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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'm confused about this link. Although it tersely mentions a chemical weapons exchange, the page seems to be mostly about 2 players debating the fairness or legality of air drops in the presence of an Aerospace Complex. That particular game archive is vast. I looked around in it briefly, but I didn't find anything that illustrates what happened. Can you point me at a part of the archive that more clearly describes what was going on?
     
  2. Darsnan

    Darsnan Emperor

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    My apologies if the thread didn't give as much detail as you'd wanted. You'd stated you'd never seen an AI use chemical weapons before:
    And I've provided you an example in the thread I'd linked you to - again, apologies if it doesn't give as much detail as you'd desired. However after thinking about this a while, instead of myopically focusing on one small facet of your mod, I think it better for me to create a separate thread and show you (and everyone else) regarding the AIs using chemical weapons. I'll detail how I go about setting the AIs to commit atrocities, and then I'll present the finished product and you can actually see it in action (I think that will give you the level of detail you seem to be craving, yes? :) ).

    D
     
  3. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    Well a scenario of chemical death could be interesting. I'm imagining such settings won't change the behavior of a default non-scenario game though?
     
  4. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    I have released version 1.25. AI starts using armored speeder probe teams. Heavy Artillery available at tech Tier 1. Perimeter Defense available at Tier 2. Cloaking Device available at Tier 3. Probe team base morale doesn't go up just for researching techs. Comm Jammers etc. for Combat units only. Battle Ogre armaments toned down.
     
  5. PPQ_Purple

    PPQ_Purple Techpriest Engineer

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    Is it backward compatible with the old version as far as saves go or do I need to start a new game? Also, great work on the mod. Lots of fun. Brought me back to SMAC.
     
  6. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    Not entirely sure. The #UNITS section of alphax.txt has changed over time. I've noticed that an old .sav file, hard bakes whatever unit designs existed when the game was started. When I use old saved games for testing, I can count on unit designs to be displayed at the wrong places in the tech tree, because of this hard baking. But, the games do seem to work. YMMV as to all possible cases of what can work or what can't. Possibly it does. In 1.25 I deliberately reshuffled the order of the unit designs I've added to the game, for greater coherence when looking at alphax.txt. I'm hoping that having shuffled that now, it won't have to be reshuffled for quite some time, if ever.

    #UNITS is the only issue I can think of, that would affect backwards compatibility with a saved game.
     
  7. PPQ_Purple

    PPQ_Purple Techpriest Engineer

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    I'll just hold off until my current game is done. Too much fun. I only wish we could mod the game to let us have all the factions in play at once.
     
  8. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    Yeah that's an unfortunate implementation limit simply due to the age of the game. They had to fit it into the resources available at the time. I've played plenty of Freeciv with as many nationalities as I cared to put in. But nobody ever got the heavy lifting of an Alpha Centauri ruleset accomplished. Understandable, not like there's an altitude based terraforming engine available....
     
  9. PPQ_Purple

    PPQ_Purple Techpriest Engineer

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    What's freeciv?
     
  10. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    An open source GPLed "mostly" clone of Civ II. There are some minor rule differences.
     
  11. PPQ_Purple

    PPQ_Purple Techpriest Engineer

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    Well SMAC is basically Civ2 in space so how hard could it be to implement altitude in there?
    Really the largest problem I foresee is that someone would actually have to figure out the actual math behind SMAC so that the rules can be implemented properly to the tiniest minutia (else why bother).

    Does it have a big player base by the way?
     
  12. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    What are your personal Open Source chops and energy level? How do you feel about GPLed code? How about dealing with other people's crummy code? I ported their build system to Visual Studio once upon a time, back in the day, unbidden. "Here is the work, complete." They did not accept the work, stuck to their GNU Autoconf / MinGW guns. Pretty much lost any loyalty stickers out of me back then. That was a long time ago, maybe 2005. No idea where they're at with build systems now, and don't care.

    Looked at their codebase a few times over the years, always decided not worth it. Played tons of Freeciv for many years, so that's an interesting pronouncement to make on a codebase IMO. You are welcome to try to take this on if it interests you. I ain't doin' it. Someone else started on the AC conversion back in the day and tapped out. I think these are lessons of history, answering your question "how hard could it be". Hard enough to be not worth it! But if you want to joust at that windmill, go at it...

    It's been several years, but it always seemed to a slow, regular development cycle. Minor features got added, minor bugs got fixed. I got the impression that people actually played it, but since I mostly did single player, my impressions could be skewed. It's not going to be some thriving metropolis community like Civ 6.

    Eventually in my case, I realized that the AI was never going to get any better, with the level of open source development put into it. I wasn't willing to go delve in there to do it, especially not with GPLed code that has no commercial future for me personally. So after many years, I finally shelved Freeciv and started playing SMAC again. That commercial release from 20 years ago, still has better AI than this open source project today. Maybe someone came on board to improve Freeciv AI in the past few years, I don't know. But in the interim, I just modded the crap out of SMAC, and made it play somewhat better too. So for differentials of improvement, that needs to be considered.
     
  13. PPQ_Purple

    PPQ_Purple Techpriest Engineer

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    I am professionally obliged to despise the GLP license, all it stands for and all who believe in it. Strictly professional though. It's kind of how pediatricians have to despise pedophiles.

    It's literally my day job.

    To be honest I imagine that the most reasonable assumption for that is that they simply prefer to stick to what they know. But in the spirit of hating GPL purists I must ask that you disregard that reasonable assumption. I shall.

    I imagine the hard part would be actually figuring the math of SMAC out. That thing is very complex to an almost Lovecraftian level from what I understand. With things coming at you from odd angles and such.

    Well if it means anything I honestly enjoy playing your mod more than I ever could trying to work with GLP code. So I imagine we are on the same page here.

    By the way, I was thinking of starting an eco-freak game next. Anything I should keep an eye out in your mod that's different from the base game?
     
  14. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    I have a MIT open source culture myself and do not see eye-to-eye with the GPL crowd on anything. I've done Linux at various points in my life, for instance at its very beginning. Then more recently when the Steam Machines were trying to be a thing. They didn't become one, and 3 years of waiting got me really familiar with the inadequacies of GPL "business" model. There are just arenas where that's never going to work, like consumer games, or even the consumer platforms for delivering those games. I went back to Windows, realizing that despite its flaws, it's actually the best of the computer gaming platforms out there.

    As for eco-freaks: Deirdre has a +20% PSI attack bonus now, so you should be happier using her. And like most other factions, she's had her penalties removed. The Cult of Planet gets to use Fundamentalist with impunity, no downsides. Consequence of a lot of hands-on biology as they run their cult! They do not get free Brood Pits anymore though, I thought that was too much of a giveaway. Also, they do not have an INDUSTRY penalty. The Caretakers do have a penalty, they get -1 POLICE and they may not use Police State. Aliens also don't start the game with armor anymore, nor with Recycling Tanks. They still use Directed Research which IMO is very powerful.

    It is worth mentioning that mindworm etc. units are somewhat cheaper than in the stock game. Trance ability is also not free now, it makes units cost 25% more. This makes the game more favorable to mindworm onslaughts. Getting a higher PLANET rating is not so easy though. You only get +1 for being Green, and +1 for Knowledge. Cybernetic notably does not have anything to do with Planet friendliness. In fact for awhile I had a Planet penalty for that, reasoning that the way of the machine is against the way of the biological. But for various game design reasons I relented.

    Free Market is only -1 PLANET now. As is Wealth. The only way you're going to make it to -3 PLANET is if you had a faction penalty to begin with. This is now only the Usurpers. The Believers had their -1 PLANET penalty removed. I think it was a case of anti-Christian bias that did not especially match the lore of the game.
     
  15. PPQ_Purple

    PPQ_Purple Techpriest Engineer

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    My view on GPL is simple. It's a smug idiots license. If you want to show the whole world how clever your code is and how smart you are but don't want to release it as open source you use GPL. Because nobody is ever going to rip your code off and start using it if it's GPLd.

    It's like injecting your beautiful daughter with syphilis so that you can parade her around pageants without having to fear suitors.

    I use directed research anyway in my games. And Deirdre it is.

    I honestly think that the "bias" explanation of the Believers mechanic is overblown. The Believers are basically Jehovah's Witnesses in space only worse and not your average religious group. We are talking hardcore fundamentalist Christians. The sort that bomb abortion clinics, stone adulterers and reinstate old testament laws in order to create gods promised land.

    So it makes sense that they'd land on the planet and declare it their promised land to rip up and exploit without mercy with gusto that makes Yang shy away. And if the world fights back that's just planet-voice being influenced by Satan and needing more purging.
     
  16. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    There might be some big corporate justifications for it, i.e. Linux, firmware that goes into various devices. But on the level of a single individual offering code to the universe...

    I think it is often less about that, and more about complete cluelessness about financial realities, why anyone would bother with your work, lack of exposure to other licenses or thought about them. GPL is often chosen because it's "familiar". Not always, but often enough that if you actually think someone's code is worth something, "how about MIT instead?" is a conversation you can have and prevail with.


    Say it is not so. I consider it cheating, unless you're an Alien faction.

    I think that's part of the voice the game was written in, and indicative of prejudices at the time the game was made. There's actually a bit more nuance to Miram's world view if you listen to all her dialogue. I see the SMAC Christians as being like you describe when they go Fundamentalist. Which the AI always does. But a real human player can play them as Democratic, more like Episcopalians or Quakers.

    For this reason, I don't think it's appropriate to give them an inherent PLANET penalty. I also find the idea that "all Christians oppose environmentalism" to be wrong and passe, another one of those prejudices of the times. What has really happened, is in a particular country, the USA, the Republican party has both Fundamentalist Christians and environment destroying corporate interests. Broadly these are all lumped together as Conservatives and conflated with one another. Christians who are pro-environment, such as might exist in a liberal city like Seattle, or a heavily forested region like Asheville NC in the Bible Belt, are summarily ignored. I've lived both places for quite some time.

    For the record, I'm an atheist, and not even slightly shy about taking the mickey out of Christian beliefs. But I think there should be some fairness about what people's views really are. For instance, not all abortion protesters want to bomb clinics, nor do all kinds of such protesters agree with each other, or even like or support each other. These are nuances you learn when you hang out in proximity to abortion protests enough times.

    I changed the Cult of Planet to another Fundamentalist faction, because of course they are a cult. I also took the deeply cynical tack in my mod that they can pursue Wealth, if they so choose. I even changed the AI inputs so that they don't have to pursue PLANET bonuses at all. They already start at +2, maybe the AI doesn't think they need anymore! I have no problem with a Cha Dawn who is not even slightly sincere, who is running a Free Market and raking in the Almighty Dollars. What the Cult will not do, is be Democratic.

    In a similar vein, the Believers are not prevented from pursuing Knowledge. Hey, Isaac Newton was a Christian, lots of scientists have been Christian. It doesn't prevent people from doing research. What the Believers can't do, is be Cybernetic. This is consistent with the lore of the game: Miriam is absolutely opposed to the cyborgs and nanorobots. They are the loss of humanity, of human authority. It is also a worse penalty to RESEARCH over the long haul. But in the short run, to mid-game, the Believers can research just fine if they want to. They also get +1 ECONOMY, all those Evangelicals with their TV spots raking in the dough. My Believers have options... and they cannot be Mind Controlled.
     
  17. PPQ_Purple

    PPQ_Purple Techpriest Engineer

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    There is none.

    If you release something as open source you do it explicitly because you want others to look at it, copy it and expand it for the betterment of mankind. If you release it under GPL you are explicitly preventing that. Its a look but don't touch license.

    As I said, the only way it makes any sort of sense is if you want to show your code to the world to show them how smart you are but still don't want to actually release it for use as anything other than a sealed .exe.

    Tiz so. I also play CIV4 with tech brokering off.

    And I think that with the exception of a few factions like the Hive and University most provide plenty of room for people who believe but aren't crazy fundamentalist. So I don't really see why any colonists that weren't fundamentalist crazies would have rallied behind a preacher whose stated purpose is to create a theocracy.

    It's sort of like with Yang. I don't see many moderate socialists signing up for his brand of utopia.

    But are they insane fundamentalist Christians who want to abolish secular government and rally behind a preacher to create gods kingdom on planet?

    On principal I agree. But the factions in SMAC are very much designed to be extremes. Yang is extreme socialism, the University is extreme technocracy and the Gaians are environmentalism on a level that would make PETA turn back. They are (at least in my mind) meant to represent what happens when you put the human race in a situation that is more stressful and difficult than anything we've ever encountered. Break them, and see where the pieces fall so to say.

    And of course you have the UN under Lai as your moderate faction.

    I always took Cha Dawn to be the real deal. A sort of incarnate child of the planet meant to bring forth transcendence. But I too have absolutely zero problem with this all being an act meant to seduce the gullible into funding his pyramid scheme of world domination. Same with our lady Miram. I can completely see both of them running a JW style organization whose only purpose is to get wealth and control.

    So yea, no real complaint against that.

    On principal I like that. As said, I don't have a particular disagreement on any of your design choices. I am just using this conversation as an excuse to chat about SMAC lore. Because frankly it's the best lore of any video game I ever played drawing from a combination of fantastic insight into humanity and SF classics such as Solaris.

    It's literally a video game made by SF fans of the traditional pure sense for SF fans of the same.
     
  18. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    That is false. I'm not sure if you understand the license, or are just choosing to grossly misrepresent the license. I've seen Cisco routers for instance, that have GPLed code in them. Businesses quite often have a dual license strategy, where you get the GPL version if you pay $0, but you can get an unrestricted license if you pay a lot of money. People do touch and use what such companies are offering.

    The GPL does not prevent commercial activity per se. It just makes certain business models impossible, and therefore certain commercial activities worthless. For instance, an enterprise organization with a staff of well-paid, full time administrators might be just fine with the software in practice being worth $0, and content to structure all activity in terms of servicing software. But a lone wolf writing a utility to solve a thorny Windows problem, has no incentive to put a professional, sustained level of effort into a tool that will effectively be worth $0. Nor does a game developer; I can't eat if nobody ever pays me for my work.

    Chairman Yang btw is crazy as a bedbug. A specific case of my general point of view, that fundamentalism and police states go hand-in-hand and are pretty much the same thing. In my mod, this is reflected by them being very similar government models. What is Hitler without his cult of personality? What is Stalin or Mao without the kowtowing and giant signs?

    Fear of the unknown. Survival stress. Lack of personal vision, willingness to outsource that to someone else. Lack of bourgeoisie financial breathing space in a new hostile environment.

    He's running a cult. He doesn't need a lot of starting members of the cult. He just needs forced breeding programs. Hey it worked for the Nazis just fine. I actually added a line about this in his faction description.

    PETA isn't an environmentalist organization, they're an animal rights organization. There's no lore in SMAC about animal rights at all. Pointedly, if mindworms are philosophically an animal, the Gaians use them effectively for combat. That's like strapping bombs to the bottoms of dogs in WW I to have them run under tanks.

    Yet, the Morganites are depicted as fabulously wealthy, and the architecture of SMAC in general is quite lavish. These are super yuppies and there's no evidence of survival stress amongst such people. It's actually quite dissonant, in the stock game, that these crash landers can immediately start building the Merchant Exchange. Who's scrounging against the mindworms, who's setting up the stock markets?

    Yeah that's why it's still worth something 20 years later. And the game itself is a decent design, not perfect but there's stuff to do.
     
  19. PPQ_Purple

    PPQ_Purple Techpriest Engineer

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    The GPL license clearly states that any and all code that includes or links to GPL code has to also be released as GPL. There is nothing to misinterpret there.

    It's literally a license designed to prevent commercial programmers from including it in their commercial programs as much as humanly possible.

    Cisco does not earn money from their programs though. They earn money from their hardware sales and support. They aren't programmers making money off programs.

    In other words it only allows you to use the code if you use it as a closed exe, a program that you run without thinking and use for a purpose. All the while hurting and dissuading us, the honest programmers whose lives open source is supposed to make easier and better.

    The purpose of open source is to allow your solutions for problems to be used freely by others so that they can be built upon and improved for the betterment of all. It's a movement that wants to make the programming world a better place. And GPL does the opposite. It ensures that most programmers, the very people this move is supposed to help, can't use your code.

    You can have one without the other. They just naturally go really well together.

    Sure, but that sort of people are not the sort who will suddenly grow a backbone and become a moderate opposition in the crazy cult they joined.

    The thing about Yang is, personally, I feel he is probably the most genuine of all the faction leaders. Morgan just wants to get richer. Miriam might be a true believer, but she might as well be a calculating cult leader. Ditto the planet kid. Zarkov just wants to do his science in peace. Etc. etc.

    Yang and perhaps Deidra are the only ones I genuinely can't see not believing what they preach. And of the two Yang is the only one with a clear vision. As odd and alien as that vision is to us.

    PETA is the generic poster boy for nature inspired lunacy. That's why I used them.

    Honestly I tend not to treat gameplay as my primary source of lore as I understand the mechanical parts of a game have to bend in order for it to be playable. Otherwise Deidra should be start with a free tree farm in her capital. I prefer to use tech quotes and wonder movies for that reason.

    And when those are concerned Morgan is a very interesting case indeed. Like, their mid-late game lore does depict them as the stereotypical capitalists but the early game stuff shows that the man him self is very capable. Like the quote for Industrial Economics.
    He clearly understands economics to a frightening degree to be able to make such a statement. And he seems to be applying a very methodical approach to establishing a functioning economy to support a functioning society. In a different world I could see him creating a very effective command economy with those skills.

    Indeed. The thing is as timeless as DOOM. The only thing it really lacks is various quality of life improvements that we've gotten used to over the years since it was out like easy mod support.
     
  20. bvanevery

    bvanevery Warlord

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    You know you can sell GPLed code, right? It's just that once you sell it, the buyer has the same rights you do. So you might want to sell that code for $1 million or something. I don't know how often anyone has done this, or at what scale. But the idea of a big up front price for the code, such as with crowdfunding, is compatible with the GPL. A specific example I can think of where something like this actually happened, is Blender. Enough money was raised for the company that had made Blender, that they were willing to release it GPL. And now it has remained the one true 3D modeling and animation program of the Free Software ecosystem.

    That is entirely the point. It suits their business model, to make money on hardware, not software. They are not unique in this: Apple is also selling hardware, much moreso than software. Google sells advertizing, and is perfectly willing to undermine anyone who sells hardware or software. These strategic, macroeconomic business models are all dukeing it out now, for global dominance.

    Your thought process isn't clear here. The GPL requires code to be open and modifiable. This is why various commercial endeavors won't use it, because it's not possible for them to make money with people freely copying the code. What if every game developer were required, in practice, to run a server and sell their game as a "software service", the way Richard M. Stallman thinks the world is supposed to work? Well that would make the barriers of entry way too high for the lone wolf indie, he or she would never survive in such a world. RMS, unwittingly or not, is saying if you don't have some big corporate team and a pile of capital to do all kinds of online support for services, you can go fudge yourself. Well fudge him. I appreciate what he's tried to do for software, but the history I've read is he's also an ass, with strong opinions about how things "should be" that don't hold water in the real world. Just talk to the XEmacs crowd about the guy, that was one of the big famous code forks.

    "Who gets the power" is not as straightforward as you claim. Consider the developer energy put into various BSD Unix distributions, for instance. They don't have even remotely the critical mass of Linux distros, despite being "correctly" licensed in our view. This is because of the reality of what constraints do or don't cause people to do. The GPL conditions programming labor in certain ways. It conditions corporate contracts in certain ways. The ecosystem of Linux is objectively more successful than that of BSD.

    Yet, Linux sucks as a consumer OS. That ecosystem the GPL creates, has negative effects as well. They can't agree on anything! They dither endlessly about principles, and do nothing that profit oriented hardware providers want to hear about. Linus Torvaldis famously gave NVIDIA the middle finger a number of years ago. I don't know if that's gotten better, I haven't been checking lately. But there are these big battles about "how to do reality" where Linux is a big loser. Clearly, GPL ideology gets in the way of some kinds of endeavors.

    A lot of Linux is, culturally, wires and loose ends hanging out all over the place. It attracts techies who like that, who want to scrounge around in the muck. They think it's fun, they think it's all toys and amusing. They feel special understanding all this muck that other people don't understand. They usually have the industrial design sensibilities of a complete turd. They wouldn't last a day at Apple. These are generalizations, but broadly, they're true. I did 3 years of Linux recently, and I am a "hardcore" tech guy. I came to realize just how different my design sensibilities are from most of them. Most of those people are fully ok with things being crap.

    Strategically, I think it has a lot to do with Computer Science / Engineering people who didn't learn how to bang out 10 page papers back in college, the way we Liberal Arts types did. When people don't know how to communicate, it shows in their work.

    Find me any example of a regime in real human history, that was a police state, without also being fundamentalist and intolerant of other ideologies. I'm not talking about Christian fundamentalists, I mean the general pattern of fundamentalist approach to ideology, writ large. The Nazis were obviously fundamentalists for instance. They make up a whole Germanic religion and mythos, and insisted that Jews etc. all had to die.

    You might think that, and unless I'd read a biography of Mao Tse-Tung, I'd agree with you. But I came to realize, with Mao at least, it was all bullfeathers. He totally gaslit everyone. Everything he said was for others to believe, not for him to do. The image of the leader, the persona, is not the same thing as the leader.

    No, he's just got a writer trying to make him sound impressive. There's no substance to this claim that "incrementalism can't work" at all. There is always an economic system, it's whatever people are exchanging as they interact with each other. Could be sex for a pack of cigarettes, not having much supply of those post-crash.

    He's given a groovy line to characterize him as an "industrialist". That's not wrong, as a matter of character. But as a matter of simulation, it's a lie. Morgan's whole world view is a lie. It is entirely self-serving so he can pursue wealth the way he wants to. There are 6 factions with other ideas about how to organize everything. Do you think Spartans won't manufacture rifles?

    Yeah, lot of lessons learned on my part about how not to write a game for modding. Caviar 3D format, ugh!
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2018

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