Author Topic: Enhanced single-player experience  (Read 544 times)

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Offline PvtHudson

Enhanced single-player experience
« on: August 14, 2018, 12:56:34 AM »
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  • I play SMAX rather long rather often, and over years has accumulated a number of alphax.txt and faction files edits from various forums. Plus some house rules. Decided to put them here, for anyone to possibly adopt some ideas.
    I use kyrub's SMAX patch, seen AI building boreholes and condensers and crawling mined roaded rocky tiles. Large (but not huge) maps, both Planet and random. Heavy rainfall (allegedly helps AI). Abundant native life - harms AI, but I like the survival horror atmosphere early on, more than once was crippled by wild mindworms and spore launchers. Tech stagnation. Single-player only.

    alphax.txt
    Slightly upped artillery damage.
    Formers have no prerequisites to eliminate "AI at turn 100 without improvements" problem, aggravated by techstag.
    Farms/kelp farms require Centauri Ecology, mines/mining Platforms - Industrial Base, and solar collectors/tidal harnesses - Applied Physics to stimulate AI plant forests early on. Could harm Pirates, but they mostly cope.
    Added sonar buoy - sea version of sensor array, but don't remember whether they work.
    Forests give no energy without Hybrid Forest. I believe, 1N-2M-0E forests were the original intention of game designers, changed at the last minute, evidenced by resource table in SMAC manual and AI's reluctance to plant them. In my opinion, even 1N-2M-0E forests are great tile improvement, just not universally superior. Also see house rule about forests below.
    Added a new tech, Advanced Naval Algorithms, inserted between Doctrine:Initiative/Doctrine:Air and Homo Superior/Nanometallurgy. The Maritime Control Center, Subsea Trunkline, Carrier Deck and Repair Bay have been moved to it.
    Hovertanks have been moved to Monopole Magnets to make them actually appear on the battlefield while it still matters.
    Foil and cruiser chassis have been swapped in all but carrying capacity. This makes early AI invasions less of a joke, and allows Unity Foil to pop Unity Pod (not in fungus) and run out from emerged IoD. Benefits Pirates slighly.
    Air power is nerfed - needlejet chassis cost doubled, chopper range reduced to 3. If I could, I'd also installed a rule "air unit cannot reduce land unit's health below 10% outdoor, 50% in base or bunker" to reduce chop&drop and promote use of ground forces.
    Plasma Shard is upped to 14 for more uniform weapon strengths progression.
    Amphibious Pods are allowed for Probe Teams.
    Air Superiority has been moved to Synthetic Fossil Fuels to allow defense against air before air attack, assuming tech parity. SAM Rover predefined unit makes this change questionable.
    Clean Reactor has been moved to Nanominiaturization, but made free, as it costs an ability slot.
    Mind Worms and Spore Launchers cost is reduced to 4 rows to help native-heavy factions. By the way, Planet Cult in my games is quite competitive, although not great. One game it got super-lucky and captured 3 human faction HQs in brief succession. I played with native units costing 2 rows for a while, but this made Antimind truly monstrous. I remember that game as Morgan, when Antimind raised a land bridge to fungus-covered part of my lands... But I derailed.
    Added a few custom units:
    - Probe Foil - too bad custom unit prerequisites can't be set to Auto, meaning sum of prereqs for chassis, weapon, armor and abilities;
    - XX Missile;
    - SAM Rover - although AI tends to build these in sea bases, they can more or less deny your air force inland access. Just as in real life, SAM Rovers can't nullify your air campaign, but can make you pay for it, sometimes shooting down 2 elite Needlejets in 2 attacks per turn;
    - AI Sub - surprise attacks on your shipping.
    The Virtual World has been moved to Optical Computers to reduce early superprojects overcrowding and to turn despised tech to craved one. AI Zakharov, who benefits most, has good chances to get it. The Merchant Exchange has been moved to Industrial Economics. The Cyborg Factory has been moved to Biomachinery to give you incentive to build a pair of Bioenhancement Centers and hear excellent quote. The Cloudbase Academy has been moved to Applied Gravitonics, making it more of a trophy prize.
    Added 4 new facilities - Nuclear/Fusion/Quantum/Singularity Generator, with the maintenance of -3/-8/-20/-50. Unfortunately, AI doesn't build them, so sort of exploit. Really helps Cyborgs on Green economics, allowing them to keep 80-100% research almost all game long. Note that The Self-Aware Colony cuts Generators output in half, except Nuclear.
    Orbital Defense Pod cost has been reduced to 8 rows, livening up star wars a bit.
    Police State has been given symbolic boost of +PROBE, as it fits thematically. Democratic got -PROBE. Free Market's draconian -5 POLICE has been partially transferred to Democratic and Wealth, settling at -3, as Spartans and Pirates for some reason love to dive in Free Market, suffering from pacifist drone riots badly.

    angels.txt
    Latest addition, courtesy of bvanevery - SE preference has been switched from Democratic to Thought Control to set them against Cyborgs and Drones.
    pirates.txt
    Latest addition, courtesy of bvanevery - SE preference has been switched from Power to Wealth to distinct them from "Sparta on water".
    cyborg.txt
    Growth has been severed to -2, as in my opinion they were overpowered. Still do fine in AI hands. Cybernetic Consciousness on Green economics is my personal preference. Also replaced their dull base names.
    caretake.txt, usurper.txt
    Free Nerve Gas Pods. Usurpers had to give up free Applied Physics due to 8 faction abilities limit. Watch out for those Missiles!
    antimind.txt
    All my games include Antimind, and I highly recommend this custom faction, as it forces you to change tactic. Not quite monster as it was presented - even AI is capable to bash them sometimes. When I play as Antimind myself, I switch their TECHSHARE to TECHSTEAL.

    House rules
    Besides The Empath Guild, only infiltration to faction's HQ gives you complete faction infiltration. Infiltration to non-HQ base gives infiltration to that base only (you have to remember which bases you had infiltrated). If I could, I'd implemented this in code, plus wearing out of infiltration according to infiltrated faction's Probe rating. Besides TECHSTEAL faction ability, stealing tech only allowed from a base with Network Node (you need infiltration to a faction or that base to determine it has NN), as it is too easy to strip AI of its tech advantage.
    I don't plant forests on arid tiles. If forest happens to spread to arid tile, I try to either replace it with solar collector or
    borehole, or moist the tile with condenser.
    Foil carrier can only house choppers, for needlejets you need full-size carrier on cruiser chassis.
    For roleplaying reasons, thinkers and transcendi cannot be relegated to workers or other specialists' duties.

    Thanks for reading, questions and comments are welcomed.

    Offline bvanevery

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    Re: Enhanced single-player experience
    « Reply #1 on: August 14, 2018, 04:06:05 AM »
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  • Well let's see what we've both done.

    Slightly upped artillery damage.

    Probably not a bad idea, but haven't gone down this road.

    Quote
    Formers have no prerequisites to eliminate "AI at turn 100 without improvements" problem, aggravated by techstag.

    Solved this problem by changing the Explore, Discover, Build, Conquer weights on this tech to more appropriate values.  The key insight for me is that building roads is a method of conquest.  So I assigned a non-zero value in that category.  This causes Spartans to be able to research it readily.

    Quote
    Added sonar buoy - sea version of sensor array, but don't remember whether they work.

    Thought about this at one point, since Call To Power did it.  But forgot.
     
    Quote
    I believe, 1N-2M-0E forests were the original intention of game designers,

    They're like that in Civ II.  To be honest I don't care.  I mean heck in my mod almost anyone can do Free Market with very little consequence and make +1 energy / square, so who's counting?

    Quote
    Added a new tech, Advanced Naval Algorithms, inserted between Doctrine:Initiative/Doctrine:Air and Homo Superior/Nanometallurgy. The Maritime Control Center, Subsea Trunkline, Carrier Deck and Repair Bay have been moved to it.

    I just shoved most of those things into D:I and called it a day.  It's a powerful conquest technology, I don't have a problem with that.  D:I and D:A feed Orbital Spaceflight in my mod, you get nukes.  Subsea Trunkline I give in Planetary Economics, same as the regular game.  AFAIAC it's a Build ability and it should be in a Build tech.  Build for me is anything that makes you money or minerals.

    Quote
    Hovertanks have been moved to Monopole Magnets to make them actually appear on the battlefield while it still matters.

    I did same thing about early relevance, but gave them a repurposed Organic Superlubricant to implement it.  My "hovertanks" are sliders, they run on grease!

    Quote
    Foil and cruiser chassis have been swapped in all but carrying capacity. This makes early AI invasions less of a joke, and allows Unity Foil to pop Unity Pod (not in fungus) and run out from emerged IoD. Benefits Pirates slighly.

    Interesting concept.  I just made foil and cruiser chassis types cheaper, comparable to speeders and hovertanks on land. 

    Quote
    Air power is nerfed - needlejet chassis cost doubled, chopper range reduced to 3.

    Kept my planes the same.  Choppers reduced to 6.

    Quote
    If I could, I'd also installed a rule "air unit cannot reduce land unit's health below 10% outdoor, 50% in base or bunker" to reduce chop&drop and promote use of ground forces.

    I'm not into artificially requiring a kind of unit.  Iraq war proved to me that air strikes do obliterate units.  JDAM bombs are very accurate nowadays, this isn't WW II anymore.

    Quote
    Plasma Shard is upped to 14 for more uniform weapon strengths progression.

    Yeah 13 was stupid.

    Quote
    Amphibious Pods are allowed for Probe Teams.

    Yep.  Orbital inserted drop amphibious probe is pretty effective late game.

    Quote
    Air Superiority has been moved to Synthetic Fossil Fuels to allow defense against air before air attack, assuming tech parity.

    Not for me!  I just say you have to not suck at your tech research.  If someone gets air before you do, you can die.  Single player against AI, it's never a problem in the real world.  I don't honestly care about multiplayer.  If some day a whole lot of multi players use my mod and clamor for a change, then I would consider it.   I'm not really seeing any logical reason why someone would be capable of air defense in the absence of air power.  It's just a game mechanical reason that players don't want to be whacked on "unfairly".  Well I say do more Conquer research if you think it's unfair.  Granted, I revised the entire tech tree to separate all the categories more cleanly, so researching Conquer means you're getting conquer techs.

    Quote
    SAM Rover predefined unit makes this change questionable.

    I haven't found my own SAM units to be all that effective in real combat, so I'm hesitant to have AIs build them.

    Quote
    Clean Reactor has been moved to Nanominiaturization, but made free, as it costs an ability slot.

    I repurposed Frictionless Surfaces and renamed it Single Sided Surfaces.  I do not believe in giving it away, but I did lower the cost from 2 to 1.  Did that with everything actually.  Have to work so hard to get all this crap, think it should all get used before the game ends.

    Quote
    Mind Worms and Spore Launchers cost is reduced to 4 rows to help native-heavy factions.

    Yeah, they might be overpriced.  I'll have to think about that.

    Quote
    By the way, Planet Cult in my games is quite competitive, although not great.

    I made them Fundamentalist, which in my mod is very similar to Police State and has nothing to do with probe teams.  I gave them IMPUNITY to Fundamentalist, no penalties.  It toughened them up.  But I will consider mindworm cheapening if they need to be tougher.

    Quote
    - Probe Foil -

    Got that.

    Quote
    - XX Missile;

    Hmm.  The distinction between minor and major atrocities is a bit of a problem here.  My missiles can hit anywhere on Planet, they're ICBMs.  The AI uses them as such too.  3 XX misiles would be taking out almost any city.  Problem is you're escaping the political consequences of wiping out cities.  I dunno, think I would want to rewrite some rules before making it this easy to wipe out cities planetwide.

    Quote
    - AI Sub - surprise attacks on your shipping.

    I think the AI just cheats when I make a sub.  Never seems to be invisible.  I'm not really looking to have the AI grief me in new ways, that I don't get any advantage out of myself.

    Quote
    The Virtual World has been moved to Optical Computers to reduce early superprojects overcrowding and to turn despised tech to craved one.

    I've changed just about everything that way.  Can't get any Secret Projects until Level 3 tech.  Optical Computers is the home for the Planetary Datalinks.  The Virual World is now for Secrets of the Human Brain, which gives Knowledge and occupies the spot in the tree where Cyberethics was.

    Quote
    The Cloudbase Academy has been moved to Applied Gravitonics, making it more of a trophy prize.

    I put it in Advanced Spaceflight.

    Quote
    Added 4 new facilities - Nuclear/Fusion/Quantum/Singularity Generator, with the maintenance of -3/-8/-20/-50. Unfortunately, AI doesn't build them, so sort of exploit.

    "Sort of?"  Not going there.  Already can stomp the AI, don't need ways to make it more crippled.

    Quote
    Orbital Defense Pod cost has been reduced to 8 rows, livening up star wars a bit.

    I've not thought ODPs to be especially expensive.  In some of my games, AIs have built piles of them just fine.  So many that I was annoyed by their spamming. 

    Quote
    Police State has been given symbolic boost of +PROBE, as it fits thematically.

    I went down that road for a few revisions, but it doesn't work.  It's not worth anything, and I can only fit about 5 icons on the screen without it getting crowded and hard to read.  I settled on a regime of "3 positives, 2 negatives" for Politics, Economics, and Values social engineering choices.  I threw PROBE bonuses out of the game unless you choose Thought Control.

    Quote
    Free Market's draconian -5 POLICE has been partially transferred to Democratic and Wealth, settling at -3,

    I eventually said to hell with the original game and put Free Market under the same +3 -2 regime as everything else.  Democratic is -2 POLICE.  Free Market, Knowledge, and Cybernetic are each -1 POLICE.  So if you pick all of those you can get to -5.  Plus I left 1 faction with a -1 POLICE penalty, the Caretakers.  I'm anti-Aliens, I cut them down to ordinary faction level of power.  Took their armor away.

    Quote
    angels.txt
    Latest addition, courtesy of bvanevery - SE preference has been switched from Democratic to Thought Control to set them against Cyborgs and Drones.
    pirates.txt
    Latest addition, courtesy of bvanevery - SE preference has been switched from Power to Wealth to distinct them from "Sparta on water".

    Yeah someone needed to scream about these categories.

    Quote
    cyborg.txt
    Growth has been severed to -2, as in my opinion they were overpowered.

    They were, but IMO that's not a good way to solve it.  I clipped their RESEARCH to -1.  I don't think they should be super-University.  BTW I seriously beefed up the University.  No more drones per 4 workers.

    Quote
    caretake.txt, usurper.txt
    Free Nerve Gas Pods.

    Don't think I'm on board with that.  Although it makes some sense for Alien vs. Alien combat, those are also the only cities that they can take without the population dropping to 1.  So I don't see it as in their best interest to be frying alien cities.  They should probably take them intact.  Against humans, well in the original game the Aliens were already overpowered anyways.  If the Aliens fight AI humans, well chemical weapons will piss them off implacably.  Aliens were already dominating, so I don't think they need a chemical advantage.  Finally, do chemical weapons trigger the wrath of Planet, when used by Aliens?  Sure happens to me as a human using them against other humans!  It's not pretty.

    Quote
    I don't plant forests on arid tiles.

    Forests exist in arid climates in real life though.  Plenty in Eastern Washington for instance.  It's a desert, there's sage brush everywhere.  Not all deserts are bone dry.  Realism would make an arid forest catch fire easily, but that's not in the game.

    Offline bvanevery

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    Re: Enhanced single-player experience
    « Reply #2 on: August 15, 2018, 05:11:31 PM »
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  • For version 1.17 of my mod I will do:
    - Sensor Arrays on sea squares.
    - Cheaper costs for psi units, and also change their AI plans to "-1 Auto Calculate".  All the psi units are multi-role.  I don't know if the AI can figure that out but I'm going to try.

    Offline Anon Zytose

    Re: Enhanced single-player experience
    « Reply #3 on: August 15, 2018, 08:13:05 PM »
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  • I have experimented with sea improvements and I should warn both of you that while constructed sea sensors will appear and allow visibility to two spaces out, they will not be able to aid in defense. At least for sea units, anyway. If you still want the sonar improvement available even if only for its 2-space visibility, feel free to do so. If after reading this you decide that aquatic terraforming needs more of an addition than a sonar improvement that works like this, I recommend allowing boreholes and condensers at sea. Sea boreholes will provide the same resources as their land-based counterparts and while sea condensers can't affect the rainfall of sea tiles, only adjacent land tiles, they can still increase the food output of their own tiles by 50%.

    All these other changes should work alright.
    I'm back from the dead and would very much like to learn how to modify the .exe files.

    Offline bvanevery

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    Re: Enhanced single-player experience
    « Reply #4 on: August 16, 2018, 03:15:05 AM »
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  • Sea boreholes sound too much like the Greek legend of Charybdis to me.  Not going there.

    Offline bvanevery

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    Re: Enhanced single-player experience
    « Reply #5 on: August 21, 2018, 04:30:16 AM »
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  • I did cheapen the PSI unit costs.  But the "-1 AutoCalculate" stuff, it didn't work / didn't do anything.  So I didn't make any change to the AI Plans after all.

     

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