Fallen Enchantress v1.3 fun

By on February 8, 2013 9:04:31 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
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Lest you think Legendary Heroes is going to get all the fun, plain old Fallen Enchantress is getting a ton of love too.  We’re working on 1.3 and wow. I don’t want to oversell it but gameplay wise, this will be the biggest change since the pre-release builds IMO.

Where do I start? Let’s start with Diplomacy.

Diplomacy

IMO, the biggest weakness of Fallen Enchantress is the diplomacy system.  There’s still a lot of stuff that could be done here but my biggest beef has been the way the AIs interact with players and you.  One minute they’re your buddy and the next they’re declaring war.

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Now, the schizophrenic behavior of AI players is nothing new. Heck, multiplayer games are much worse in that regard.  But it’s one area that single player games can be much better at. 

I tinkered around the edges in 1.1 and 1.2 but ultimately decided it had to be tossed out.  Sometimes, you have to nuke the system from orbit.  And so the 1.3 diplomacy system won’t really seem different at first glance but under the covers it’s a whole new world.  First, the AI no longer “calculates” relations. Instead, it fills a bucket of love (or hate) that gradually changes over time.  Because it’s now a bucket (that means your history with them matters) there’s a lot of interesting behind the scenes “stuff” I can do. 

Unfortunately, most users won’t even be aware of these changes but I think the expert players will.  For instance, AI players will be more inclined to offer peace even if they’re stronger. That’s because it’s not calculation relations, it’s looking at your history together and the history of others.  So it’ll look at what is in its best interests overall.

Smarter

The AI is quite a bit smarter.  The problem with these games is that it’s hard to have the AI be “smart” if the designer isn’t that good at the game.  I’ve gotten a lot better at the game thanks to those players who post YouTube videos of their strategies. I incorporate those into the AI (and use them myself).  For example, you very well may get creamed by the AI getting the Forge of the Overlord (spell of mastery victory) as a lot of players win that way and the AI focused too much on conquest.

Balance

We’re also doing a lot on the balance front.  One of my pet peeves is how many “empty” turns there are.  It’s a habit we brought over from GalCiv II that we’re curing (or starting to cure) with v1.3 of FE.  Things will definite “move” a bit faster.

For instance, the differences between Towns, Conclaves, and Fortresses has been significantly increased.  Towns provide a lot more gold. Conclaves a lot more research. And Fortresses a lot more production.  The AI has the advantage here because it’s able to calculate the right balance based on looking at other players (you can look at other players too but most human players don’t – but it’s fair game to the AI since we let you look at the other player stats).

World Generation

1.3 is the first version with procedural tile yield support.   That basically means that the map generator will look at a lot of other factors when deciding the tile yield of a given tile is.  The result is a lot more variance.

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FUN!

Generally speaking, FE 1.3 is just a lot more fun.  That said, the best way to make the game more enjoyable is to get more units for each side.  The AI doesn’t design its own units. It uses what you create. The more units you give a faction, the smarter the AI gets.

Why?

So why are we putting so much effort (and hence $$$) into making Fallen Enchantress even better? Well first, it’s important that Legendary Heroes be distinct. Legendary Heroes is an expansion pack. It’s not supposed to make the game funner by “fixing” things in FE.  It’s about expanding on concepts already there and adding new ones. FE 1.3 is about taking an already fun game, taking feedback and what we’ve learned and polishing it. 

I’m pretty excited for 1.3 to get out. I don’t have a date yet. My guess is probably in 2 weeks.

Spell of Making: DEFEAT

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Ultimately in my test game, Pariden won by casting the spell of making.  I’m requesting some tweaks so that there’s more warning when the various factions are constructing the towers leading up to it since this caught me by surprise and I only had 10 moves to do something about it.

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February 8, 2013 7:46:23 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks for the Diplomacy upgrade, it really was the only thing about the game that seemed out and out broken. Can't wait! For this or the new expansion.

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February 8, 2013 8:04:27 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Frogboy - Just wanted to say - Thank you. 

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February 8, 2013 8:16:01 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks Frogboy! It sounds like your really trying to push FE to it's limits.

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February 8, 2013 8:41:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

1.3 is the first version with procedural tile yield support. That basically means that the map generator will look at a lot of other factors when deciding the tile yield of a given tile is. The result is a lot more variance.

Ohhh playing on my curiosity... Curse you...
And thanks for all of its
Looks really good.
Hm, now I won't be able to intimately know why the terrain tiles have the certain stats anymore ...

Sincerely
~ Kongdej

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February 8, 2013 9:05:31 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Kongdej,

1.3 is the first version with procedural tile yield support. That basically means that the map generator will look at a lot of other factors when deciding the tile yield of a given tile is. The result is a lot more variance.

Ohhh playing on my curiosity... Curse you...
And thanks for all of its
Looks really good.
Hm, now I won't be able to intimately know why the terrain tiles have the certain stats anymore ...

Sincerely
~ Kongdej

You'll see the pattern. It's not random.

Tiles near woods give off more materials but a lot less food.  Tiles near rivers give more food. That kind of thing.

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February 8, 2013 10:10:30 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Looking good bra'

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February 8, 2013 10:35:23 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

I do appreciate the work Frogboy (and perhaps others?), the changes look pretty good. I won't have the time to play for quite a while, but I'm rooting for you guys.

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February 8, 2013 11:43:32 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


Ultimately in my test game, Pariden won by casting the spell of making.  I’m requesting some tweaks so that there’s more warning when the various factions are constructing the towers leading up to it since this caught me by surprise and I only had 10 moves to do something about it.

In MOM it did quite well letting you know another race was working on the Spell of Mastery and if you had it researched you had time to bust it with Worldly "Dispell Magic". It cost a lot of resources but it helped you have time to get over there and try to pulverize who was casting it. I also recall in Civilization it told you when the AI was starting to build a wonder or a space ship so you had time to thwart it if you had the power.

Though to be honest I think one should have to have some sort of SPY in the area or the enemy capital to be able to KNOW that the AI was working on the Spell of Mastery or any other spell. It would make it more realistic and it could add another CHARACTER to the game like in the TOTAL WAR series where you have to build SPY units to enter other factions cities.

I have to admit one of the nasty things I loved to do in Civiization just before I launched my own spaceship I would launch a world nuclear bombing raid with every nuclear weapon I hade. lol It's something I would imagine whoever leaves this planet first might do.

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February 8, 2013 11:47:52 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

If I have a complaint about the diplomacy in FE it's that things got too predictable.  When I see that the AI has a larger military force and a dialogue box comes up saying that war has been declared, I want to reply back 'Well this is a cliché.'  Otherwise, even if the AI should be my mortal enemy, it makes all sort of offerings during times of peace.  Hopefully, the changes to diplomacy will tend to colour your future relations with the blood spilled in the past.  It would be a nice touch to just have a customisable modifier in the faction's XML that says 'Don't trust these guys, don't turn your back and don't blink.'

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February 9, 2013 12:15:50 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Like these changes.  I saw a clumsy attempt in 1.29 by Resoln at a spell of making victory already, along with constant requests for peace.

 

 

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February 9, 2013 12:16:22 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I have to admit one of the nasty things I loved to do in Civiization just before I launched my own spaceship I would launch a world nuclear bombing raid with every nuclear weapon I hade. lol It's something I would imagine whoever leaves this planet first might do.

You're a very very bad man.

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February 9, 2013 12:33:41 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

I appreciate the update Brad.  Good job!

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February 9, 2013 3:38:07 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I just hope the AIs won't become such peacemongers as in Endless Space (that's the name of a game you might or might not have heared of).

I actually like how they are aggressively punishing you when you are weak.

I feel that too many games try to simulate "realistic" behaviour for AI's diplomacy instead of "player playing to win" behaviour and FE is different in this regard, which is a thing I really like.

What I felt needed changing, from a "player playing to win"-perspective is their habit of multiple-frontier wars even with empires on the other side of the map.

I would concentrate on one empire at a time. The one that is most easy to conquer, whereas being in clsoe proximity plays an important role in determining how easy it is.

Also I would offer peace when I can't take their last super-well defended city and have taken all their outposts already. So I can go for other targets without those guys trying to recapture outposts and intercepting lonely units/champions moving close to their city while I concentrate on someone else.

Oh, and as for old DOS-Games: I love the mechanics of the original Master of Orion. I think that game-design-wise it's a masterpiece. But everytime I revisited it, I quickly was turned off by how buggy it is and how stupid the AI acts. 8[

And, not to be rude, but I think that ToA with all it's new tech-trees kinda broke GalCiv 2 AI-Wise. It lacked at least 2 months of polishing and sorting out logical errors. Mods have tried to do that but they couldn't catch everything. So I feel GC2:DA is much more stable and enjoyable despite or even because of the lack of faction-specific tech trees.

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February 9, 2013 3:55:38 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

AI's need to recognize when they are overextended, and when they are going to lose, in which case the best idea is to get an ally to barge in.


AI's should be more willing to jump into wars that look even.

 

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February 9, 2013 4:16:56 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Alstein,
AI's need to recognize when they are overextended, and when they are going to lose, in which case the best idea is to get an ally to barge in.

I agree. Trying everything to not lose is a thing they should definately do.

Quoting Alstein,
AI's should be more willing to jump into wars that look even.

Unless you can convincingly explain why it should, I would disagree on that. Trying to not lose, at least to me seems a higher priority than trying to win. And if the result is uncertain, taking that risk doesn't seem worthwhile.

Edit: Here's an interesting game-design-discussion about AI in global-strategy-games:

He discusses "good AI" vs. "fun AI". And I prefer "good AI" in games like that.

 

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February 9, 2013 7:42:37 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It really sounds awesome! I was always a bit disapointed at seeing all my enemies with all their magical towers and yet, not using it. 

Increasing the differences between kinds of cities sounds fun too. At the moment, I feel it is a bit like "have one fortress at your border, have one conclave for the special potions, the rest all towns". At least, for me it tends to be that way. Now, it will be more viable to have a warmonger faction with lots of fortresses, popping units over and over, or a scholarly faction getting really, really ahead on research by having lots of conclaves.

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February 9, 2013 8:01:47 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Real nice bunch of improvements here. I was hoping for a spell of making update. Nice to see that's a factor in the game now and not just an easy escape to victory for the player. Still a warning or gang up system would be welcome. Like the tile changes and the bigger difference between towns, conclaves an fortresses.

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February 9, 2013 8:27:21 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Sounds great, frogboy!

Has the AI ability to break pacts and tributes next round been fixed as well? This is most serious bug of current diplomacy system...

Or at least make it cost them hefty sum of gold or influence (LH: fame)  

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February 9, 2013 10:27:36 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks  Frogboy, the update sounds really great!

Please consider making Stormworld an official part of FE. Compensate the folks who made the mod, polish it up, maybe add some content, and completely integrate it into FE.

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February 9, 2013 10:40:27 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

1.30 = great news !

If you're looking at the diplomacy system, one thing that should also change is the tech agreement: today the best deal is the cheapest (with weak AI) since it gives a bonus as a % of OWN tech, so you get something and AI gets crumbs (and the expensive ones: you get the same and AI gets lots).

It should be the other way around: tech agreements should provide a % of the OTHER player's tech rate, so expensive tech agreements are worth much more. Would also act as a balance mechanism between runaways and stalled AI, which the game is very lacking (AI enters positive or negative spiral, no damping or 2nd chance mechanisms)

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February 9, 2013 11:19:55 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Legendary Heroes is an expansion pack. It’s not supposed to make the game funner by “fixing” things in FE.

 

Good to hear..I was honestly feeling a bit yerked by Legends in this regard..but I chalked it up to the way business works these days.

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February 9, 2013 12:03:39 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I hope the diplo UI is getting a spruce up as well, especially when the AI contacts the player. The player has no information at his or her disposal when trying to make a decision with the current crappy UI interface.  I would also like the ability to counter the AI's demands/offers.

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February 9, 2013 9:13:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

looking forward to this

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February 10, 2013 1:03:29 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Hey Frogboy, can the high score table get some love, I'd like the game to keep a record of past game scores and a way to look at them any time I want.

 

 

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February 10, 2013 1:03:41 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Brad,

 

I have done my best to give detailed feedback in these two posts:

 

http://forums.elementalgame.com/438225

 

http://forums.elementalgame.com/439638

 

but no stardock employee has read them that I can tell.  I just ask that you take a look at my discussion of granularity giving more balance control, and read my specific feedback about bugs and typos so that the game can be... better. I am happy about the bucket diplomacy changes, and particularly excited about the legendary heroes revamp since the game can really benefit from a broader combat diversity (see your post about failed cutting vs blunt) and deeper customization. I am actually thankful that the whole "Free to Elemental preorders" thing will end with the Legends expansion, because I believe in voting with my wallet. Your company gives me hope for an alternate future in which game developers actually care about their finished product and their customers.

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