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Giving the AI some life - 4/7/2011 10:25:22 AM   
MartialDoctor


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It's nice that, since I started Distant Worlds, I've already seen a major update with some nice changes to the AI. This game is a good one and I am thoroughly enjoying it. However, there is one major element which I haven't seen much talk about, and that's how the AI acts in general.

What I'm talking about here is that the AI doesn't seem to have much of a personality to it and doesn't seem to really want to make pacts with others at all. Although the races react at different speeds, they all seem to simply be around and will slowly dislike you as they covet your resources. This happens until trade sanctions and wars happen.

I have yet to see even one mutual defense pact in any of my games. I haven't played that many but, still, not one. And the majority of my free trade agreements were only had after I gave the AI a gift in order to get it.

This seems to be the result of the AI not having any good "feelings" that increase their liking of you over time. No such things as: Our trade pact has been of great benefit to us (+10), Our mutual enemy unites us (+5), We generally like you (+15). Nothing like that which grows over time. At least, not that I have seen. You just have a few static ones that are unchanging and a few minor ones, such as trade, that don't make that much of a difference.

Compare that with the We covet your resources or You have something in our system which negatively increases very quickly.

And that brings me to the next point, why does having a planet in the same system with another race cause negative relations? It should be based on how things are going between you two. After all, if you two are on good terms, it should actually increase your relations rather than have a negative impact.

Finally, the AI seems to be suicidal in it's starting of wars. In every one of my games, I've had a time where the AI declares war on me when it's already at war with like 5 other races. Even though his military is much stronger than I, I just walk on in, take a few planets and then make peace. He is too occupied to take me on. Something to counter this would be great. Galciv2 had this ("We are preoccupied with others" or something like that) and it was a good one to have.

Oh, and it would be nice if the AI would get more upset if you are at war with one of their friends. I laughed when I saw I had a (-1) because I was at war with his friend. Come on, they are friends, I should see a -5 at a minimum

Anyways, just my thoughts. It would be great to see some general AI improvements in the future
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RE: Giving the AI some life - 4/7/2011 10:31:18 AM   
J HG T


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We concur. Improvements to the AI is one of most requested things around the forums, and I perfectly understand it. Once you get the hang of games mechanics, and overall pace of the game, the AI empires pose real threat only in certain special situations.



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RE: Giving the AI some life - 4/7/2011 11:01:53 AM   
Kayoz


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quote:

ORIGINAL: J HG T

We concur. Improvements to the AI is one of most requested things around the forums, and I perfectly understand it. Once you get the hang of games mechanics, and overall pace of the game, the AI empires pose real threat only in certain special situations.


That's got my vote as well. The AI is only a real challenge at the very start of the game, or later on if you manage to get half the galaxy at war with you. Both are quite easy to avoid once you have gotten to grips with the game mechanics.

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RE: Giving the AI some life - 4/7/2011 11:08:52 AM   
Data


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That begs the question: what game do you guys think had / has the best AI atm? This is the crux of every game in general and of 4x in particular. The one game that manages to get this right will never die.
So no limits to 4x or whatever: what is the best AI you ever encountered?


< Message edited by Data -- 4/7/2011 11:09:33 AM >


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RE: Giving the AI some life - 4/7/2011 11:14:30 AM   
Bingeling

 

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Good points.

When I play I make some strategies for what I want to achieve.

Examples from my current game, starting as the Dhayut using Super AI mod on chaotic settings.

Rule 1: I am not fond of nations popping colonies in my mining systems, and afterwards being annoyed at me having mining bases in their systems. I don't mine in conflicted systems, they make my systems conflicted.

Rule 2: I don't worry about foreign bases in systems I colonize/conquer. Of course, when conquering I nuke all enemy mining bases, but there may be bases there from other empires.

Rule 3: I stole the korabbian spice source from the humans in "their" cluster (colonized). It was weakly defended, war with the humans was not in my interest. Trade them spice, and see relations go up...

Rule 4: I started next to the Sluken, in the same cluster. I don't particularly want them as my enemies. Trade spice and smile, give away bases if they threaten with war. Of course, don't give the base, go to "different deal" and get some bases in return...

Rule 5: I want friendly relations with the rest of the scourge of the galaxy. Trade spice to Gizzies, Mortalen, Boskara... See them become friendly.

Rule 6: I don't like "non friendlies" colonizing "my" home cluster. This made me ultimate myself to war with the Ackies (they had 5-6 systems in my home cluster, including the massive minings operation system next to my homeworld). Afterwards they had nothing anywhere close to my home cluster (and became friendly, strange stuff).

Rule 7: Unless they are on my friend list, I take wars from threats. I will conquer 2-4 systems, and blast some extra space ports. Priority is to clean the borders (outlying colonies in my general direction). And the system with the base they nag about...


If each AI made some strategic decisions about friends and foes, the game would be more interesting. Clearly, if you wanted to befriend the Kiadians, and you can't because they for some reason decided to hate you, shift a strategy, and befriend one of their enemies instead.

Today I think they only rule by reaction on general dislike, and what happens to begrudge them due to accidental conflicted bases.

Btw, with some sensible "borders" system in the game, friendly nations could agree on borders...

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RE: Giving the AI some life - 4/7/2011 11:58:19 AM   
J HG T


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Data
So no limits to 4x or whatever: what is the best AI you ever encountered?


Going off-topic, but it's a good question.
Couple of examples of great AIs I've encountered:

Note: There's many more good examples but I really don't want to spend half of my day trying to remember them. These just popped into my mind first.

Space Rangers 2
The AI NPC ships act quite intelligently and have one really important thing that many gaming AIs don't have: The need for Self-Preservation. They pay off pirates and make hasty retreats from battles going badly and sometimes even avoid conflicts altogether.

Halo series.
For a shooter, the enemies are aggressive, smart, devious and downright nasty sometimes. Good example are the commanding Elites carrying energy sword in the Reach. Damn how I hate those guys.


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RE: Giving the AI some life - 4/7/2011 12:21:19 PM   
Bingeling

 

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AI can be quite nasty if scripted well in a limited environment. That should be quite possible in shooters.

It is probably possible to script some scary AI in DW as well, but there will always be some weakness that humans will discover. And once that is abused, the AI just looks predictable and silly. The DW AI is not that predictable really, it is just not good enough.

The really good AI adapts to the human, and patches its error. It is a good AI that is not scripted. That is not so easy to do...

(in reply to J HG T)
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RE: Giving the AI some life - 4/7/2011 12:28:30 PM   
Data


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Should I still say that I completly agree on SR2? Same hods true for Halo, I don't usually enjoy shooters but this one was great.
I guess the question is not that correct. In the end, no matter how good the AI is we always find ways of exploiting it.

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RE: Giving the AI some life - 4/7/2011 12:31:17 PM   
J HG T


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Aye! From what I've learned from gaming, an "AI" in a game is considered to be "intelligent" when it adapts to players actions efficiently. Can't really argue with that. From what I've read and heard, the A.I. Wars is a prime example of this. 

< Message edited by J HG T -- 4/7/2011 12:32:30 PM >


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RE: Giving the AI some life - 4/7/2011 3:26:04 PM   
MartialDoctor


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The AI in the Fall from Heaven 2 mod for CIV IV is pretty good.

What I'd most like to see here in DW is just AI that seem to have more life to them as stated above.

And I feel that if races would not start so many wars that alone would make the wars and battles more interesting as well as increase the difficulty level.

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RE: Giving the AI some life - 4/7/2011 6:17:22 PM   
Tampa_Gamer


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To answer the prior question about "Good AIs" (solely with respect to "how alive" they feel) - I think the 2 most current 4x AIs that come to mind are Sword of the Stars and GalCiv II (with all expansions).

I think Sword of the Stars is a good AI example, because even though there are only a 1/2 dozen races they have done a stellar job in making each race a truly unique race (e.g. tech trees, ship design and movement, weapon strengths/weaknesses, government and planet types). I cringe when I hear cries of "more races" -> in my humble opinion the races in DW should be more unique and be programmed so (hopefully via their external text data files) in the near future.

I think GalCiv II is a good AI example, because the races actually interact and deal with each other based upon their core beliefs (good, neutral, evil) as well as their government types. Of course the graphical representations of their moods adds to the realism, but the experience that I walk away from each game is that the races are consistent in their beliefs and reactions.

I think it is these two attributes (uniqueness and consistency) that make an AI truly come to life from my viewpoint as a human opponent player. I mean - you should groan when you meet a new race that pounded you in the last game, but for the life of me I cannot remember what races were even in my last game. I think DW has a great start with regard to laying the ground work for telling the human player why a particular race does/does not like you, but I would like to see the AI data files for each race externalized and separated for each race (e.g. Space Empires). From there we (as modders) could then explore what works/does not work and request additional files to help flesh each race out. As is the theme with most of my comments, I want the developers to focus on things we cannot ever touch (e.g. actual programming "hooks" calls/functions in the game) that enable the modders to do their magic (e.g. playing with AI text file data, play testing game reactions, releasing AI improvement packs or new races, etc.)



< Message edited by Tampa_Gamer -- 4/7/2011 6:20:05 PM >

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RE: Giving the AI some life - 4/7/2011 6:39:54 PM   
J HG T


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Hmm... haven't played GalCiv 2 and its expansions for ages, but from what I remember it had pretty good AI and unique races. Some DWs races show unique behaviour, but not nearly in the same degree as GalCiv 2, or the... you know... M... something...



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RE: Giving the AI some life - 4/7/2011 7:24:58 PM   
Data


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DW is still young while (unfortunatelly) GalCiv2 and M..something are closed and done for....well, GalCiv3 may be out in a decade or so

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RE: Giving the AI some life - 4/7/2011 7:45:38 PM   
J HG T


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Off-topic:
I think DW has good possibilities of becoming superb 4X game with a help of couple good expansions and mod support.
Don't know if I will be interested in GalCiv 3 when it comes out. Loved the second one for some time (Damn you Space Rangers for stealing all my time back then). And there's Sword of the Stars 2 coming. Time will tell, time will tell..




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RE: Giving the AI some life - 4/7/2011 7:57:22 PM   
EaglePryde

 

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From my view i'll sure buy Sword of the Stars 2 but i won't abandon DW. Although they share the same genre they are worlds apart and thus deserving both a place to stay on my pc

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RE: Giving the AI some life - 4/7/2011 8:15:25 PM   
J HG T


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Same here, in regards of not abandoning DW. Similar games complement each other and make you enjoy them and like their differences even more.
My favourite examples would be:
DW, Sins and MoO 2.
SR 2, Star Control 2 and S.P.A.Z. 
And to give consoles some small respect:
Bayonetta, Vanquish and Bullestorm.

And sorry once again for off-topic. Just wanted to make a point that fan-boyism can ruin your "gaming career".
No offence meant towards civil fan-boys.  





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RE: Giving the AI some life - 4/8/2011 4:03:20 PM   
MartialDoctor


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Tampa_Gamer
I think GalCiv II is a good AI example, because the races actually interact and deal with each other based upon their core beliefs (good, neutral, evil) as well as their government types. Of course the graphical representations of their moods adds to the realism, but the experience that I walk away from each game is that the races are consistent in their beliefs and reactions.


Yes, I agree there, the GalCiv II AI was a good example of an AI that has some life to it. They each did seem to have their own personality and they all reacted differently to the player, depending on your actions (e.g. if you choose good, neutral, or evil).

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RE: Giving the AI some life - 4/8/2011 6:14:29 PM   
Tausken

 

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I really liked the AI in Galciv2 also. It had unique personality's for all the races, and the races declared war cautiously. I didn't see Distant worlds style mass declarations. I liked how you were able to build up relations with nations to. I have not had a single game in Distant worlds where I had a defense pact or any strong relation. I liked how in Galciv I was able to make friendships and then in the next game I would run into them and be like OHH COOL its my buddy. The races just felt actually alive.

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RE: Giving the AI some life - 4/8/2011 6:25:16 PM   
Moltrey


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quote:

ORIGINAL: J HG T

Going off-topic, but it's a good question.
Couple of examples of great AIs I've encountered:

Note: There's many more good examples but I really don't want to spend half of my day trying to remember them. These just popped into my mind first.

Space Rangers 2
The AI NPC ships act quite intelligently and have one really important thing that many gaming AIs don't have: The need for Self-Preservation. They pay off pirates and make hasty retreats from battles going badly and sometimes even avoid conflicts altogether.


I was/am continually amazed at just how good a game Space Rangers 2 (Reboot) really is guys. If you have never tried it, RUN, don't walk to the Impulse store and get the Reboot version for a steal. The game allows you to play in many, many different ways, although if you don't help fight the robots at some point they will kick ass and take over the known universe!

J HG T, how do you normally play SR2? I am curious as I have never run across anybody else still playing.

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RE: Giving the AI some life - 4/8/2011 6:55:54 PM   
J HG T


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Off-topic:
"...how do you normally play SR2?"
How can anybody play SR2 normally? Part of its greatness is the fact that you can play it anyway you wan't and still enjoy it, as you pointed out there.
If we are talking about playing style in general, I'd say I'm Mercenary/Trader/Hero Feayan who loves all kinds of high-tech stuff and isn't vegan.

Truth to be told, I haven't played SR2 for a long time. Played it through about 25 times and know pretty much everything worth knowing about it. The EVE online is calling me for same reasons why I loved SR2. Big, living universe where you are free to do what you want and enjoy the epic feeling of SciFi at its finest.

Sorry again for off-topic. Don't want any harm to thread. My principle is to answer and help when possible, no matter the situation.


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RE: Giving the AI some life - 4/8/2011 6:59:23 PM   
Data


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I will abstain....barely

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RE: Giving the AI some life - 4/9/2011 5:11:42 AM   
gijas17


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I think Sins of a Solar Empire has really good AI especially in the entrenchment and diplomacy expansions even though it's not what I consider a true 4x game. I owned SR 2 back when but sold it. I might have to check out SR reboot though. I have SOTS and all the expansions. Its a really good game though I wish the planet sieges were more involved the AI is sometimes to aggresive. Im really looking forward to SOTS 2... anyone know when that's due out? Armada 2526 has some challenging AI but needs work like with game with handling diplomacy issues. Hopefully Supernova will fix some AI issues next week.

< Message edited by gijas -- 4/9/2011 5:12:51 AM >


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RE: Giving the AI some life - 4/9/2011 7:27:55 AM   
J HG T


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Have to agree with gijas. Sins with all the expansions has quite good AI. Especially in hard and up. Normal's challenging and fun but not "hard".
The only problem I have with Sins AI is that enemy AI ships won't use some of their special powers at all. This puts AI to disadvantage in certain situations. Especially Advent have many abilities that are extremely powerful when used together, and AI seem to ignore this. 


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RE: Giving the AI some life - 4/9/2011 4:17:20 PM   
Shark7


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I think that one of the best ways to improve the AI would be to let players design the blueprints for the AI ships. Players make far more powerful ships than the standard AI fair. I know pirates 'copy' player designs, so the AI should either be able to do this, or at the very least place a stand alone editor and a readable file for the game so that players can design and save the blueprints with the AI modifying as needed.

Example:

I design an escort base design with 4 laser, 2 shields, 8 engines, and electronics for the AI to use. The AI interprets this as

4 x (most current beam weapon)
2 x (most current shield)
8 x (most current engine)
1 x (ECM)
1 x (targeting)
1 x (damage control/repair)

so the AI gets a design similar to my own escorts, but uses its own best components.

The nice thing about designing the blueprints is that you could have a file to customize designs for each race and 'tonnage' level, giving a whole lot of diversity between the different races. Also simply making it a stand alone designer with a readable output file means that we could share design blueprints among the community, other than having to edit every single one ourselves.

For instance, I might design the Shakturi shipset while someone else designs a Human shipset and we trade files.

< Message edited by Shark7 -- 4/9/2011 4:19:33 PM >


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RE: Giving the AI some life - 4/9/2011 4:44:36 PM   
J HG T


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We concur. Some kind of editor in the main menu which you could use to desing ships for each race. You could, for example, design and save several different destroyer models for humans. In the next game human AI would pick one of those desings in random and use (and retrofit) that desing for the duration of that game.
Great idea Shark7!


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RE: Giving the AI some life - 4/11/2011 2:32:19 PM   
MartialDoctor


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The AI in any RTS is going to be fairly lackluster simply due to the fact that AI in RTSes aren't as good as human players.  If a decent AI can be made, then it's possible, based on the design of DW, to make a challenging game for most skill levels.  Although, I will also add that I think a difficultly level (i.e. give enemy races bonuses to trade, taxes, etc.) would be a nice addition as well.

Shark may be on to something that the AIs need to make better ship designs.  But, in terms of making the AI more challenging, I think the main thing would just be to make them less suicidal - i.e. not get into multiple wars.  Even if the AI made better ship designs, it still suffers greatly from this part.

And this is going a bit more off topic than I was hoping (I wanted it to be more about being lifelike, not challenging) but any chat about the AI is a good thing

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RE: Giving the AI some life - 4/11/2011 3:30:34 PM   
Igard


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I feel that the information is there for Elliot to use as  a guideline for improving the AI.

Interestingly, what you said there, MartialDoctor, seems very simple to me.

Make the AI empires pay more attention to their current war weariness, therefore reducing the suicidal wars factor.

Designing ships might seem like a big problem, but can't that be tied into the construction size tech level? At the first level construction size, the AI will design ships normally, second level, it'll put on an extra laser, third level, an extra shield etc. In other words, redesign at each new construction tech.

The players would work their way around this, however, by focussing on construction tech research. There must be a way to prevent the player from exploiting this.

I don't know if I'm missing something, but it seems like all the parameters are there. It just needs to be thought out and implemented.


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RE: Giving the AI some life - 4/13/2011 4:18:18 PM   
bertipa

 

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I usually am in mutual defence pact with almost everybody and in free trade agreement with the rest.
It does not come cheap but is simple to do.

The basic trick is to never ever listen to your advisors, the rest came easy.

In reference to the relation reasons I would really like if they change the "we really want to put our hand on your planets" (or something like that). It is a DIPLOMACY screen! I'm sure that it is possible to find a turn of phrase with the same meaning but a little less gross.

Speaking about the AI proper I would like to feel that the relation score is really a diplomatic stance and that the real action that the AI will take are more linked to his/her plan to win the game than an aritmetic calculus.

Same about going to war against 5 enemy at the same time... strategically it makes absolutely no sense. Same going to war against your worst enemy that it appens to reside on the other side of the galaxy... ok he is an A$$ but who cares?

If emotion takes precedence to strategy that should be clearly linked to some racial (suicidal) traits.

Maybe there should be leaders with their own character like in Civilization. I'm sure that Churchill and Stalin would run their star empire in a vastly different way.


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RE: Giving the AI some life - 4/13/2011 4:38:49 PM   
cookie monster


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Why would you wanna be in a mutual defence pact with everybody. It will only drag you into a war you didnt want.

I MDP with my top trading partner, who I have no interest in fighting, everyone else is free trade.

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RE: Giving the AI some life - 4/13/2011 4:49:17 PM   
cookie monster


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Now look here at the trade I just accepted in my game. I think this goes to show how one mining station with polymer and 2 other goods can be ridiculously over valued. I think all disputed mining stations are overvalued and could be gamed to the players advantage.

The Toadies just blew up a Dhayut colony with a World Destroyer, I'm annoyed they were my next conquest. I invaded a Dhayut colony which was surrounded by 30 out of fuel destroyers (no fuel/no guns), I just dropped off my troops and hyper'd outta the system. I wanna retire all those lovely destroyers at my home world.

I played some of the game at x4 speed following a freighter for intel on trade movements, then a box popped up sayin I had taken over someones colony. It seems that the ships I aquired when I destroyed the Gizureans may have still had the same invasion orders, so they landed their troops on a friendlies colony.

It's a good job I was only testing as you can never get your reputation back when you surprise attack somebody.




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