Testing Economic Balance Changes

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Dragar
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Re: Testing Economic Balance Changes

Postby Dragar » Sun May 19, 2019 6:09 pm

It's tough to balance that. The higher tier hulls are usually *much* better value for metal/production cost, even for Yoral.

Possibly it just means Yoral should pay slightly more in upkeep for their unusually powerful heavy/advanced destroyers?

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sven
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Re: Testing Economic Balance Changes

Postby sven » Sun May 19, 2019 6:41 pm

Dragar wrote:It's tough to balance that. The higher tier hulls are usually *much* better value for metal/production cost, even for Yoral.

Possibly it just means Yoral should pay slightly more in upkeep for their unusually powerful heavy/advanced destroyers?


Well, I did increase the upkeeps on Yoral Torpedeo destroyers for exactly that reason. But in general I want to avoid "overbalancing". The different races should play differently, and rushing the map with a swarm of destroyers feels like a valid enough Yoral strategy. Nerf it to the point where they have to adopt a more conventional strategy, and I think you're taking away something interesting from that faction.

It feels like more of a "problem" if the Phidi are forced to take a roughly similar strategy though -- right now I'm worried that Phidi torpedo destroyers spam may be significantly better value, and at a cheaper research cost than Phidi cruisers. That feels a bit off -- as much for thematic reasons as balance ones.

Dragar
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Re: Testing Economic Balance Changes

Postby Dragar » Sun May 19, 2019 11:02 pm

I think I agree.

I enjoyed using Phidi with mercenaries backed up by their own carriers, but I'm not sure how optimal that is. I haven't played them since I first started playing the game I think.

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Re: Testing Economic Balance Changes

Postby nathanebht » Mon May 20, 2019 10:23 pm

Playing as the Tinkers on hard difficulty. Their Asteroid Outposts and Mobile Bases have zero upkeep costs. Well that's what it shows in the design and ship info screens. Would be better if they had a very minimal 1 gold upkeep cost. Feels off that they don't cost anything.

Planet defense stations have zero upkeep costs? While planet defense buildings do?

Its difficult to track my income sources versus my expenses. Think a detailed balance sheet might be needed. Make it able to show individual expense and income sources.

The game is definitely slowed down by the new emphasis on money. Can't rush buy on planets as much or have as many ships now. Sprinkling trade buildings all over my empire which hurts various production.

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Re: Testing Economic Balance Changes

Postby nathanebht » Wed May 22, 2019 8:22 pm

2019-05-22(38022) is causing an error when I try to load my latest Tinkers, hard difficulty save. No biggie. Was definitely going to win anyway. :D

The AI will need to be able to cope with this new economy. It didn't seem to be building enough trade buildings.

On hard difficulty, somehow the AI was out researching me by a good margin. The Yoral had a large empire and large fleet composed of small weak ships. Perhaps, they were doing a lot of research and trading it to their allies? Being out researched didn't matter as every time I took a planet I got big chunks of research. Eventually getting an enemies tech for free or almost free.

Since you can't have as many ships now, its easier to take enemy planets. Could have been beneficial to take a planet, let it revolt, let the AI eventually take it back, and then get the free research again. The AI was building a lot of ground forces but never saw them with a lot of troop transports.

Updating an existing ship to have the latest tech doesn't seem useful. Travel time back to a world that can do it and then the shipyard time and then time back to the front. Plus I'm paying that ships upkeep the whole time. Better to just build a new one.

This economic change isn't terrible. I'm not sure it makes the game more interesting. Stating the obvious, it causes more of a balancing act. I build up planets to use the queue filler bonuses and this outpaces the AI. Lower those bonuses down to 5 or 10%, might start having a real struggle against the AI.

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Re: Testing Economic Balance Changes

Postby sven » Wed May 22, 2019 8:49 pm

nathanebht wrote:This economic change isn't terrible. I'm not sure it makes the game more interesting. Stating the obvious, it causes more of a balancing act. I build up planets to use the queue filler bonuses and this outpaces the AI. Lower those bonuses down to 5 or 10%, might start having a real struggle against the AI.


Yeah. One of the AI's real weaknesses is that it doesn't specialize planets as aggressively as a careful human player will. So while the AI may sometimes use "Mining" or "Research", it generally won't get as big a benefit from them as a human player who's built up a whole world with the intention of maxing out his research/metal/coin production.

I think planet specialization is an interesting part of the game, but, unfortunately, it's also a hard concept to exploit well in the AI code.

Would you upload your latest playthrough using the Options -> upload game logs button? I'd be curious to see what exactly the AI was doing and not doing. I mean, high level, it may be that the AI decided to go for a tech strategy, and you rushed it, winning the game, which is perhaps a fine outcome. But there's also a chance that the AI was /trying/ to build up a bigger navy, and my code for translating that intent into specific gameplay actions was just buggy.

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Re: Testing Economic Balance Changes

Postby sven » Wed May 22, 2019 8:53 pm

nathanebht wrote:2019-05-22(38022) is causing an error when I try to load my latest Tinkers, hard difficulty save.


38022 had an ugly bug involving outposts. 38023 rolled out a few minutes ago, and should let you back into that save.

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Mithramuse
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Re: Testing Economic Balance Changes

Postby Mithramuse » Wed May 22, 2019 9:50 pm

sven wrote:Yeah. One of the AI's real weaknesses is that it doesn't specialize planets as aggressively as a careful human player will. So while the AI may sometimes use "Mining" or "Research", it generally won't get as big a benefit from them as a human player who's built up a whole world with the intention of maxing out his research/metal/coin production.

I think planet specialization is an interesting part of the game, but, unfortunately, it's also a hard concept to exploit well in the AI code.


One thing I was wondering was whether or not there should be some negative to over-specialization on a planet, kind of like how the planetary defenses cost more for just +1 weapon slot when the base defense is 2 slots... as a for-instance, maybe -1 metal per mine, or -1 food per farm, after the 1st or 2nd. The thing is, I can argue this for mining and farming - there are only so many "best spots" for resource extraction - but have a harder time with it for factories or research, which arguably could benefit from agglomeration, either by way of shorter supply chains (factories) or easier collaboration (research)... but either way, really. (Though factories should be something more than -1 per, since they have a higher base value.)

Coupled with the economic changes, this could make slotting a market onto your mining world a little more sensible, though you do still get a benefit from going all-mines if you want. In addition, if you want the planetary specials to be a little more special, they could negate the penalty, as there is enough 'good stuff' to go around, be it heavy metals for mining, farmland for the supercrop, or what have you. (Though I have always wondered why I can't re-plant the supercrop throughout my empire.... ;) )

Of course, given your statement above, this feels a bit like nerfing the human just to pander to the AI... but it is something I've thought would make some sense, even before the recent changes.

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Re: Testing Economic Balance Changes

Postby nathanebht » Fri May 24, 2019 8:47 pm

Uploaded game_8157

By the way, the latest patch notes sound real nice. "Annexing an ally will now give you access to all their technologies and ship designs." And the changes with Androids.

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Re: Testing Economic Balance Changes

Postby wminsing » Sat May 25, 2019 12:00 pm

So I've only got one partially completed test game in (which I'll upload when it's done), but overall I think the changes seem good. My fleet is only a little smaller than I would typically field at this stage in the game but it has also forced me to develop the finance techs and build markets to support it, which is something I used to usually not bother with. So definitely lead to some changes in strategy and there's definitely something to be said for upgrading ships over just churning them out (though less cash floating around does sometime means accumulating the money for a mass refit is hard).

Now I just need to win these constant wars even though the Haidur+Tinker alliance somehow has Force Lances and I only have Turbo-Lasers. :?

-Will

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Re: Testing Economic Balance Changes

Postby zolobolo » Tue May 28, 2019 5:58 pm

First game with new balance on normal, oval galaxy Large default settings:
The AI has more capable ships (refitting does seem to take place for a chunk of them), but overall strength and capability to expand has considerably decreased. Player has no issues outpacing them and can still rank up coin income to a level where ship maintenance is not an issue

Not sure if the increased maintenance costs are the ones holding back the AI, but all of them got sort of stuck on the first shield level at turn 200 and not as many ships as before. They notably had shorter conflicts among each other that did not result in either of them gaining a decisive victory and thus none of them really expanded

In general, they did seem to have a solid base fleet (meaning they did not run out of money like in the early builds), and these were mostly upgraded but few in numbers and tech advance seems to have been slow some reason. Some of them concentrated on heavy and light cruisers - maybe more frigates and destroyers could help but planetary defenses and bases are much more potent now due to the lower number of attacking ships

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Re: Testing Economic Balance Changes

Postby sven » Tue May 28, 2019 6:29 pm

zolobolo wrote:First game with new balance on normal, oval galaxy Large default settings:
The AI has more capable ships (refitting does seem to take place for a chunk of them), but overall strength and capability to expand has considerably decreased. Player has no issues outpacing them and can still rank up coin income to a level where ship maintenance is not an issue


Thanks for the playtesting; it's about in line with my experiences as well. I think the core issue, really, is that managing your empire is harder now; you can't just spam some mix of destroyers / cruisers endlessly on most of your worlds and expect that to work. The AI was pretty good at ship spamming -- it's significantly less good now that it needs to try and dynamically balance between teching, trading, and ship production.

On 'hard' and 'brutal' I've added some compensating changes to the AI that I think are helping it avoid "dead-ending" after an initial ship building push. But, technically, these changes count as "cheats", so I haven't switched them on for normal. The way things are headed, I think normal may become notably easier as a result of this patch... and maybe that's ok. While I know you've been enjoying it, we do get a fair amount of feedback via the Steam forums from players who have been unhappy about how hard normal is under the current balance.

I'd encourage you to try a game on 'hard' and see how that feels. The AI does have advantages in that mode, but, they're actually now less extreme than they've been in the past. And for an experienced player like yourself, I suspect 'hard' is probably going to provide a more compelling gameplay experience than 'normal'.

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Re: Testing Economic Balance Changes

Postby zolobolo » Tue May 28, 2019 6:49 pm

sven wrote:
I'd encourage you to try a game on 'hard' and see how that feels. The AI does have advantages in that mode, but, they're actually now less extreme than they've been in the past. And for an experienced player like yourself, I suspect 'hard' is probably going to provide a more compelling gameplay experience than 'normal'.

Thanks, will do that for the next game and see how it has changed (I had a few hard games for each mayor etap so can compare with that)

My main concern on harder difficulties is broken game mechanics: best example is Total War agent systems. On harder difficulty the mechanic is virtually useless for the player and only serves as frustration when the AI uses it

In case of SiS my main concern is around tech progression. This is a core mechanic of this genre (everything tying into it) but due to the bonuses the AI got in the past, the early game practically disappeared and the player needed to rush through the first tech tier or find other workaround (mercs, boarding and the like) which all felt like cheeting from the player side as the AI did not use these and thus the game looses its balanced state and its one cheat against an exploit :)

If you manage to set the coin bonus to a level where the AI still effectively plays like the human faction (it is affected by loosing mayor finance powerhouse planets and is limited in what it can buy out per turn) should be no issue, but I am afraid you cannot get rid of the above without taking away the tech bonus altogether. Though I can do this myself in the config file as well I would consider if this is needed for hard as it should now still be considerably harder without it then normal ... anyhow will take a look and let you guys know

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sven
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Re: Testing Economic Balance Changes

Postby sven » Tue May 28, 2019 6:58 pm

zolobolo wrote:If you manage to set the coin bonus to a level where the AI still effectively plays like the human faction (it is affected by loosing mayor finance powerhouse planets and is limited in what it can buy out per turn) should be not issue, but I am afraid you cannot get rid of the above issue without taking away the tech bonus altogether. Though I can do this myself in the config file as well I would consider if this is needed for hard at it should still be considerably harder now then normal ... anyhow will take a look and let you guys know


As of r38045 I've taken away a lot of the AI's improved starting condition bonuses on 'hard'. In particular, the AI used to start with a 500 beaker tech advantage and an extra colony ship; and I've just removed both.

My goal with 'hard' is to wiggle the various numbers so that the AI feels about like it's being controlled by a fairly competent human opponent, though the truth is that behind the scenes, I'm using some shortcuts and dirty tricks to get it to that place.

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Re: Testing Economic Balance Changes

Postby zolobolo » Tue May 28, 2019 7:02 pm

sven wrote:
zolobolo wrote:My goal with 'hard' is to wiggle the various numbers so that the AI feels about like it's being controlled by a fairly competent human opponent, though the truth is that behind the scenes, I'm using some shortcuts and dirty tricks to get it to that place.

If I see it cranking out a battleship while controlling only a single moon (3 stacks for a single city state scenario in TW), will let you know ;)


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