Author Topic: SMACX AI Growth mod  (Read 6483 times)

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Offline Brunost

Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
« Reply #120 on: September 12, 2018, 02:40:59 AM »
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  • I have been following your mod thread since its inception, bvanevery, and it`s been very enlightening and enternaining reading. Thank you for your dedication to SMAC(X) and keeping the game alive. I`ve been on and off this game since 1999 (yes, I`m old) and SMAC is probably the most intriguing game I have ever played. The game atmosphere and the characters just sucks me in right away. SMAC seems to do everything right in the most subtle ways.

    The funny thing is that no attempt of a remake comes even close to this original and probably never will. Back in the good old days one could really make a great game in a package less than 1 gigabyte, compared to the modern approach of gigantic bloatware packages and bugfests. Strategy games is still a niche game and is often driven more out of passion than big money and it`s obvious that Firaxis had the right people on the job back in the day. I remember even the game packaging was a real treat with a fold-out on the front cover with descriptions of the factions. AAHhhhh... nostaaalgia

    Looking forward to zip 1.19 into the game directory and get going:)

    Offline bvanevery

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    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #121 on: September 12, 2018, 04:14:07 AM »
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  • You're welcome!

    The funny thing is that no attempt of a remake comes even close to this original and probably never will.

    Hey, don't count me out just yet.  I already attempted "Ocean Mars" back in 2000-ish.  Went bankrupt.  There's a reason I'm doing what I'm doing now, it's prototyping.  But I'm of course not going to do a "remake", there's no intellectual property reward for trying to do that.  It would be whatever I decide as my stories, my themes.  So far I've read a biography of Mao Tse-Tung and now understand exactly who Chairman Yang really is, no question in my mind.  I'm working on Stalin.  Hitler after that.

    The potential to do far better than SMAC has been there, these ~20 years.  They didn't nail everything.  They just did enough things well, and not many have really tried since.  Maybe nobody.  I keep hanging out in the 4X Reddit forum and I keep not ending up playing other games.  4X itself has some really hard problems in it, like the most basic one of unit pushing.  Really hard problems.  20 years, I still haven't solved it, or I would have written that game already.  Narrative problems aren't easy either.  But at least that means there's something to think about, and a basis to compete, if one arrives at an answer.

    Quote
    Back in the good old days one could really make a great game in a package less than 1 gigabyte, compared to the modern approach of gigantic bloatware packages and bugfests.

    Smaller packages can still happen.  It has happened in other genres, for instance the RPG work of Spiderweb Software, historically mostly the work of Jeff Vogel.  Only an indie is going to take such risks shifting the business model around though.  For example, not offering your 100 artists worth of eye candy, or 100 game gewgaws, in favor of an AI that can actually beat you without cheating.

    Quote
    Strategy games is still a niche game and is often driven more out of passion than big money and it`s obvious that Firaxis had the right people on the job back in the day.

    From what I've read of the history, they also had the right conditions.  They were between "big" companies who would otherwise seek to control and limit their destiny.  So they went ambitious, achieved critical success... and didn't make as much money for having done so.

    Quote
    I remember even the game packaging was a real treat with a fold-out on the front cover with descriptions of the factions. AAHhhhh... nostaaalgia

    Looking forward to zip 1.19 into the game directory and get going:)

    Heh!  Now for me, there is some nostalgia.  How much open source code have I obtained that way once upon a time?  More recently, how many abandonware titles?  People should know how to unzip.  Especially since the OS does it for you nowadays, you don't even have to know how to use an unzip tool.

    Offline Brunost

    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #122 on: September 12, 2018, 04:55:24 PM »
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  • Yeah. Back when I got my first PC, around 1998, I obtained files from the web that was zipped. Didn`t have a clue what to do.
    Not surprisingly no one else knew either back then :D Quite on my own I eventually figured it out. Commonly people just didn`t have their own computers, apart from a computer at work or at school. The only people I knew that was kind of used to computers where people doing electronic music. I sometimes wish I had more knowledge of how to deal with programming but I`m probably a too lazy person. So eventually I am very happy that some people commit themselves to make a product\mod and share their work. Probably that have saved a lot of games, espec strategy games.

    Offline bvanevery

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    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #123 on: September 13, 2018, 01:54:34 AM »
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  • I sometimes wish I had more knowledge of how to deal with programming but I`m probably a too lazy person.

    If you mean, learning the very basics of programming, a popular public interest and a market for that has sprung up in recent years.  I'm not sure what is offered in that area though.  It doesn't apply to me as I learned to program at age 11, on an Atari 800 whose system fit into 64K.  That's a mere jpeg photo now.  I'm so far in the other direction, that I"m trying to design a programming language for games, and not succeeding much with it so far.  But I haven't given up yet.

    If you mean, you know the basics of programming and don't relish it enough to do the work for a game, I feel you!  I think it sucks hard.  That's why I need to make a programming language for games, so it will stop sucking.  However in doing so, it's only going to stop sucking hard for the kind of programmer that I am.  Some kind of assembly code and pattern matching thing I think.

    Jonathan Blow is supposed to finally have his Jai programming language come out with a beta within months.  I hope that happens.  It's been about 4 years since he started.  He's the only "high visibility" guy I know about who's taken on the problem of programming sucking in games.  His philosophy of programming language design definitely agrees with some of my own, enough that I would try his language and see if I can get something non-trivial done with it.

    Offline Brunost

    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #124 on: September 13, 2018, 08:01:10 PM »
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  • Yes, it would be a lot easier if programming frameworks in general was not as elaborate as it is today. Until humanity recovers yet another alien technology we`ll probably have to struggle with what we have at hands for quite some time :D The last twenty years nothing has really changed in software production but mostly in presentation. That means, for me at least, that I can use older sofware, whatever it is, and continue doing so almost indefinetely. My only worry is what Microsoft is up to and their not so consumer friendly OS. Windows today is making it too difficult to get both new and old software to work properly. What we need is an alternative OS that is a more stable framework for both programming and running the final product.

    Offline bvanevery

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    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #125 on: September 14, 2018, 05:12:54 AM »
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  • Historically, MS actually put far more work into backwards compatibility than anyone else.  They had business customers that demanded stability out of their binaries.  Of course, commercial products eventually go through "end of life" in that regard.  MS may have started to break things at some point, I'm not sure, and I'm not sure where they're at with this right now.

    You can't rely on the open source people for backwards compatibility at all.  They think everyone's got source, everyone should recompile, and nothing should ever stand in the way of "duh progress!"  Meaning, young whippersnappers come along looking to make careers for themselves, and break everything in sight.  Nobody holds them accountable for it, open source just rolls merrily along.

    I'm unclear on what Apple has supported long term.  I dropped them as a platform when Sculley was still in charge and Jobs hadn't come back yet.  They haven't recaptured me because their goal is to be everyone's walled garden / slavemaster.  They were also anti-games for a long time, I don't know about now.  Games succeeded on iOS in spite of Apple.

    The Android ecology is a mess for developers.  The dark side of more openness of vendors is lotsa different versions of OS, and lots of variable quality as to how things are implemented.  Not fun problems for game developers at all.

    I'm not seeing room in the marketplace for more competing business models.  You have MS, Apple, Google, and Amazon.  They all push things differently for different reasons.  I don't see why there's going to be any air left in the room for a newcomer, they've sucked all the air out.

    Consoles are stable for game developers within their lifespans.  But once the lifespan's over, how are things going to get run?  You run into the problem of the console company controlling the platform.

    Offline Brunost

    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #126 on: September 14, 2018, 08:29:30 PM »
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  • I actually agree to what you say there, bvanevery. MS have actually been trying to keep the backwards compatibilty more or less intact, but they sell a OS that is more leaned towards corporations, and therefore their security measures hit the ordinary consumers (think home computers). I have several laptops and computers and almost everyone have their own purpose. Just one of these is ever connected to the internet. The rest is completely offline, at any times, and optimized to make them a more stable platform for whatever software I use.

    I have never owned an Apple computer and probably never will. But I think their ideology of make their own full platform helps with the problem of compatibility issues and keeping things run smooth. The way computers are assembled is a different story. They actually make them in a way that it is certain they will brake down in a few years. Looking inside a laptop is almost scary. A toaster is more sturdy built than a laptop. But all this of course boil down to that it is all business and I just have to accept that fact. But you can bet if MS saw any competitors trying a revolutionary move they would be sure to buy the company, whatever the price. MS is so big that even gigantic antitrust fines dont`t hurt them. But I choose to be optimistic for the future and I do believe something will change things around eventually.

    Offline bvanevery

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    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #127 on: September 15, 2018, 03:06:30 AM »
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  • I spent a lot of time over my so-called career doing $0 open source.  The problem I see is the idealists inclined in that direction, don't get certain necessary things done.  Like, their consumer products are a disaster.  I was waiting for 3 years for the Steam Machines to become this new gaming platform, something worth sinking developer teeth into.  It didn't happen.  I learned why it didn't happen.  So I gave up on Linux.  They want to spend their time arguing about Free Software licenses and how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

    You're right about Apple.  They just go do something.  Unfortunately then having done it, they decide they're going to straitjacket you.



    Offline Dewbacca

    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #128 on: September 16, 2018, 02:38:53 PM »
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  • Y'all got way off topic but was an interesting read.

    Back to your growth mod, really enjoying it. Certainly seeing lots of large pop's from the AI in my game playing the Gaians, even the University has grown to 20+ cities hemmed in by Morgan and Sparta.

    While the rearranging of the research has messed with my zen, I can see some of it is logical, other adjustments game balancing... mag tubes came early but have been useless on my game of many islands.

    Late coming larger transports have kept warfare to a minimum between myself and others... they can't get a decent force to my shores. Of course that plays both ways and I can't get one to them either.

    Game is still young, I will keep you posted.
    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 #129 on: September 16, 2018, 02:55:55 PM »
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  • Raising land was deliberately made later.  On Enormous maps my standard drill is to build rails and raise land.  On the Huge map I'm actually playing right now, I started on an island and war broke out before I had time to raise any land.  I was in danger of getting nuked!  That danger never really went away the whole game.  In fact I've become a sycophant just to keep from getting a nuke in the face.

    I have found what I consider to be a late game problem.  The Corporate Lab comes a lot earlier than Quantum Power and I'm not convinced having so many labs available is a good idea.  I'm thinking of repurposing "Secrets of Alpha Centauri" to be some kind of tech that gives a Quantum Lab.  Or maybe I'll just move it back to Quantum Power, saying eh, it's the end of the game who cares.  I do think separating Fusion Labs from Fusion Power was a good idea earlier in the game though.

    Upon further reflection, I'm going to leave the Corporate Lab as is, for now.  I don't know that it's actually a problem for the game.  Maybe it is, maybe it isn't.  I think it should be playtested for awhile before deciding.
    « Last Edit: September 16, 2018, 03:37:18 PM by bvanevery »

    Offline bvanevery

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    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #130 on: September 19, 2018, 02:29:14 AM »
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  • Well, I think the Believers are probably the weakest faction in the game now.  They got completely clobbered in my last AAR and clearly couldn't keep up.  Maybe they had the bad luck of starting next to the Usurpers, but I think future games are going to show that they're weak compared to just about anyone.

    First I got rid of the whole PROBE faction thing, leaving that only to the Data Angels.  Then I refactored SUPPORT to be something you choose, not something any faction gets.  The Believers were the biggest SUPPORT faction and basically I pulled their teeth out.  It had to be done, because it wasn't balanced at all.  But what have I given them in return?  Softened their RESEARCH penalties, but they're still the most backwards faction in the game.  In fact, the only backwards faction in the game now.  I figured it just wouldn't be the Believers if they weren't taking RESEARCH penalties.

    Recently I gave them the minor advantage of being immune to Mind Control.  I don't think the AI cares overly much about this though.  Bases change hands, it doesn't seem like a big deal to AI progress or tactics.  It's really more of a convenience to a human player, to not have to deal with probe team spam if you don't want to.  That said, in my mod the probe team spam is not nearly as bad anyways.  I think disallowing easy PROBE bonuses until you get to Thought Control, has made it much less of a "golden tactic" that the AI would want to use a lot.  I just don't see the squares full of 3 to 8 probe teams like I used to.

    What to give the Believers?  I haven't really thought of anything yet.

    Meanwhile, the Cybernetic Consciousness is still under review.  They did poorly as a Passive faction.  Now they are Erratic.  I haven't yet tested whether this helps them.  Both the Consciousness and the Believers will be in my next test game.
    « Last Edit: September 19, 2018, 04:25:27 AM by bvanevery »

    Offline bvanevery

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    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #131 on: September 19, 2018, 04:22:52 AM »
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  • Behold!

    New happy wealthy militant Believers
    New happy wealthy militant Believers

    I'm testing them in an almost original SMAC matchup.  Cybernetic Consciousness replaces Morgan, to see if they survive ok with merely a personality change to Erratic.  I play the University, to find out whether I've made getting to the end of the tech tree too trivial with earlier access to Corporate (nee Quantum) Labs and Nanohospitals.

    Offline Vidsek

    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #132 on: September 19, 2018, 05:13:23 AM »
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  •    I have seen the Faction, and the Faction is frightening.

      In other news, a summary of faction performance in my current game will be forthcoming as soon as I gather the energy to study what happened and make some guesses as to why.

      Your ET Call Home AAR was entertaining and informative.  I'm sure it took a lot of time to do, so thanks for the effort :)
    All this talk of fungus and worms makes me hungry...

    Offline bvanevery

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    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #133 on: September 19, 2018, 08:24:55 AM »
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  • She still got her ass kicked, by the Spartans.  I'm theorizing that an Explore focus is critical for early faction spread in many cases.  The Hive did poorly as well.  Both are going to get Explore next game.

    The Consciousness did better than I did!  They beat me to the Virtual World.  We were allies much of the time, although I dissed them when they stole from me at the beginning.

    How long did I take to do that AAR anyways?  I don't even remember.  Checking on it... 13 days!  Not continuous play but that was definitely more than a 1 week project.

    EDIT: the fix turned out to be adding the Explore focus.  I didn't end up doing any of that other "New Believer" stuff.  The Spartans are still tougher than everyone else, but I've decided that for now, that's ok.
    « Last Edit: September 24, 2018, 06:25:55 PM by bvanevery »

    Offline bvanevery

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    Re: SMACX AI Growth mod
    « Reply #134 on: September 24, 2018, 06:26:44 PM »
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  • CHANGELOG
    Changed from version 1.19 to 1.20:

    - Believers: set research foci to Explore, Conquer.  Adding Explore substantially improved their performance.  It may trigger the AI to expand more.
    - Cybernetic Consciousness: set research foci to Discover, Conquer.  They seem to do better with this than just pure Discover, and it's thematically appropriate.
    - Free Drones: set personality to Passive.  Their cities can go to size 4 without anyone becoming unhappy, so they are better off growing than making war.
    - Gaians: set research focus to Explore only.  In an automated test game they fought the Hive to a standstill, using the power of their mindworms.  Now that they have a 20% PSI bonus, they should focus on that weapon.
    - Hive: set research foci to Explore, Conquer.  This made them do a much better job than Build, Conquer against other AI factions.
    - Peacekeepers: set personality to Passive.  Lal is supposed to be a Pusillanimous Wimp.  More importantly, he gets into wars fairly indiscriminately when he's Erratic.  Maybe it helps him, but it's unpleasant to the rest of the political economy of Planet.  Let's have him sit back and develop a real civilization, one based on democracy and voting for planetary control!
    - Pirates: set personality to Passive.  Said I did so in version 1.8 but didn't actually do it, they were Erratic.
    - Spartans: set research focus to Conquer only.  They often wipe out any faction near them, and do not need Explore encouragement to get bigger or find new enemies.  In fact I wonder if I should bring back their INDUSTRY penalty but I will leave it alone for now.
    - University: set research foci to Explore, Discover.  Now gets free Biology Lab at every base.  They were getting wiped out by every faction.  Their +2 RESEARCH advantage just doesen't seem to mean that much on Transcend difficulty.  The Biology Lab ensures that every base will contribute substantially to research, so that they can get ahead of factions who want to stomp them.   Explore helps them expand, instead of getting squished by factions that don't give them enough room to breathe.  With per city research bonuses now guaranteed, it's also a good idea for them to make more bases.
    - Comm Jammer: now not allowed for fast-moving units.  The original game allowed it for speeders and hovertanks, which seems like a mistake.
    - ECM Probe Team: added as a predefined unit, so that AI will use them for defense.

    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 1.20.  It was downloaded 28 times before I moved it here.
    « Last Edit: November 07, 2018, 02:35:52 PM by bvanevery »

     

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