AI Journals: Eastern Anthys

By on October 7, 2011 6:26:06 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
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Elemental is a big world. Much of our game design for Fallen Enchantress has come from imagining how different parts of the world would drive different strategy.

Western Anthys & The War of Magic

For example, in Elemental:War of Magic, we envisioned the random make staking place in Western Anthys around a century after the cataclysm. This meant a barren, desolate world where the objective was to find the tiny spots of resources (fertile land for example) and gain control of them.  Where you built your city didn’t matter so much as long as it was close to a resource tile of some kind.

But Fallen Enchantress takes place in Eastern Anthys, a land that was once the seat of power of the Titans and whose land, while far more dangerous, is less desolate. This presents some interesting AI challenges.

Where should I build my city?

In War of Magic, that was easy. Find a resource and build near it. Voila.  Those resources were all pretty uncommon and so there weren’t a lot of AI decisions there. 

In Fallen Enchantress, the precise tile matters.  To the player, they can visually tell the “good” places because they’re green (or otherworldly violet).  But if that’s not good enough, you can turn on the resource overlay and actually see the initial output of a tile. 

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Two obvious resources would be food and material. The more food, the higher the population the city can support. More material and the more productive the city can become. Since population and what improvements you build have a great deal to do with how “powerful” the city is, there is a natural inclination to have fewer, powerful cities.  The world has a limited population to attract and so the more cities you have, the more spread out your population gets. This is a tough thing for the AI because normally, having a ton of cities is always a good thing.  Here, it is an “interesting choice” that depends on your overall strategy.

 

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Sticking with the concept of “green is good” let’s also bear in mind the importance of scouting now.  The AI not only has to train pioneers but he has to find a place to send them. Which means he needs to scout out territory to find the very best tile for his strategy. This is a challenge because players will quickly notice if the AI builds a city on a stupid spot. At the same time, taking too much time scouting gives the human players the opportunity to beat them to the punch.

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Another challenge that has to be baked in a bit is that certain geographical features can act as short-cuts for the AI in terms of its scouting. Rivers, for instance, are almost always desirable to have cities around. So if the AI scouting party sees a river, he’s going to almost certainly send a pioneer out into that area in parallel with scouting. In fact, a lot of the time I’ve been spending on this code is deciding when I should “roll the dice” and send out a pioneer. What % of the tiles do I need to have explored before I send a pioneer?

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Another AI challenge has been dealing with monsters.  In Fallen Enchantress, the monsters won’t enter your territory voluntarily. So if you stay within your borders, you’re safe.  However…if your territory expands into a spot where a monster is already hanging out, then bad things are going to be done to you (or the AI player).  Monsters won’t be attacking cities (or I should say, it’ll be extremely rare). But they will camp out in the outskirts waiting for meat to come their way. 

Now, there is also a new concept called the Wildlands. This is actually a new AI player that I’ve had to program that has been very interesting to do. The Wildlands control a portion of the map. Kill their leader and you get to colonize their awesome area and get to their fabulous quests and goodie huts (easier said than done).  If you stand outside their “territory”, they won’t bother you. Walk into it and they will hunt you down. Marketing won’t let me show you call the cool new monsters they’ve got in there but the art team has had a year to come up with some horrible, nasty things to have lurking around.

Next Time: AI dealing with quests and goodie huts, the new Quest and Notable Location system.

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October 9, 2011 3:13:35 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

There will also likely be wild factions that are just unassailable until the very endgame. I get the feeling there will be alot of that. 

 

I for one plan to make Illyria, the ancient kraken from the beginning of time. She will lie dormant in a mausoleum, guarded by the greatest champion from a horrible hell dimension. If you defeat her keeper and manage to release her, she will posses one of your champions, becoming nearly immortal. 

No law firms planned. 

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October 10, 2011 6:28:07 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

One comment on some of these ideas....guys, lets try to stay away from the talk of 'should do this, should do that.' We aren't the designers here. Offering up ideas or discussing things we would like to see in the future is one thing. Saying what should and should not happen regarding features we haven't had a chance to try yet...well, that seems a bit arrogant. I know I would be annoyed as a developer if I was taking the time to showcase WIP stuff from my game, and everyone was just throwing out what I should or should not be doing instead.

 

For WoM features, we can be a little bit firmer in stating our preferences, since we have had a year to play it, through all the changes. For FE, so much is new that we really need to approach it as a mostly new game, try out what Stardock has worked hard to create for us, and then go from there, before we start trying to tell them what they should be doing.

 

Just my 2 cents...

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October 10, 2011 8:59:28 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums
Looking at the wolfpack above, just wondered if there is possiblity to subdue them? So that we can use them as resource? Wolf rider anyone?

Maybe we are given an option to not killing them, instead declare an attempt to subdue before tactical combat begins?

Unarmed combats (i.e fist fights) will give your much higher chance to stun opponent forces so that any surviving foes are given a dice 
roll to be subdued by Charisma stat of your champonion. Maybe just using your fists cannot kill anyone/any monsters, but will knocked 
them to the stunned state when their HP reaches 0.

The obvious disadvantage of unarmed combats is that it is less effective in dealing damage & it is always blunt damage type.
 
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October 10, 2011 10:12:08 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Every time you reveal a developer's journal, it is looking more and more like Civilization! I am guessing the majority of your fans approves of this, and I am in the minority

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October 10, 2011 10:23:42 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting onomastikon,
Every time you reveal a developer's journal, it is looking more and more like Civilization! I am guessing the majority of your fans approves of this, and I am in the minority

 

Of the Civilization games, I've only played Civ II: The Test of Time for 30min 13 years ago and found it horribly boring and WAY too abstract but these developer journals excite me (but so did the GalCiv II journals and man was THAT an epic disappointment....)

 

Soo what is it that you don't like so far?

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October 10, 2011 10:44:37 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Next Time: AI dealing with quests and goodie huts, the new Quest and Notable Location system.

This is something I'm excited to hear more about.

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October 10, 2011 10:45:06 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The game play was already based on Civilization, so it looking more and more like it is a bit of a moot point.  Nothing wrong with borrowing ideas to make your concept work.  

 

I personally don't care all that much about founding cities.  I am perfectly happy with games where the cities are set in game.  They tend to have better maps and more focused features.  Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Brigandine, Mount & Blade: Warband, and the like. 

 

Also, after seeing the screenshots of the new rivers, I am now completely in favor of a hex based map instead of the square, the strange bends and curves in the river look so silly to me.

 

 

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October 10, 2011 11:24:56 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Great news about the new monsters in FE.

In WOM the paucity of different monsters types made combat too predictable (and boring).

Hopefully, some of the new monsters in FE will bring with them new combat tactics that challenge the player with; number (think horde), ranged attacks, a rapid charge, magic, flying attacks or an ability to quickly move about the battlefield.

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October 10, 2011 12:53:30 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Edwin99,


In WOM the paucity of different monsters types made combat too predictable (and boring).

What does "paucity" mean?  Please don't use big words for us light-minded folk.

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October 10, 2011 1:09:38 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Or, better yet, to leap frog (smile) @climer @joasoze ideas...  have a portion of the wildlands transform into a monor nation, that builds towards major nation status, and leave the rest as wild land....

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October 10, 2011 2:48:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This game is less Civ than WoM. Tiles having value is a necessary step in the right direction. Also, Civ has changed so much from the first, you could say that Picasso's cubism is too much like Civ. 

 

Also, make sure we get some idea of quest capabilities when next you post, Frogboy. I am killing to find out. 

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October 10, 2011 7:37:32 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The more you release about this game the better it sounds.

If it turns out to be FfH2 + E:WoM then I will be a happy camper...

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October 11, 2011 10:18:05 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Lord Xia,
Also, after seeing the screenshots of the new rivers, I am now completely in favor of a hex based map instead of the square, the strange bends and curves in the river look so silly to me.

 

Yes, it should have been hex-based from the very start - it's the only way to go.

 

 

 

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October 11, 2011 10:44:31 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Square can work okay as long as the view isn't diagonal.  In HOMM2 the adventure map is square, but the rivers don't look *too* bad.   However in Elemental because you see the squares from the diagonal it is very hard to make rivers that look good (which is almost definitely why they were canned for WoM ).

Best regards,
Steven.

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October 11, 2011 11:12:19 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Perhaps rivers be allowed to connect diagonally, removing some of those strange bends. It would look better IMO, although this would create some problems as well.
[G][R]
[R][G]
Depending on how movement is handled, you could move from on of the grass tiles to the other bypassing the river entirely. Of course, we don't know if the devs want to limit movement across rivers...

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October 11, 2011 1:58:51 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The game being more like Civ is a step in the right direction.

After all, Master of Magic was based off of Civ in the first place.

E:FE is supposed to be more in line with Master of Magic than E:WOM was.

Therefore, I think it's a good thing.

 

 

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October 11, 2011 3:21:30 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Next Time: AI dealing with quests and goodie huts, the new Quest and Notable Location system.

Hi Brad, could sure use this to help get through the day.

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October 11, 2011 6:33:36 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I have no problem with the rivers.

 

Anyways...

 

Looking forward to the next update on AI, or anything else for that matter.

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October 12, 2011 10:45:40 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Quoting DsRaider,
Well hopefully monster attacks on cities aren't so rare that border cities don't need a garrison.

Hopefully this can be changed in options. I perfer to have the monsters attack cities. Keeps one on his/her toes.

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