Author Topic: SMACX AI Growth mod  (Read 5055 times)

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Offline bvanevery

SMACX AI Growth mod
« on: May 11, 2018, 07:27:10 PM »
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    See .zip attached at bottom of post.
    From the included readme_mod.txt:

    SMACX AI Growth mod
    Copyright 2018 by Brandon Van Every
    Contact: bvanevery@gmail.com
    Version 1.22, October 8, 2018
    see CHANGELOG at end of this file

    I began this mod in mid-April of 2018.  Its design, and all the playtesting needed to improve it, have taken 4 PERSON MONTHS of full time work to produce.  In some other universe where I made money, this could have been a third of a year's salary.  Some people release complete, if trivial, commercial games in that kind of timeframe.  Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri is a decidedly non-trivial game, one whose complexities have kept me occupied for nearly 20 years.  So it takes much longer to mod it, in any substantive way.  I am at times amazed, when various game developers do "game jams" and claim to produce quality in a short amount of time.  It has never happened with any mod I've worked on.  Adjusting all the variables of a complex wargame, requires LOTS of design iteration and playtesting.

    This mod aspires to professionalism, to be substantially better than the original game.  I hope people will try and enjoy it, as that validates the effort spent.  Please let me know if you find any bugs or omissions.

    Thanks to playtesters Vidsek and Esper for finding important bugs!  And to modders JNM444, vonbach, PvtHudson, and Mart for ideas borrowed from their own work.

    LICENSE

    This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, PO Box 1866, Mountain View, CA 94042, USA.
    That means, if you make substantial use this work, you must credit me as the author.  And you can't make money from it.
    Firaxis made a statement in each of the modified *.txt files, that permission is granted to modify their work.

    INSTALLATION

    - Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri with Alien Crossfire expansion is required.
    - This mod is for the OFFICIAL game.  Unofficial patches that change the alphax.txt file, like the Yitzi 3.5d patch, will not work!
    - I suggest installing the OFFICIAL game in a custom directory using custom installation options, and then this mod.
    - You can have many installations of SMAC on your computer.  They're small and won't interfere with each other.
    - This mod contains alphax.txt, the 14 faction *.txt files, and this readme_mod.txt
    - Drop the files on top of your SMAC installation, overwriting the existing files.

    DESIGN SUMMARY

    - I've tried to make the AI play better.  That's really important.
    - The AI uses Foil Probe Teams now.  Watch your sea bases!
    - Factions are better rounded, and most don't have penalties.  This helps the AI.
    - Aliens are no longer overpowered.  They are no better than normal factions.
    - The world generator is tweaked to give the AI factions more land to grow in.
    - Enormous 80x160 and Giant 128x256 maps are defined.
    - Choosing 30%..50% land mass yields substantial continents, but still plenty of ocean for the Pirates.
    - I test gameplay on Huge or Enormous maps with 30%..50% land mass.  These are my benchmarks for "correct experience".
    - Techs, facilities, units, and abilities are completely reordered, for what I consider to be good pacing.
    - Secret Projects come later in the game and cost at least 300 minerals.
    - Overpowered Secret Projects come MUCH later.
    - Social Engineering choices are gradualist and incremental, to facilitate mixing and matching.
    - Future Society choices become available in late midgame and are not overpowered.
    - Completing the entire tech tree is required to Transcend.
    - Facilities, abilities, and units are assigned to Explore, Discover, Build, or Conquer according to what they actually do.
    - "Explore" really means "colonization and growth" to the AI.  It doesn't mean exploring.
    - Planet Busters can hit anywhere on Planet.
    - Armor has been strengthened to match weapons at the same tech level.

    DESIGN DETAILS

    "Explore" techs, I decided, are fundamentally misnamed.  Internally, the game files actually talk about "colonization and growth".  Consequently, anything that makes citizens happy, or raises population limits, or increases GROWTH rate, is now considered an "Explore" tech.  In my opinion the "Explore" category should really be called EXPAND.  But if I could rename it, I wouldn't, as it's unnecessarily confusing to veteran SMAC players.

    The assignment of various techs to Explore, Discover, Build, or Conquer has been completely gutted, with no respect paid to the original divisions of the game.  Weapons, armor, and military abilities are strictly for conquering, and they comprise the vast majority of techs in the tree.  Firaxis actually wrote a game with a lot of conquering gewgaws, regardless of any narrative or marketing spin they put on top of it.  For instance, Secret Projects that award 2x votes are now considered tools of Conquest, as in practice, Diplomatic Victory is merely an abbreviated form of Conquest Victory.  Discover techs attempt to be "pure", awarding either new lab facilities, Secret Projects that double lab output in a city, or a free tech to the 1st discoverer.  Build techs increase either energy or minerals output.  Notably, they do not make people happy; in the future you can be happy and poor.

    Because Explore, Discover, Build, and Conquer now reflect the realities of what's actually in the tech tree, the research priorities of many factions have changed.  Explore and Conquer is a common pairing, for instance.  Explore also seems to change the way the AI plays, making a faction focus more on colonizing and growing at the beginning of the game.  Consequently, nearly all factions have Explore as part of their research foci, to get the AI improvement that comes with it.

    A few factions have changed their social engineering choices substantially.  The Cult of Planet is now Fundamentalist.  In fact they're the best Fundamentalists of the game, like the Hive is with a Police State.  The Believers still do what they always did, but the gratuitous anti-Christian penalties have been toned down.  They should never have been treated like cartoons as the original game did.  The Pirates now want Wealth, because that's what pirates actually want.  They have this enormous energy rich, minerals rich defensive moat around them called the ocean.  They can do whatever they want in that, they don't need to conquer anybody.  The Usurpers now want Power.  They are conquerors, it's what they should be doing, and why should their social engineering choices agree with the Caretakers in any way? 

    To facilitate the AI's chances against humans, an ENORMOUS map size of 80x160, and a GIANT map size of 128x256 are included.  The world generator options have been tweaked so that an ENORMOUS map with 30%..50% land mass, will produce plenty of room for AI factions to grow in, plenty of ocean if the Pirates are in the game, and will not bottleneck the factions on degenerate 1x1 islands.  The same cannot be said of GIANT maps; you may have problems, or not.  The faction placement algorithm starts showing bugs when going past ENORMOUS size and I can't change it.  I determined this crossover point empirically, trying many sizes of maps.  Strictly speaking you could get away with a 160x160 map but the aspect ratio looks terrible in the minimap.  I recommend ENORMOUS maps if you want the largest, yet trouble free playing experience.

    -2 penalties are atypical in the social engineering choices now, preferring instead to have -1 in 2 different categories.  -1 ECONOMY -1 EFFIC is typical, for instance.  Similarly, +2 bonuses are atypical.  This mod endeavors to be more nuanced and a "game of inches" rather than throwing +2 at something and calling it good.  This also makes it easier to mix and match, until one arrives at the society one wants.

    This mod started as an attempt to model "realistic" growth in the social engineering choices.  Frontier societies get -1 GROWTH, to model the lack of safety inherent in a lack of infrastructure.  Simple economies balance this out with +1 GROWTH, modeling the agrarian baby making of the Third World.  More industrialized societies do not make as many babies, according to UN data.

    Unfortunately the "realism" didn't survive the cold, harsh reality of game mechanics.  Population booming is possible by several methods.  +4 GROWTH can be achieved with social engineering choices using Democratic politics, Simple or Planned economics, and Eudaimonia.  Some factions can't choose those options, or won't when the AI is playing them.  Some factions have +1 GROWTH, mitigating this problem.  Others do not, and pop booming isn't easy for them.  It's possible to make citizens so happy that they enter a Golden Age, giving +2 GROWTH.  A Children's Creche gives +2 GROWTH in a particular city.  +6 GROWTH is needed in total to trigger a population boom.  Alternately, anyone can still build the Cloning Vats, available late game for a steep price.

    I never believed that a Fundamentalist society should be amazing at Probe Team operations, so they don't get any PROBE bonus.  Instead, they are deliberately similar to a Police State.  The Nazis, the Soviets, and the Red Chinese, all used either State invented religions or cults of personality to terrorize people into submission.  Police State vs. Fundamentalist has long been a distinction without a difference, and I'd like players to meditate on that.

    The Free Market POLICE and PLANET penalties were egregious and have been reduced to token levels.  You can still get yourself in trouble with POLICE or PLANET if you make enough other social engineering choices.  Green is no longer about capturing the most mindworms.  Instead, it's about a sustainable economic model in the modern day sense of a "green economy".  It is a completely viable alternative to a Free Market, although it does have its consequences.  Green is not pro-conquest anymore, nor is Free Market anti-conquest.  If you want to make peace or war with either, you can.

    The Values choices have all changed slightly.  They are available with Level 4 techs, which tend to appear in early midgame.  Advanced Societies are available with Level 6 techs, which tend to appear in the late midgame, and are not overpowered.  They too have changed; full details are available in the HELP entries.

    In general there is really no point in attaining "advanced" capabilities at the very end of the game, where one only spends a few turns experiencing the benefit.  "Interesting" gewgaws like cloaking devices and hovertanks are moved earlier in the tech tree, and "boring" gewgas like bigger guns and armor are moved later.

    All factions have been adjusted to be better rounded, i.e. Morgan is no longer a crippled weakling runt.  Factions previously considered weak, are plenty strong now.  The Aliens have been stripped of various bonuses and don't get any free armor.  They are no stronger than anyone else. 

    To help the AI, faction penalties have been removed unless there are strong thematic reasons to keep them.  The Believers, for instance, are not going to do excellent research.  Even in that case though, it's only -1 RESEARCH now.  Frankly, Isaac Newton was a devout Christian, and at least one strongly Christian playtester pointed out the various cartoonish, anti-Christian biases of the game.  Their -1 PLANET penalty was dispensed with as well, as there's no other part of the story that talks about Miriam being hostile to Planet or deluded about its nature.  These Christians aren't rabid, until they go Fundamentalist.  Which of couse the AI does, but a human player doesn't have to.

    The tech tree has been majorly reshuffled.  Any given technology or facility, you cannot count on it being where you expect, or following a sequence you're used to.  I tried to make various guns come later, in sequence, and not be so pointless.  I packed the tree quite densely, so that for instance, a Level 5 technology is always preceded by 2 Level 4 technologies.  All technologies lead to another technology, and completing the entire tree is required to Transcend.

    Misnamed "Explore" techs are for colonization and growth.  They either make citizens happy, increase population limits, increase GROWTH rate, or help colonists get to their destinations faster.  Notably, Doctrine: Flexibility is now an E1 level tech with no prerequisites.  I've played too many games getting stuck on a darned island, falling behind everyone else technologically as I struggle to free myself from the trap.  There's nothing about human history that justifies ships coming AFTER land vehicles.  Historically, ships came first, and so will you.  Also important, mag tubes are available fairly early in the game.  This is not Civilization II, these are spacefarers who already know how to build some kind of railroad.  Hovertanks come earlier in the game, because it's annoying to wait so long for them.  My hovertanks are based on GREASE, sliding a mere inch above the ground!

    Early Secret Projects now cost 300 minerals to build and they are all moved later in the tech tree.  Some projects that some people consider overpowered, like the Empath Guild, the Virtual World, The Planetary Energy Grid, the Cyborg Factory, and the Cloudbase Academy, are moved substantially later.  Some projects have been made substantially more expensive, in accord with the great benefits they give.  Nobody starts the game with the ability to build a Secret Project.  Most factions don't start with bonus technologies either.  This is to discourage early and rapid tech trading between the factions.

    Missiles can now hit anywhere on the planet, up to 132 squares away.  This is accomplished by giving the missiles a speed of 66 and a refueling range of 2.  There is no safety from a Planet Buster in the early days of orbital spaceflight.  Anti-missile technologies come earlier, but can be hard to obtain them quickly, because so many other Conquer techs are available.  Food, energy, and minerals satellites come much later, as these are extensive orbital and logistical facilities compared to shooting down a missile.  Conventional Missiles can also hit anywhere on Planet, and so their cost increases accordingly.  Unfortunately there's no way to add a new Chassis type to create missiles with different ranges.  The AI can't spam them now though, because they cost too much, and frankly that's a relief.

    The AI gains the use of Foil Probe Teams.  It's never been fair that I can grief the AI by sea, and it can't return the favor.  Expect the AI to probe your sea bases a lot.  It really likes to use these things, even crossing Enormous maps just to bother you.

    If you made it this far in my design notes, I hope it helps!

    - Brandon Van Every
    « Last Edit: Yesterday at 02:17:26 PM by bvanevery »

    Offline bvanevery

    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #1 on: May 13, 2018, 03:46:49 PM »
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  • I found a minor bug: Gene Splicing is lacking a 2nd prereq.

    I'm going to take 3-Res armor away from the Aliens in the next version.  They will finally be de-fanged and more comparable to other factions.

    The Explore / ai-growth settings aren't working out as well as I thought they would.  I'm adding Conquer to everyone.  Except Zhakarov, who is just stomping everyone with his tech advantages, now that he doesn't have extra drones to hold him back anymore.

    The attachment limit per post is 5, and I eventually ran out of room at the top of the thread.  Consequently, this becomes the new home of version 1.0.  It was downloaded 12 times before I moved it here.
    « Last Edit: May 31, 2018, 02:22:39 AM by bvanevery »

    Offline bvanevery

    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #2 on: May 15, 2018, 04:25:21 PM »
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  • CHANGELOG

    Changed from version 1.0 to 1.1:

    - All factions except the Morganites, the Usurpers, and the Pirates focus on Explore to promote empire growth.  The Morganites, unlike any other faction, focus on Build to make the most use of their energy credits.  The Usurpers are so aggressive and dominant that they do fine as a pure Conquer faction.  The Pirates, with the ocean at their back, seem to do fine as a more laid back pure Conquer faction.
    - All factions except the University and the Cybernetic Consciousness focus on Conquer.  Conquer techs comprise the bulk of the tech tree and are needed to survive in a rough world.  The exceptions are 2 Discover focused factions with faster research rates.  They seem to discover enough Conquer techs anyways.
    - Morganites: removed MORALE penalty.  Now he's Erratic, not Pacifist.
    - Cybernetic Conciousness: removed GROWTH penalty.  They were doing doing poorly against other factions.  Made them Aggressive since they can steal techs by conquering bases.
    - The Free Drones: removed RESEARCH penalty.  They were doing poorly against other factions.
    - The Hive: removed INDUSTRY bonus.  Added +1 SUPPORT instead.  Without Police State available at the beginning, they were colonizing very poorly.  They often founded their first 2 cities, built a lot of Scouts, and then ran out of minerals.  It's as though they expected to start with more SUPPORT than they had.
    - Data Angels: 2 Probe Teams given at start, to make up for not yet knowing how to make new ones.
    - Aliens: no longer get a free Recycling Tank.  They were having too easy a time growing bases and then killing humans.  Many things can't be taken away from them because specifying "ALIEN" hardwires a lot of stuff, but this one was removeable.
    - Gene Splicing: was missing a 2nd prerequisite.  Now also requires Ethical Calculus.

    - Aliens: they are hardwired to have Progenitor Psych and Field Modulation at the start of the game.  It is unmoddabe.  Reshuffled the tech tree to compensate:
    --> Progenitor Psych: now a C2 tech, with no useful attribute other than talking to the Aliens.  It is deliberately made a Conquer tech so that an Explore focus doesn't automatically trigger Alien interaction.  Social Psych and Doctrine: Flexibility are prereqs. 
    --> Field Modulation: now a C3 level tech, and a prereq for Adaptive Doctrine.
    --> Moved Hypnotic Trance ability from Progenitor Psych to Field Modulation.
    --> 3-Res armor, Trance Plasma Garrison, Trance 3-Res Garrison: moved to Adaptive Doctrine, so aliens can't have them at beginning of the game.  Aliens have so many other advantages they don't need armor as well.
    --> Changed various prereqs to make up for hole left by moving Field Modulation.

    - Social Psych: set wealth=3 to make it discoverable by Build factions.  It is difficult to create wealth when stuck at size 2.
    - Industrial Base: made Social Psych a prereq instead of Doctrine: Flexibility, since Social Psych is now partly a Build tech.
    - Centauri Empathy: now Doctrine: Flexibility is a prereq instead of Social Psych.
    - Doctrine: Loyalty: set power=4 making it a Conquer tech.  set growth=3 as Fundamentalism greatly increases population growth.
    - Planetary Networks: set power=4 making it a Conquer tech.  set growth=3 as Police State increases police, making people happier.
    - Adaptive Economics: set power=3 f to make it discoverable by Conquer factions.  Increase in SUPPORT is useful for militaries.
    - Adaptive Economics: set wealth=2 to make it discoverable by Build factions.  WEALTH and EFFICIENCY go down, but INDUSTRY and SUPPORT go up.  The latter are effectively an increase in minerals, which is a kind of wealth production.
    - High Energy Chemistry: made it a C1 tech with no prereqs.  The AI was obsessing about building Scouts and Trance Scouts at the beginning of the game.  Having Synthmetal armor available sooner slows it down.
    - changed various prereqs to make up for hole left by moving High Energy Chemistry.

    - Trance Scout: when specified as a Defensive unit, AI builds them obsessively and runs out of minerals.  AI doesn't understand the idea of building 1 such unit to fend off mindworms early in the game.  Now specified as a Reconnaisance unit.
    - Troop Crawler: incorrectly specified as a Naval Transport unit.  This caused the AI to build obsessive numbers of them in sea bases.  Now specified as a Reconnaisance unit.
    - Troop Crawler: now available with Doctrine: Flexibility since that's when Troop Transport becomes available.  It's not particularly mobile anyways, so Doctrine: Mobility seemed inappropriate.  It remains to be seen whether the unit is useful to anyone.  It was put in by someone's request, but the AI doesn't know what to do with it.
    - Heavy Artillery: AI was building 2-1-1 artillery units obsessively at the beginning of the game.  Moved it from C1 Applied Physics to C3 Nonlinear Mathematics to slow the AI down.

    - Telepathic Matrix: Changed ai-fight interest from Aggressive to Erratic.  It's mainly about making people permanently happy, which is useful to more than just Aggressive / Conquest factions.  Also made it of interest to ai-growth factions.
    - The Cloudbase Academy: set ai-infra=2 and ai-colonize=2 since free Aerospace Complex allows for full resource bonuses from satellites.
    - The Space Elevator: set ai-colonize=2 since cheaper Sky Hydroponics Labs grow colonies faster.
    - Clinical Immortality: set ai-colonize=2 since it makes people happy.  Set ai-mil=2 since it doubles votes.  Set ai-infra=0 as it doesn't produce wealth.
    - The Self-Aware Colony: set ai-colonize=2 since it makes people happy if police are available.
    - The Cloning Vats: set ai-colonize=2 as it produces lots of people.
    - The Nano Factory: set ai-mil=2 as in-field repairs are for conquest.
    - The Dream Twister: set ai-fight=1 and ai-mil=2 as psi attacks are for conquest.  set ai-growth=0, it does nothing for growth.
    - The Longevity Vaccine: set ai-colonize=2 because Planned and Green choices make people happy.
    - The Ascetic Virtues: set ai-mil=1 because increased police allows more conquest with fewer consequences.  set ai-infra=0 because it does not produce wealth.  set ai-colonize=2 because population limit increases, and increased police make people happier.
    - The Planetary Datalinks: set ai-mil=1, ai-tech=1, ai-infra=1, ai-colonize=1 because old techs are of mild interest to all factions.  ai-tech is only 1 because a Discover faction is probably in the tech lead and won't increase that lead by building The Planetary Datalinks.
    - The Neural Amplifier: set ai-mil=1 because Trance is of mild interest to conquerors.
    - The Xenoempathy Dome: set ai-mil=2 because quick fungus movement is of major interest to conquerors.  Set ai-colonize=1 because it's only mildly helpful for colonization.
    - The Planetary Transit System: set ai-infra=0 and ai-colonize=2 since it's about bigger colonies and making them happier, not wealth.
    - The Virtual World: set ai-infra=0 and ai-colonize=2 since it's about making people happier, not wealthier.
    - The Empath Guild: set ai-mil=2 since it doubles votes and infiltrates factions.  set ai-infra=0 since it does not produce wealth.
    - The Weather Paradigm: set ai-colonize=2 since faster farms and earlier Condensers allow more growth.
    - The Human Genome Project: set ai-infra=0 and ai-colonize=2 since it's about happier people, not wealthier people.

    The attachment limit per post is 5, and I eventually ran out of room at the top of the thread.  Consequently, this becomes the new home of version 1.1.  It was downloaded 15 times before I moved it here.
    « Last Edit: June 03, 2018, 01:06:25 AM by bvanevery »

    Offline bvanevery

    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #3 on: May 21, 2018, 06:13:02 PM »
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  • I will release a version 1.2 soon, but I need to do some more playtesting, to make sure I haven't overlooked more things.  Morgan's city size penalty is going away, because Hab Complexes are an E5 tech in my mod.  It's just too long to expect him to wait.  Social Engineering choices need a little tweaking.  Copters are getting slightly nerfed, I think by reducing speed from 8 to 6.  That's all I've seen so far.  I still haven't made it through a complete game yet.  Now I tend to get to midgame before finding something that needs changing.

    Offline Green1

    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #4 on: May 21, 2018, 07:51:43 PM »
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  • I found a minor bug: Gene Splicing is lacking a 2nd prereq.

    I'm going to take 3-Res armor away from the Aliens in the next version.  They will finally be de-fanged and more comparable to other factions.

    The Explore / ai-growth settings aren't working out as well as I thought they would.  I'm adding Conquer to everyone.  Except Zhakarov, who is just stomping everyone with his tech advantages, now that he doesn't have extra drones to hold him back anymore.


    The Aliens were never supposed to be balanced.

    When you play a game with an alien in it, you are signing up for a play style. An unstoppable monster is on the loose. Can you do something about it? Tech up and fight back? Form a temporary alliance to stop it? Try to survive? Hope you do not have "Do or Die" checked off in the rules panel if you start next to them?

    When you defang and declaw monster and paint it's nails it ceases to be a monster.

    I'd say keep their 3-res armor and recycle tanks.

    Offline bvanevery

    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #5 on: May 22, 2018, 01:37:26 AM »
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  • The Aliens were never supposed to be balanced.

    I don't really care what things were ever supposed to be in SMACX.  I am making them into what I think they should be.  You could argue that Morgan was supposed to be a crippled faction, just as easily as the Aliens were supposed to be overpowered.  I'm having neither!

    Quote
    When you play a game with an alien in it, you are signing up for a play style.

    Perhaps you are.  Perhaps you will hate this more "centrist" mod.  I still think the Aliens are powerful, because they have Directed Research and nobody else does.  They seem to be doing just fine and still dominant in all the short test games I've played with them so far. 

    Quote
    When you defang and declaw monster and paint it's nails it ceases to be a monster.

    Yep.  And for the record, I am not now, nor have I ever been, interested in "monster" faction mods.  You can of course figure out how to load any custom faction into whatever game you wish.  That sort of thing won't be in anything I ship or support.

    Quote
    I'd say keep their 3-res armor and recycle tanks.

    And I wouldn't.  The Aliens are interesting because they are allowed Directed Research, and have advantages and disadvantages compared to other factions.  They do not operate the same way as a human faction - no UN, no Commerce, they have an Energy Grid, they hate each other permanently, human and alien bases have mutually exclusive populations.  They have a tremendous vulnerability to nerve gas, because there's no punishment for using it against them.  Although they start slightly later than other factions, they get 3 colony pods and a Battle Ogre.  These are reasons to keep the Aliens in the game, and have them interact with other factions.  I am sure you are aware that some players would like the Aliens out of the game completely.

    BTW also for the record, I think anyone who plays with the Directed Research option turned on for all the factions, is cheating.  Full stop.  Nobody gets my sympathy if that's how they want to play the game.  So in my universe, an Alien faction with Directed Research is a huge advantage.

    « Last Edit: May 22, 2018, 02:23:06 AM by bvanevery »

    Offline Green1

    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #6 on: May 22, 2018, 03:27:47 AM »
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  • Merely a suggestion. Carry on.

    Offline bvanevery

    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #7 on: May 22, 2018, 04:10:51 PM »
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  • Have you played it yet?  My suggestion is that you do so, before worrying about things in the Changelog.  AFAIAC the Aliens aren't Monsters anymore, but they're clearly dominant.  Anyways wait 5 minutes, I'm releasing version 1.2.


    Offline bvanevery

    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #8 on: May 22, 2018, 04:15:18 PM »
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  • CHANGELOG
    Changed from version 1.1 to 1.2:

    - Morganites: removed city size penalty.  In this mod, Hab Complexes are obtained substantially later in the game.  It's an E5 tech, comparable in difficulty to obtaining Hybrid Forests.  Morgan simply cannot make a beeline for it to solve his problem.  Having a reduced base size for that long is far too harsh a penalty.
    - Believers: gave Social Psych back to them as a starting tech.  They often flounder badly at the beginning to the point of dropping dead, and it's not easy to research Social Psych even with a normal research rate.
    - Hive: gave IMPUNITY to Planned economy.  Changed incorrect Datalink entry from INDUSTRY bonus to SUPPORT bonus.
    - Police State: removed Economy penalty because it hurts a lot, and other bonuses don't make up for it.  In an unmodded game, people are made a lot happier with Police State.  Now you only get a little bit happier.
    - Free Market: added +1 Efficiency.  It had too many penalties and not enough benefits compared to other economies.
    - Green Economy: reduced Efficiency from +2 to +1.  It had too many benefits compared to other economies, and it is not realistic anyways.
    - Progenitor Energy Grid: added description back to Caretaker and Usurper HELP entries.  I had incorrectly deleted them as I thought it was flavor text about Recycling Tanks.  Changed the description because it is poor, and added a hyperlink to the HELP entry for "Energy Grid".
    - Copter chassis: reduced speed from 8 to 6.  They get way too many attacks in the standard game.
    - Command Center: moved to C2 Planetary Networks.
    - Perimeter Defense: moved to C3 Advanced Subatomic Theory.  When it was a C1 tech, Believers obsessed about building them early, crippling their growth.
    - The Citizens' Defense Force: moved to C4 Adaptive Doctrine.
    - The Command Nexus: moved to C4 Advanced Military Algorithms.
    - The Empath Guild: moved to C6 Homo Superior.
    - The Neural Amplifier: moved to C5 Neural Grafting.
    - The Human Genome Project: moved to D3 Gene Splicing.

    The attachment limit per post is 5, and I eventually ran out of room at the top of the thread.  Consequently, this becomes the new home of version 1.2. It was downloaded 8 times before I moved it here.
    « Last Edit: June 05, 2018, 05:29:39 PM by bvanevery »

    Offline bvanevery

    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #9 on: May 25, 2018, 12:19:39 AM »
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  • I played a somewhat longer test game today to the Advanced Military Algorithms era.  I played the Pirates, intending to nuke everyone eventually, but I never got that far.  I was off the coast of the Monsoon Jungle.  I ran into the Spartans immediately, who settled the north of the Jungle.  The Believers settled the south.  Between these new "balanced" factions, the Spartans completely wiped the floor with the Believers.  The Believers mostly killed the Morganites, although they escaped.  The Spartans also killed the Cybernetic Consciousness, who seemed stillborn.  I've been playing on Standard sized maps with my customized "more land, but keep oceans" settings.  I think they are not large enough for everyone to survive and thrive, as there always seems to be at least 1 faction that's a complete runt.  The Planet Cult also did poorly, but didn't get wiped by the time I quit.

    Why quit?  Well, I just didn't seem to have the right force mix to make effective incursions against the Spartans.  They couldn't, or didn't, do anything to me, but I didn't do much to them.  Took 1 city in their far north.  Soon lost it, as it wasn't that easy for me to reinforce.  My productivity rate seemed relatively low, so choosing the right force mix is important, and I didn't do that well.  I, uh, don't know how to play my own mod!  Spartans go Elite and that kinda hurts.

    Technology also went slooooowly.  I kept the Pirates' default "Conquer only" focus.  I find that various Explore (Growth) technologies never get discovered that way.  Nor did anyone else discover them, because Sparta was too busy warring with the Believers.  Sooo for instance no Hologram Theaters, ever.  There's something about the density at which I've packed the tech tree, and the preponderance of Conquer techs, that can prevent Explore (Growth) techs from being discovered.  You keep getting new weapons and armor, which is fine, as that's what you said you wanted... but it has consequences.  Like not having enough money to afford more Command Centers.  Well, uh, yeah, I went for Power.  New version of Power penalizes Economy.  Granted just a HQ penalty, but it means I wasn't making money either.

    Guess Morgan could have provided relief from those problems.  But he got killed.

    I think next time I try Huge maps.  Just not enough land area for everyone to survive and thrive.  The world settings were originally designed with Enormous 80x160 maps in mind.

    Yes I spent time defanging the Caretakers and Usurpers.  I'm not currently playing test games with them.  I'm wondering if I've created new monsters, changing the faction settings.  Are the Spartans going to be overpowered now?  Or are they just overpowered if they get the Monsoon Jungle?  What about the Hive?  I wonder if they don't have enough penalties anymore.  Time will tell.  I should probably put the 2 of them in a game together to see who dominates.

    Offline bvanevery

    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #10 on: May 25, 2018, 10:49:43 PM »
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  • CHANGELOG
    Changed from version 1.2 to 1.3:

    - Police State: is back to giving +2 POLICE.  -1 ECONOMY is reinstated to offset the happiness gained from POLICE.  The PROBE bonus is removed.  The idea of a "lighter weight" Police State that would be easier for other factions to choose, didn't work.  A Police State needs to keep a certain number of people happy or it's just not worth choosing as a government.  There is no Political choice for PROBE bonuses now.  If you want more PROBE, you'll need Power or Thought Control. 
    - Democratic: changed POLICE penalty from -2 to -1.  -2 doesn't allow the use of police, it is too harsh for early factions.  -1 merely doesn't allow the use of nerve stapling.
    - Hive: removed +1 POLICE bonus, as when combined with Police State it would be overpowered.
    - Pirates, Peacekeepers: removed -1 EFFICIENCY penalty.  It creates a lot of difficultly picking an early government.  Most other factions had one of their penalties removed, and these factions didn't.
    - Gaians: changed back to +2 EFFICIENCY.  Making it +1 wasn't a good idea; the Gaians aren't especially strong and don't need to be weakened.

    The attachment limit per post is 5, and I eventually ran out of room at the top of the thread.  Consequently, this becomes the new home of version 1.3.  It was downloaded 10 times before I moved it here.
    « Last Edit: June 10, 2018, 09:57:13 PM by bvanevery »

    Offline Green1

    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #11 on: May 26, 2018, 05:47:17 AM »
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  • I will be honest.

    I am not wanting to post feedback or play test data I feel my suggestions would be cast aside or marginalized.

    You say not to list changelogs.. just "try", but like Yitzi, you fail to know the reasons why...

    I am a patient man and will go through it with you if you if you would like.. A community service really. You pissed off the MPers, but to be honest, you are not a pure MPer of any game unless you are pissed and elitist in some form. BU SLANDER!!!At least the 4x guys are merely passive aggressive. Hell, the MOBA guys would tell you to asphyxiate yourself with a lap top cord...




    Offline bvanevery

    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #12 on: May 26, 2018, 02:50:18 PM »
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  • I am not wanting to post feedback or play test data I feel my suggestions would be cast aside or marginalized.

    When you give feedback to someone who has designed a game, or a mod, you have to accept the fact that their design priorities might be different from your own.  Things you don't like, might be deliberate on the designer's part, and very much intended to give a different experience.  A designer might not act on a particular piece of advice you give.  Indeed, much of designing is ignoring things that people have to say, as well as listening.  The designer is the Keeper of the Vision and has to use his / her judgment about what that vision is.  It's not mob rule.

    Quote
    You say not to list changelogs.. just "try",

    I said not to worry about changelogs without actually trying the changes 1st.  Specifically I would say, don't complain about the Aliens until you've fought them.  From where I sit, they seem to spam an awful lot of 4-2-1's.  Now, as we discussed before, if you think the point of having Aliens is to have this godawful, painful, "Monster" faction to fight, as a designer I don't agree with you and I'm not going to do it.  Such pleas fall on deaf ears.  You can of course make any mod you like if you want "Monster" factions.  There are large archives of such things available; don't get me started on issues of curation.

    I would also note, when interacting with designers of any game: if you start off not playing something, and with a complaint, designers don't like that.  Unless it's some bug or egregious oversight or gross imbalance where they were half asleep, when you've really saved them from some unnoticed foible.  Whereas, if your 1st reaction to their stated design intent is "negative, and I haven't even played it!" well guess how much consideration that buys you?  I'd say it buys patient reiteration of design intent, and no more.  I've put a month into this; your complaint took you what, 10 minutes?  You get out what you put in.  If you had playtested my mod and then complained, I'd take it more seriously.  You'd probably also have better feedback about how the Aliens have been "weakened".

    Quote
    I am a patient man and will go through it with you if you if you would like..

    You need to do what you like, what you believe in.  I'm not here to twist your arm.

    This mod changes a lot of stuff.  Mostly when things happen, that's 90% of it.  What, usually stays the same, although there are some exceptions like the Social Engineering Choices, lessening faction penalties, and how (I hope) the AI works.  I've written extensively about what has changed, it's like it says in the readme_mod.txt.  I don't expect anyone to play this mod "blind", with no idea what has changed.  Now if you read all of that, and you aren't actually inspired to try, because the changes aren't speaking to your needs as a SMAC player, well maybe it's not the mod for you.  Why play something you think is likely to be a drag?  If you think "SMAC is great as is" then you wouldn't need any mod.  Or if you think "what SMAC really needs is more uber difficult Monster factions" well you can download those, it's not this mod.

    Quote
    Hell, the MOBA guys would tell you to asphyxiate yourself with a lap top cord...

    I have wondered about the tenor of modding communities, especially when $0 is transacted.  So far, here's what I've seen.  Some people on Reddit have thanked me for even working on this, for such an old game.  Some people have downloaded my mod, that's a good sign.  Each new version has been downloaded, so interest hasn't dropped to zero.  I do not know if anyone has played it other than myself, because nobody has commented to say they did so.

    You opened up with a complaint, without playing it.  Now you are talking about "MOBA guys" being extremely rude to some hypothetical designer who gives away their work for free.  Frankly at this point, I think anyone who thought they had a right to express such hostility about "free beer", doesn't have a leg to stand on.  I've chewed people out after playing their mod / campaign / whatever.  Then I ended up joining some guy's campaign team and dumping 4 months of my life into polishing up his work. I got out what I put in.  Too much in that case; long time since I've done a campaign or mod at this scale, because it doesn't help me put food on the table.
    « Last Edit: May 26, 2018, 03:13:14 PM by bvanevery »

    Offline bvanevery

    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #13 on: May 28, 2018, 01:08:03 AM »
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  • CHANGELOG
    Changed from version 1.3 to 1.4:

    - Bio-Engineering: changed it from an E5 to an E4 tech.  It enables Hab Complexes and the Ascetic Virtues.  I like delaying Hab Complexes some, but waiting for an E5 tech takes way too long.
    - Intellectual Integrity: changed it from an E4 to an E3 tech.
    - Single-Sided Surfaces: changed it from an E5 to an E6 tech.
    - Advanced Ecological Engineering: changed it from an E6 to an E5 tech.
    - Monopole Magnets: changed it from an E3 to an E4 tech.
    - Polymorphic Software: changed it from a C3 to a C4 tech.
    - Centauri Meditation: set wealth=3 because Empaths increase energy, and the Xenoempathy Dome removes fungus faster.
    - The Xenoempathy Dome: set ai-infra=1 because it removes fungus faster.
    - Centauri Psi: set wealth=3 because the Pholus Mutagen makes more minerals possible without eco-damage.
    - The Pholus Mutagen: set ai-mil=2 because it gives combat bonus in fungus.
    - Changed various dependencies to fill holes and balance the tech tree.
    - Temple of Planet: was unavailable!  Now available with Eudaimonia.

    The attachment limit per post is 5, and I eventually ran out of room at the top of the thread.  Consequently, this becomes the new home of version 1.4. It was downloaded 15 times before I moved it here.
    « Last Edit: June 16, 2018, 02:40:54 AM by bvanevery »

    Offline Esper

    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #14 on: May 28, 2018, 07:43:35 PM »
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  • I'm liking the mod so far, it really freshens up the gameplay experience. There is one issue I've run into though: sometimes the AI will go crazy and start moving around its missiles in and out of the same base, in an infinite loop. The same sort of thing happens in the vanilla game, but with the massive boost to missile range in this mod, it's so bad that this went on for over 10 minutes and the turn processing still hadn't ended. I had to force quit and lower the missile speed rating in the alphax file to progress any further.

     

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