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How do you make your games more difficult?

 
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How do you make your games more difficult? - 2/15/2013 12:58:49 AM   
unclean

 

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I'm curious to see what setup options/house rules/whatever people have played around with to give the AI more teeth.

Back in ROTS I used to just set my homeworld to trying, but I gave up on that eventually. Doesn't feel like the game is balanced around it at all, and it makes some races a lot harder to play than others. You also tend to just sit around watching your numbers go up, which is all kinds of tedious.

This is what I use now:
-Crowded galaxies (8 or so ai empires for small maps, double that for normal) to make up for the AI's poor expansion.
-Independent empires on scattered, since the AI doesn't go after them aggressively enough for higher settings.
-Custom AI empires set to "young" and tech level 1 or 2. Setting them to young alone is still pretty easy, and "expanding" is a massive increase in difficulty (AI gets >150 firepower cruisers and starts building Bakuras right off the bat). Tech level 2 is an uphill battle that you really have to turtle up to survive, but still doable.
-Aggression on unstable. It makes the more peaceful races start too many wars (they work better on restless), but it lets the AI push its advantage.
-Difficulty on hard, and the more economic races modded to nerf their income. Makes it harder to exploit tech trading, and they're bad at spending it anyways. On that note...
-House rule of selling only 1 tech every five years.
-Taxes can only be set with the Empire Policy screen.

Been using this for a while, and it makes for some interesting games because you really have to play around with ship designs early on and try to counter the AIs tech to keep up. Plus storyline events are really fun when the AI can actually contest them.
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RE: How do you make your games more difficult? - 2/15/2013 4:58:31 AM   
Tanaka


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quote:

ORIGINAL: unclean

I'm curious to see what setup options/house rules/whatever people have played around with to give the AI more teeth.

Back in ROTS I used to just set my homeworld to trying, but I gave up on that eventually. Doesn't feel like the game is balanced around it at all, and it makes some races a lot harder to play than others. You also tend to just sit around watching your numbers go up, which is all kinds of tedious.

This is what I use now:
-Crowded galaxies (8 or so ai empires for small maps, double that for normal) to make up for the AI's poor expansion.
-Independent empires on scattered, since the AI doesn't go after them aggressively enough for higher settings.
-Custom AI empires set to "young" and tech level 1 or 2. Setting them to young alone is still pretty easy, and "expanding" is a massive increase in difficulty (AI gets >150 firepower cruisers and starts building Bakuras right off the bat). Tech level 2 is an uphill battle that you really have to turtle up to survive, but still doable.
-Aggression on unstable. It makes the more peaceful races start too many wars (they work better on restless), but it lets the AI push its advantage.
-Difficulty on hard, and the more economic races modded to nerf their income. Makes it harder to exploit tech trading, and they're bad at spending it anyways. On that note...
-House rule of selling only 1 tech every five years.
-Taxes can only be set with the Empire Policy screen.

Been using this for a while, and it makes for some interesting games because you really have to play around with ship designs early on and try to counter the AIs tech to keep up. Plus storyline events are really fun when the AI can actually contest them.


These are the settings that I use for more of a challenge:

http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=3173471

< Message edited by Tanaka -- 2/15/2013 7:48:28 AM >


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RE: How do you make your games more difficult? - 2/15/2013 1:37:12 PM   
feelotraveller


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My three big difficulty adjustments are:

1) Harsh homeworld for me, AI gets normal or better
2) No invading alien homeworlds.  Exception is end game if required by racial victory conditions, but I wait until it assures victory.
3) Absolutely no tech selling/trading.

I play around with various other adjustments but these three form a solid core. 

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RE: How do you make your games more difficult? - 2/15/2013 3:54:12 PM   
Kayoz


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quote:

ORIGINAL: feelotraveller
2) No invading alien homeworlds.  Exception is end game if required by racial victory conditions, but I wait until it assures victory.


I disagree with this one. I generally leave the homeworld for last - but to NOT invade it till the last moment seems absurd. The race has been eliminated as a threat (no colonies, cannot expand due to colonization limits) when all it has it's homeworld, so removing it doesn't change anything.

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RE: How do you make your games more difficult? - 2/15/2013 6:58:28 PM   
Bingeling

 

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Hoping for shadows...

Lots of automation helps.
As does not targeting valuable colonies in particular, and rather go by "moving borders". As above, I also prefer to leave the capital until last.

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RE: How do you make your games more difficult? - 2/15/2013 8:53:38 PM   
shinobu


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I trade tech, but will NOT sell tech for money. (I like playing with tech development set on the slowest setting.)

I also start with me having only one planet in an average system, but the AI start by owning five-six systems each.

< Message edited by shinobu -- 2/15/2013 8:54:18 PM >

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RE: How do you make your games more difficult? - 2/15/2013 9:27:00 PM   
Darkspire


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Reading these sorts of posts for the last few years only re-enforces that fact that as good as DW is (and I love the game, been playing since ROTS came out) it is still like playing an arcade 4x, no matter what you do the mid to late game is always the same, chip a bit off this empire, a bit off that one, the computer doesn't know what your doing, doesn't know how to expand with a plan, how to react to a players actions, hence its like a complex arcade game, its just going through the motions, bit like have a Ferrari with a Skoda engine in. With all of the ways folks like to give the computer player (AI is way to good a term for whatever is driving DW) a hand up its still just like playing an arcade game on easy, medium or hard.
If there was a decent AI then you wouldn't need to go through these steps to try and get a decent game out of it, it should be the AI making concessions for primate bipeds not the other way round. Lets just hope Shadows will change this and we will at last see an emerging AI to go with what is undoubtedly the best 4x on the PC at this time.

My 50ps worth.

Darkspire

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RE: How do you make your games more difficult? - 2/16/2013 12:21:15 PM   
Tehlongone


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Distant World HAS a decent AI, what you are asking for is an excellent AI, perhaps even a true AI. Can you mention any game ever with an unquestioningly good AI? If so I'd love to try that game.

In all the strategy games I have ever played I can only be challenged by an AI on my first play-through after that I have to restrain myself in various ways. This includes games that give the AI something like 600% bonuses to economy and whatever they come up with, ultimately it never changes the fact that any modern AI is easily outsmarted in any game more complex than chess.

For Distant Worlds I adhere to the following:
- Absolutely no tech-trading (the AI has no clue about the true value of these techs)
- Homeworlds are invaded last from any single faction.
- Average star system for me, excellent for all AIs, I start by editing my population to 5 billion.
- I prefer most alien empires on "expanded" or even better "mature", with tech level 1-2.
- No non-conventional governments, sometimes I'll use the human special government even though I know it to be horrible.
- I generally play somewhat xenophobic, meaning I'll avoid settling independent alien worlds mostly, and refuse to settle worlds with colony ships not of my race, most alien planets will either get bombarded or have their population expelled (will typically buff alien economies as they are not allowed on my planets).
- Ideally I ought to make use of the crappy AI ship designs, but I can't bring myself to it.

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RE: How do you make your games more difficult? - 2/16/2013 2:12:57 PM   
pipewrench


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For the most part this is what I use

Stars - large to huge
Physical - large to huge
Research - Very Expensive
Space creatures - Many
Pirates - Many
Size - Starting
Tech - Starting
Alien Races - 11 to 13
Colony - Influence normal to 3.0 (depending on Physical)


To Adjust difficulty

with Expansion set to Starting:
Home System - Harsh
Corruption - Very High
Independent life - Rare
Aggression - Chaos
Colony Prevalence - Scarce
Tech Trade - Off

with Expansion set to Young:

Home System - Trying
Corruption - High
Independent life - Scattered
Aggression - Unstable-restless (Chaos leads to keyboard smash)
Colony Prevalence - Occasional
Tech Trade - On : if needed


with Expansion set to Expanding:
Home System - Normal
Corruption - Normal
Independent life - Normal
Aggression - Restless-normal (restless if your into S&M)
Colony prevalence - Occasional
Tech Trade - On

< Message edited by pipewrench -- 2/16/2013 2:17:56 PM >


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RE: How do you make your games more difficult? - 2/16/2013 2:40:38 PM   
Darkspire


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Tehlongone

Distant World HAS a decent AI, what you are asking for is an excellent AI, perhaps even a true AI. Can you mention any game ever with an unquestioningly good AI? If so I'd love to try that game.

In all the strategy games I have ever played I can only be challenged by an AI on my first play-through after that I have to restrain myself in various ways. This includes games that give the AI something like 600% bonuses to economy and whatever they come up with, ultimately it never changes the fact that any modern AI is easily outsmarted in any game more complex than chess.



Four spring to mind,
Birth of the Federation, Galactic Civilizations 1+2 (IMHO 2 has a better AI), Civilization IV BOTS.
I was not asking for 'an excellent AI' just one that does a better job than the current one, hence the word 'emerging'. With all of the games Ive previously mentioned Ive quite often felt that I was playing against someone with DW I feel like I'm playing against a computer.

Darkspire

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RE: How do you make your games more difficult? - 2/16/2013 6:33:51 PM   
jesuswhywhy

 

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hmmm im going to have a game and turn pirates and space creates way up, maybe even events too, with tons of aggressive ai.

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Post #: 11
RE: How do you make your games more difficult? - 2/16/2013 8:08:08 PM   
Tanaka


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From: USA
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quote:

ORIGINAL: jesuswhywhy

hmmm im going to have a game and turn pirates and space creates way up, maybe even events too, with tons of aggressive ai.


Actually turning pirates and monsters all the way up tends to hender the AI as they do not handle them well. Humans will clean them out while the AI tends to ignore them and they grow and grow. Ive seen AI sectors that are unusable because the monsters grow into impossible swarms. be The events also tend to give advantage to the player as they can be very overpowering...

< Message edited by Tanaka -- 2/16/2013 9:03:22 PM >


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RE: How do you make your games more difficult? - 2/16/2013 8:45:14 PM   
Tanaka


Posts: 2688
Joined: 4/8/2003
From: USA
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quote:

ORIGINAL: pipewrench

For the most part this is what I use

Stars - large to huge
Physical - large to huge
Research - Very Expensive
Space creatures - Many
Pirates - Many
Size - Starting
Tech - Starting
Alien Races - 11 to 13
Colony - Influence normal to 3.0 (depending on Physical)


To Adjust difficulty

with Expansion set to Starting:
Home System - Harsh
Corruption - Very High
Independent life - Rare
Aggression - Chaos
Colony Prevalence - Scarce
Tech Trade - Off

with Expansion set to Young:

Home System - Trying
Corruption - High
Independent life - Scattered
Aggression - Unstable-restless (Chaos leads to keyboard smash)
Colony Prevalence - Occasional
Tech Trade - On : if needed


with Expansion set to Expanding:
Home System - Normal
Corruption - Normal
Independent life - Normal
Aggression - Restless-normal (restless if your into S&M)
Colony prevalence - Occasional
Tech Trade - On


Is there a way to turn tech trading on/off?

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RE: How do you make your games more difficult? - 2/16/2013 10:13:25 PM   
pipewrench


Posts: 450
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Tanaka

Is there a way to turn tech trading on/off?


Now that would be a great option at the start of the game..Code force.

nice to see your posts again Tanaka.


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RE: How do you make your games more difficult? - 2/17/2013 10:27:51 AM   
Tehlongone


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Darkspire


quote:

ORIGINAL: Tehlongone

Distant World HAS a decent AI, what you are asking for is an excellent AI, perhaps even a true AI. Can you mention any game ever with an unquestioningly good AI? If so I'd love to try that game.

In all the strategy games I have ever played I can only be challenged by an AI on my first play-through after that I have to restrain myself in various ways. This includes games that give the AI something like 600% bonuses to economy and whatever they come up with, ultimately it never changes the fact that any modern AI is easily outsmarted in any game more complex than chess.



Four spring to mind,
Birth of the Federation, Galactic Civilizations 1+2 (IMHO 2 has a better AI), Civilization IV BOTS.
I was not asking for 'an excellent AI' just one that does a better job than the current one, hence the word 'emerging'. With all of the games Ive previously mentioned Ive quite often felt that I was playing against someone with DW I feel like I'm playing against a computer.

Darkspire


Well I've played all of those games, and while GalCiv2 had good AI I wouldn't exactly call it challenging, once you understand how it "thinks" you can consistently win on the highest difficulty despite their massive bonuses, but sure the AI was pretty good even if they developed their planets hilariously badly. The main problem is that it never understands how to properly push its advantages, which makes avoiding total defeat somewhat trivial.

I'd love better AI for this game, but aside from stuff like how they design their ships, redesigning the AI would be difficult. When compared to Civ4 and GalCiv this game has rather tame bonuses, relying mostly on brainpower which doesn't provide much challenge by itself, also they seem to have trouble spending their wealth if it gets too big.

So maybe it just needs to cheat more and be better at utilizing its increased resources from cheating?

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RE: How do you make your games more difficult? - 2/18/2013 8:00:35 PM   
Tanaka


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From: USA
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quote:

ORIGINAL: pipewrench


quote:

ORIGINAL: Tanaka

Is there a way to turn tech trading on/off?


Now that would be a great option at the start of the game..Code force.

nice to see your posts again Tanaka.



Agreed thanks mate!

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RE: How do you make your games more difficult? - 2/20/2013 2:05:41 AM   
feelotraveller


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Kayoz


quote:

ORIGINAL: feelotraveller
2) No invading alien homeworlds.  Exception is end game if required by racial victory conditions, but I wait until it assures victory.


I disagree with this one. I generally leave the homeworld for last - but to NOT invade it till the last moment seems absurd. The race has been eliminated as a threat (no colonies, cannot expand due to colonization limits) when all it has it's homeworld, so removing it doesn't change anything.


It changes everything. In particular it much more than doubles my income = severely reduces the game difficulty.

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RE: How do you make your games more difficult? - 2/22/2013 1:08:23 AM   
justmax

 

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- only play in the huge universes to give the AI time to spread
- AI gets 'agreeable' home systems
- never, ever buy, sell, or trade tech. You want it, get off your lazy ass and research it yourself.
- expand to predefined borders and STOP. Let the AI expand all around those borders without impeding it.
- use the slowest tech games so that it isn't really possible to get a huge tech advantage over the AI (e.g., 990k setting)
- use victory conditions which require conquest (e.g., 75% of economy, 75% of population, 50% of colonies, 100% of all three). It's too easy for a human to game the non-conquest victory conditions.

This results in really slow games, but I'm a builder who likes staying at peace for as long as possible so this suits me just fine. Also, because I research ALL THE THINGS! and don't trade tech, sometimes the AI gets a local advantage in certain items which proves problematic during a conflict (e.g., they have much better weaponry). These are also huge empire games, where getting from point A of your empire to point B of your empire can take months, so the tactics and builds are different than those of smaller games. It's quite easy, for example, for a smaller empire to do considerable damage along the border before a significant fleet presence can get to the trouble area.

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RE: How do you make your games more difficult? - 2/22/2013 10:20:48 AM   
unclean

 

Posts: 163
Joined: 12/31/2010
Status: online

quote:

ORIGINAL: pipewrench


quote:

ORIGINAL: Tanaka

Is there a way to turn tech trading on/off?


Now that would be a great option at the start of the game..Code force.

nice to see your posts again Tanaka.



Yeah, that would be awesome. Honestly the only reason I have a
"sometimes" house rule for it is because it's just way too tempting to pass up, i'm weak :)

quote:

ORIGINAL: Tehlongone
Distant World HAS a decent AI, what you are asking for is an excellent AI, perhaps even a true AI. Can you mention any game ever with an unquestioningly good AI? If so I'd love to try that game.

In all the strategy games I have ever played I can only be challenged by an AI on my first play-through after that I have to restrain myself in various ways. This includes games that give the AI something like 600% bonuses to economy and whatever they come up with, ultimately it never changes the fact that any modern AI is easily outsmarted in any game more complex than chess.


Really agree with this. Not to defend the Distant Worlds AI too much (I'm really glad they're putting some work into it for Shadows) but the stuff in Darkspire's post has been a problem in every 4X I've ever played. Civ 4 had probably my favorite AI, and that was challenging because it had huge production and troop bonuses and really knew when to push its advantage, not because it was clever.

I think the trick in any 4X is finding settings that make things interesting for yourself without making it so unfair that it feels like an entirely different game.

quote:

ORIGINAL: feelotraveller
2) No invading alien homeworlds.  Exception is end game if required by racial victory conditions, but I wait until it assures victory.

Arghh, that's like taking out an X ;) I know where you're coming from, but I think making them harder to take out in the first place is much more fun, even if it's worse in the long run.

Putting an expanding AI that hates you somewhere nearby is also a pretty good way to keep from conquering every Ewok looking thing in sight, at least if you have to bombard.

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RE: How do you make your games more difficult? - 2/22/2013 5:24:53 PM   
justmax

 

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As far as AI goes, the DW one is fairly decent, especially when compared to CIV, MOO, Endless Space, etc. I wouldn't say it's as good as GalCiv 2, but GalCiv 2 bored the ever-living crap out of me.

Something to remember is that most players, especially when it comes to strategy games, just aren't very good. For every player that comes on to the forums and complains that the AI is 'too easy', there are 99 who get their asses kicked six ways to Sunday by that very same AI and need the easiest difficulty settings/cheats to have a chance of winning. Edit: yada yada yada boring myself with irrelevancy.

I'd like to see an AI which acts more logically, but I'm happy with the fact that this AI seems to be better than the industry average, and that unlike other games (e.g., Total Warfare) the AI isn't psychotically aggressive to the point where it drives you insane with its completely irrational scream-and-leap behavior. Hell, even the Kzinti knew when they were beat....

< Message edited by justmax -- 2/23/2013 7:33:10 AM >

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RE: How do you make your games more difficult? - 2/23/2013 5:26:29 AM   
feelotraveller


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Joined: 9/12/2011
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quote:

ORIGINAL: unclean



I think the trick in any 4X is finding settings that make things interesting for yourself without making it so unfair that it feels like an entirely different game.

quote:

ORIGINAL: feelotraveller
2) No invading alien homeworlds.  Exception is end game if required by racial victory conditions, but I wait until it assures victory.

Arghh, that's like taking out an X ;) I know where you're coming from, but I think making them harder to take out in the first place is much more fun, even if it's worse in the long run.

Putting an expanding AI that hates you somewhere nearby is also a pretty good way to keep from conquering every Ewok looking thing in sight, at least if you have to bombard.



Big agreement on tweaking the settings to get the kind of game that makes it fun for you.

I'm happy enough with games where I don't go for the complete cultural genocide but just confine them to reservations or native homelands. You like a slightly different game to me and that's fine. I'm sure a lot of players get fun out of invading homeworlds...

Another suggestion which has yet to mentioned is to give the alien empires some ridiculously good characters (by making a custom theme) before the start of the game. You can give them bonuses like +100% income or research, or some killer spies (sometimes literally) or super-legendary admirals, or whatever.

p.s. Although I agree it's a 4X I think that the official byline of DW is something like 'Explore, Colonise, Defend'... must be what all those high powered weapons are for.

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