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BTS Better AI

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by Tyrant Roger, Jul 1, 2009.

  1. Tyrant Roger

    Tyrant Roger Warlord

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    Are many players using the latest version of Better AI for BTS? What effects does it have on strategy and tactics? What are the advantages and disadvantages of using it? Is it compatible with 3.19 and the BUG and BAT mods?

    While BTS is a great game, I have long thought that AI military logic was its weakest point. How much difference does the better AI have in this regard?
     
  2. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    I have my doubts. When I suggested they tweak the governor over there so it quits doing ******** nonsense while building wealth, someone on that side seriously told me that working a 2F unimproved tile was better for long-term production than working a grassland hill mine.

    You know, because you can whip the pop once it grows :sad:.

    Hopefully, the people doing the actual work on the AI code are better than that though. Last time I tried betterai I wasn't too impressed but it's been quite some time, so it's possible that they've improved it quite a bit. I will probably stay away from it, since like BUG mod it lags on really crappy systems such as mine.
     
  3. peppe1

    peppe1 Warlord

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    Havn't notice any Lag with Bug/BAT and Better AI.

    I will probably switching Better AI back on. Getting tired of Monarch with the dumb AI.

    I started learning the game on Noble with Better AI. After reading the forums for a while a lot of timing things and rushes weren't working as described. Turned off Better AI and jumped to Monarch without too much trouble, but it feels dumbed down. I'd rather go back down to euqual footing on resources/research and use Better Ai.

    No matter what the Better AI team does the AI players aren't going to have superior planning/strategy/tactics vs the human, but it will at least have a better running empire and make better choices each turn compared to the standard AI.

    Major change that i noticed is intercontinental warfare. The normal AI if it even sends a stack will send a few good sized stack over, but it will land over 4-5 turns. It attacks as it lands and will do almost no damage. Better AI will land that stack together and has good chance at capturing a city.

    Another change. The automated workers tend to do good stuff, so you can automate sooner (though still scary to let the lemmings loose). The AI benefits from this by having better improved empire.

    I haven't looked at the change log in a while, but all sorts of minor bugs are fixed, so the AI as a whole does less stupid things. If i recall It will handle some of the cheese tactics a little better.
     
  4. civvver

    civvver Deity

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    TMIT I don't think they actually rewrite basic ai code like that, they just try to improve, like make the ai capable of planning overseas wars etc. I used to play it just for the bug fixes but with 3.19 you probably don't need it.
     
  5. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    What I was asking wasn't a coding rewrite. In fact, I was asking them to make the governor use current code.

    The governor does an OK job at picking tiles when you emphasize something. The exception is when you build wealth and research, where it turns into a spectacular idiot, preferring non-financial coast, 2f grassland tiles with nothing on them, and other unimproved garbage to hill mines, even when you emphasize production. Even when the slider is at >50% and there is absolutely no way the city could ever produce more gold with the tiles it chooses.

    My suggestion was to just stop treating wealth as a special case compared to the standard governor. The opposition I got was surprising, but what's truly sad is that much of the reasoning for it was based on complete nonsense...in other words almost every argument against the change pointed out things that suggested that they don't understand the game.

    If someone doesn't understand that a 2F tile should not be worked under any circumstance when emphasizing production and a grassland hill mine is available...ESPECIALLY when emphasizing production...they're probably not set to be improving the AIs yet.
     
  6. MadmanAtW

    MadmanAtW Knight

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    I saw that thread... I don't honestly know how much of the coding the person arguing with you does. His name is on the download page but since I've started paying attention to the mod I don't remember seeing anyone other than jdog doing serious work towards it. jdog's been on vacation for a bit, when he gets back and takes a serious look at things again it might be worth bumping that thread. :)

    I use Better AI pretty much exclusively. There are a lot of ways in which it's still dumb, but there are a lot of ways in which it is a vast improvement. I've seen it asserted that on some map types it's like going up a difficulty level, approximately, but it's been so long since I've played non-BetterAI that I couldn't possibly judge that.
     
  7. dirtyparrot

    dirtyparrot Upholding Brannigan's Law

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    @TMIT

    I know this is OT, but why don't you play with BUG? I find it sometimes difficult to get a gauge of the other leaders disposition from your screenshots, plus you won't have to check for WHEOOHRN mode dozens of times.
     
  8. sourdiesel

    sourdiesel Warlord

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    BetterAI + AggressiveAI is lots of fun if you like a lively game.
     
  9. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    It makes the time between turns longer for me, and I have difficulty stomaching it. I only check war modes for leaders who can declare on me, so it's rarely dozens of times/game.
     
  10. PieceOfMind

    PieceOfMind Drill IV Defender Retired Moderator

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    TMIT, I believe it was Yakk who explained to you that when you build Wealth while emphasising production the difficulty the governor was having was that when you build Wealth there is no production. You interpret the function as being emphasis hammers, but clearly that is not what it is trying to do. I would argue that the behaviour you want to see from the governor should come when you emphasise commerce, since this would make more sense to the basic AI players.

    Honestly, you sound like a stubbon child whose parents didn't give in to his first demand. The Better AI programmers are a reasonable bunch and will take suggestions openly. I still think you could provide a better example to illustrate your point in that thread.

    Don't forget that reading and changing the code is not trivial. You say they could just use the existing code but if it's that easy then why don't you do it? I'm pretty bad at reading C++, but I've noticed that even the most basic AI changes confuse me when shown in code.

    The Better AI programmers are wary of big changes because in the past they have found that changing things without carefully considering the consequences can cause just as many problems as it fixes (this is going back to the Warlords days of Better AI - don't forget that without the Warlords Better AI team we'd still be fighting a pathetic AI in BtS). If the programmers don't take your suggestion and implement it straight away don't take it as a personal insult. Approach it as an opportunity to provide more evidence and support your thesis.

    Arguing that they are ******** for not listening to you sounds arrogant and doesn't help anything.

    FWIW, I absolutely agree the governor goes silly when you build Wealth or Research and I want to see an improvement. The first suggestion I ever made to Better AI (long time back now - probably before you joined cfc) was related to the city governor. I never saw those changes implemented, sadly, but there were other changes instead. I've still considered divindg into the governor code and writing my own version of it, but I've not found the time yet.
     
  11. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    Spare me the name flinging. I already pointed out that it may have been improved since I used it (which means I actually have). At the time, it felt like playing a normal game, but that may be because my tactics didn't line up with the AI weaknesses corrected at the time.

    Most of them are reasonable. However, I saw a pointed lack of understanding in that thread when it comes to the conversion of whipping food to hammers, and that's an obvious red flag. I understand that it isn't a cinch to just re-write code, especially for those of us who don't know C++, and that the game looks at wealth differently because there is no production. However, that difficulty was not the centerpiece of the argument...I'm assuming perhaps incorrectly then that it IS possible to implement it, whether or not that's for the best.

    It's rare I take anything as a personal insult, and this isn't an exception. I wasn't asking that it gets implemented instantly, or even at all necessarily. I WAS getting frustrated by arguments over the effectiveness of working a crappy tile, when instead the discussion should have been centered decidedly more heavily on the consequences of the changes in practice (you were one of the few that did so, but like me apparently you can't program :sad:). The response in the drafting thread was far more constructive and relevant...which is why you don't see any "stubborn child" moments from me about it.

    It would, if I actually did so. Before putting words in my mouth, I ask you read more carefully. The only thing I ever called ******** was the GOVERNOR's assignment of tiles when building wealth. I missed the part where I called any of the posters ********. If I did, I certainly didn't intend it. However, suggesting a hill mine is inferior to a 2F unimproved grassland tile *does* imply the need for more knowledge of the game, and that is a completely legit thing to call somebody on.

    Again I emphasize: The guys in question here did not debate on the changes improving how the AI acts and would function under such changes. They were arguing that the governor was doing something that was a better long-term strategy than working available improved tiles...a harshly dubious and frustrating argument that bypasses the relevant questions that would actually lead to whether the change should be implemented or not (for the human it definitely should, but even I'm not 100% convinced for the AI, since there are things hidden in the code I'm not aware of).

    If I got a little overboard over that, I apologize for being stubborn.
     
  12. civvver

    civvver Deity

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    oh sorry, I guess I missed what you said about governor, just thought you meant ai tile selection with wealth.

    Anyway, I did use ba mod for a while and like I said I don't notice any differences between latest patch and the mod.
     
  13. PieceOfMind

    PieceOfMind Drill IV Defender Retired Moderator

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    Ah, sorry for putting words in your mouth. I did misread you. Do consider though, that '********' is charged language. If you are calling the AI ******** and polarising the debate as 'my side' vs. 'their side', you're almost arguing the other side is ******** because they support a ******** governor. Again I know this is putting words in your mouth but I just think you might be able to be a bit more diplomatic about it - something that is hard to do when fired up or passionate about something.

    As a very experienced player you surely have some valuable knowledge for contributing to AI improvements and I don't think you should give up because of a substantial show of hesitation from the better AI team. Everyone has better understandings of different parts of the game. You have a deep knowledge of using AI relations to your advantage and optimal research strategies etc., for example. I've got a reasonably indepth knowledge of the combat odds. The Better AI guys probably aren't strongest at governor optimisation but rather general AI tactical considerations. If they did happen to have a poorer understanding of a specific area of AI then it would be all the more important to persist with the suggestions.

    The highest-level players and the AI-coders are not the same group. Purely as a consequence of their division of time, they cannot be. This is why communication between the two groups is essential for the development of a Better AI.

    Also, in the Better AI subforum the natural tendency with new suggestions is to almost immediately dig for flaws, offering criticism wherever possible. It might seem like 10 to 1, but it's just how it is. Even arguments that are seemingly absurd to you may come out of the woodwork, but if they are indeed absurb you can put them to rest quickly.

    Back to the point, I still think you could post a better example of AI 'retardation' because I know it's there. I just rarely use the governor so I'm not often looking very hard and don't find examples often.

    Because the Better AI posters are very critical, they won't take optimisation tips as gospel but will challenge. They can be reasoned with - that is probably the difference between them and your average joe forum poster.
     
  14. Fluxx

    Fluxx Mr. Almost There

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    The overall AI in civ is actually quite advanced and the game is surprisingly smooth.
    There are so many factors to consider every turn, and every turn is within the next second, for All AI's.

    I am always amazed how good the AI is tbh in Civ. Especially since I study AI-programming myself so I know how hard it can be.
    The general intrigacy of Warfare f.e. can be extremely hard for an AI and in general they do a decent job at it.
    The way the AI manages their empires and diplomacy is also quite intrigate.

    Ofcourse you can find very dumb examples of how the AI behaves, and mistakes in it.
    But overall they did a damn good job in making this AI.
     
  15. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    You're right that I probably got a little over-the-top with my reaction to it.

    I remember forum games I lost months or sometimes over a year ago and go back to play them on the same settings to check improvement...so giving up isn't something to worry about here ;).

    There's always a guy or two out there with some spectacular talent that can be good at both, but they're really rare. I'm not one of them (my same aversion to micro eventually kicks in when working on AIs or non-intensive gaming activity...though I once set up a ridiculous footman rush build for the AI in WC III). Anyway, this is a good point...good programmer/gamers are rare and with reason. Still, the whip is a mathematical computation, not necessarily a gameplay strategy quirk.

    I'll try to remember to get more SS's. Right now I'm still a little steamed over losing immortal toku because an AI chose to declare on me (@cautious) over its worst enemy (at annoyed), with the only explanation I can think of being the 2-5 turns between when that AI met myself vs his worst enemy...and thus I mistakenly underprepared. What irks me even more is that others won that easily on the same speed/settings, which means I still have a lot of work to do :p.
     
  16. Tyrant Roger

    Tyrant Roger Warlord

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    What isn't clear to me is how different Better AI is from the regular BTS AI. Other than the problem with the city governor, are there other serious flaws in the Better AI?
     
  17. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    Just to be clear, the governor is lacking in both versions ----> betterai doesn't mess it up, it just doesn't fix it.

    AFAIK betterai is a work in progress that does improve the AI, to what extent I don't know since it's been like 5 or 6 months since I touched it (and I'm not touching any mod on this machine, the game locks up enough as is).
     
  18. r_rolo1

    r_rolo1 King of myself

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    Well, the Better AI project always focused more in the big anf glaring deficiencies of the AI movement of units, especailly ( but not only ) in war , as well as in war related decisions. And in that regard, the changes are pretty decent, like the AI making mini stacks to grab barb cities and other tactical refinements.

    But in the area of strategic decisions, even the Better AI is pretty handicapped, not only because of the comparative lack of focus of the Better AI modder team ( it is understandable... they are not paid for this ;) ) but also because the AI in Civ IV basically lacks memory for pretty much everything except diplo nags ( making them to play turn by turn ) and, because of that, long term planning is virtually impossible.

    That said, I would be very happy if the better AI team fixed the AI sec general/pope choice of votes soon... it is a major game breaker issue in most games and most of the times it gimps a lot the AI ( like those cases where a AI calls a vote to stop a war that they are winning.... :( )
     

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