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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 1.13. Various abilities are now allowed for sea, air, and/or non-combat units. Weapons, armors, and abilities that had excessive cost, had them reduced. Artillery always costs 0 now no matter what, it is simply a choice about how your guns work. Trance and ECM abilites no longer cost 0, 1, or 2, they always cost 1. It is tedious designing units just to figure out how to get free abilities, and it uses up a lot of unit design slots. The cost of Foil and Cruiser chassis are cut in half, equivalent now to Speeder and Hovertank respectively. I want naval war to be easier, especially in a mostly Fission game where advanced naval units get really expensive.
     
  2. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    I quit a game I was playing as the Usurpers. I was doing ok but not great. Bottled up at the edge of the map. Sharing a continent with the Consciousness as my ally, because I was too nice. Hive to the north, in my way and bothering me. Spartans to the west, not bothering me, but hostile and making that land mass impassable. Inability of the Usurpers to use Democracy and thereby get Efficiency, does hurt. Eventually I was happy with Fundamentalist Free Market Wealth, but the damage was done. I felt like I was in a stagnant, long game, where even if I was "winning" it wasn't by much and not very satisfying. So aside from my own stupidity, I guess the AI does fight well enough. Pointedly, I used a pile of ships under the new cheaper ship rules to capture lots of Yang's sea bases north of me... and promptly lost them all to skimship probe teams.

    I played another, shorter game as the Caretakers, that I also quit. I started right next to the Usurpers. They got the better of me. I did not respond approriately to the close quarters as it's been a long time since I've had to fight that particular situation. Didn't colonize enough initially, went too vertical with my initial 3 cities. Rectified that, but my research seemed awfully slow and I didn't manage to get good weapons immediately. So I'm fighting an Impact enemy with loads of cheap rover artillery, with Lasers and no artillery. Got started very late on mindworm anything, sorta forgot that was my faction power, due to the initial stress of the close quarters battle. Kept trying to build a city closer to the Usurper border because there was a nutrient bonus and a monolith I wanted. That kept triggering big surges northwards that I probably wouldn't have had to fight otherwise. Went Fundamentalist, thinking that would help me, but it may have just hindered me due to slower research. Finally had stacks of 5-2-1 coming at me about to take my city for a 2nd time. Too many things wrong with that game. The -1 POLICE penalty does hurt, as it makes Free Market painful. Also having +1 PLANET makes me unwilling to throw it away on Free Market anyways.

    Yeah, learning how to play my own mod is, uh, humbling.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2018
  3. JH24

    JH24 Chieftain

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    ^Those sound like some intense games. If you have to lose, it's more fun to lose against your own mod. The Usurpers still sound like a threat, and that's a good thing.

    I like the new changes in 1.13. (Especially to naval warfare, which is my favorite part in this game) I always try to build a fleet of Destroyers to dominate the seas.

    Hopefully I can make some progress in my current game. Miriam's moment of peace is over and she's now at war with her remaining and weaker neighbors (Hive and Gaians) Yang is making use of Probe Foils to steal Miriam's sea cities. He's technologically behind but still holding out. The Believers are sending the bulk of their forces against the Gaians, who seem to be in trouble.

    My switch to Conquer techs paid off. I got Aircraft, Cruisers and Planet Busters as my last three techs. The other factions want these but I'm keeping them. With the rate the Pirates and Believers are focusing on science I'm sure they'll get them soon anyway.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2018
  4. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    The Usurpers are definitely a constraint at close quarters. I could have beaten them, but I didn't. Wrong moves in the face of danger. I'm particularly annoyed at my greed about pushing the front line closer. I sorta knew that it would trigger the hornet's nest, that the AI has some kind of "threshold" of closeness. And even if they did work up the nerve to come for me, there were way better defensive positions to take up, farther back. That's pretty much how you destroy a rampaging AI, you find a kink in the terrain where they consistently do dumb things. There, you wipe out big stacks of their units all at once, until they are exhausted. But I was trying to colonize now because I hadn't colonized enough earlier. Like throwing good money after bad.
     
  5. JH24

    JH24 Chieftain

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    ^ I know that feeling. I use that strategy as well to fall back and let the AI come to me, but sometimes things just don't go as planned. I'm still surprised at times how much stuff the AI can throw at you as well as reinforce in such a short time. It can really be scary at times. The AI of Alpha Centauri, even after all those years, is for me personally still the AI with the most personality and flavor.

    I've attached a screenshot from my current game (1.13 version) below. I'm going on the attack. No matter how much I try the Pirates keep running away from me. I'm building 3 cheap Cruisers each turn and upgrading them the next. My aim is to get around 30 Cruisers in 10 turns and then sweep around the map taking out the core Pirate bases, supporting my fleet with missiles and aircraft.

    They've been avoiding conflicts so far and although they have a mix of Cruisers/Foils/Isles of the Deep they're still not fully committed to building up their military.

    If things go well I keep the bases with Secret Projects and divide the rest between Morgan and Deirdre as I'm at my limit from Drones anyway. Morgan can act like a buffer to Miriam/Yang, and maybe I can get a pact with Deirdre. I have no intention of fighting a war with Miriam but my goal is to isolate her.
     

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  6. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    Sweeping the Pirates is a huge chore on bigger maps. You have to push ships manually a very long way to get it done. I've been literally worn out trying to push the needed units to such places, even with The Maritime Control Center. Conquering them isn't worth anything either, because you don't get the minerals bonus on ocean that they get. They spread themselves far away enough, that their bases are remote and unprofitable as far as gaining energy. It all gets lost to corruption. This is why lately, I've thought of them as a distant entrenched enclave that you're never going to successfully deal with. Making them Passive, might cut down on the amount of annoying spam they send your way, which would be a relief of tedium. Not sure if that idea worked or not, because in my recent games the Pirates have been far enough away that I don't think they could have gotten to me anyways. Making them chase Wealth, is intended to amplify the "distant Builder enclave" threat. It is not going to shock me if from now on, many games end with you and the Pirates somehow.

    In my last game with them, that I quit to kick out the 1.13 release, I thought about blasting them with Tectonic Missiles, to raise them out of the water. Then orbital drop pod them into submission in various ways. The new Marine capable probe teams help with this sort of thing.

    Distant conquests are a good candidate for the new super cheap Punishment Spheres. I have yet to incorporate that into my playstyle though. I'm usually too nice, unless I'm actively roleplaying a genocidal maniac.
     
  7. JH24

    JH24 Chieftain

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    Yeah, you're right. In my case they have an area of size 12-16 bases (light blue circle on screenshot right to the middle) which is the core of their empire. If I can get to those I don't really mind about their smaller ones. If they had been farther away I probably wouldn't have bothered because as you said, it really can be a chore. (Although I do think there is a way to put all units into a stack) I like your perspective on the Pirates and what they should represent.

    Ooh, Tectonic Missiles? That's devious. I like it. ^^
     
  8. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    I tried another game as the Caretakers, vs. Usurpers and 5 random opponents. By 2163 I had colonized a large area, 13 cities, resource bonuses for almost all of them, and I had control of the Manifold Nexus. My only neighbor was the Believers, who had plenty of availble land nearby, but only 2 cities. Something is wrong with them. Her settings are Explore, Conquer and of course she only had basic government. "Settle 2 fairly far apart, then stagnate" is a pattern I've seen with other factions as well.

    The Usurpers had 12 cities. 10 of them on a smallish island they started on, and 2 sea bases. The had the University, the Gaians, and the Pirates as near neighbors. The University started on a long skinny peninsula, and only built 3 cities. The Pirates spread out a lot and did just fine, building 9 sea bases and a 10th about to be settled. The Gaians had a small continent and built 11 cities on it. The Data Angels had a small continent attached by an isthmus to a gigantic land mass, but it was blocked by fungal stalks. They built 6 cities. Their focus is Build, Conquer.

    Everyone's personality seems to be set to Aggressive. I'm wondering if that's an artifact of starting as the Caretakers, or a quirk of the scenario editor. Their faction profiles are definitely not all set to Aggressive.
     
  9. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    New game as Caretakers, vs. Usurpers, University, Believers, and 3 other random opponents. I wanted to test the factions that didn't do so well last time. This world is a completely contiguous giant land mass. As of 2157 I had 10 cities with 3 more about to be settled. I would have done better except a mindworm decided to grace itself with its presence in the middle of my settlement area. It killed 1 colony pod and I didn't have any units to go deal with it. It did not go to a nearby city for a very long time, it just kept milling around. Consequently I did this huge detour with 4 colony pods along a road network I'd built.

    Domai was my near neighbor and I competed at his border to push him back. He was near a small Monsoon Jungle and built 3 cities in that vicinity, only 1 on the Jungle proper. He sent 2 colony pods northwards to my land. 1 of them got conveniently killed by a mindworm. The 2nd wouldn't get killed for some reason, but I was able to trap it on rocky terrain so it couldn't go anywhere or settle. And there we stayed, until my giant wheel of colony pods came around to finally settle the area.

    The University only built 3 cities. They were completely alone with no threats, doing Frontier Free Market. That might be somewhat rational from a research standpoint, but it doesn't seem like enough spreading to me. 1 of his colony pods went long, so he had 2 cities in one location and 1 city in another distant one. They are pure Discover.

    The Usurpers only built 4 cities. They were next to the Hive and the Spartans, which they had Truces with. They are pure Conquer.

    The Believers built 3 cities, and had 2 colony pods out and about. I changed their focus to only Conquer. Might help them with getting to Fundamentalist, but it's not helping initial spread.

    The Hive built 10 cities, about as good a job as myself! What's their special sauce? They had only basic government. Their focus is Build, Conquer. They prevailed upon the Uranium Flats, right next to the Spartans, but that's only 3 of their cities. The Hive was settled on a place with a food and a minerals resource, but they didn't improve either of them. I wonder if the accident of early resource bonuses explains everyone's progress or lack?

    The Spartans only built 3 cities, and had 3 colony pods out and about. They're Explore, Conquer. No good resources.

    The University has a colony pod that thinks it wants to go all the way to the other side of the map, even though there is no route, because of water. Is pathfinding stupidity part of the problem? Does it get worse on a large contiguous land mass?
     
  10. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    New game as Caretakers, vs. Usurpers, Hive, Believers, Peacekeepers, Spartans, and Morganites. I wanted to know if Build factions do better. By 2176 I built 11 cities, including Mt. Planet and the Monsoon Jungle. Unfairly, I could have grabbed the Garland Crater as well, if I had kept expanding. I crushed the Believers mostly with an Ogre, but couldn't quite finish them off with that. A few Recon Rovers and mindworms later, and they were my thralls. I think I captured 4 Alien Artifacts from them, 3 of which I walked back with my all but dead Ogre right past a Believer city.

    Morganites built 7 cities on a large island, taking up half of it. 2 pods getting ready to settle. They focus on Build.

    Hive built 10 cities and went to war with the Usurpers, right next to them. Usurpers built 12 cities and have 6 pods milling about, not settling. Neither side has taken a city, so maybe the war started recently.

    Peacekeepers built 9 cities a bit north of me. Spartan neighbors northeast of them built 7. Spartans have 5 pods milling around.
     
  11. JH24

    JH24 Chieftain

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    There is a kind of randomness with the AI settings at the start of every game. In older games I sometimes went into the scenario editor and set the AI's on "Lots of Colony Pods" and "Lots of Terraformers."

    The aliens, Believers and Hive are most likely to expand, but I've seen them lock up as well with 2 bases. I guess it's a random build order that sometimes gets assigned to one of the AI's.

    I can honestly say though that the AI in your mod definitely performs a lot better than the Alien Crossfire AI.

    Yeah, pathfinding can be an issue. I've seen this on smaller maps as well.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2018
  12. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    Problem is, I see factions with 5 or 6 colony pods and they're just not using them effectively. They mill.
     
  13. JH24

    JH24 Chieftain

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    This can be a side-effect of the "Builds lots of colony pods" setting or related to the map itself. I've seen it for example with AI's in older games on a continent connected to another continent by a small piece of land. They waited for some time before sending a colony pod across. It's either the map or something coded within the AI itself.

    You were right, conquering the Pirates really was a chore. The Pirates were the ones who declared war on me and struck first, saving me a reputation hit. I was able to capture their most important bases but I lost almost my entire fleet.

    After they fully switched their production towards military it really became a war of attrition. It turned out they had Genejack factories in all of their core cities. They threw everything at me.

    I won in the end and divided the more distant bases between Morgan and Deirdre, who both love me now. I've stopped using Democracy and I'm now trying to get Yang and Zakharov on my side. I've almost reached my goal and isolated Miriam. I really enjoyed this game but this feels like a good place to stop.

    I only completed about 50-60% of the tech tree. In the next game I'm going to include the aliens and the more aggressive factions. I want to see those Planet Busters.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2018
  14. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    Let's see if I can cut down the verbiage to summarize test games.

    MY 2162. Myself Caretakers: 8 cities. Usurpers 2. Consciousness 5. Cult 8. Believers 5. University 5. Spartans 1.

    I started literally right next to the Usurpers, trapped on a peninsula. Fortunately my forward moving Ogre completely obliterated most of his colonists. I surrounded his final city and after creating a road network, wiped it out with Recon Rovers. He shelled me with a ship for awhile, making my approach problematic. I could have left him there indefinitely so he couldn't escape, but it was right in the way of my empire expansion and I didn't want to deal with the inconvenience. Also I was curious how much of a disadvantage he'd be at for being creamed early.

    I got in a mindworm bush war with the Cult shortly afterwards. Due to lack of communication, I got the "Nothing personal..." treatment. Afterwards I was surprsied to find that they were on my continent, but not my neighbor. Consciousness was actually between them and myself, and I never met the Consciousness. They had a Treaty, blocking Cult access to my lands, so it must have been the Cult's initial scouting effort that hit me.

    Spartans got stuck on a tiny island attached to the north pole. Despite making Doctrine:Flexibility an E1 tech, they didn't discover it. Their focus is Explore, Conquer and that tech is in both categories. To fix this, I'm going to let anyone build a slow Unity Transport who wants one, no prereqs. Stillborn starts like this are highly unsual with my new map settings, but I'd like them to never happen at all.
     
  15. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    You're gonna see a lot of drowning!
     
  16. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    Dangit, making Unity Foils available doesn't work. All you have to do is go into the Workshop and remove the Slow "ability", then you've got a normal Transport. In fact you could put weapons on it, so in essence it's giving Doctrine:Flexibility away. Grr! Previous experience is that giving away free ships as starting units doesn't work either. If you don't start next to water, you don't get the ships.

    I'll make Doctrine:Flexibility a Conquer tech. More chance Santiago would have discovered it that way. There are pure Conquer factions, but there aren't any pure Explore factions, so it will help more factions to have it as Conquer.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2018
  17. JH24

    JH24 Chieftain

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    Started a new game (64x128 map) as the Caretakers with mostly aggressive/erratic factions and I'm really enjoying it. I like the changes of the aliens; they're more balanced but still different and fun enough to play. I started isolated on an island, hopefully this gives me some room to explore the changes in the tech tree.

    Around 2200 the Usurpers had a sharp drop in power while the Spartans rose quickly. It looks like Santiago is at war with the Usurpers and winning. The Hive and Peacekeepers are equal in power and only a little below the Spartans. Miriam and Cha Dawn are lagging a bit behind, but nothing too bad. I'm in fourth place right now.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2018
  18. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    I remember a test game in an earlier version, I used a Tectonic Missile to connect either the Usurpers or the Caretakers to the Spartans, I forget which. Back then, the Caretakers were better in stats than the Usurpers, an oversight I've since corrected. The point is, I thought with their large Monsoon Jungle driven empire, they were going to wipe the Spartans out for us. Well the Spartans came down and pwned them instead! Whoops.

    Subsequently, I realized that the +1 MORALE for Survival was allowing the Spartans to hit +4 MORALE merely for going Fundamentalist. That was unacceptable, so I had to take that Survival bonus out of the game. That was disappointing because I liked having it for all the other factions. I looked to see if there was a setting to change it just for the Spartans, not giving them the bonus since they were already survivalists. But there wasn't. There were only immunities, impunities, and robustness to penalties, nothing about turning off a bonus.

    Some days when I look at the file dates in the SMAC folder, I feel old. All those 1999s.
     
  19. JH24

    JH24 Chieftain

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    I'm sorry I haven't been able to play much last week. Today I went back to my old Peacekeeper save with the Pirates. Instead of going to war with the Pirates I'm going to try the builder game and isolate myself from the other factions. I really want to see the second half of the tech tree and build up a Planet Buster arsenal and defense.

    I've played two other games this weekend but none lasted as long. They were fun though. In one game the Believers dominated and conquered most of the other factions nearby. I was sandwiched between the Usurpers and Caretakers with limited room to expand. I think you can guess how that ended.

    In the other game the Caretakers destroyed the Usurpers and then I had an angry alien faction plus the Believers (who had taken out Zak - I'm definitely happy with how the AI can become a real threat quickly) on my doorstep. I could have probably turned that game around but I really wanted a more peaceful game to explore the tech tree, and so I ended up with the older Peacekeeper save.

    One thing I'm wondering. I noticed in the tech tree how close the reactors are to each other near the end. I like the idea of the reactors being pushed to the end of the tech tree but I'm slightly worried it might feel odd to discover them so quickly after each other.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2018
  20. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    Yes it completely sucks. You get pestered hard like 3 turns in a row. I'm mulling over how to fix it for 1.14. I didn't notice how bad it sucks, because in my previous test game with an AAR, I won by Diplomatic Victory before I ever reached Fusion Power. The strengths and costs of weapons and armors are also out of wack near the end. I'm making armor as strong as weapons of the same tech level, that's the 1st thing needed. So there's going to be a Singularity Shield with strength 30. I also had to go back to regular game weapon strengths because the art assets are tied to the strengths of the weapons, not their position in the alphax.txt weapons listing. Fortunately armor doesn't have this problem, so it can become stronger.

    I thought I only had minor release stuff to do for 1.14, but it turns out I have to fix this major, major thing. This is what happens when only I am playtesting, mostly, during all this development time. If I've gotta make the mod and also test it, it's slow going, and takes a long time to discover all problems. My current AAR is the 1st where I've completed the tech tree. So now at least I've eyeballed every tech in the tree while playing a game trying to make progress. I discovered some minor issues that way, mostly on whether a tech belonged in more than 1 research focus group or not. If you focus on Explore only as Deirdre and go for a long time without discovering certain stuff, you start to wonder whether you're actually owed a tech!

    Update: I've thrown in the towel on the "mostly Fission era" game. I'm going back to something like the original game, where the reactors are more evenly spaced. I'm strengthening armor compared to weapons, hope that solves problems.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2018

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