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The lowdown on AI expansion

Discussion in 'Civ4Col - Age of Discovery II' started by Wheldrake, May 16, 2009.

  1. Wheldrake

    Wheldrake Chieftain

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    I think we all have observed that in the current build of AoD2 (v1.10) the AI colonial powers expand and develop far faster than the human player can, especially at higher difficulty levels. The AI obviously has some sort of huge bonus, either free gold or exaggeratedly low prices for galleons, new colonists, even guns & horses.

    The few posts I've seen here recently mention these facts as if they were a huge problem, almost rendering the game unplayable, as if the mod were broken, and needed to be fixed.

    I'm not so sure that it does - bear with me while I explain.

    In previous builds of AoD2, and especially in vanilla Civ4Col, I found the AI colonials ridiculously easy to vanquish. Sometimes all it took was a canon, a soldier, a dragoon and a little patience. As I moved up to v1.09, I found I needed more and more careful preparation, and a larger, more carefully deployed force, sometimes as many as a dozen veteran soldiers, with a few canons and dragoons to boot. My first reaction is that any changes in v1.10 that beef up the AI colonials and make them a more challenging opponent are a good and much-needed improvement.

    Sure, the AI colonials can now build larger, more numerous cities faster than the human player. They explore the map before the human player can rake in more than 4-6 treasure hoards, and field soldiers and dragoons in defence of their cities far faster than the human player can.

    But I suspect that they still have no real idea how to attack the human player's homeland. They may have a standing force of dragoons to help defend their cities, but the usual strategy of placing your invading dragoons and canons in a wooded hills square with a couple soldiers ought to handle that. Destroying the competing AI colonials is going to be a great challenge, but not an insurmountable one.

    All this is for the good, and makes the game more interesting.

    With vanilla Civ4Col, as well as with the progressive versions of AoD2, we have all gotten used to playing on high difficulty levels, simply because they weren't really much more difficult. In fact at the rate of increase in difficulty I observed, we would have needed not 6 but 60 levels of difficulty in order to reach a real challenge. It's good that with the current build of AoD2, the higher levels of difficulty are *extremely* difficult. I would go so far as to say that the highest level of difficulty should be impossible to win.

    So I suggest we all just back off on complaining about how fast the AI is expanding and how many galleons they can field at a ridiculously early date. I know, I too went down that road, but after giving it a bit of thought, this is all A GOOD THING. I want the game to challenge me, and if I am no longer able to pick up 85% of the FFs, that may force me to think harder about which ones I accept and which ones I reject.

    Good work, Dale, keep it up! --- Wheldrake
     
  2. kmdavis

    kmdavis Chieftain

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    Personally, I mostly agree.

    I think it's a good thing that the ai cities are bigger and better defended.

    But I also think the ai rate of expansion, and esp. the ai rate of exploration, need to be slowed down a bit.

    Human players shouldn't be dependent on getting a scout as the very first immigrant in order to have even a low chance at getting treasure.

    ------

    Speaking of problems with the ai, what's up with some of the indian tribes having claims on territory halfway across the world? It's like the Iroquois having a claim on Cuzco. I declare war on the Inca, and the Iroquois say I stole their land, and declare war on me too.
     
  3. PiMan

    PiMan Chieftain

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    I think that the massively expanding AI is appropriate for the higher difficulty levels, but the lowest should have the AI expanding only a little more than in Vanilla.
     
  4. craigdh

    craigdh Chieftain

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    I'm all for a stronger AI and faster expanding AI. I've played a few long games on mid-range difficulty levels, and yes the computer expands fast, faster than the human player for sure, but not absurdly fast (it does on the high levels). It doesn't seem to be too much of a big problem on larger maps. On a smaller map I can see the issue as it turns into a race to plop colonies down on what little space there is (on a smaller map your strategy has to be to get a few good cities and fight for the rest).

    I have only 2 minor issues with how the computer expands:

    1. They expand unimaginably fast at the beginning and then plateau right off around 100 - 150 turns or so. In the game I'm in right now, I've actually outgrown the computer by the later stages of the game (conquistador) whereas in the first 50-100 turns they dwarfed me.

    2. The comp seems to have no issue with the natives... if the human plopped down cities willy-nilly like that, the natives would certainly attack, which is a huge deterrent in the early stages when you have little to no military.
     
  5. Niptium

    Niptium Chieftain

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    I was one to say in 1.08 that the AI was just too easy and dumb... but

    This is just ridiculous. The AI expansion at the default level is just ridiculous. I want a challenge for sure but I'm not a roaming warmonger like Wheldrake seems to be. I only play once in a while on the net with a friend but in the early 1500's after something like 100 turns (Marathon), we both are at our 2nd colony with 8-10 colonists while the AI's best is 38 with cities surpassing 12 colonists and sometimes empires stretching with 7-8 colonies. Comon wtf ! That's way overboard and I consider this mod broken until this is revised.:mad:
     
  6. Wheldrake

    Wheldrake Chieftain

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    There's the trouble. I would say offhand that you really need to play at a lower difficulty level, in order to have a similar gaming experience to what you were used to in earlier builds.

    In my current game, I have five cities with 14, 8, 6, 3 and 1 pop... on turn 91, playing at regular speed and the second difficulty level. I put out four early explorers and managed to rake in just over a dozen treasures, which gave me a handy population boost, 3-4 galleon loads straight from Europe.

    Dunno why that makes me a warmonger, though I do try to at least harrass if not eliminate my colonial rivals. Why? If I don't, they'll snap up all the FFs ahead of me. Just seems like common sense.

    Cheers, --- Wheldrake
     
  7. Niptium

    Niptium Chieftain

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    I try to be peacefull and to trade except with those that are too aggressive or that found colonies at my doorstep.
     
  8. Manu_b

    Manu_b Chieftain

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    AI is peacefully most of the times anyway...
    use the pop they bring to your doorstep free to take.
    maybe think over different starategies instead of doing all the same stuff every game since first col back in time.
    AoD gave alot of new options for gameplay and if used well even at highest lvl the AI is beatable and not even soo hard to do.
    REF or a DoI is another story eventually

    regards
     
  9. Niptium

    Niptium Chieftain

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    I don't really play the game for winning but for the sheer joy of building an empire and I have scrupules about attacking for no reason the AI, I think I would act cheap doing so.

    The fact that the AI is spamming colonies like that in such a short time with such a high influx of pop is destabilizing.
     
  10. Manu_b

    Manu_b Chieftain

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    well thats your choice i guess.
    there are alot of ppl which enjoy a challenging AI and enjoy a much harder fight than just building something.
    This game is supposed to have enemies and as well supposed to have challenging enemies. that firaxis didnt manage to do so is sad enough but complaining about a mod which is a choice to install and that its too hard seems a tad too much sorry.
    I find it strange that everyone or nearly everyone complained about the lack of AI and the lack of enemies to beat as in serious enemies and now as dale managed to bring AI up to speed a tad (i wish it ould be way more aggressive tho as in going for war.) ppl complain cause they cant win on their "standard" difficulty lvl instead of switching to an easier one.
    I would suggest either playing on lowest lvl where the AI isnt really a challenge (maybe more challenging than earlier on conq lvl but still very easy to take) if this doesnt suit you i would suggest playing SimCity instead :lol::lol:

    regards

    p.s. and there are other ways to slow the pop rush or even gain from it than going into an open war with the AI....
     
  11. craigdh

    craigdh Chieftain

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    I don't mind the AI being fairly aggressive in expansion, but they are slightly over the top. It doesn't bother me too much as I just scale difficulty level, however other factors become easier along with that, which isn't necessarily good.

    The AI are much less a factor than they were in the original regardless of how quick they expand (unless you're on a small map with limited space). The AI almost never attack you... in fact, unless you attacked them before and have bad history with them, they do really never attack you. It's like they're there just to limit your expansion and have someone to race against to declare independence so you can't sit around until you have 100 dragoons.

    I seem to remember the original Col not being like this as much... I played it for the purpose of building an empire and wiping out all the other Euro's... declaring independence was just the final battle when no one else was left standing. Unfortunately eliminating the customs house has reduced the appeal of this style of play as the empires get too large to manage.
     
  12. Manu_b

    Manu_b Chieftain

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    Yup that was my point where is said i want the AI to actively seek the War if i harrass them all the time but they simply do nothing and if you want you can play a whole marathon game for all the turn through and never ever have some kind of War. Kind of dissapointing. =(

    And yes Cstom House elimination was a BIG hit on Col especially for Large Empires. Only real Solution are a few (1-3) Production Centers and rest imported like crazy with zillions of fully automated WTs else it gets unmanageable with 30+ Colonies =(

    regards

    p.s.: and seriously if i play whatever stupid game on the highest possible level i do want the "enemy" to wipe my ass BIG time. Even on the "harder than normal" levels i shouldnt be able to win every game but barely win more than i loose. Sadly enough AI programming is the lack of many games and most games can only achieve this by have massive cheats for the AI instead of "better" gameplay...
     
  13. craigdh

    craigdh Chieftain

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    Ya and the issue with running a big trade empire with a million wagon trains on automated is that A) if you get in any sort of war and they see the opponent, they break their automation, which in itself is not bad, but if you have lots it's a pain trying to figure out which routes need to be reassigned... I've got myself naming all my wagon trades based on the trade routes they run.

    And B) automated trade routes to europe have never worked for me. I set a ship on a trade route to pick up stuff and sail to europe and it never works. Have to run galleons yourself.

    I certainly miss the customs house... it's unbelievable no one has come up with a mod for it yet. I've yet to hear a single good argument as to why it's gone. It simply cuts down on the different ways to play the game.
     
  14. Manu_b

    Manu_b Chieftain

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    Usually i have all my towns set to export everything and only producing Raw Materials.
    Tools are being Imported and right away exported again if there are more than 300.
    I have 3 Production Centers where the Raw Stuff is imported and nothing exported but Tools. From there is have several Gallons assigned each which i rund myself to Europe.
    The WTs dont go on any designe Route but instead get "Fully Automated" this way i avoid the hassle to reassign tho its pretty much a "bad" way as you need to triple your WT army and they often run the same route w/o ever having fully loaded.

    I dont know why the Custom House is gone.
    The real annoying thing of my way to solve the Problem is the massive ammount of Units/Trade Goods and a hell of junk floating all arround. Especially with the new RS System it seriously lags down the Comp i am using =( i often have to reload/restart the Game in the End game case of the sheer amount of Stuff going on every Turn and the Memory leak in Col.
     
  15. craigdh

    craigdh Chieftain

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    Seems like an interesting way of running it, I've never tried fully automated WT's and setting towns to import and export. I'll try that next game.

    I wish I had the modding know-how... I'd make a customs house add myself instead of hounding the talent around here to make one :p

    I don't think anyone considered the various styles and options of play that getting rid of the customs house eliminated. Sure if I want a game where all you can do is sprint to DoI, the customs house could be an exploit given how it worked before, but that's a very minor and easily surmountable problem.
     
  16. Gherkin

    Gherkin Chieftain

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    Disclaimer: I haven't played 1.10 yet, only the RC version. That said, from the comments I gather that the AI maniacally expands on all levels, just like in the RC version. While I like the challenge, I do believe that it can get out of hand, and there are many (including myself) that would like the option of toning down the AI expansion by moving to a lower difficulty where it doesn't happen quite so fast. With the AI plopping towns on every square inch of available real estate, combining that with their apparent build/production bonus, it can get frustrating. In my games I just resorted to taking over the AI towns to get some decent production towns. However, it definitely detracts from the satisfaction of building your own empire.

    Also, as someone else has said, it does seem that the indians are much less of a factor to the AI than they should be. It may be perception, and it may be that with some gold bonuses, the AI is simply buying all the town sites, but I didn't see the AI suffering much from indian ire. Again, that may be perception, only, but it certainly -seems- that way.

    I would suggest either toning down the expansion at the lower levels or give us a "handicap" option of some kind for the AI expansion.
     
  17. Niptium

    Niptium Chieftain

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    For starters I've been playing this mod for well, more than 5 versions so I've followed the development of the mod. The step between 1.08 and 1.10 is drastic. Well if I play the vanilla version of CivIV:Colonization, the AI does attack and expand in a correct fashion. In the MOD it sits there, being numb but expanding faster than you can close your eyelids... so I guess... well...
     

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