AI Improvements

A forum for chatting about in-development game features.

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zolobolo
Posts: 221
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2016 3:49 pm

AI Improvements

Postby zolobolo » Thu Feb 09, 2017 6:20 pm

Here is a map way in the mid game that should support the AI but they all end up in the same situation which I have seen in almost all of the game: They are barely vegetating:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/t69ttmb0k0luon4/Haduir%20First.rar?dl=0

The map is medium large, not too crowded with the recommended amount of AI empires, close systems, and the human player remained so friendly with its enemies that he not only didn't attack them, he attacked the Marauder bases around him to help them out. I also signed any treaty they offered and gave them anything they requested (food, money)

Despite this you can observe how poorly all of the enemy AI empires are doing. The only one which is kinda of ok economically has 1 ships. Though it is waging war with two other empires, they are insignificant compared to its raw economic and population numbers (probably also tech as we are talking about the Orthin here).

So why does it always end like this? From what I have seen there are 3 main reasons:
1. Marauders cut down the AI empires hard due to their: sheer number of bases where they spam, tech, aggressiveness
2. Somewhat tied to the above: Marauders AVOID player space as they can be easily bribed
3. AI does not seem to be able to amass considerable fleets to begin with and combat this threat. You can see on the Yoral that they are pretty much protected by my empire from all sides, still they were unable to build up anything that resembles a strike fleet

To solve the above the simplest solutions seem simple:
1. Have the AI buy their way out from Marauder attacks if they can afford it and do not have the strength to resists. To control that this is working, diplomacy screen should show next to the Marauder faction, who or how many empires are paying them off
2. Slightly increase pay-off value for Marauders and fix the bug where it seems that human player only needs to pay once for the protection
3. Reduce strength of Marauders, making it dependent on the number of empires that are paying tribute to them. If they are paid off by 3 empires already, it should cost more for the next empire to pay them off. Thus they can scale with the empires around them but not be an outright empire killer
4. Have the Marauders fights for money so the AIs can send them against each other as "mercenary" force. As they clearly have the tech and numbers, they can effectively supplement the lacking AI fleets if the AI has the funds
5. Teach the AI to conserve ships (retreat if no chance to win - this is already working in a lot of cases) and build fleets - this is probably the most difficult task which deserves its own study but should be a mid-term goal

Another are where the AI can be improved is to gear it towards utilizing race-specific advantages.
e.g.: When fighting a well fed Ashdar Imperials Empire (fed up for over 100 turns and not Marauders), they did not seem to utilize the Stargate which could have been used to propel a fleet directly into the heart of my empire.

A quick and probably easy fix short term would be two map settings:
- Marauder base frequency (they are way to cool to turn off pud reduced occurrence helps the AI)
- Marauder aggressiveness

zolobolo
Posts: 221
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2016 3:49 pm

Re: AI Improvements

Postby zolobolo » Fri Feb 10, 2017 7:41 pm

Here is an obvious oddity from the Human AI: It is assembling 6 colony ships! in system with at least 4 habitable planets around it but does not colonize...
https://www.dropbox.com/s/zocl8svn3wuthup/WhyNotColonise.jpg?dl=0

Maybe there is a reason why the AI is afraid to colonies planets and this hampers their progress throughout the game?

Here is the save:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/avz9darfhmccjz2/ColoniseMan.rar?dl=0

bjg
Posts: 533
Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2016 10:55 pm

Re: AI Improvements

Postby bjg » Fri Feb 10, 2017 8:44 pm

I've seen groups (yes, plural, and of different factions) of 20-30 colony ships flying around close to the endgame. ;)
It's my understanding that any type on (not-scripted) AI is outside of the scope of this game. Tweaks might make it look less stupid, but it wont be smart. After all, AI isn't Sven's specialty (if I'm not mistaken).
It's also my understanding that modern games mask the lack of real AI by making it hard for the player to act smart - don't like that, it's good that SiS haven't taken that route.

zolobolo
Posts: 221
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2016 3:49 pm

Re: AI Improvements

Postby zolobolo » Sun Feb 12, 2017 7:51 am

bjg wrote:I've seen groups (yes, plural, and of different factions) of 20-30 colony ships flying around close to the endgame. ;)
It's my understanding that any type on (not-scripted) AI is outside of the scope of this game. Tweaks might make it look less stupid, but it wont be smart. After all, AI isn't Sven's specialty (if I'm not mistaken).
It's also my understanding that modern games mask the lack of real AI by making it hard for the player to act smart - don't like that, it's good that SiS haven't taken that route.

Agreed. Last game I have started was on Hard and saw the same behaviour: fleet of colony ships with no apparent purpose.

I do not expect the game to boost a not script AI either. If the script makes it follow a dozen reasonable strategies and tactics, I am satisfied.
The rest has to be done via game mechanics, like all those listed before my last point. The player should definitively not receive bonuses, just like the AI to level the playing field.

If an AI is left to grow and has some luck (which one or two of them bound to have in a huge map and if there a lot of them), they will pose a significant challenge which is what we are after here :)

Now this is currently hampered bit by some "bugs" + I have been getting suspicious recently that the scripts do not account for the existence of race specific tech and assets. e.g.: Imperials do not seem to "recognize" the value of the ancient Stargate, but need to do some testing on Harder to confirm as at this point I am not sure if Normal is not restricted

newanilamo
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Jan 21, 2017 11:11 am

Re: AI Improvements

Postby newanilamo » Sun Feb 12, 2017 1:54 pm

I play in the SiS since the release of it on steam. Many bug fixes were released since then. But none of these bugs really did not prevent to enjoy the game. The only problem that really spoils the game is the behavior of Ai-controlled players.
After winning the game for each of these races on hard and brutal difficulty levels desire to start a new game tends to zero. All by the fact that there is no challenge at all. All these additions to the game that comes with updates nice, but they don't change the root cause of the lack of challenge.
I see three solutions for this problem. The first and the worst possible is the addition of handicap to Ai players. The second is the continuous improvement of algorithms of computer players that would make their behavior at least similar to the human play. But this should be a priority for the developers, not adding a new superdreadnoughts or new guns. And finally the third and in my opinion the best option is introduction to the game the opportunity to play with other people as rivals. If the game became multiplayer I would immediately recommend to all friends and acquaintances to buy it and definitely would have spent many pleasant days playing it.

zolobolo
Posts: 221
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2016 3:49 pm

Re: AI Improvements

Postby zolobolo » Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:24 pm

After a couple of games with all races and also trying out hard difficulty, I have noticed that the AI does not seem to utilize a lot of race-specific advantages (tech) such as:
- Flak cannon not utilized by Yoral
- All the special Yoral ships are not seem to be built
- Ashad Imperials do not utilize the Ancient Stargate for invasion (cannot tell if the AI "Recognizes" its advantage during colonization
- Phidi do not contract mercenaries

These are the ones that I have noticed and are most noticeable especially the one with the merc ships or rather their absence :)

On the plus side, I did see Gremak use the distortion field generator even on later designs and maybe also taking slaves though not sure on the last one

Here is a save where the Yoral have started the war with a huge amount of minerals, a good income (almost the same as mine), around 2X the pop and planets, and 3X the amount of ships (granted the later were 99% frigates):
https://www.dropbox.com/s/vy3opz46z3v9i3s/Yoral%20Frigates%20Galore.rar?dl=0
So why is the AI still only producing Frigates, when it has suffered devastating losses against my larger ships which are few in numbers?
It could easily crush my forces even with medium sized ships or a mix of the two within short term given its population and resources
Its determination on building countless Frigates must be a glitch in the script somewhere...

The above save also shows that the Phidi are not hiring mercs and are not producing torpedo ships/frigates to round out there fleets

zolobolo
Posts: 221
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2016 3:49 pm

Re: AI Improvements

Postby zolobolo » Sun Feb 19, 2017 9:29 am

On Tactical AI:

The AI currently does not seem to utilize Boarding especially when it comes to shuttles see battle in below save:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/tvv20y3y5vzmdwv/NoCaptureToday.rar?dl=0

In the above scenario, a military transport and a frigate are facing off 3 frigates.
As the Military transport can capture a frigate in a single turn (if it waits for the point defenses to be depleted or gets close enough), the result should be obvious, still in auto combat the 3 frigates win!

This is due to the fact, that the military transport does not use the shuttles.
If these are used and used properly (not sent in against point defense), all 3 frigates are captured, and no losses are sustained.

Assault ships are utilized in large quantities by the AI, thus it is important for the tactical AI to be able to correctly utilize their main weapon

zolobolo
Posts: 221
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2016 3:49 pm

Re: AI Improvements

Postby zolobolo » Wed Mar 01, 2017 6:12 pm

AI ignoring Harpies infested system with valuable planet:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/dmjyaeyzgoe9ap3/Unbothered.jpg?dl=0

Stardate is 1440, and the nearest Empire: Yoral is already invading another empire with Battelships -only one of these ships could clear out the system on its way but there seems to be something up with the script as it clearly ignores the whole system (it cannot evaluate a high threat given its tech and military capability)

zolobolo
Posts: 221
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2016 3:49 pm

Re: AI Improvements

Postby zolobolo » Sun Mar 05, 2017 12:43 pm

After a couple of games where the AI gets bonuses and time to develop it seems like they are always producing 2 main ship types in a specific game + 1 more type occasionally and in low numbers. In case of the Yoral, this means, that they are always leaving out a key element of the fleet not utilizing battleships, their signature advanced destroyers/cruisers or carriers (in one occasion they produced frigates in 99% of the time).

Three are around 9-10 basic combat ship types this race can utilize and the AI concentrating only on 2 (occasionally one more) is a shame. The same goes for the other races as well though the rooster in their case is more limited.

Please make the AI produce more balanced fleets with capital ships, escort ships and destroyers in a healthy mix

This might also be due to an issue in the way the AI researches tech. Maybe it skips ahead some of the tech and never goes back to research these afterwards?

zolobolo
Posts: 221
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2016 3:49 pm

Re: AI Improvements

Postby zolobolo » Sat Mar 18, 2017 8:09 am

New map with 180 stars; max number of AI opponent on medium, other map setting default:

Yoral AI sent 6 scout ships to a system next to me. This is not an issue in and by itself (although its resources would probably have been spent on additional frigates instead of scout modules that are not utilized)

The issue here was that:
1. Two of the six scouts had two reactor modules (one of them obsolete per ship and thus wasted production and metal resource)
2. Two of them had additional munition (but did not have any missile weapon, only the default laser)
3. Two of them had reinforced bulkhead. This is not a big issue, but if intended for combat, again, frigates are a better way of spending the resources

The AI needs to thus optimize the ship config a bit better, or if it chooses from per-defined templates, at least the scout templates for Yoral need an update: no second system module if not needed.


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