Author Topic: SMACX AI Growth mod  (Read 38112 times)

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Offline Dewbacca

Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
« Reply #915 on: November 27, 2019, 06:00:53 PM »
So about a year ago I was playing the v1.20 of this mod and really enjoying it.

Cats killed my monitor, internet got iffy in my rural area and I fell off into a much loved series of books for a reread and discussion with my wife... so not much SMAC(X) in that period.

I buy a new monitor, internet is still approximately dial-up speeds and wife and I are reading a new series of novels, but seems to be less discussion, so I get to poke around on  my games again, and when I check in here, I see this Growth mod is up to v1.37, I've missed some interesting changes and glossed over some of the v1.2x changes to try and catch up.

I am currently on Year 2220 of a Transcend difficulty game as the University on v1.37, playing standard SMAC factions (Original 7), retarded tech progression but able to select research. Map is a very large "Glorious Map" I downloaded from this site.
My overall assessment is WOW, doesn't even seem like the same mod as v1.20. It DOES seem to assist the AI greatly, so while it seems very different (from both SMAC-SMAX and v1.20) it's still doing a fine job of promoting a more vibrant and productive AI.

Clean Reactor: I love this tech and it's a staple of my gaming style, Forest and forget, build lots of clean military units & lead the pack on research. But giving it out at the beginning of the game, AND making it so cheap to add to other units seems oddly like cheating to me.
I would recommend pairing this ability with the tech that gives you recycling tanks. That would at least make you EARN the ability, and increasing the cost of clean vs standard unit would better reflect the VALUE of that ability.
I have observed the AI using clean units, so the reason for adding them is valid and adding prototypes of them is effective in inducing the AI to utilize them. It has the side effect of killing a fun tradition of breaking the AI's production when supported units are forced onto other cities as you capture enemy bases... but while that was a fun tradition, it was cruel and I'm not sad to see it go.

Prototype Units: I hate these on general principle. They wouldn't be as loathsome if I could delete or upgrade them to get them out of my build screen, but of course you can't.
That being said, I've read your reasoning for adding them and while I can't speak to specific units, I DO see the AI using these units, so the reasoning and inclusion of them is valid, but I will try to be more observant and see if I can help identify useful prototypes and eliminate any unnecessary ones in future replies.

Early Magtubes: I am a big proponent of magtubes and am always glad to see I have that ability... but so far in both v1.20 and v1.37 I can report I got them EARLIER than was useful. I didn't have much city spread at the time and all of my formers were busy upgrading tiles for existing cities or for future city expansion, so it has consistently been researched well in advance of my ability to use it effectively or enjoy it's benefits.
I might suggest a logical point to consider placing this ability would be when you get the ability to harvest 3+ minerals from a tile. Lore-wise you would have enough minerals THEN to encase highways in pressurized metal tubes. It's a bit far fetched that you would have enough metal to do that as early as I have been getting that ability in this mod.

Faction Agenda/ Diplomacy/ Societal/ Economic, ect:
Ok, I have a lot of impression, a lot of confusion, very little specifics that I can comment on. I am still trying to get a handle on how these have changed and how to navigate those changes for desired effect. I can only give you examples of my confusion in lieu of specifics, you may glean some useful information from the sad tales.

Deidre and I usually get along, especially early in the game. This game crammed us together as competitors on a small continent and we both quickly outgrew our allotted space and tensions started to rise. We were immediate friends, but she was never that happy about it. She was belligerent on a couple of occasions over new tech I had received and DEMANDED it! Sometime before turn 80, she parked a mindworm next to one of my cities, blatantly violating the terms of our friendship. I let it slide for several turns until I need in that area for improvements. I contacted her, we exchanged some tech, and I politely asked her to move her unit, at which time she declared vendetta upon me!
At this point that has backfired on her and she has been driven from the continent, but it was touch and go there for a while, she had most of my tech and a few more cities than I did. If the AI had built mindworms instead of spore launchers the outcome would have been different I fear.

In all of my years (decade+) of playing SMAC(X) I have never had more than a brief friendship with the Spartans. My style conflicts with their parameters and sparks fly, I expect it like a sunrise or a morning backache. But in THIS game... maybe it's the mod, maybe it's the Spartan Empire being so far away, but it's different. I met an empty transport at sea and got a begrudging truce from them around turn 50... and around turn 80, here comes another transport right up to my shores, and I expect the worst... I mean, It's SPARTA!
So imagine my surprise when Santiago offers me a Pact of Brotherhood if I will agree to war on the Hive! I nearly fell outta my chair. Not only did I agree to her terms, but I am considering honoring that agreement with some clean units once I have dealt with the duplicitous Deidre.
I'm not complaining, I'm just sayin... this ain't normal Spartan behavior.

The University: I expect some drone issues, and generally deal with them by getting The Virtual World. This of course was challenging enough in v1.20 with you sliding the wonders back several techs... but in v1.37 I am struggling economic/ research wise under the new rules. I still cant find whatever comes after lasers on the tech tree... I'm having to beat Deidre with her own money via probe warfare and a navy of clean laser foils. She beat me to probes, so even THAT was a close call, was lucky to get probes myself via alien artifact.

I'm enjoying this game, enjoying the "new" to discovering the new rules and how to exercise them to benefit me... but it's quite the learning curve from stock SMAC(X).

For extra credit I was going to submit the .SAV from the game, but I can't seem to find where the games are saving!! They're not in the save folder!
« Last Edit: November 27, 2019, 06:30:23 PM by Dewbacca »
So tell me again, where are we going, and why are we in a handbasket?

Offline bvanevery

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Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
« Reply #916 on: November 27, 2019, 06:54:33 PM »
Thanks for the extended feedback!

Clean Reactors may feel like cheating, but they aren't.  No matter how beneficial you may personally feel they are to you, they are of tremendous early game benefit to the AI.  This is an area of the game where I'm quite clear that my insights of banging around on this thing trying to make it perform better, seriously outweigh anyone's perceptions about the game that they've acquired from "stock" play.  You're simply going to have to play my mod long enough until you finally see it my way.  It takes a long time to cogitate on all of these changes, and you have noticed that the AI is playing a bit better.  This is one of the contributing factors.

The math on this is actually simple.  You don't need Clean anything when you've got lots of production in the mid to late game, with Hybrid Forests, Factories, Thermal Boreholes, Mines with abundant food, and whatnot.  You may think you're getting a big bonus from Clean stuff at that point, because it seems "efficient" for things to not pay SUPPORT, but it simply doesn't matter by then.

Yes, collapsing the AI with SUPPORT problems is traditional to "stock" play... and that's exactly the sort of thing that needed to be fixed to get the AI to play better.  I wish I could say I totally fixed it, but I probably haven't.  I've definitely mitigated it.

As for prototype units, policy has become it's not about your convenience as a player.  It's about whatever it takes to make the AI play better.  I've devised many more units than are currently in the game.  Always, I've been eventually made to realize the bottom line is, does this help or hinder AI play?  When it hinders, it goes.  Lots of things would be great, if only the AI would use them properly.  Like I can design a flying colony pod for instance... but the AI is too stupid to actually found new cities with those.

Magtubes: there are 3 things you need to build a Magtube network.  The tech, the Formers, and the desire.  If those things aren't all lining up yet, that's not a problem.  I don't need to delay the tech just because you personally weren't building more Formers, or didn't want to build a Magtube network yet.  I find in my own games, sometimes at the current tech availability it comes earlier than I need it, sometimes later than I need it.  You suggested a particular place in the tree for it to appear, but it does come at Tier 3, same as the place you suggested.  It's just on a different part of the tree than apparently you're researching.  I'm fine with where it is in the tree, from a logic / continuity / availability standpoint.  It doesn't need moving.  It's weighted 4 Explore, 3 Build, 3 Conquer, which means it's highly discoverable by many routes of focus.

The tech tree is quite broad in the earlier part of the tree, compared to how I remember it used to be.  It can actually take quite a long time to get any given tech on Tier 3.  Which ones take longer, can be somewhat random.  It definitely puts some incentive to research the paths you're actually most interested in.  Also, many key techs on Tier 3 are deliberately blocked by Secret Projects, so that you won't be able to trade for them for awhile.  This is all totally 100% intentional.

I can't explain your experience with the Spartans.  In the "stock" game they have an Erratic personality.  In my mod they have an Aggressive personality.  They should either be more violent in my mod, or less violent than other factions in the stock game.  I think people have often assumed that the Spartans were Aggressive in the stock game, but they weren't.

I have observed that any faction can decide they want an immediate Pact with you, to go wallop someone else, if their circumstances have driven them to that point.  Even factions that ordinarily would hate your guts for your social choices.  This makes for strange bedfellows but hey, whatever!  Your alliance with an ideologically opposed faction doesn't have to last over the long haul.  Hey, we fought with the Soviets against Hitler in WW II.


Offline Douglas

Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
« Reply #917 on: November 27, 2019, 07:58:47 PM »
Prototype Units: I hate these on general principle. They wouldn't be as loathsome if I could delete or upgrade them to get them out of my build screen, but of course you can't.
You can get them out of your build screen by opening the design workshop, selecting the design, and clicking the "Obsolete" button.

Offline bvanevery

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Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
« Reply #918 on: November 27, 2019, 08:20:35 PM »
You may not be able to Obsolete some fundamental unit types until you've got a Fusion Reactor available to you.  After that, you definitely can.

Offline Dewbacca

Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
« Reply #919 on: November 29, 2019, 09:28:42 PM »
Tried a different game, Spartans this time, again, 120 turns into the game everyone is running around in plasma armor with lasers and can't touch each other.

Also noticing some of the "Clean" laser prototypes didn't have a clean reactor.

Having some install issues, going to do a clean install and proof it before going any farther forward.
So tell me again, where are we going, and why are we in a handbasket?

Offline bvanevery

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Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
« Reply #920 on: November 29, 2019, 09:57:29 PM »
I don't think 120 turns in and no bigger weapon is a problem.  It does indicate that the game is playing with a bit of tech stagnation, as in no strong research factions.  Let me guess: no Gaians, Cyborgs, or University?  Or they're in, but they got crippled starts and are all but dead.  Also, are you playing on a Huge map as I recommend?  Tech goes slower on Huge maps than Standard maps.

Or were you playing with Tech Stagnation yourself?

Are you sure the AI's units really didn't have Clean Reactors?  I have noticed a problem when you try to use the Unit Design Workshop, that clicking on a unit that said "Clean", doesn't necessarily pull up the Clean design.  But if you look closely, it doesn't actually say it's the Clean design anymore either.  It's sort of a bait-and-switch problem.  The way to know for sure, would be to activate the Scenario Editor and get a good stare at the AI units.  I'll keep my eye peeled for this issue, but it's not something I have observed myself.


Offline Douglas

Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
« Reply #921 on: November 29, 2019, 10:47:17 PM »
Are you sure the AI's units really didn't have Clean Reactors?  I have noticed a problem when you try to use the Unit Design Workshop, that clicking on a unit that said "Clean", doesn't necessarily pull up the Clean design.  But if you look closely, it doesn't actually say it's the Clean design anymore either.  It's sort of a bait-and-switch problem.  The way to know for sure, would be to activate the Scenario Editor and get a good stare at the AI units.  I'll keep my eye peeled for this issue, but it's not something I have observed myself.
That's a quirk of how the design workshop handles designs with multiple abilities and how that interacts with the dummy ability flag recently added.

In the main window where you can edit things to make a new design, it only shows the number of abilities you have the tech for - 2 if you have Neural Grafting, 1 if not - and it picks them in order from left to right in the ability flags from alphax.txt and caps the number before checking what they are.

If you copy and edit the Clean Police design, for example, its ability flags are, in order: 1) Fake dummy ability, 2) Non-Lethal Methods, 3) Clean Reactor. Without Neural Grafting, you get just the dummy ability, which then gets dropped because it's not a real ability. With Neural Grafting, you get the dummy ability and Non-Lethal Methods, and the dummy ability is dropped so you only see Non-Lethal Methods. You will never see Clean Reactor in the initial details of copying this design.

The smaller summary view in the bottom left has the actual full details, but note that if you're not hovering the mouse over a design then it's showing the summary for what's in the main window. Mouse over Clean Police in the list of designs at the bottom, and as long as you keep the mouse there you will see the actual stats for it - "(1-1-1, Clean, Police)"

The unit stats shown in the bottom left when viewing an actual unit on the map also show the full stats. The only place that has any issue with this is copying/viewing a design in the workshop.

Offline bvanevery

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Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
« Reply #922 on: November 30, 2019, 04:14:21 AM »
Yeah, I've added piles of flags to the Battle Ogres in the past, and lived to tell the tale, so I'm not too worried about weird effects like this.  You can add any flags you want and they'll all get listed in the small lower left unit window.

 

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