Author Topic: SMACX Thinker Mod  (Read 8502 times)

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Offline Induktio

SMACX Thinker Mod
« on: August 20, 2018, 10:44:45 AM »
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  • Thinker is an AI improvement patch for Alien Crossfire that greatly boosts the stock AIs while providing various gameplay improvements.

    Summary of main features:

    * New production AI for bases (more sensible and balanced production choices)
    * Improved terraforming AI (lots of condenser-farms, boreholes and forests)
    * Rewritten code for AI faction social engineering choices
    * AI builds more crawlers and deploys them better
    * AI will deploy colony pods much sooner instead of wandering on the map
    * Unit auto design feature creates improved prototypes for the AIs
    * Customizable options for free formers and satellites for AI factions
    * Possible to select which landmarks are placed on random maps
    * Faction placement balances random map starting locations
    * Does not affect player-run factions or game mechanics
    * Game binary includes Scient's patch v2.0

    Installation:

    * Extract the files to game folder
    * Check the readme for release notes
    * Change configuration from thinker.ini or use the defaults
    * Bundled alphax.txt includes optional/recommended changes only
    * Start the game from terranx_mod.exe
    * Mod version/build date should now be visible in the game version menu

    Downloads and more details: https://github.com/induktio/thinker

    Latest features are provided by develop builds if the release date indicates it is the newest file.

    Other possible mods to use with Thinker:
    * Pracx graphics enhancement patch
    * SMAC-in-SMAX mod
    « Last Edit: March 17, 2019, 09:50:49 PM by Induktio »

    Offline bvanevery

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    Re: SMACX Thinker Mod
    « Reply #1 on: August 21, 2018, 03:46:20 AM »
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  • I think it's my appointed role to be the bearer of bad tidings...

    You can't legally license the binaries you provided under the GPL, because you have no rights to the original game .exe.  Those rights belong either to GoG and/or Firaxis.  When people make .exe patches, they are merely hoping that the right holders never catch up with them.

    The choice is also a bit nonsensical, as no source code exists for the game .exe anyways.

    You are probably trying to protect your own source code somehow.  I'm not exactly sure how one properly finesses that, given that the endeavor probably violates the game's End User License Agreement.  I'm not up on what various jurisdictions allow for binary patching or reverse engineering, or what the consequences are for violating a EULA.

    Modding the factions.txt and alphax.txt doesn't have this problem, because all of those files contain text from Firaxis giving people permission to change whatever they want in those files.  Ergo, I have never "licensed" my mod work.  I put a Copyright on it, on the off chance that somehow I have rights of authorship when creating a derivative work.  I don't know that I actually have any, I just put it in there anyways just in case.

    Offline Induktio

    Re: SMACX Thinker Mod
    « Reply #2 on: August 21, 2018, 10:23:09 AM »
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  • You can't legally license the binaries you provided under the GPL, because you have no rights to the original game .exe.  Those rights belong either to GoG and/or Firaxis.

    There's nothing controversial in the source code regarding Firaxis, simply because it does not contain copyrighted works by Firaxis. It does, however, contain the needed binary diff to reconstruct the patch exactly given the game binary in GOG installation. Other binaries compiled from the source are licensed under GPL. Furthermore, any players need to have the game installation provided by GOG to start the game.

    All in all, even a 5 minute search of the web would have revealed how similar projects like OpenRA or OpenTTD, that even reversed whole game engines, manage their licensing. They've been doing fine under GPL for 10 years now, and that's the way it's going to stay.
    « Last Edit: August 21, 2018, 11:17:38 AM by Induktio »

    Offline bvanevery

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    Re: SMACX Thinker Mod
    « Reply #3 on: August 21, 2018, 03:39:24 PM »
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  • All in all, even a 5 minute search of the web would have revealed how similar projects like OpenRA or OpenTTD, that even reversed whole game engines, manage their licensing. They've been doing fine under GPL for 10 years now, and that's the way it's going to stay.

    If they are distributing binaries with a GPL, that doesn't make their actions legal.  Distributing a patched original game binary, is also not the same legal circumstance as entirely reverse engineering your own implementation of a game.  I wonder how they wordsmithed their licensing, vs. what they cannot license?  I will check.

    My suggestion is that you make some kind of plain and obvious statement in your distro, that you do not have any rights to GoG or Firaxis' work, and that the license only applies to your own code.  Otherwise, you are vulnerable to summary takedown notices.  Even with such a notice you may be vulnerable anyways, but at least you wouldn't look like you are willfully trying to pass the work off as your own, under a GPL license.

    Takedowns can affect other .exe patches, i.e. Yitzi, Scient, Pracx, if GoG or Firaxis gets interested. Trying to make it look more kosher, is about more than just your own work.  Historically, nobody else has ever been claiming a license on anything.  They just have offered patches, and have not typically offered source code to go with the patches.

    Offline Induktio

    Re: SMACX Thinker Mod
    « Reply #4 on: August 21, 2018, 07:36:01 PM »
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  • Takedowns can affect other .exe patches, i.e. Yitzi, Scient, Pracx, if GoG or Firaxis gets interested. Trying to make it look more kosher, is about more than just your own work.  Historically, nobody else has ever been claiming a license on anything.  They just have offered patches, and have not typically offered source code to go with the patches.

    Well, duh. If the mod author does not specify a license for a work, it does not mean it's public domain. Quite the contrary. In most jurisdictions copyright is automatic for any applicable works and needs to be explicitly disclaimed by an author for the item to be in public domain. If Pracx authors didn't explicitly specify some kind of a license, it could not be combined with other programs (they seem to only provide a public domain clause in the forum thread).

    Now, any kind of implication I would be claiming copyrighted Firaxis content as my own is not true. If people have an issue with the way licensing is presented, it's really easy to add the trademark clauses excluding any Firaxis content from the mod's licensing, which is what I'm probably going to do. Other than that, there's no real issue here.

    Offline bvanevery

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    Re: SMACX Thinker Mod
    « Reply #5 on: August 22, 2018, 06:06:23 AM »
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  • Now, any kind of implication I would be claiming copyrighted Firaxis content as my own is not true. If people have an issue with the way licensing is presented, it's really easy to add the trademark clauses excluding any Firaxis content from the mod's licensing, which is what I'm probably going to do. Other than that, there's no real issue here.

    That is the sum total of what I'm suggesting.  It may protect you better in some circumstance, and it protects the community.

    Offline Induktio

    Re: SMACX Thinker Mod
    « Reply #6 on: September 08, 2018, 11:03:30 AM »
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  • Now to get back on topic, there's some new features that could get into the next release. It could be possible to incorporate some of the fixes from Scient's patch to this one.

    I attached the descriptions from Scient's patch v2.0 readme below and assigned numbers on them. Of the players who regularly play with that patch, which one of these fixes do you consider essential? These changes are more extensive than the ones in older v1.0 which is still linked in the sidebar for some reason.

    (click to show/hide)

    Offline bvanevery

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    Re: SMACX Thinker Mod
    « Reply #7 on: September 08, 2018, 06:43:34 PM »
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  • Now to get back on topic,

    The licensing of your work was never off-topic.  I hope in the future you remember that just because someone objects to what you are doing, that doesn't make it off-topic, irrelevant, or out-of-bounds.  I don't have presently have anything else to say, because 1) I'm busy with my own modding stuff and haven't vetted your latest efforts, 2) what you just posted is somewhat long and requires effort to think about, and 3) claiming "not on topic" doesn't dispose me to thinking about it.  So for now I've spoken my peace about 3), hoping I don't have to again.  Similarly, if feedback goes in a direction you didn't like and didn't want it to, that doesn't automatically make it a "derail".



    Offline Induktio

    Re: SMACX Thinker Mod
    « Reply #8 on: September 08, 2018, 08:21:06 PM »
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  • To be fair I don't really have any interest in the sort of meta-level wrangling where somebody has to prove some kind of point on this forum. The mod's copyright disclaimer was updated, so there's that. So far there has not been much discussion of the mod's technical side in this thread and I also suspect lurkers are not interested in contributing in threads that look like arguments.

    Offline bvanevery

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    Re: SMACX Thinker Mod
    « Reply #9 on: September 08, 2018, 09:59:23 PM »
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  • There isn't any "meta" on my part.  Regarding copyright, it took me some time to get you to understand what was at stake.  You seemed to eventually get it, and my last message on the subject was pretty clear about all I thought you really needed to do.  I think you actually did it, although I haven't checked, but I'm willing to assume "case closed" on that one.

    The previous issue with you ruining how the Explore, Discover, Build, Conquer weights work, is very important to any modder who knows how alphax.txt actually works and has done non-trivial tech tree modding.  It's not meta, it's critical.  I don't know what you're currently doing about that, and I feel like I have the burden of going over your sources with a fine toothed comb now to check.  Which is not a fun project, definitely something that I push farther and farther into the future.  I hope you've changed your tune on this issue in the interim.  There's nothing meta about it, it's just that your previous approach was a dealbreaker.  At the time, you didn't seem to appreciate the seriousness of ruining, say, 50% of the work I've done in my mod over 3+ person months.  Even releasing version 1.19 sometime next week, I am still working on those Explore, Discover, Build, Conquer weights.  They matter.  They're the difference between factions going up one side of the tech tree or the other, or being completely unable to go up it at all.

    I understand and appreciate the problem of you getting a lack of feedback on technical details.  That's just the reality of working on a game as old as this, in a community that's had stronger participation as recently as 5 years ago.  I hope that when people come along with "knowledge" of the ins and outs, and have a reasoned basis for what they're trying to tell you about how things work, that you take it seriously.  The reality is, there aren't going to be a lot of experts coming your way to tell you X Y Z, so I hope you use what you actually get.

    95% of stuff in my own mod, I've figured out myself.  The other 5% I've gotten from other people, has been very useful though.  Frankly, that's why there's about to be this substantial 1.19 release.  I thought I was done.

    I will get around to responding to your technical details when I think it will be constructively received.

    I might suggest, you have a chance of getting more response, if you try posting on a narrow issue.  In other words, like one uses a bug tracker.  Then people can say yes / no / maybe / here is the relevant resource.  I don't know that people will respond, I just think it increases your chances.  It definitely increases chances that I will respond, helpfully, for instance.  Like if you ask something and I happen to know the answer, then hey boom here's your answer.


    Offline Induktio

    Re: SMACX Thinker Mod
    « Reply #10 on: September 09, 2018, 01:11:01 AM »
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  • That's some quite big accusations you have going there despite my explicit request not to turn this thread into that sort of thing. I'm not requesting help specifically from you - probably never did, yet you seem to act like I was doing that. You're not accomplishing anything by continuing on that line, not to mention all the other accusations.

    Offline bvanevery

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    Re: SMACX Thinker Mod
    « Reply #11 on: September 09, 2018, 02:51:31 AM »
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  • I've been trying to explain the difference to you, with what you frame as "meta battles of the ego", and actual problems with your binary modding.

    The licensing issue, I said I think you got that sorted, probably "case closed".  Me saying this, shouldn't be making you mad.

    Ruining the Explore, Discover, Build, Conquer weights in a previous version of your patch, isn't an accusation, it's a fact.  I explained it all to you in great detail in the other thread.  I don't feel a need to do it here again.  In the time that has passed, I was hoping you'd figured out the factual consequences of changing zeros into non-zeros, in the weights.  If you can't / won't figure that sort of thing out, there's no point contributing any technical feedback to you about anything.  You'd just be an engineer who isn't that good and can't be worked with, on basic issues of protocols, stability, standards, maintenance, packaging, etc.  I'd like to think that's not you.  But, the world of Open Source does have a fair number of people who really don't care.  In a previous generation I think we called them code jocks or cowboys.  If it suits their personal careers, they will ruin a previous generation's work.  Breakin' eggs to make omlettes, early and often.

    Any project I've ever been on, when I break stuff, and someone points it out to me that I broke it, I've fixed it.  I don't talk about accusations, I fix what I broke.

    If you did fix it already, great!  Glad to hear it.  I'll need to verify it at some point, but it would be good to know.

    If you didn't fix it... if you defend it... well, that is why I'm not keen to start responding to other technical questions.  The last one was pretty easy, from an engineering standpoint: zeros matter and you nuked them.  The fix for that wasn't hard either.  Just put back the zeros and be more conservative with the math you insert.  This is an easy thing.  If you don't see the easy things, or their serious consequences, why talk about any other stuff?

    If you don't want help from anybody, then you don't need to be posting in a public forum.  Posting publicly for input, implies "help me".  Doesn't say how much help you're looking for, or on exactly what.  But you've definitely asked, "help me do some thinking about some issue I brought up," or you would not have posted that big list of stuff you just did.

    If you don't want help from me, that's your choice.  You might get some feedback anyways, because it's a public forum.

    But you'd get a lot more useful out of me personally if you actually gave an indication you understood the issues I've raised, as something beyond ego, meta, accusations, or topicality.

    Offline BU Admin

    Re: SMACX Thinker Mod
    « Reply #12 on: September 09, 2018, 03:40:04 AM »
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  • b, why are you looking to make this your problem?  Please let it drop.

    Offline bvanevery

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    Re: SMACX Thinker Mod
    « Reply #13 on: September 09, 2018, 06:14:24 AM »
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  • I will drop the Explore, Discover, Build, Conquer weights issue for now.  Having these work correctly is critical to my own modding work however, and Induktio's patch is designed to be used with other mods.

    Binary patches vs. text mods have some general issues, not specific to Induktio's work.  Transparency of changes, encodings.  Yitzi's patch has a few problems with that, I think there are 3.  That's close to zero, which in hindsight is commendable, but not ideal.  Maintainability.  "Is it breaking something?" is a hard question to answer if you don't know the assembly code intimately, and the original author who had the knowledge has disappeared.  Even when they're available, it's a lot of work.  Packaging.  Yitzi for instance steps on alphax.txt, precipitating Yitzi-specific versions of other mods.  Some things I bring up to Induktio now, on the hope that he doesn't become "author of a super popular patch that disappears" several years from now.  There are some lessons of history to be learned here.

    That's why I care.  I'm at the stage where someone else is now manually Yitzifying my mod.  Later it could be Induktifying my mod.  Easier if no one has to.

    Offline Induktio

    Re: SMACX Thinker Mod
    « Reply #14 on: September 09, 2018, 02:42:32 PM »
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  • I will drop the Explore, Discover, Build, Conquer weights issue for now.  Having these work correctly is critical to my own modding work however, and Induktio's patch is designed to be used with other mods.
    Well, it's a good thing if we can get over this tech value issue for now. About the binary maintainability, this is still the patch that provides absolutely the most functionality using the minimal amount of binary patching, only a fraction of the other patches actually. Aside from a full open source fork, binary patches are not getting much more maintainable.

    I intended to post this link earlier, and it is still valid to say some of the other comments have crossed the threshold for this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fear,_uncertainty_and_doubt

     

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