
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coodav

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LOL, I kept playing for a while, and check out some of these NPC mobs:

Bundles 3.png


This was a bunch all over.

These were a bit more pointed:

Bundles 2.png


Bundles 1.png


And this was after I killed like 1/2 of the AIs. I bet there were twice as many.

I have to wonder how there are any cities left? How do they build so fast after getting cleaned out?
 

nvc for the soul

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3. Allow the players real flexibility on start-up. .... Allow the players to specify the number of colonizers it starts with, plus the population in each colonizer. For instance, if I started the AI with 3 12-pop colonizers to my 1, that may help.
I really support this suggestion. At least specifying the number of colonizers each player would be great and can give the AI a headstart (or an inexperienced human player). Playing against a team of AIs on highest difficult should be a bigger challenge. Plus let AI-in-teams attack more; let them consider not only their own win-loss chances but let them take into account they play in a team. In short make them more aggressive. For example: 1 AI attacks and loses (as expected), then another AI attacks and wins - instead of 2 AI's sit still because they consider only their own chances. Alternatively you could have an option in the setup like 'AI-recklessness'.
 
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Kelben

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I doubt anything happen until September, after the summer holidays.
 
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coodav

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I really support this suggestion. At least specifying the number of colonizers each player would be great and can give the AI a headstart (or an inexperienced human player). Playing against a team of AIs on highest difficult should be a bigger challenge. Plus let AI-in-teams attack more; let them consider not only their own win-loss chances but let them take into account they play in a team. In short make them more aggressive. For example: 1 AI attacks and loses (as expected), then another AI attacks and wins - instead of 2 AI's sit still because they consider only their own chances. Alternatively you could have an option in the setup like 'AI-recklessness'.
Right? This seems so ridiculously simple. Why can't this just happen?

And allow other building game bonuses, like a colonizer that has a bunch of basic buildings already included in it, so you don't have to constantly upgrade the basic BS. My god how frustrating is that?
 

coodav

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And guys, check this out. Last 2 AIs before the game ends - probably this turn. Check out the number of NPCs swarming in around them:

Getting pretty tight1.png


That is me about to snipe his capital. But check the guys coming in. That is a bunch of dudes. And there are a BUNCH of T4 guys in there.

And the other guy wasn't doing much better:

Getting pretty tight2.png


LOL these guys are so boned... Fortunately they won't live to see them slowly bled out.
 

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Ericridge

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Hordes happen because the ai is slow to act. They don't move quickly enough to eliminate every node near them that's controlled by npcs. So they spawn 3 stacks then ten turns later, another 3 stacks. As they continue to screw around that six stack becomes 12. And they just entered a new war vs another npc faction cuz they bunkered down instead of doing quests to keep them off their back. And ai now has 15 stacks to worry about and in another ten turns that's gonna be 24 stacks.
 
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Ethorin

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Twas interesting hearing about how the AI had to have help to actually make use of the rock paper scissors...
 

coodav

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Twas interesting hearing about how the AI had to have help to actually make use of the rock paper scissors...
Yeah, too bad they aren't really ready to start machine AI on scale. I really wish these computer game companies would make the game incorporate some of this. It is way past time that some of these advanced strategy games felt more 'advanced' than they do.

Good article though. Thanks for posting, that sort of thing needs to be heard more.
 

iknowjack123

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I made a post about some of these issues back in November last year. The patch that came out afterwards did make things noticeably better:

1. The AI used to never attack almost all game; it would just sit around in its cities with 3 stacks each. It does attack now...not that effectively really but, it was progress.
2. The AI now groups up stacks (most of the time); before they'd send an army here and army there to attack. Now I regularly see 3 armies grouped together as they move in to wage war (still not very good on the tactical map, but still progress).
3. The AI doesn't just declare war for no reason anymore. Before you would have AI's across the map declaring war for no reason when they didn't even have any ability to attack you. A couple turns later they would try and sue for peace. Now its usually restricted to proximity to the player which makes a lot more sense.

A few other issues I pointed out were never addressed:

1. The AI still can't handle numerous NPC factions on the map. They get bogged down in never ending wars which leads to pictures like the one's you posted above where 1 AI factions territory is literally covered in stacks of NPC armies.
2. The AI just seems to accept every NPC quest it is offered. It doesn't restrict itself to 1 or 2 NPC factions like most human players do; it tries to do them all and fails miserably. Also, like you said, they don't clear hostile NPC buildings around their territory so they keep getting swamped over and over. Once an AI player gets into a war with an NPC I don't think I've ever actually seen them make peace (they are stuck in that war for the whole game).
3. No reinforcement system; I brought up this before and the point still stands. The AI can't come back from losing most of its army. Once that happens its basically game over. There needs to be some kind of ability for an AI player to summon some kind of reserve army to help keep them in the game. I don't know how this system would work exactly, but something along these lines needs to be implemented.

Biggest problems of the game:

1. Tactical Combat: Once I am able to get 3 stacks together I can go and fight 3 or 4 stacks from an AI player and lose maybe 1-2 units tops. The AI charges in and focus fires 1 or 2 units and dies. There is no sense of preservation for their armies...they rush in to throw grenades, vomit, punch ect. and leave their units totally out in the open. Dvar trenchers lay their trenches turn 1 and then abandon them the next turn for no reason. Vanguard troopers will be behind solid cover and abandon it to toss a grenade. They waste their heal abilities on units missing 1 or 2 HP or refresh a units movement even before that unit even moved or attacked. The AI sometimes uses tactical operations, but it rarely ever makes any sense. In a game centered around fighting wars this really is the #1 issue that needs to be addressed.

2. Managing Sectors: Like you said the AI simply can't do it. Even with all their extra bonuses the AI is almost always starved for energy. They don't optimize sectors and they never try to clear landmarks or other locations that are restricted to 1 stack. Once you get past the first 30-40 turns the AI really starts to lose ground fast. I don't know why the designers don't just script their cities so they'd have them purely restricted to 1 or 2 resources (ie research/food or energy/production). Oftentimes I'll see an AI city with 3 or even 4 different specializations.

Anyways its a cool game, but I hope they get these things straightened out.
 
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coodav

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Went back and read that post, and it is interesting recalling the change to problems. It is almost bizarre how similar the issues we have today are to that. There are some differences, so distance has been covered, but man, that is a serious case of deja-vu.

Ultimately, the issue is so profound I think maybe for the AI, they forget about cosmite completely. Heck, maybe the answer here is that they abandon all resources for the computer altogether. Perhaps they just have a production capability for every city, and assume that it is taking a blended approach to everything, then just receives units, modded to the conditions of the overall strategy. Basically, they get assigned a strategy from the beginning, and just mirror the typical results of that strategy, without any of the actual execution of that strategy.

So for instance if they strategy is a late-game one, they have poorly modded T1 and do not upgrade, then roll righteous T3+ units out on turn 30+. That could be cool. Similarly, if the strategy is a early-game one, they quickly mod units and charge you. If you defend, they have a long mid-game.

Not sure exactly how that works, but if you mix it up with a few DIFFERENT AI COMBAT SCRIPTS ('cmon Triumph, srsly), and maybe you get something that feels like a strategy on the other side.

Edit

Changed the name to help Ericridge keep cool.
 
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Ericridge

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Went back and read that post, and it is interesting recalling the change to problems. It is almost bizarre how similar the issues we have today are to that. There are some differences, so distance has been covered, but man, that is a serious case of deja-vu.

Ultimately, the issue is so profound I think maybe for the AI, they forget about cosmite completely. Heck, maybe the answer here is that they abandon all resources for the computer altogether. Perhaps they just have a production capability for every city, and assume that it is taking a blended approach to everything, then just receives units, modded to the conditions of the overall strategy. Basically, they get assigned a strategy from the beginning, and just mirror the typical results of that strategy, without any of the actual execution of that strategy.

So for instance if they strategy is a late-game one, they have poorly modded T1 and do not upgrade, then roll righteous T3+ units out on turn 30+. That could be cool. Similarly, if the strategy is a early-game one, they quickly mod units and charge you. If you defend, they have a long mid-game.

Not sure exactly how that works, but if you mix it up with a few DIFFERENT AI COMBAT SCRIPTS ('cmon Paradox / Flagship, srsly), and maybe you get something that feels like a strategy on the other side.


It's triumph studios not paradox!