AI Wars: Beta 3 Edition

By on April 24, 2012 6:38:44 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Draginol

Join Date 03/2001
+102

Update: 

Hour long AI test video for the truly die hards who want to see all the mistakes:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnPKHQIksrA&feature=youtu.be

 

I see all. I know all. At least, when it comes to this map.

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In the top left we have Markin, leader of the AI civilization of Gilden.

In the bottom right, we have me, Draginol, leader of Pariden.

How many turns will it take me to wipe them out? What mistakes will the AI make that can be exploited (and fixed)?

First…some notes

This build is 0.911 which has some balance updates to make sovereigns and champions a little less powerful. The monsters are somewhat more aggressive and the AI has had some general improvements since 0.91.

Second…help me!

If you see me making a mistake, let me know.

Early Game:

I train up two pioneers and then the tower of dominion. I recruit a champion and send the champion in one direction and my sovereign in another.

(to be continued).

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Othollo vs. Black Widow monster. Othollo has stone skin enchantment on him already.

Othollo wins.

Opinion: Level 1 champion shouldn’t be able to take out a black widow. Suggestion, Stone skin should do +4 defense plus +4 per earth shard.

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Same issue:

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My first level sovereign took out a troll by himself.

Opinion: Troll should get 2X more HP than it currently does.

AI Early game: Meanwhile…

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Lord Markin just did the same thing. However, he isn’t using stone skin.

Opinion: Stone skin should be a “gotta have” for the sovereign.

Let’s look at the code…

Ok, this is where “strategy” comes into play in AI writing.  The code is very conservative about casting spells with regards to mana.  So at the start of the game, it doesn’t cast a lot of spells even though, IMO, it should cast some spells as early as possible even if it means lowering the available mana.

There are a few ways to do this:

1. Have an XML value for “Early Game AI multiplier” which tells the game to multiply the value early on.

2. Have the code take into account that the value of storing mana should be different at different times in the game.

3. Treat certain unit targets different than others (the value of a spell that affects a sovereign is different than a spell that might target a champion that is stationed in a city).

etc.

AIs in the mist

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As you can see, the AI is intent on building a civilization. An admirable goal to be sure.  But not a good strategy.

By contrast…

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My early development has focused on training up pioneers and now soldiers to go out and conquer.

With those units, I go out and level up:

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By contrast, the AI leader is Soloing it:

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Mind you, it’s not that I don’t think about sending units to reinforce the sovereign.  It’s always a balance between how far should it send them and how long should the sovereign wait around? What’s the attrition rate of units getting to the sovereign? Should I send the sovereign home or keep him in the field?

There’s a lot of tweaking that goes into this sort of thing that improves iteration by iteration.

Combining Heroes

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One thing the AI does is that once champions get to a certain level, it will gradually put 2 in an army and potentially 3 or more depending on their level.

This is something I have to tweak almost every build because what is a “high enough” level changes.

Now, In this battle the AI is escorting pioneers with two champions and a Drolgard (a mid level Gildenian unit).

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The AI (bpttp, left) casts stone skin on himself and then gift of iron right off the bat.

Gilden’s Drolgard unit is better than my Destiny’s Guard unit but he only has 1 of them (the other is a scout). But he does have two champions.

Let’s see what he’s done with his champions:

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Yeesh. Level 12.  This is why I get nervous about changing the soloing behavior. Because there is a cost to having the AI wait around for escorts even if he does get killed a lot more often.  If sovereigns got injuries, I’d have to rewrite this.

His other hcampion isn’t that great.

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vs.

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It’s going to really boil down to whether I can take out his units and his extra champion I think.

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On the second round, the AI Markin cast growth on himself. Then his champion cast haste on him. So this is not looking very promising.

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The growth spell AI Markin has is self explanatory. And bad for me.

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So if I should have done something differently there, feel free to tell me.

 

…later, Lord Markin is alone. How powerful is he?

 

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This is a bit of an ambush but let’s see what I can do against him.

His first turn he casts growth.

His second turn he casts stone skin.

His third turn he casts gift of iron. Very wasteful. Will check his mana after the battle. But it’s pretty bloody nasty combo. He has a 63 defense.

Here is how the rest of the battle goes:

http://screencast.com/t/uuG8UvkqKO

He only has 65 mana left so he must have determined that he needed to win that battle.

So that’s enough for today.  Plenty to integrate in for this week.

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April 24, 2012 6:48:22 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,
My opinion is that champions and sovereigns should BECOME titans of power. But they should start out pretty ordinary.

Funny, I would rather see them in a "leadership" position, so it weren't so beneficial to bup them together lategame.

Sincerely
~ Kongdej

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April 24, 2012 6:51:47 PM from Stardock.net (Stardock Games) Stardock.net (Stardock Games)

Is the spell-decision system based on XML values, or does the AI actually try the spells out to see how much of an effect they have? Maybe it could just try to see how much damage the spell does on average, or how much it changes stats etc if it doesn't do that already... XML-value based AI feels like artificial-non-intelligence to me.

How much damage the spell does is known to the AI via the XML.  When you play, don't use select items and spells based on what they say they'll do? That's what the AI does.

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April 24, 2012 7:08:51 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


What i like to do in early game is build 2 pioneers and a milita.

while they are building i explore around my city and pick what loot i can.

The militia tanks for my sovereign and the 1 hero i can recruit in the first few turns.

I like to play with life 2 so i get the healing spell and i can usually find a hero with water 1 for meditation for immediate city spam to generate mana if i have no shards around me.

This group of 3 units sov, hero , militia gives me the time i need to level them up on monsters and build troops with traits once i get some research and resources unlocked.

my 2 pioneers will grab resources unless i find a high grain or high materials location.

then i go into build mode in my main city and get tier 1 and 2 civ tech to boost it as much as possible. My second city will be a troop producing city.

Generally i find food more important than materials because population adds material production over time and generates your gold and research. A high materials location but low food is only good for pumping out troops - especially if its near a river.

Other than that, my choice of civ tech, war tech and magic tech depends on my local resources.

I do want to try a game avoiding war tech and using the troops generated by civ tech supported by the magic tech  troops, but you need a good starting location for that event to happen.

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April 24, 2012 7:09:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I was wondering about the early-game-multiplier you mentioned in the original post. That felt like basing decisions not on how the spells play but on XML multipliers, and got me curious about how the system works. Another issue which got me curious was that I saw (in 0.90) the AI repeatedly try to cast different spells on a magic-resistant unit. That seemed like it wasn't actually checking the effect of the spell "in real life".

Just interested in this stuff, that is why I am asking...

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April 24, 2012 7:21:26 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ,
So if I should have done something differently there, feel free to tell me.

Fireball... FIREBALLL!!!!

well your probably wouldnt have won, but you would make a good god damn mess of his pioneers and scouts/spearmen .

Besides, he have no casters or ranged, (well he had buffers), but you could have stayed back and blasted (run to the back of the combat map), also depending on your fireshards, fireball his infantry or firedart his heroes (lots of fire shards = fire darts)

PS: whats wrong with that screencast, it only says there is 1 "lord markin" on the opposing team
Edit: Some "idiot" cant read

Sincerely
~ Kongdej

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April 24, 2012 7:28:11 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Kongdej,

Quoting Frogboy, reply 4My opinion is that champions and sovereigns should BECOME titans of power. But they should start out pretty ordinary.

Funny, I would rather see them in a "leadership" position, so it weren't so beneficial to bup them together lategame.

Sincerely
~ Kongdej

 

With Pariden, my current sovereign is a background type who's got the clumsy trait, but has all the spellbooks, is an evoker, and hastes everything in sight unless she's needed to administer direct damage.  Earlier on, I had a sovereign who into the thick of things, spelled herself up, and got into the thick of things.  Pariden lets you do either.  Magic's malleable.  It's a very finite resource, but you should be able to use it to do so many things.

 

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April 24, 2012 7:35:14 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Glazunov1,

Quoting Kongdej, reply 26
Quoting Frogboy, reply 4My opinion is that champions and sovereigns should BECOME titans of power. But they should start out pretty ordinary.

Funny, I would rather see them in a "leadership" position, so it weren't so beneficial to bup them together lategame.

Sincerely
~ Kongdej

 

With Pariden, my current sovereign is a background type who's got the clumsy trait, but has all the spellbooks, is an evoker, and hastes everything in sight unless she's needed to administer direct damage.  Earlier on, I had a sovereign who into the thick of things, spelled herself up, and got into the thick of things.  Pariden lets you do either.  Magic's malleable.  It's a very finite resource, but you should be able to use it to do so many things.

 

While that is true, it have little to do with heroes and sovereigns being rather mighty when u just mop them up together and lead them run carnage on some other faction, I never feel to build troops up to mid-game since I can bush-wack most of the monsters until my heroes come to the point where they mash up all the monsters, well usually only my sovereign that gets the ability to solo huge dragons and wildlands bosses as of 0.91 (had to have mana burst or help in 0.86). That is what I mean in the  fact that I would rather see heroes have less powerfull abilities, but ones that boost the abilities of "trained" units too.

Sincerely
~ Kongdej

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April 24, 2012 7:45:13 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Kongdej,

While that is true, it have little to do with heroes and sovereigns being rather mighty when u just mop them up together and lead them run carnage on some other faction, I never feel to build troops up to mid-game since I can bush-wack most of the monsters until my heroes come to the point where they mash up all the monsters, well usually only my sovereign that gets the ability to solo huge dragons and wildlands bosses as of 0.91 (had to have mana burst or help in 0.86). That is what I mean in the  fact that I would rather see heroes have less powerfull abilities, but ones that boost the abilities of "trained" units too.

Sincerely
~ Kongdej

 

Don't we have that now, though, by choosing other traits on level-up?  Granted, we can't really see the hero well enough when making a selection: like the city level-ups, we're locked into making a choice without being able first to examine the screen that shows what makes that hero/city distinctive.  But I've been offered (and in one or two instances accepted) abilities for my heroes that would improve the entire stack they were in, in a small way.  I usually prefer giving those kind of traits to follower heroes, though.  I'd like my leader to stand out more.  Or am I missing what you're saying, here?

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April 24, 2012 7:57:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Getting a bit off-topic Glaz, but you are

Sincerely
~ Kongdej

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April 24, 2012 8:12:42 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Kongdej,
Getting a bit off-topic Glaz, but you are

Sincerely
~ Kongdej

 

Nonsense, no one does that, here.  That said, I'll take your word for it that we're talking at cross purposes.



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April 24, 2012 9:35:18 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Opinion: Level 1 champion shouldn’t be able to take out a black widow. Suggestion, Stone skin should do +4 defense plus +4 per earth shard.

The problem I see with spells that scale with shards, is that their power also scales with the size of the map. I like to play large maps, and large maps contain many, many shards. With a +4 bonus, it can build really high. So if you're not going to cap them, I'd rather have smaller bonuses.

In your last battle, is that Othollo still? I don't think so. What hero was that? What did he have?

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April 24, 2012 9:46:52 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'd like to see a user option for the amount of shards: sparse, moderate, or heavy.  With "magic strength" already present, that should make for some interesting combinations that could range from extremely easy for magic users to extremely difficult, and different means of dealing with the result.  A lot of magic shards but little strength to magic would lead to a free-for-all for shards among those who use them regularly.  A lot of magical strength and very few shards would make their capture and continued control a primary goal.

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April 24, 2012 9:51:19 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It is a little hard to talk about the best strategies in this format. Can you post some videos of your choices?

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April 24, 2012 10:51:14 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting seanw3,
It is a little hard to talk about the best strategies in this format. Can you post some videos of your choices?

 

If that was aimed at me, I lack any experience.  My last and only video-making occurred back in college, in 1972.  I think the technology has moved on, since then.

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April 24, 2012 11:04:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I was aiming at Brad, but I have the Clumsy Injury, so sometimes I strike the wrong unit.

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April 25, 2012 6:22:29 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Colbert30,

Opinion: Level 1 champion shouldn’t be able to take out a black widow. Suggestion, Stone skin should do +4 defense plus +4 per earth shard.

The problem I see with spells that scale with shards, is that their power also scales with the size of the map. I like to play large maps, and large maps contain many, many shards. With a +4 bonus, it can build really high. So if you're not going to cap them, I'd rather have smaller bonuses.

In your last battle, is that Othollo still? I don't think so. What hero was that? What did he have?

Yes, I think less scaling is the solution. How can you possibly balance a spell that can have anywhere up to 5 times as much bang per buck, with others that don't scale at all?

But the game also needs to have SOME way of allowing people to cast really powerful buffs and direct damage spells. Very few games attempt to scale one spell through the entire game. Even the designers on Skyrim realised you couldn't make one Lightning Bolt spell scale for the entire game. If you can win a lategame battle by using a cheap flame dart spell to deal godlike damage, why bother using your expensive firestorm?

It would all be much easier to balance with less scaling, and “greater” versions of these basic spells. Say Stoneskin as 4+2/shard and Ironskin 6+3/shard. That gives people an incentive to aquire shards, and to improve their spell selection. Right now all the later game spells have very specialist functions. If improving your spell selection doesn’t improve your bread and butter direct damage and buffs, then there’s not much reason to pursue it, other than vanity.

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April 25, 2012 8:23:29 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Maybe there is a problem between the linkage of spells, equipment and technology level?

I currently employ this strategy:

  • Explore with your sovereign. If you happen to get a good champion, explore with that too. However, the champion isn't important.
  • Kill everything you can, steal loot from those monsters you can't kill.
  • Research shard harvesting early, conquer all shards found.
  • It isn't that important what you do with your city.
  • When leveling up, pick spell mastery.

Using this strategy you will have soon enough a sovereign with level 5 spells and killer equipment. You will have enough mana to cast any spells you want to.

Why does the strategy work? First, stealing loot is too easy, and many easy monsters give powerful loot. Second, it is too easy to keep shards you have no hope to guard effectively. Just build outpost and more that likely the shard will not be attacked, especially because you can sweep off most of the easier monsters in the beginning of the game.

I hope the first issue will be solved by balancing and making the monsters better at protecting their loot. Second issue might not need solving at all if the monsters were a little more aggressive and a little harder to kill. This might be fixed in 0.911 already.

The third reason why the strategy works is that you don't actually need technology at all. The sovereign will be powerful enough with just shard harvesting, spells and equipment found. To balance this it might be a good idea to unlock certain spell and equipment abilities with magic research - you found the Sword of Flames, but you can't lit it before you have researched Fire Mastery. You have Stone Skin, but it gives only +3/+1 per shard defense until. You get +2 per shard if you research Earth Mastery, and +5 base if you research Master Spells. And so on.

The effect would hopefully be that you could not concentrate on the sovereign alone. Your strategy might be exploration and conquest by using champions and your sovereign, but you would still need to research magic technology to make the hero-units really powerful. The pacing of sovereign power is synchronized with other avenues of power. Most of all, you actually need to concentrate a little in building your civilization, it is not enough to just build up your sovereign.

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April 25, 2012 8:40:34 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting seanw3,
It is a little hard to talk about the best strategies in this format. Can you post some videos of your choices?

Or he could give us a day 1 save that we could all play and chronicle sort of like in a PBEM log. The only problem is that it would have to be the same game build or it would be incompatible with ours.

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April 25, 2012 9:54:05 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Colbert30,
Or he could give us a day 1 save that we could all play and chronicle sort of like in a PBEM log. The only problem is that it would have to be the same game build or it would be incompatible with ours.

That sounds like a very good idea. It would give Stardock a cross-section of strategies being used by people.  It would also show them if there's any broken tactics, so they can balance things out.  And it should give Frogboy a good idea of what players are doing so the AI can either implement or counter it.

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April 25, 2012 10:18:15 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Yes, we could even post our own save for inspection after each log. I think it would be a great way for all of us to learn, too. I don't know or understand many of the game mechanics yet and the game help is still incomplete.

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April 25, 2012 10:19:44 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Colbert30,

Quoting seanw3, reply 38It is a little hard to talk about the best strategies in this format. Can you post some videos of your choices?

Or he could give us a day 1 save that we could all play and chronicle sort of like in a PBEM log. The only problem is that it would have to be the same game build or it would be incompatible with ours.

ALOT of game balance is saved in the save file, (I think it was Derek who mentioned this somewhere, or it was a passing goose?, who really knows)

Sincerely
~ Kongdej

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April 25, 2012 12:25:51 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Colbert30,
Yes, we could even post our own save for inspection after each log. I think it would be a great way for all of us to learn, too. I don't know or understand many of the game mechanics yet and the game help is still incomplete.

Thirded.

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April 25, 2012 3:14:23 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Quoting KingHobbit,



Quoting Frogboy,
reply 4
My opinion is that champions and sovereigns should BECOME titans of power. But they should start out pretty ordinary.


I really like the idea of the Sovereigns becoming a titan.  I am less on board with the champions becoming so.  However, as I stated on the other thread, if they are going to become titans then there should be far less of them.  Walking around with a stack of 10 heroes that are Titans, will deplete how important they are.  The game will become a race of recruiting champions just to get the larger stack.  If your attacked by a strong army you should have a feeling anxiety.  If there is a champion leading the army it should be dread.  If the sovereign is there leading the army, it should be utter doom.  Right now, because there are so many champions in the game, it is kind of ho-hum.  Their fun, and the game is fun, but champions feel common just because of the quantity of them.

Speaking about the "other" thread, it should be a major decision to send a champion, particularly your sovereign into battle.  You need to do it, but damn it is going to suck if they die.  Make the consequences of losing a battle with one even worse.  Champion lost a arm, can no longer use two handed weapons or a weapon and a shield.  Champion was defeated in battle, suffered tremendous injuries, loses half of all acquired traits at random (champion can't remember is own name let alone how to do stuff).  The game I am playing I have 5 cities with two champions guarding four of five, plus I still have an army with three champions in it.  Champion suffers broken back, champion cannot be used for 30 turns and then carry capacity cut by two thirds.  Make the punishments hurt.

If they are going to become that powerful, than the punishment for using them foolishly should be equally as powerful.  Make it so if they lose once it would probably be better to just retire them.  Same goes for the sovereign.

 

Just my opinion.

 

I agree, if you loose a battle with yur main char you should not be able to use him or her right away. It's like WOW, death has no real penalties. Dies as many times as you want it's matters not.

 

I think that loosing should be something that hurts you a lot.

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April 25, 2012 7:35:10 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,


How much damage the spell does is known to the AI via the XML.  When you play, don't use select items and spells based on what they say they'll do? That's what the AI does.

 

Well, that's kind of what I do.  But as a casual gamer, say, maybe I'm retarded because it's difficult for me to tell how much damage a spell is going to do *cough* UI improvement *cough*

 

I know from experience that a certain spell tends to rock-ass.  But the description says something like "8 damage +4 per fire shard"

 

How many fire shards do I have?  I don't remember, at least 1 or 2, or maybe 3?  Can't remember.  And then I have +50%, and another +50%, and maybe another +50%?  I just take the "+50%" whenever it comes up as an option on level up.  So, does this mean that if I have 2 fireshards and 3 of the +50% traits that it does some amount of calculation of damage, but is the +50% stackable?  I, as a player, don't have a straightforward way of seeing/knowing this.

 

(8+4+4)*1.5^3  ?  (=54)  or

(8+4+4) + (8+4+4)*0.5*3 ???  (=40)

 

What would be handy would be when one mouses over a spell in tactical combat that the little window that pops up would say "base damage 54" and possibly a calculation there to show you how it's calculated, and when you click on it and point my little spell wand cursor over the dude that I'm thinking about nuking it would say "37 fire damage" or something, again possibly with a calculation to see why it's reduced from 54 to 37 based upon the dude's resistance or whathaveyou.

 

Again, maybe I'm retarded and this is how things currently are, and I just haven't noticed or something.  And maybe I'm lazy for not looking deeper into the back-end of the operation to figure these things out without dumby alerts popping up and just telling me the answer.  But most players are more intellectually curious about how to take over the world, than figuring out if their flaming dart is going to do enough damage to the MOB left with 23 hp to finish him/her off, or leave him/her with 2 hp.

 

cheers,

 

-tid242

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April 25, 2012 7:48:36 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Start of the game 1 or 2 pioneers depending on whether there is a shard around, then workshop.  Always get shard harvesting if you don't start with it.

Found a second city straight away.  Try and found one city with max grain, and one city with max materials.  The extra pioneer at the beginning should grab a shard, any shard, its just mana.  The max grain city max out its production and then keep growing it with buildings to make it maximum population, you might need to intermix production increase buildings with food per grain increase buildings.  The max materials city should mix between spamming pioneers and buildings.  I usually do about 3 pioneers to one building.  More pioneers if there's lots of idelal places to grab.

Set tax rate to 0 at the start. do not create troops (pionners aren't troops, they don't have weapons ).  hire champions and go forth and kill as much as can.  If a job is to hard, try a different direction or join forces of the champions for that battle and then split them up again.  If you're nurturing a mage, a high defense summon suffices for a long time before you need troops as well.

Stone skin is a must.

Magic champs are waaaaay more powerful than a melee champ unless they have nature's cloak and 7 or 8 earth shards or other ways to max out damage resistances to fire ice lightning.

I think I've noted somewhere before, that in tactical battles, casting buffs needs to be calculated on reducing time-to-kill.  While checking for time-to-death is more than tim-to-kill after doing any buffs.  ranged units and damag based mages can cause time-to-death be very short, so buffing becomes useless.

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