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SMACX AI Growth mod

Discussion in 'Alpha Centauri' started by bvanevery, May 15, 2018.

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  1. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    I have released version 1.1 of my SMACX AI Growth mod. This started as a mod about "realistic" growth; industrial democracies actually slow down growth, according to UN data. I changed the social engineering choices to be more nuanced about growth. Also they are more of a "game of inches" where gaining a +1 actually means something, instead of nearly every choice giving an overpowered +2. Future societies are readily attainable midgame and are not overpowered.

    I've totally recategorized all the techs into more "pure" arrangements of Explore, Discover, Build, and Conquer. That was a marketing pitch by Firaxis; what they actually provided in the game, was a whole lot of Conquer techs. These make up the bulk of the tech tree now. "Explore" really means colonization and growth internally to the AI. Techs have been adjusted accordingly: facilities that make people happy, are now (misnamed) "Explore" techs.

    I became interested in making the AI more challenging, based on some old posts about someone setting faction foci to Explore and Conquer. Almost all factions do this now. All the factions have been modded to be better rounded and not have such extreme penalties, which generally just make the AI play poorly. The Aliens have been stripped of whatever powers I could, such as armor and free recycling tanks, to make them more comparable to "normal" factions. Some things about Aliens are hardwired and cannot be modded though.

    Secret Project techs take longer to obtain. Secret Projects that many considered overpowered, like the Cloudbase Academy, are moved later in the tech tree. Fusion, Quantum, and Singularity engines are moved to the end of the tech tree, as IMO they are game breakers. The vast majority of the game takes place in the fission era. This will give you a reason to actually design units and consider their cost tradeoffs.

    To give the AI more breathing room from human predation, Enormous 80x160 and Giant 128x256 map sizes are defined. The world generator settings have been tweaked to make faction placement pretty much error free on Enormous maps at least. Giant maps still have problems which I can't solve. There's a crossover threshold between these two sizes when the bugs start appearing, like getting stuck on 1x1 islands. I determined this empirically. You may have problems on Giant maps, or you may not.

    Missiles can now hit anywhere on the planet. Mutual Assured Destruction is a reality now.

    Full details on all of the above are available at the site linked, and of course by trying my mod! It took a PERSON MONTH to produce, as in that could have been a month's worth of paychecks. So I hope you will try it, maybe even like it.
     
    JH24, Mind Flower and Groff like this.
  2. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    I have released version 1.2. The rate of change is definitely slowing down. Morganites no longer have a city size limit, because Hab Complexes come so much later in this mod. Hive gets IMPUNITY to Planned economy. Miriam is back to starting with Social Psych, because it's much harder to get in this mod, and she can be really pathetic if given a bad map start. Several Social Engineering choices are tweaked to make them more balanced IMO. The early Secret Projects are pushed even later, now none are available until Level 3 technology. Perimeter Defenses are moved later, because the AI was obsessing about building them early, thereby crippling early settlement productivity. Command Center moved slightly later, since everyone gets +1 Morale from Survival anyways. Copters are slightly nerfed, reduced from speed 8 to 6. They get way too many attacks in the standard game.
     
  3. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    I have released version 1.3. After more playtesting, I was forced to admit that having only +1 POLICE for Police State simply doesn't work. It's back to +2. The bonus for PROBE is gone. -1 ECONOMY is back. After this change, took away Hive's inherent +1 Police as that would be overpowered. Democractic penalty is now only -1 POLICE, which disallows nerve stapling but still allows 1 police unit. Reinstated Gaian +2 EFFICIENCY. Removed -1 EFFICIENCY penalty from Pirates and Peacekeepers.
     
  4. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    I have released version 1.4. It was taking way too long to get to Hab Complexes. Now it takes "less" long. Also discovered the Temple of Planet had been left out of the tech tree!
     
  5. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    I have released version 1.5. Playtester Esper discovered that missiles with a speed of 99 hang the game when the AI tries to use them. I dropped the speed to 66 and the refuelling range to 2. This is still enough to hit anywhere on a Giant 256x128 map. Changed the costs of the various missile types to what I think is reasonable, especially to keep the AI from spamming quite so many of them. Predefined the missile unit types so that their costs are correctly displayed in the Datalinks, and so that their designs aren't forgotten in late game.
     
  6. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    I have released version 1.6. As a "pure" Discover tech, Information Networks proved to be a formidable bottleneck to anyone's tech progress, if they didn't choose Discover. That's most of the AI factions, and likely for a human player who doesn't know any better. Information Networks is really easy to obtain in the standard game, because it is included in the Explore, Discover, and Build research foci. Whereas, in this mod, it was hard. So, I basically switched the positions of Information Networks and Biogenetics, D2 for D1. Biogenetics is a Discover and Conquer tech in my mod, due to the alien life cycle bonus a biology lab gives you. Every single AI faction researches either Discover or Conquer, so it will be found early. Biology labs give a small constant bonus to lab output, which is appropriate at the very beginning of the game.
     
  7. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    I have released version 1.7. Economic choices are made easier to attain so that factions with bad research or a bad start don't stagnate. The Believers and the Cult of Planet get adjustments to their AI settings to make them more formidable. The Cult gets +1 SUPPORT because the Hive keeps trouncing it. Monopole Magnets is moved slightly earlier again.
     
  8. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    I have released version 1.8. Techs do not change, they are stable for now. Must be doing something right. Social Engineering choices get a lot of revision. Faction penalties are removed unless they are thematically important, i.e. Believers get -1 RESEARCH, Hive gets -1 ECONOMY, that sort of thing. Factions are no longer monolithically interested in Explore, Conquer. I'm seeing if other research foci can work, given all the other changes I've made. Some factions are made Passive again, hoping maybe they survive better now. Faction AI settings are altered to give the AI more flexibility about its choices. Some major thematic changes in factions: the Pirates believe in Wealth, the Usurpers believe in Power, the Cult of Planet goes Fundamentalist, and the Data Angels believe in Thought Control.
     
  9. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    I have released version 1.9. A few minor bugfixes and tweaks only. But if you don't like any bugs, you'll want it! I also did enough real game nuke testing to say, planetwide nukes do work as advertized. Have fun destroying the other side of the world, and yourself in the deluge.
     
  10. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    My initial release of 1.9 had a showstopper bug in it, wouldn't even run. To the 5 people who downloaded it, sorry! It's fixed now, just redownload.
     
  11. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    I released version 1.10. Genejack Factories are made available much earlier, as between those, supply crawlers, and fusion power, I took too much out of the early game. The Cultists gain no penalty for choosing Fundamentalism. They needed to be toughened up; the narrative excuse is their manipulation of native life forms is reality based. The Cybernetic Consciousness and the University now have a pure Discover focus, because it turns out, they randomly learn non-Discover techs anyways. They don't really need to be prodded for it to happen.
     
  12. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    I have released version 1.11. Hab Complexes become available slightly earlier. Small tweaks to social engineering choices. The Cloning Vats become available the tech after Thought Control. Predesigned units that aren't useful are removed, so that free chassis prototypes aren't given away.
     
  13. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    I finished my first COMPLETE game of this mod, after 2 person months of full time work on it. I wrote an After Action Report about it with lotsa screenshots. I played as the Free Drones on an Enormous 80x160 map. I crushed everyone except the Pirates. They insisted on fighting me instead of immediately capitulating. I was going to corner the energy market anyways, but in Mission Year 2316 I belatedly realized I could invoke Diplomatic Victory. I could have done it in 2309 because I was the Governor. D'oh!

    What does this game say about version 1.11? Are the Drones overpowered, or am I just that good? There aren't really any "weak" factions anymore, I took care of that. So I can't just, say, pick Morgan to make life harder on myself. I should probably play another game with myself as "whatever", let the AI play Domai, and fill out the rest with random opponents. I expected Santiago to do much better, as she has dominated many test games I've played. But in this one, she was summarily crushed by the Believers. She must have gotten a really lousy start right next to them.
     
  14. Volcanon

    Volcanon Warlord

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    Did global warming pwn all of your railroads? I always thought it was kind of dumb that you lose roads and railroads when land elevation relative to sea level goes down but isn't anywhere close to being submerged. Even with super formers it takes forever to make railroads in giant maps.

    The future policies being available sooner is cool. I don't remember ever seeing an AI caution me about being in one, the game's always over by that point. And I like missiles costing more, the AI really loves to spam them. And its kind of awkward to kill them 10 at a time with a chopper.

    Also micromanaging formers on a gigantic map is pretty hardcore. After all of the good tiles are worked, some forest is planted and cities are linked up I just automate them unless I've got something special that needs doing like a land bridge or an energy farm.
     
  15. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    I did lose some rails, and I was wondering why that was happening, when land didn't actually sink. I almost thought the roads were being wiped out, not the rails, because I could restore the rails pretty fast if I brought a Former to such land. I don't know if going Free Market was worth it, considering all the rail maintenance I had to do as a result. A lot of my empire wasn't seriously affected by the flooding, but a city I settled on the Great Dunes really got hit hard. I kept having to fix that over and over again, until the flooding finally stopped.

    Having 4 expected social engineering choices to make, instead of just 3, is definitely better.

    As is not being spammed by Conventional Missiles. They are quite wasteful. "I am a stupid AI, I will just waste stuff, because it bugs you" is not what I consider good game design. The AI should be building cheaper units and using them properly. Well, denying the AI these toys, is a step in the right direction. I might get 1 missile lobbed at me every once in awhile. It's like North Korea is having a bad day.

    I think I would need a full programming language, or a pretty extensive visual interface to set priorities, to be happy with the terraforming. Short of that, I do it all manually. In a lot of ways I'm playing SimSMAC.
     
  16. Volcanon

    Volcanon Warlord

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    The formers do a worse job but I dont have the patience on ginormous maps. It gets to be a real problem if your Gaian or something and want to start planting fungus late game and the automated formers go and try to remove it. I think you might be able to shut that off (or specifically you can't shut it off for fungus I think?).

    Also for some reason once in a blue moon formers try to raise land.... making a land bridge between me and Yang early game with me playing Zak or Morgan. That was fun.
     
  17. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    I have standardized on so-called Enormous maps, 80x160, as provided by my own mod. I find, there is only so much land I'm willing to terraform, and only so many Super Formers I'm willing to have. It's a large limit but I still have a limit. I want the game to get done in some amount of real wall clock time, and past a certain point, I won't push the units around anymore. I just sorta recognize this and play my games accordingly. Bringing yourself close enough to an enemy to conquer them, is always a problem on an Enormous map.

    You can change your options in "Automation Preferences..." to tell your Formers never to remove fungus. Same with raising land.
     
  18. JH24

    JH24 Chieftain

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    I can honestly say I'm really enjoying this mod. It's like exploring the game all over again. Everything feels more coherent and steady. It all feels it makes more sense in terms of progression. The AI's definitely seem more balanced as well. I'm playing as Believers - other AI's are Hive, Peacekeepers, Cyborg, Drones, Angels and Morganites.

    I don't know what's going on with the Peacekeepers but they're currently way above everyone else and so far none of us are getting any closer to them. The other factions (including mine) are all around the same power level.

    But currently the Cyborg are ahead in tech, the Hive in military, the Morgan in credits, the Peacekeepers in population/overall strength and the Angels in territory. Despite expanding like crazy I'm currently not leading in anything.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2018
  19. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    One thing I think is working overall, even though I haven't released 1.12 yet, is that the social engineering choices allow a lot more evenness of setting a policy. Because there are 4 rows of choices instead of 3, and because the effects are much more +-1 than +-2 for the most part, it's possible to mix and match until you arrive at mostly the civilization you want. There will still be penalties and consequences for those choices, there's no free lunch.

    Maybe the Peacekeepers are dominating because they're sitting on the Monsoon Jungle? That phenomenon hasn't gone away. It's king.

    I've noticed in many games on large maps, the Angels can get into weird super spreading dynamics, even before I undertook this mod. I'm not exactly sure why that is, but given a big enough environment, they do expand quite a lot.
     
  20. JH24

    JH24 Chieftain

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    Yeah, I love the changes in engineering so far. It really does feel I have more freedom to finetune my faction in a way I like.

    The Monsoon Jungle is in my territory. (Although I usually don't settle on it against AI's unless they're about to take it) I don't know if your mod allows for more than one Monsoon Jungle.

    It's around 2220 and the Peacekeepers seem to have hit a ceiling. I think you're right about the Angels. They're still leading in territory and their power graph is growing fast as they're closing in on the Peacekeepers. I guess they're filling out their territory right now. (Or conquering the Peacekeepers) I haven't met them yet.

    I'm currently fourth in power. (Morgan is third) I'm placing a lot of cities (exceeding the drone limit and using psych) a bit close to each other to make use of the energy bonus of Democracy/Green per city (I might switch to Free Market later) I need more energy to increase my science output.

    Hive is my neighbor (no surprise there) They declared war on me (no surprise there either) although for now they only seem to have (lots of) Laser Rovers/Squads. I just got Impact weaponry by cashing in an artifact. I'm not ready to switch to full war mode as I'm still developing the core cities. I hope they won't get Impact weaponry for a little while longer. If they do, I'm in trouble.

    Morgan is doing very well (What a difference from the vanilla game) He's still the wealthiest around and third in power behind Peacekeepers and Angels. Nice. (EDIT: I mentioned Morgan had missile units. My mistake, I saw he had Synthetic Fossile Fuels but I didn't realize the missile launcher comes later in your mod) I know for sure he does have Impact units.

    The remaining factions (Drones, Cyborg and Hive) are all close to each other in power. Domai is pretty advanced from what I can tell. He also seems to be on a wonder-building spree. Cyborgs are still the most technologically advanced. Hive still has the most military, but Morgan(!!) and Lal are trading places with him.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2018

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