Author Topic: SMACX AI Growth mod  (Read 5076 times)

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Offline bvanevery

Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
« Reply #75 on: August 12, 2018, 07:38:17 PM »
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    Changed from version 1.15 to 1.16:

    - Cybernetic Consciousness: set ai-fight=-1 making them Passive.  They nuked me in a test game, unprovoked!  That in and of itself might not be bad, but their society was Police State Planned Power Cybernetic.  They were way ahead on tech.  I think they would be even more dangerous if they concentrated on tech, instead of arms industry build-em-ups.  An unprovoked nuke makes enemies with everybody.  That hurts their trade, and research benefits from trade.  They really should sit back and relax, it's to their advantage.   I made them Aggressvie because they can steal a tech when they conquer a base.  But they never need to steal a tech, they always have the best research anyways.  In the LONG term, Passive is better for them than Aggressive.

    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 1.16.  It was downloaded 21 times before I moved it here.
    « Last Edit: October 08, 2018, 10:50:34 PM by bvanevery »

    Offline bvanevery

    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #76 on: August 20, 2018, 03:37:10 AM »
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    Changed from version 1.16 to 1.17:

    - Cybernetic Consciousness: removed IMPUNITY to Cybernetic social engineering choice.  The Consciousness had too many advantages over other factions.  This IMPUNITY is much more advantageous than in the unmodded game, because Cybernetic becomes available much earlier in the game.
    - Cult of Planet: removed the free Brood Pit bonus.  They had too many advantages.
    - Gaians: added 20% PSI combat bonus.  Now they have a unique capability, enabling them to keep up with other factions.  Otherwise as a high EFFIC faction they were always inferior to the Cyborgs.  As a PLANET faction they were always inferior to the Cultists.
    - Free Drones: removed documentation mistake about +1 GROWTH bonus.  Said I added that bonus in 1.15, but didn't actually do it.  Turns out they don't need it.
    - Sensor Array: can now build on sea squares.
    - Mind Worms: reduced cost from 5 to 4.  Mind Worms are too expensive for what they do.  I'd like to see the PLANET oriented factions (Cult of Planet, Gaians, Caretakers) build more of them.
    - Spore Launcher: reduced cost from 5 to 4.
    - Isle of the Deep: reduced cost from 8 to 6.  Cost of a Cruiser chassis was reduced from 6 to 3 in version 1.13, so this is a similar change.
    - Locusts of Chiron: reduced cost from 10 to 8.  Cheapened because I'd like to see PLANET oriented factions build more of them.
    - Unity Mining Laser: now a 4-1-1 unit and called a Unity Mining Drill.  A 2-1-1 unit is offensively too wimpy to take seriously.

    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 1.17.  It was downloaded 21 times before I moved it here.
    « Last Edit: Yesterday at 02:16:25 PM by bvanevery »

    Offline Vidsek

    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #77 on: August 20, 2018, 06:08:58 AM »
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  •   I haven't commented on your work before, but I've been following it with great interest.

      Your overall philosophy and goals are essentially the same as what I've been doing with modding for myself, but tested much better with more understanding of what you are doing.

      I've been watching for you to get a build that you think is reasonably balanced and successful so I can try my hand at blending it into Yitzi's work (since I do like the vast majority of those .exe changes).

      It'd be easy to set up a separate install to play around with your work (and I'd like to do that) but just haven't found a place in my time budget yet.  And you seem to be retuning so frequently I'm not sure when to jump in.

      I guess I'm just letting you know your efforts are appreciated and ....eventually... I'd like to join in.
    All this talk of fungus and worms makes me hungry...

    Offline bvanevery

    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #78 on: August 21, 2018, 04:14:54 AM »
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  • I thought version 1.16 was going to be it.  I only changed the Consciousness back to Passive for that.  I made this "big deal" on /r/AlphaCentauri about how things were stable now and weren't going to be changed much at all.  Which is still mostly true but...

    ...PvtHudson had to go and tell us all about all the mod stuff he's been working on.  Amidst all those things, I found 2 items that seemed "conservatively sensible" to include.  Make Sensor Arrays available on water, and cheapen the cost of PSI units.  Ok...

    ...and then while playtesting, I realize the Consciousness is too powerful, the Cult of Planet is too powerful, and the Gaians aren't powerful enough.  So I make 3 more changes.  So, 1.17 is not a lot of changes, but I've often put this many changes in a new release.  "Enough to be worth shipping."

    The reality is, I may yet discover things that need minor tweaking, because I've not played enough RANDOM games to see how all factions play.  Little changes could dribble out for quite awhile yet.

    But I don't think there are any big changes to be had anymore.  Knock on wood.

    With Yitzi, doing some kind of scripted merge would be much better than manually copying stuff, I think.

    Offline Vidsek

    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #79 on: August 21, 2018, 10:45:41 AM »
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  •   Hmm, yes, a scripted merge probably would be better and easier.  Shame I haven't a clue how to do that ;).
      I've just relied on the ancient line-by-line edit, with some cut and paste of blocks.  As long as I watch the line numbers and the necessary commas, etc. it has worked just fine so far.  Slow...yes indeed, but on the good side, I have a much better understanding of Alphax and the faction dossiers now.

      Don't worry, I haven't been waiting for your "final version" before I try it: projects like this are widely considered to never be finished, with the final version actually being the "Good Enough" version, or the "I'm sick and tired of doing this" version.

      You've done the lionesses' share of the work already (reorganizing the technologies and reweighting their values to the AI for instance).  It looks like you are now mostly fine tuning the faction balance, with a few other tweeks and "nice things to add" thrown in.

      It's certainly a great time for folks like me to jump in and give it a try, my delay is purely from time budget issues unrelated to SMACX.

      Thank you for posting all the after-engagement reports and updates on what you are doing and how.
    That's been a huge help in understanding, and been entertaining at times as well ;)

      By the way, I've been using sea sensors/buoys for years now.  Have had no idea if the defense bonus is being applied or not, but my focus has been on the early-warning aspect (fog-of-war always).
    A couple extra spaces/time to get my picket ships on the intruder(s) is nice.
    All this talk of fungus and worms makes me hungry...

    Offline bvanevery

    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #80 on: August 21, 2018, 04:21:54 PM »
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  •   Hmm, yes, a scripted merge probably would be better and easier.  Shame I haven't a clue how to do that ;).

    I have a clue how to do that, but my policy has been and remains, I personally am not going to do that.  I've already invested plenty of person hours into release and maintenance as is.  I'm willing to test and cooperate with someone else who wants to make such a merging script, but I'm not going to develop it.  Nor manually cut 'n' paste, as that would double my workload every time I release. 

    The basic problem is, Yitzi's patch doesn't do anything that I personally want or need.  The main thing I want / need is for the AI to play better.  I tried it in a number of games, and I could perceive no difference in AI performance at all.  I've looked through what it says it fixed or improved, and I didn't see anything about AI performance in all that stuff.  And while it may have fixed a game bug here and there, it also introduced some new bugs.  The old bugs haven't been harming me all that often, with the exception of my own Interceptors causing the game to crash and die.  So I guess I have to bloody the AI before it's ever attacking my cities with Penetrators lol.  At least I know how to work around that one.  Worst case I disband the offending Interceptor and accept the loss of something, typically a Former.

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    the lionesses' share of the work

    Haha, that phrase is so naturally true.  What does a lion do except sit around killing cubs and fighting the occasional other lion?

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    It looks like you are now mostly fine tuning the faction balance,

    I think that's basically correct.  I can really only fine tune that by playing a lot of RANDOM opponent games.  I have not quite played enough of them, to feel I have 100% coverage or understanding of the consequences.

    I certainly consider the social engineering choices to be "baked".  I'm even getting good at the tradeoffs in my own mod now.

    I haven't felt the need to change a tech in the tree for quite awhile.  Only thing that occurred to me, was not having Pulse and Res armor become available from the same tech.  But that was necessary to strip the Aliens of their armor, and give them Trance at the same time.  If I figure that one out, fine.  If I don't, the status quo is definitely acceptable.

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    Thank you for posting all the after-engagement reports and updates on what you are doing and how.
    That's been a huge help in understanding, and been entertaining at times as well ;)

    Well, glad to hear someone read it and cared.  I suppose if that's the case, I'm due to make another one soon.  I didn't want to make one for awhile so as not to "crowd out" the AARs I already did.  And some testing stuff was in flux.  In my current game, I'm kicking the snot out of everyone as the Cultists.  IMPUNITY to Fundamentalist is a really powerful capability in my mod.  I'd say the Cultists are now as tough as Yang used to be.  I wonder if Yang is still a butt kicker now?  He's got IMPUNITY to Police State so it should be really similar.  Maybe I should play a Yang game, after all this time.

    Quote
    By the way, I've been using sea sensors/buoys for years now.  Have had no idea if the defense bonus is being applied or not, but my focus has been on the early-warning aspect (fog-of-war always).
    A couple extra spaces/time to get my picket ships on the intruder(s) is nice.

    Yes frankly even if they gave you a penalty they'd probably be worth it!

    Offline Vidsek

    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #81 on: August 21, 2018, 06:40:05 PM »
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  •     As a fine example of my ignorance or naivete, I was assuming that such a merging script already existed in some form and I just needed to be pointed at it.
      As for writing my own....well I probably could do that if I can figure out where to start (maybe probably..).

       In either case, a script or line editing, I was (and am) looking at it as MY project, done for my reasons and to my benefit, undoubtedly customized to my personal tastes and playing style.
      It would probably take longer to explain my thinking to someone else than to just do it myself (which is what I was planning to do anyway.  Besides, it might be kinda fun in a mentally ill sort of way... ;lol

       And you are right that Yitzi has not addressed the AI with his work.  From what he and others have said (and my own rudimentary understanding of what programming an AI involves), modifying or rewriting it in the .exe would be the largest and hardest problem any of the .exe patchers could tackle.

       Your tactic of using the Alphax and faction texts to trick the existing AI into giving a better result may not be as elegant, but it's a heck of a lot more practical and likely to actually happen.

       By the way, I forget if you have mentioned it, but has your mod made any headway with the 'spamming-obsolete-garrison-troops-till-the-minerals-run-out' issue?  It's one of my all time top peeves. 

       What's this about Interceptors crashing the game?  That may have been happening to me now and then...if so, how do you go about identifying which one it is?


       And yeh, the "Lion's Share" is such a myth.  If some gluttonous sperm donor starts to starve the mommas and their kits, the ladies just gang up and kick him to the curb.  The species would have gone extinct if they didn't.
    All this talk of fungus and worms makes me hungry...

    Offline bvanevery

    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #82 on: August 22, 2018, 06:02:09 AM »
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  •    Your tactic of using the Alphax and faction texts to trick the existing AI into giving a better result may not be as elegant, but it's a heck of a lot more practical and likely to actually happen.

    I dunno, I don't see anything elegant about mucking around in assembly code in a binary!  Pretty darned grungy.  Modding alphax.txt and faction.txt files is clean as a whistle by comparison.  And yes, it did happen already, I saw to it.  To the extent it could be done.  "Only" 3 person months of work... that's why I don't think anyone has done a mod that extensive before.  Maybe someone did in the past, in some archive somewhere, but I'm not currently aware of such.  In any event, things have to be kept alive and maintained.

    Quote
       By the way, I forget if you have mentioned it, but has your mod made any headway with the 'spamming-obsolete-garrison-troops-till-the-minerals-run-out' issue?  It's one of my all time top peeves. 

    Short of giving everyone egregious SUPPORT bonuses, nothing can be done about this at the modding level.  It takes direct mucking with the AI code.  Induktio is actually doing that right now BTW.  Hopefully when the dust settles, our work turns out to be compatible. 

    Quote
       What's this about Interceptors crashing the game?  That may have been happening to me now and then...if so, how do you go about identifying which one it is?

    Well first, one has the hunch that this is the problem, because one has seen it happen often enough.  Then, when you're watching the game just before it crashes, any kind of Penetrator attack would be a telltale sign.  Sometimes I think I see the plane flying towards me and attacking.  Other times I don't, but I might be able to guess that it's "air activity" because the enemy has got planes it's been using.  My basic defense against the bug, is not using Interceptors as God intended them to be used.  I have to keep them a line farther back, and use them as a counterstrike force.  No bug from shooting down an enemy plane next turn.  I just can't actually intercept anything, or the game dies.

    Another longstanding bug, has something to do with the Secret Project movies on Windows 10.  Possibly with DirectDraw=0 to use the game on a wide screen.  Saw that a lot of times.  The workaround is never to watch SP movies, just turn them off.  Not a problem for me, I've seen 'em a zillion times.

    These 2 bugs are worth patching, and Yitzi probably fixed them.  Yitzi was probably as aggressive about fixing stupid bugs like this, as I am about reordering the tech tree, the factions, the social engineering choices, and basically all of the gameplay.  Yitzi's patch was quite ambitious.  It's just ambition directed at a lot of things that weren't much affecting me personally.  Maybe the multiplayers got a benefit out of it, I don't know.  I never do that, so there could be even more bugs that multiplayers thought were important to address.

    Quote
       And yeh, the "Lion's Share" is such a myth.  If some gluttonous sperm donor starts to starve the mommas and their kits, the ladies just gang up and kick him to the curb.  The species would have gone extinct if they didn't.

    I will cheer for the females killing a lousy male.  I've never liked male lions ever since I heard about the cub killing thing.  Male dolphins do the same thing.

    Offline Vidsek

    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #83 on: August 22, 2018, 11:44:50 PM »
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  •     Progress Report:  Finished the initial merge of your and Yitzi's alphax.txt.  Game testing to begin promptly. 
        There was nothing to merge with the Faction files, so yours are good to go as-is.

      Scrutinizing the alphax did allow me to discover some aspects I'm curious about.  Might start a separate thread one of these days, but for now:

      In the (predesigned) Units section, is it know what all the flags are/do?  I've never found any documentation for them.
    All this talk of fungus and worms makes me hungry...

    Offline bvanevery

    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #84 on: August 24, 2018, 03:39:10 AM »
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  • The flags are just for the special abilities, in order of their appearance in alphax.txt.

    Offline Vidsek

    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #85 on: August 24, 2018, 07:43:00 AM »
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  • The flags are just for the special abilities, in order of their appearance in alphax.txt.

    Ahh, thank you.  Nice when something turns out to be semi-reasonable and understandable :)

      Progress report on the merge: Bug-hunt phase initiated.
                                                  :Voluntary advice from the AC II community welcome
                                                  :What does work (most all of it, usually) seems to work as intended.
       

      Question for the general community here:   If the game crashes when you click on the Production Queue or Change Current Production buttons, where in alphax.txt would the problem likely be?
    And what sort of error should you look for, other than missing commas and other typos?
    Hitting U for the Unit Edit window, and working within it, functions normally.

    @Bvanevery: In the Weapons section of your v. 1.17 alphax, did you intend for Tachyon Bolts to cost 2, or was that a typo for 12?  I assumed the latter and edited it in the copies I'm working with.

    All this talk of fungus and worms makes me hungry...

    Offline bvanevery

    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #86 on: August 24, 2018, 03:41:35 PM »
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  •                                               :Voluntary advice from the AC II community welcome

    Yitzi did something screwy with the encoding of Conventional Missile attack strength.  I'm not sure how he reformulated it or what the game mechanical consequences are.  Be on the lookout for overpowered or underpowered CMs.

    Yitzi changed the "Stockpile Energy" encoding somehow.  I'm not sure if there are game mechanical consequences to that.

    Those are the 2 items I remember off the top of my head.  There may be a 3rd.  I know there are no more than 3 places that Yitzi "messed with" how things are encoded, thereby causing a compatibility / intent problem for other modders.  Fortunately, these wouldn't exactly be game wreckers.

    Quote
      Question for the general community here:   If the game crashes when you click on the Production Queue or Change Current Production buttons, where in alphax.txt would the problem likely be?

    Three possibilities:

    1) you have predefined a kind of unit that makes the game barf for some reason.  Have you added units, or done something weird with their flags?

    2) you have created some kind of pathological interaction between an old saved game and your change.   This could be due to Workshop units getting new / displaced values or something.  Start a brand new game and see if the problem is still there.  When testing, I generally give new units a tech requirement of "None" so that I can build such new units immediately.

    3) The bug has nothing to do with alphax.txt and everything to do with Yitzi's patch.  To test that, see if you have the problem in a stock GoG .exe (assuming that's what you're working with). 

    Quote
    @Bvanevery: In the Weapons section of your v. 1.17 alphax, did you intend for Tachyon Bolts to cost 2, or was that a typo for 12?  I assumed the latter and edited it in the copies I'm working with.

    Thanks for paying such attention!  but no such entry in my copy of alphax.txt.  I have:

    Code: [Select]
    Tachyon Bolt,         Tachyon,       12, 1, 12, -1, Tachyon,
    I believe you created your own typo while editing somehow.


    Offline Vidsek

    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #87 on: August 27, 2018, 03:51:47 AM »
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  •    Took a while, but I have a full merge now that is (so far) functioning in all aspects.
      Next is some game testing to see if it holds up through mid-game at least.

       One issue that will take some thought and experimentation is determining which settings of the additional features Yitzi has implemented will not distort how your mod works.
      Pretty much all of them can be disabled or set to work the same as the original game, which is what I will probably do at first.  And there are a few that don't affect faction balance or AI function.

       When I checked, my fresh-from-the-ZIP stock copy of your alphax does have a 12.  Clearly, one of the ferrets must have slipped in a stealthy keypress while passing.  They do that now and then, since I forbade them actually *dancing* on the keyboard.
    All this talk of fungus and worms makes me hungry...

    Offline bvanevery

    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #88 on: August 27, 2018, 07:17:48 AM »
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  • Cats can win a game of SMAC.  Their Denial of Service attack is deadly.

    I remember Yitzi's patch having a lot of stuff about eco-damage.  That really has nothing to do with my mod, it's a personal taste issue.  I guess I could bother to read what his options are and consider whether they have any impact.  BRB.

    Looking at PatchReadme.txt, it would be tempting to give the Data Angels an IGNOREPREREQ for building Probe Teams.  However, I'd worry about that allowing chassis designs that aren't available yet.  I solved that by making Doctrine: Mobility and Doctrine: Flexibility the immediate prereqs for Planetary Networks, which grants probe teams.  Ergo, both Speeders and Foils are available when you get probe teams, assuming no weird tech trading at the beginning of the game.  So although it might be tempting, it's not an imperative.

    Reading New alphax variables in Yitzi's patch, only the alternate unit cost formulas look like they conflict with the intents of my mod.  I greatly simplified the costs of all Special Abilities, making almost all of them cost 1, and calculating only a straight cost increase.  The only exceptions were Artillery, which now always costs 0 and is merely a weapons choice, and Deep Radar, which costs 0 on sea and air units as usual.

    I think what I've done, works.  I feel justified having done a lot of playtesting, but someone else could come to different conclusions.  I definitely wouldn't support a whole pot of new unit cost variations as somehow "my work", absent evidence that I broke something or seriously overlooked something.  You'd need to just call it your own mod, if you go down that road, and give credit where credit is due.  i.e. a variation on what I did, not like you substantially gutted the tech tree I made or something.  Boy tech trees are a lot of work....

    Otherwise, an awful lot of stuff available for modding looks like what I'd call "Yitzi-isms".  You can try them, but I think the vast majority of them are unnecessary, and have no effect on my work at all.  You could experiment and tweak with the Yitzi-isms for an awfully long time.  To be honest, I could easily see you iterating through your own 3 person months, with all the potential changes at your disposal.  I'm not convinced of the actual value in most cases, but of course, I'm biased by having iterated for 4+ calendar months until I pretty much fixed everything I thought was broken.  If you do go down the dark, dark road of tweaking and deciding the relative merit of all the Yitzi-isms, you will definitely have created your own substantial corpus of modding work!  So you'd attach your name to all of that appropriately.  It's quite a project to decide what, if anything, of all those options has real value and impact to play.

    Yitzi did a lot of bug fixing as well.  Although none of them are critical in my view, many of them are on the "nice to have" side of the ledger of concerns.  I support the Official game mainly because at this time, that's the least complicated thing for a noob to set up and go to town with my mod.  If some exotic packaging regime rendered that concern obsolete, such that Official games and Yitzi games existed side by side easily without installation fuss, then I really wouldn't care.  I see it as an infrastructural burden, to arrive at that place.  At this time, I'll be working on all my own game programming projects that potentially have money at the end of them, before worrying about such infrastructure.  It would be great if someone turns out to be very motivated and up and solves those packaging / merging / infrastructure issues.

    BTW, as far as my own mod stability goes, I've started an After Action Report for version 1.17.  I'm expecting to find nothing that I feel I need to change, in the course of playing it.  But of course my expectation could be proven wrong by something.  Really doubt it though.  That's why I decided to do an AAR.  I think I can just showcase the mod, once and for all.

    My previous game before the AAR, I've all but beaten the snot out of everyone as Cha Dawn.  Could have declared Diplomatic Victory, but got greedy with some outstanding Secret Projets and voted a Global Trade Pact instead.  Which means I can't win for another 10 years.  D'oh!  Maybe I'll never finish that game and will just do my AAR, even though I was an inch from finishing it.  I made it to the R-bolt stage of technology, and didn't find anything in all that time that needed to be changed, or should in any circumstances be changed.  Pretty "baked" at least that far through the game.  It's only the late game / endgame where I expect surprises now, for lack of having gotten that far all that many times.


    « Last Edit: August 27, 2018, 08:10:39 AM by bvanevery »

    Offline bvanevery

    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #89 on: August 28, 2018, 06:14:24 AM »
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  • I found a bug!  E4 Intellectual Integrity only has 1 prerequisite, E3 Monopole Magnets.  It should have 2, like every tech in the tree except for the very end.  I've added C3 Advanced Subatomic Theory as the 2nd prereq.  Because of this bug there will be a 1.18 release, but I'm not going to do it yet, as I may find other bugs as I continue with my current After Action Report.  Sometime in September.

     

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