Planet Automation - Discussion Thread

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Offe

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Hello it is me, fellow Human Offe.

This year we've made some significant updates on the Planet Automation system. Having lurked around a bit here on the forums I get the impression many players are still very hesitant to use it.

I would therefore welcome everyone to take the opportunity to provide concrete feedback on which parts you think work well and which parts could use improvements, or things that were simply confusing. Screenshots and especially save games are incredibly helpful to fix bugs for edge-case scenarios where planetary automation queues something highly illogical.

Thanks!

Edit: For people who haven't tried it yet and is looking for a guide on how it works here is a recent video from Montu Plays

Solid suggestions so far:
- Checkbox setting for ignoring empire wide deficits when constructing new buildings, will build if it can afford regardless of monthly deficit
- Take into account empire wide construction queue when looking at monthly income, specifically a big issue when cloning vats is researched, can crash monthly food situation
- Ignore pop unemployment check when constructing some buildings like energy grids
- Enforcer job micro the same way as amenities
- Fringe world designation should build the district associated with the resource with the current lowest income per month

UX considerations:
- Extremely hard to understand why the automation system is NOT building something
- Likewise hard to know why it is building something or what will be built next
- Designation checkboxes can be ordered in automation priority order to make it much more clear in which priority the automation will construct something
- Suggestion: Orange symbol in outliner (and planet view) explaining what automation wanted to build but why it failed (too low monthly energy income etc)

Stockpile system:
- Lots of suggestion to rework/remove it somehow
- Warning for low stockpiled resource is not sensitive enough
 
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I'll be honest, I'm not the type of person that *ever* relies on Automation if I can avoid it. I have specific, weird, counter-productive ideas of how to go about things so most automated systems just... aren't compatible with how I tend to go about things.

That being said, one of the big questions I've always had about Sector Automation is how it uses an entirely different abstract resource that's a combined Energy and Minerals, presumably in ways that might wind up being more efficient but just seems like it requires more clicks than just... manually queuing up a few districts whenever I see there are people with things that need doing. Cutting that in favor of, like, Monthly Mineral Limits on Automated Sectors would help streamline that process without having players unexpectedly run out of piles of resources because the automator really wants seven city districts for some reason.
 
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Liggi

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For me, it's just that I like developing planets myself. I don't really want my worlds to become faceless resource generators, I like crafting each one individually. So I generally tend to turn down habitable worlds so I can do that.

That being said, my experience when I have used automation has been good. It seems to behave fairly sensibly based on the planetary designation.
 

SirBlackAxe

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I haven't used it much yet so I only have a few thoughts, all of which are related to amenities automation:
  • Amenities automation preferring massive unemployment to an amenities surplus can occasionally cause problems, especially when the pops can't auto-migrate because they don't have rights or there isn't a valid destination.
  • New colonies disabling the colonist jobs because they get enough amenities from the capital, and then depopulating because the only pop is unemployed and auto-resettles, shouldn't happen. While the depopulation can be fixed by preventing the last pop from being able to auto-migrate, I think planetary automation should also always keep at least one job enabled so it never results in 100% unemployment.
  • It would be nice if when management disabled all the jobs from a building or district it could disable the building and send you an alert, so you know you can downgrade or replace it.
    • If at least 2 entertainer or duelist jobs are disabled and the planet has a holo-theatres, hypercomms forums, or alien zoo building.
    • 3+ disabled and a habitat leisure district.
    • 6+ disabled and a leisure arcology.
  • Question: Can amenities automation use the distribute luxury goods decision?
Maybe you could add an unemployment (or stability?) management option, which can override amenities management and re-enable some deactivate jobs if a planet's unemployment percentage gets too high? As long as you keep some pops with migration rights unemployed so resettlement can still happen, you can get the rest contributing a little bit or at least not tanking your approval rating. Perhaps also let it spend resources from the sector stockpile to forcibly resettle pops, policies allowing. And maybe build a Slave Processing Center if necessary.

Or alternatively, a way to deprioritize jobs without completely disabling them so that you've got both a minimum and a maximum threshold. The max works the same way that job disabling does now, and if there are more assigned jobs than the min threshold then pops with that job then automation and the AI consider them unemployed and will build new jobs for them, they're capable of auto-migrating if the planet isn't constructing that will add jobs they can take (although pops that are fully unemployed should take priority), and the job has lower weight. That would allow amenities management to, say, set the minimum number of maintenance drones it needs to not have negative amenities, but still allow any additional drones to contribute by increasing stability instead of sitting around doing nothing. Or let you leave some clerk jobs open but deprioritized so the colony remains a valid auto-migration destination for fully unemployed pops.

Unfortunately I've been working on a mod instead of actually playing regular games recently, so I don't think I really have any useful saves to give you at the moment.

(I could say a lot about colony type auto-designation, though, which is tangentially related. I've almost entirely rewritten the weight_modifiers in 00_colony_types.txt to make it work better.)
 
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Troyen

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I've been using planetary automation a lot since Overlord. I hate managing lots of planets, so pre-3.4 I would keep my empire to two sectors or fewer. With automation, I turn it on after the first few colonies (though I still sometimes have to manually guide the build order in the early game) and have it on for most of my empire.

A few quick general comments:
  • Beyond two sectors, I would like to use sector automation, but I don't because I don't know how well it'll pick the weights. By my 20th colony I start having trouble manually deciding what planetary specialization I want the colony to have so I can let planetary automation run wild, so sometimes I have to pause the game to decide if the number of districts and planetary modifier make it a better mineral world than some of my alternatives, or if the large number of districts available mean it should be a forge world (or potentially an ecum later), or unity vs tech, etc because auto-designation is often not that great (why does it want so many CGs?). Basically, the larger my empire gets, the more I'd like to offload to automation. Especially late game where total wars and crisis wars start dramatically changing borders, I don't want to stop and pick an assignment for every planet I acquire in a crisis war.
  • The shared stockpile system is definitely confusing. It's also easy to forget that I'm dumping surplus energy but not minerals or vice-versa and that has to be adjusted to keep up with current resource demands. It also doesn't warn me when the stockpile gets too low (there is a warning, but I believe it fires at a threshold lower than the minimum needed to build a building). Much prefer the alternative of using my energy/mineral stockpile directly.
  • I'd really like the automation to factor in stockpiled resources somehow. Most of the times it didn't build when I expected it to probably came down to having a minor -2 CG deficit, but as a player that's not a big deal if I have say ten thousand stockpiled. You're also kind of forced to build up stockpiles of resources you wouldn't normally need a large stockpile of (e.g. CGs) because you have to maintain a surplus or automation shuts down, which pushes you into more manual trades and trade micro. Note that not all resource deficits are equal here.
    • I can run a minor food/CG/energy deficit with a large enough stockpile for quite a while, and even be fine expanding those deficits a little bit.
    • A mineral deficit is more risky because the consumption numbers are much larger (as in, jobs consuming minerals tend to consume 6+ vs jobs consuming CGs consuming 1-2, so demand swings more as more consuming jobs come online) and you potentially need lots of minerals to rework your economy if something goes wrong.
    • A strategic resource deficit is more expensive to make up for, and I might be expecting to use the strategic edicts in an upcoming key battle.
    • An alloy deficit I think is undesirable in all cases.
  • I appreciate the amenity automation changes, it's been especially nice as a hivemind. I do think it would be even better if comboed with the suggestion elsewhere to let clerks auto-migrate because it values clerks more than the community does.
  • I think if I manually disable a job, automation won't restore it. But the reverse doesn't seem to be true: if I manually restore a job, the automation (I think it's the amenity automation?) system disables it. Had some weird behavior once where I wanted that specialist job enabled not because I needed the excess amenities but because it was a small freshly-conquered planet of slaves and having my prime species working that job (vs being unemployed) was adding stability. Unfortunately it was months ago so I don't have the save.
  • Definitely add more in-game transparency about what the automation wants to build/can't build next. (Note, I haven't played much since 3.4.3 so if this was added afterwards, I don't know.). Knowing more about what the plan is or why the plan isn't working helps us better figure out how we want to use the system and fine-tune our settings.
 
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I've not tried sector automation (I don't play late enough to need it), but I make heavy use of planetary automation. When it's not blocked by anything it works flawlessly and I love it, but if it stops building it's almost impossible to troubleshoot because there's no way to know why it's not building.
It took me a long time and a lot of digging through undocumented behaviours to learn all of the quirks so I could comfortably rely on automation - more than anything else, automation needs transparency.

By far the biggest issue with automation is the deficit issue Troyen mentioned - automation will silently refuse to build anything if that would worsen a deficit.
This is most problematic with an EC deficit, as everything in the game has an EC upkeep. If your monthly EC goes negative, nothing will get built except generator districts. I think it might build trade buildings, but it doesn't make the building slots needed for them, so it's easy for an EC deficit to stop trade world development too.

When troubleshooting someone's automation problems, this is always the culprit. If you don't have any gen worlds automated, automation is incapable of recovering, and even if you have one or two, it will build extremely sluggishly, causing empire-wide unemployment.
It would be nice if automation had an understanding of stockpiles and could ignore small deficits, but more importantly, automation needs to tell you when it's not building because of a deficit.

I think any deficit preventing construction on a world with unemployment should be an orange notification - like other orange notifications, it's the kind of thing that's occasionally safe to ignore, but usually requires player attention.

Automation handles buildings very poorly. It doesn't shut down like with an EC deficit, but there are two hidden quirks that result in extremely sluggish behaviour:
  • It doesn't understand the concept of a building that doesn't create a job - it will only build or upgrade things when it needs jobs.
  • It handles building and district construction entirely seperately - if it hasn't met it's district quota, it will refuse to build or upgrade buildings.
As a result, stuff like the energy grid is always built after anywhere between 2 to 5 full districts (depending on how many other buildings are being made by automation), and key upgrades can be delayed by years if automation is waiting for districts to fill to meet its quota.
This also results in an extremely stupid behaviour for agri-world automation, where automation will make hydroponics buildings when agri-districts are available, even though hydroponics are substantially worse in every way.

This is a much smaller issue than the other two, but automation is really bad at handling clone vats because it doesn't consider the upkeep of constructions in progress.
After unlocking clone vats, automation will queue a clone vat everywhere it can, and only realise after the first one is finished that it could only afford that one. The others will still finish, leaving you with massive food deficits that the player needs to resolve.

The automation stockpile system should definitely be replaced, but I don't think that's what's discouraging players from using automation.
I don't think anything I mentioned requires a save file, but I'm happy to get them if you're interested.
 
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malakhglitch

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I use planet automation for only one thing; amenities.

As have been mentioned earlier I have my own build ideas and it doesn't mesh exactly with the way automation usually works, but I am very thankful for the amenities management it gives me.
 
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Meneye

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It tends to go ham on upgrading every building it can, no matter what the colony actually needs or (in the case of you conquering a planet and not immediately removing redundant buildings) is designated for.
 
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Offe

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(I could say a lot about colony type auto-designation, though, which is tangentially related. I've almost entirely rewritten the weight_modifiers in 00_colony_types.txt to make it work better.)
The colony auto designation was left unchanged with the rework to planet automation, it is not awesome no I agree. For now I would recommend to set the designation your self and then enable the automation.

Planet automation being able to auto resettle pops by paying the cost is an interesting idea!
 
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Offe

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  • I think if I manually disable a job, automation won't restore it.
It will both enable and disable amenity jobs if they get too low or too high, but it will not touch any other jobs

"I'd really like the automation to factor in stockpiled resources somehow."

I think one idea we can do is to add another automation option which is basically enabling/disabling the resource deficit failsafe. At least this way players will have the choice if they want the automation system to keep building and creating larger deficits or not!
 
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Offe

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After unlocking clone vats, automation will queue a clone vat everywhere it can, and only realise after the first one is finished that it could only afford that one. The others will still finish, leaving you with massive food deficits that the player needs to resolve.
This is definitely fixable, good suggestion
 
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Offe

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It tends to go ham on upgrading every building it can, no matter what the colony actually needs or (in the case of you conquering a planet and not immediately removing redundant buildings) is designated for.
Can you give any examples? Upgrades should only be done if there is unemployment and it needs to make more jobs
 
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Offe

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OK, so, feedback so far.

One planet I automated already had a holotheater, but not only did automation disable one entertainer, but proceeded to build an additional holotheater that nobody was employed in....
Yes I noticed this as well, there is coming a bug fix specifically for this issue in the next patch
 
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TrotBot

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Hello it is me, fellow Human Offe.

This year we've made some significant updates on the Planet Automation system. Having lurked around a bit here on the forums I get the impression many players are still very hesitant to use it.

I would therefore welcome everyone to take the opportunity to provide concrete feedback on which parts you think work well and which parts could use improvements, or things that were simply confusing. Screenshots and especially save games are incredibly helpful to fix bugs for edge-case scenarios where planetary automation queues something highly illogical.

Thanks!

Edit: For people who haven't tried it yet and is looking for a guide on how it works here is a recent video from Montu Plays

Solid suggestions so far:
- Checkbox setting for ignoring empire wide deficits when constructing new buildings, will build if it can afford regardless of monthly deficit
- Take into account empire wide construction queue when looking at monthly income, specifically a big issue when cloning vats is researched, can crash monthly food situation
I've been using auto construction recently and I like it.

One thing I noticed though, is that I have a bad habit of building a 50,000 mineral stash for automation, then personally manually building things I need to fix deficits anyways. Only MY stash is like 500-1000 sometimes. So really I'm wasting lots of minerals I can't afford to lose.

I wish I could use the autoconstruction stash as a savings account, where if I don't have the minerals to construct a building or a district, it'll come out of the stash.

Also, I prefer planetary automation rather than sector because I like to designate each planet based on what it's best for. But I find it sometimes doesn't build very fast even if I have some unemployed people and a deficit they could help with if the system builds the right districts for it. This is why I end up impatient and ordering the building manually anyways.

This is actually messing me up and crashing my economy even worse in a crisis.

Edit: also, for utopian societies it would be nice to have a checkbox for "never disable amenity jobs". I just don't want that at all, I want hedonism lol.
 
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Been using plantary automation a load and the for the most part loving it. but a couple of things

  1. with auto build amenities, you can get the point where it will just spam holotheaters if you have too many amenities bonuses when employing a job will take the planet amenities over the cap to unemploy them but removing that job is enough to go below the threshold for building more buildings
  2. having an option to change at what point the ai start building more jobs stuff. currently, its when there are 0 free jobs but that means that their a period of time where a newly grown (or immigrated) pop has nothing to do while stuff builds which waste pop efficientcy and makes it harder to tell from the outliner if theres an issues with the planet as all planets will have unomplyment for a bit.
  3. easier mod support as the ai just builds a preset list of any mod that adds new building/districts won't be accounted for especially on planets with custom districts. possibly add a tag to buildings/districts that mods can use rather than every mod trying to overwrite the same file
  4. having upgrades be prioritised more for building that gives resource bonuses away more stuff like a capital upgrade or increases the output of a job should be the highest priority as it makes every thing so much more efficient
  5. there should be customizable caps for planets to produce of a resource for some of the automation. In particular, the designations should have a cap when you no longer want the planet to produce them (i don't need +200 food a month) and the rare resource automation could also be adjusted to reflect different requirements across the game +1 at the very start but having a +5 when there's a lot of planet is also useful.
  6. there should be an option for pop growth planet automation/colony designation, tells the ai not to build anything but builds that increases growth or planet cap and when the planet reaches 10pops (or if above that add no more jobs) stop automating to allow the pops to move elsewhere
  7. if a pop can't be employed in one of the jobs that the automation can build such as if a pop is a ruler and its a mining world a job should still be provided ready for when a pop demotes. if a pop can't take any job (such a robot pre droids on a alloy world) they will block jobs from being made even if a second pop that can take a job is also unemployed
 
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Ragatokk

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The automation system would do well with:
Prioritizing upgrading the capital building.
Having an option for getting the amenities needed trough city districts and commercial zones.
Either prioritizing or having a automation setting for special buildings like Dread encampment.
Having an option for exploiting rare planetary features.

It could also be nice to add thresholds, such that it for example if I want some stability for energy or minerals I would like to be able to set it to 40 instead of the default that is around 0. Or I may be comfortable at -200 because I have some large mercenary enclaves supporting me.
On this point, the AI overbuilding resources is a huge issue, an upper for not building more on 3 could be fine, but it making +12 gasses is not good.

Posthumous employment would be nice if it built on any type of planet as pops can migrate. I also think it should prioritized above making robot assembly plants and disable the construction of them if posthumous is enabled.

On the subject of automation, it would be very helpful if we could influence the automatic research. There are often techs we want to avoid and techs we really want to get.

Cultural site (at least corporate) does not get built when on unification center colony designation, it should be built quite early.
 
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TrotBot

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The automation system would do well with:
Prioritizing upgrading the capital building.
Having an option for getting the amenities needed trough city districts and commercial zones.
Either prioritizing or having a automation setting for special buildings like Dread encampment.
Having an option for exploiting rare planetary features.
Yeah a setting for building order would be cool. Like if I'm going synth ascension my first building is always robot factory. If gene ascension, always genetic healthcare and clone vat. Etc... i always build a holotheatre second or third, and autochton monument third or fourth.
 

malakhglitch

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Inspired by this thread I decided to give several other planet automation settings a go, specifically 1) designation and 2) blockers.

Designation:
In a colony of ≥ 5 and a manually chosen colony designation this setting works okay, not the most efficient in my opinion, but good enough.

Things become very, very messy if the colony designation is set to auto or if the colony is < 5. In my case (Rogue Servitor) somehow auto designated new colonies become designated as factory worlds and start building industrial districts at population = 4.

My solution is to manually manage new colonies until they hit population = 5, set the designation manually, and only then activate planetary automation.

Blockers:
I actually do not have major complaints about how automation handles blockers. It performed well removing blockers from my Relic World (Remnant Origin). It didn't automatically remove the arcology blockers from my guaranteed worlds, but that's a minor quibble considering how many free districts were still available, so I just manually removed those.