Author Topic: SMACX Thinker Mod  (Read 7634 times)

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Offline bvanevery

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Re: SMACX Thinker Mod
« Reply #255 on: March 15, 2019, 12:33:42 PM »
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  • +1. Or make it faction-dependent to add variety. If I remember right, vanilla Miriam preferred very wide spreading.

    She does, but it's not faction dependent, it's Explore research focus dependent.  This phenomenon was observed by several modders previous to myself.  I brought it to its logical conclusion in SMACX AI Growth mod.  The inputs of faction personality and research foci do partly govern AI behavior in the stock binary.  Most factions in my mod use Explore as part of their focus.  For instance Morgan is not a Build faction, he's an Explore, Build faction.  Zhakarov is Explore, Discover.

    Offline bvanevery

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    Re: SMACX Thinker Mod
    « Reply #256 on: March 15, 2019, 12:47:39 PM »
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  • Early game is quite tricky to manage especially if the faction has support problems.

    Having SUPPORT problems was a stupid, unbalanced idea in the original game.  So was having SUPPORT buffs.  In my mod this is all gone.  There is no crippled Morganite faction, he starts with the same SUPPORT that everyone does.  If you want more SUPPORT you have to choose the government forms that give it.  The only one that gives a SUPPORT penalty is Green and it is only -1.  So -1 is the lowest SUPPORT anyone can have in the game, and you have to choose it.

    This is an instance where you can really kill yourself trying to solve AI problems, that as a matter of game design, don't even have to exist in the 1st place.  The game was not enriched by Morgan being a wimp or Yang being overpowered.  Heck I've had to buff Morgan to +2 ECONOMY.  I don't know what they were thinking, that +1 ECONOMY was supposed to be some kind uber power.  It isn't, at least with the stock binary and game behavior.

    Offline Induktio

    Re: SMACX Thinker Mod
    « Reply #257 on: March 15, 2019, 02:44:02 PM »
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  • If the players want, they can always go and mod the factions to have more resource buffs. However, it is not the default setting in this mod.

    Offline dino

    Re: SMACX Thinker Mod
    « Reply #258 on: March 15, 2019, 03:47:11 PM »
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  • It recovered from production paralysis, buildup really took off like 10 turns later, but it had solid defences up all time.
    I think for a standard map it more or less works, but on a larger map it would be a bit of waste.
    If it could on top of that modernize its armies somehow, it would be amazing.

    Offline bvanevery

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    Re: SMACX Thinker Mod
    « Reply #259 on: March 16, 2019, 03:53:14 AM »
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  • Well well, now we have a new develop build (version 20190314) available from the downloads.

    I notice it contains an alphax.txt.  None of your previous development versions did, nor did your 0.8 release version.  Was this intentional?  I sure hope not, because that makes it de facto incompatible with any mods that change alphax.txt.  That really should be left alone as the text modder's territory / interface / boundary.

    Well, looks intentional.  I'm looking at a diff of your changes compared to the stock game.  I guess you've decided you want to go a little into the .txt modding business as well.  My analysis shortly.

    Most significant change is global warming frequency:
    Code: [Select]
    1, 2     ; Numerator/Denominator for frequency of global warming (1,2 would be "half" normal warming).
    Your design philosophy here, is you're just going to make global warming easier for everyone.  I can see some players objecting to this.  They might want your AI, but not your reduction in global warming.  Yes they could change it to something else, if they're into learning those details and figuring out what you did differently.  What if they just want to play the stock game, but with your AI?  What if they want to play someone else's .txt mod?  Now they can't just drop your files on top of their installation, they have to be very careful about whose alphax.txt they've got.  That may not be a big deal to you, and you may not think it's a big deal to hardcore players here on this site.  But I encounter a lot of people on /r/4Xgaming or GOG games that don't seem to have gotten into modding before.  You're definitely creating a mod management problem on this.

    I notice a lot of changes to #WORLDBUILDER settings.  Now at least, if someone else's alphax.txt simply throws those out in favor of their own, it's not necessarily incompatible.  It just generates a different kind of map.  That can be a problem if your .exe code is relying on a different kind of map though.

    Like, I'm going to feed it whatever I feed it.  I spent a month or two on my own map generation conclusions, even before I started SMACX AI Growth mod.  It was one of the 1st things I folded into my mod.  I solved problems I thought needed solving, and I think I'm an expert at what you get when changing those settings in alphax.txt.  To any extent I need to refresh my memory on it, I've got articles written up on this site about it, in painful detail about why I did what I did.  So there's no way I'd be taking your map generator.   :D  I hope your code is not expecting some very particular thing, like for your new faction placement algorithm.  Because in general, people who alter #WORLDBUILDER can't obey constraints you might put there.

    My own map philosophy, briefly, is no small islands ever, bigger continents, and plenty of ocean in case the Pirates are in the game.

    I notice you redefined what a Large Planet is.  Stock is 44x90, yours is 50x100.  It's not a crazy idea or anything, but if your code is depending on that to work well, people are going to be violating your constraint.

    Now maybe you don't have any constraint, only a desire.  Do you desire that people test your AI at 50x100?  Well, someone who prefers the stock alphax.txt, is still going to be on 44x90.  If they ever provide you testing results, you're always going to have to be nagging at them whether they played on 44x90 or 50x100.  And it will be a lot of durr durr d'oh! to straighten that out.   :doh

    Maybe you're fine with that, but I tell people Huge map is how you're expected to play my mod for a reason.  That's the design center, and I get better feedback the more people I've actually got playing according to my design center.  If someone says to me, "Well your stuff doesn't work very well on Standard!" I don't have to be surprised, I can tell them I designed the whole thing around Huge maps and up.  Sadly, I don't think I've gotten enough feedback to date to be seriously worried about these map size differences.  Nevertheless I thought I would point out the problem with "going your own way" on map sizes.

    Like, maybe you should just join us on the dark side of Huge?

    In my mod I added 2 map sizes: Enormous 80x160, and Giant 128x256.  Those were driven by what I could and couldn't correct about faction placement at the .txt mod level.  "Giant" was a pretty easy term to come up with, but it took me a long time to come up with the intermediate term "Enormous".  Point is I added map sizes, I didn't change any existing ones.

    How do you feel, for instance, about adding Very Large, instead of changing Large?

    I notice you allow anti-gravity struts on air units.  It's a very minor change.  Why aren't Fuel Nanocells good enough?  Was that really important enough to you to roll into alphax.txt?  I'm guessing you don't actually depend on this behavior.  If you did, that would be a real problem, an actual incompatibility.

    I notice you don't allow Clean Reactor on a probe team.  That's just a bug fix, I did it in my mod too.  Hopefully you don't rely on that bug being fixed.

    I notice you removed the asterisk in front of the *Sea Formers unit.  I've always wondered about that asterisk, if it had any real purpose.  I hope removing it doesn't break something.

    Your other changes are comments.  Helpful, and they don't create any problems.
    « Last Edit: March 16, 2019, 05:10:34 AM by bvanevery »

    Offline Induktio

    Re: SMACX Thinker Mod
    « Reply #260 on: March 16, 2019, 01:48:16 PM »
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  • I notice it contains an alphax.txt.  None of your previous development versions did, nor did your 0.8 release version.  Was this intentional?  I sure hope not, because that makes it de facto incompatible with any mods that change alphax.txt.  That really should be left alone as the text modder's territory / interface / boundary.

    Sure, of course it's intentional. Since I've been recommending some changes to alphax.txt, I'm not going to just leave it as a note on the Github page. But notice they are optional changes. Some of the earliest stuff I've been modding is that Worldbuilder stuff, and other people have already been doing that for many years. I also posted on forums about that even before Thinker project was started. What really here is unacceptable is if you're trying to portray your changes to Worldbuilder as some kind of a new, original innovation. You may have discovered something by yourself, but there's no way your mod was the first one in that. On various forums there's probably some posts written about that topic from over 10 years ago.

    Faction placement algorithm shouldn't rely on that Worldbuilder stuff in any significant way, but there are some bugs in that algorithm that should be fixed in the next version. Specifically, if players are using some pre-made maps like Map of the Planet, I don't recommend them to use faction_placement until the bug has been fixed. It can be disabled from the config. For random maps it usually works how it's supposed to. If not, then one can roll another start from Quick Start button.

    Offline bvanevery

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    Re: SMACX Thinker Mod
    « Reply #261 on: March 16, 2019, 08:08:28 PM »
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  • No, it's not about who thought of what in Worldbuilder.  It's that I as a modder am never going to use your version of it.  This is the 1st time you've decided to reach into alphax.txt.  When you do that, you risk stepping on other people's lawns.  My inventory above is about what could be a problem, and what isn't a problem.  Because you've never offered anyone an alphax.txt before, I'm making sure you haven't done something like become dependent on your alphax.txt changes.  'Cuz there are enough substantial mods out there that simply aren't going to do it your way, on these various things.

    It would be nice to have a mod manager.  That would mitigate a lot of "stepping on lawns" and "I want your AI, not your nerfed global warming" sort of issues.  But, I'm definitely too burned out to do it.  I'm nearing 1 year of psychological effort put into my mod, and 6 months of full time work countable hours on it.  I need to move on, to things that can make me money as a game developer.

    I think testing is a very big deal, something I've made a huge commitment to over the past year.  Some of my comments are aimed at maintaining a sanity of testing regime.  I'm ultimately thinking about, whether some person on /r/4Xgaming thinks the results suck or not.  Lots of testing discipline has to be maintained to keep things from sucking.  Make one change you think is not that big a deal, everything can start sucking.  It takes a lot of testing and iteration to get things right, and I'm glad I'm pretty much at the end of it.  I'm not going to be churning my stuff much anymore, not unless some tester comes along and shows me how I really broke something.  It takes way too long to fiddle with things, get results on the fiddling, and correct the fiddling.  I feel very informed at this point as to what a commercial 4X TBS testing effort is going to be like, and there's gonna be a lot of stuff I won't do as a result.

    So yeah, how about not changing Large, and adding Very Large?

    I respect your work enough to test it for now.  I don't do that sort of thing forever.  I can't make a living playing games of SMAC indefinitely, not even for my own modding let alone yours.  It's buckets of time.  Time that should be spent on a new, better game than SMAC.

    Offline dino

    Re: SMACX Thinker Mod
    « Reply #262 on: March 17, 2019, 09:34:01 AM »
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  • This is the 1st time you've decided to reach into alphax.txt.  When you do that, you risk stepping on other people's lawns.
    Since when it's *your* lawn?
    Just include alternative version of your file meant for thinker if it'll ever be required, which is not the case currently and probably won't be.
    Induktio already agreed to make changes to values from txt files optional if possible, during ai focus debacle.

    Quote
    I'm nearing 1 year of psychological effort put into my mod, and 6 months of full time work countable hours on it.
    You've spent a year changing values in configuration files and playing the game, in your own words fiddling. If you think you've learned anything substantial about game development, you are delusional.
    For what you've made, 6 months of full time work is insane, you'll never produce a game.

    Quote
    I respect your work enough to test it for now.  I don't do that sort of thing forever. I can't make a living playing games of SMAC indefinitely, not even for my own modding let alone yours.
    Just play the game if you enjoy it and eventually provide feedback, or don't play if it feels like an unpaid job.
    It's Induktio who is doing us a favor here, not the other way around.

    Quote
    Time that should be spent on a new, better game than SMAC.
    Good luck.

    I won't be escalating this topic beyond this post.
    « Last Edit: March 17, 2019, 01:01:07 PM by dino »

    Offline bvanevery

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    Re: SMACX Thinker Mod
    « Reply #263 on: March 17, 2019, 02:03:44 PM »
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  • Since when it's *your* lawn?


    It's my lawn when deciding whether to recommend Induktio's work to others in conjunction with my own work, on other sites like /r/4Xgaming where the vast majority of new downloads actually come from.  A new user ends up dealing with 3 scenarios:

    • Full replacement.  One mod goes in, another mod goes out.  Typically installed by completely overwriting the other mod.  This is the easiest scenario, it is least likely to be broken.
    • Parallel installation.  The mods exist side by side in the same game installation and don't affect each other.  This depends entirely on that key idea, "don't affect each other".
    • Mixing bits and pieces of each, depending on installation order.  In the real world, users mess this up and then say stuff is broken.

    Historically, Induktio endeavored to do (2) although there was some very early stuff where "don't affect each other" was broken.  To his credit, he fixed that.  Now he's moving into (3) and for me, all kinds of alarm bells are going off.  I hope others take user packaging seriously and don't just think eh, everyone is and wants to be a modder.  Everyone will want to just set this here, tweak that there to make stuff "finally" work.

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    Just include alternative version of your file meant for thinker if it'll ever be required,


    I am never, ever going to publicly support binary patches that require changes to alphax.txt in order to work.  It's not my job to keep trailing after a binary patch writer who feels like changing what is compatible, for however many years he or she decides to keep making things incompatible.  I'm not planning to be in maintenance mode indefinitely far into the future.

    Yitzi did this somewhat in alphax.txt.  He changed the encodings of how a few things are interpreted.  And then Yitzi vanished, never fixing or resolving those few issues.  Nobody decided to follow in his footsteps and maintain his work either.  The legacy of that, is doubling the maintenance workload of anyone doing .txt modding.

    Scient's patch, notably, did not do that.  All changes he made are optional.  You can drop any alphax.txt on top of it and everything is still interpreted the same way as the stock game.

    Quote
    which is not the case currently and probably won't be.


    And the point of raising the stuff I raised, is to make it clear why I want it to stay that way, and why other .txt modders would want that as well.  Modders do not want their work getting bitrotted over time.  I've seen all kinds of work get destroyed in the Wesnoth community because some coder didn't think maintaining the existing encodings was important enough.

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    Induktio already agreed to make changes to values from txt files optional if possible, during ai focus debacle.


    I can't keep track of details like that in a thread this long, and what does "if possible" mean anyways?  It's always possible, so what it really means is "if I want to, as a matter of my development."  I'm perfectly willing to make a push towards "please want to keep compatibility", especially the 1st time I ever see an alphax.txt appear.

    Quote
    You've spent a year changing values in configuration files and playing the game, in your own words fiddling. If you think you've learned anything substantial about game development, you are delusional.
    For what you've made, 6 months of full time work is insane, you'll never produce a game.


    Here you have no idea what you're talking about.  Show us your own mod, and tell us how you tested your mod in production to ensure that it actually works the way you want it to.  You speak as though writing is simply spewing a volume of words onto pages of paper.  That's not where the quality of the writing comes from.

    I went back and looked at your old posts.  I see that you've posted about your work before.  I've replied to your ideas about your work before, but I haven't actually tried your work.  I expect that your work is not in the same state now, as in that thread.  I also don't think you've been doing public releases to playtesters as one of your main goals.

    I think you should be more considerate of others before claiming some job is easy, or that you've even remotely attempted the same job.  If you have any interest in wrapping your head around the scope of what I've done, you can read my entire CHANGELOG.  It's in the readme_mod.txt of my mod, and it is painstakingly thorough.  Every damn 'fiddle' is in there.  I wrote that thing, very exactly, knowing that unappreciative people like yourself would come along.  It gives you the opportunity to actually see the work, instead of hand waving about how easy something is supposed to be.

    Alternately, you could read the entire thread of my mod's production.  The CHANGELOG entries do periodically show up there as well.  It is not easy to know what's important in a thread and what isn't.  But to give you an idea of the scope, this thread about Induktio's work is 18 web pages long.  My thread is 23 pages long.  The scope of discussion is "roughly comparable".

    Quote
    Just play the game if you enjoy it and eventually provide feedback, or don't play if it feels like an unpaid job.
    It's Induktio who is doing us a favor here, not the other way around.


    Do you understand the level of testing feedback I provide when I actually go at it?  Go read my threads.  I'm not doing Induktio a favor, he owes me nothing and I tested his mod with my mod for my own reasons.  But my feedback is valuable because it is thorough.

    Do you have any idea how hard it is for indie game developers to get good playtesting feedback on anything, when they don't have the budget to pay people to playtest?  Try asking about it in /r/gamedev.
    « Last Edit: March 17, 2019, 02:23:01 PM by bvanevery »

    Offline Induktio

    Re: SMACX Thinker Mod
    « Reply #264 on: March 17, 2019, 09:29:11 PM »
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  • Early versions of Thinker did not provide a separate alphax.txt because my assumption was that it would be mostly played on the standard game config. That's where I did my testing too, except that I also used the additional Worldbuilder stuff. It certainly would have been possible to provide modded alphax.txt even earlier so users wouldn't have to copypaste those changes which is even more error prone.

    This kind of AI has to make certain assumptions what strategies are viable, otherwise it would take way longer to develop. So there is always going to be a certain reference config on which most of the testing is based. That's just the reality of things. Sure, one can always deviate from that config but then that kind of stuff will not be so tested or even work at all. Hopefully most of the settings can be modded though.

    Offline T-hawk

    Re: SMACX Thinker Mod
    « Reply #265 on: March 21, 2019, 03:54:18 PM »
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  • Induktio, you do the best thing for your mod and your goals, ignore anyone who's just here to poop on it.

    Same as I do with my writeups, they're there and I'll ignore anyone who just comes to dump on it from some sanctimonious high horse.

    Offline Induktio

    Re: SMACX Thinker Mod
    « Reply #266 on: March 21, 2019, 04:40:57 PM »
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  • :)

    Here's a preview of the most significant things that should be added in the next release:

    Faction placement will get several bugfixes but also along with that I'm considering a new feature. Many games have map generators which guarantee X amount of resources near each player starting location, so why not implement it here. Currenly I'm testing a version of faction placement with a feature that adds 2 nutrient bonus resources near each land based factions starting location. Technically it works just by removing a supply pod and replacing it with a nutrient resource. Water factions will not get any extra here, they have way too much food anyway, so this will make land factions more competitive.

    It should be also possible to implement credit based rushing for the AI production. I think it might be limited only to rushing facilities based on some selective rule. Maybe any facility in headquarters and drone management facilities in any base that is in danger of rioting. Upgrading existing units is more complex to implement, and it can also result in very unpredictable situations for the players if frontline enemy units get upgraded in between turns.

    Offline dino

    Re: SMACX Thinker Mod
    « Reply #267 on: March 21, 2019, 05:51:20 PM »
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  • I think you should try to money rush as much as possible of everything, money rushing increases production capacity by 50% - 100% depending on the stage of the game.
    When ai sits on its wealth unused, it's a huge opportunity cost.

    In my games I rarely rush stuff in core bases, I use funds generated in core bases to rush like crazy essential stuff in freshly deployed outer bases, so they can catch up faster:
    recycling tanks, formers, crawlers, colony pods once a base grow beyond size 1 and as you suggested psych facilities in a base of riot danger, these are things I'd prioritise and prioritise smaller bases over big ones.
    Exception being energy percentage bonus facilities, should be prioritised in big bases.
    I wouldn't have selective rule what can be rushed, everything could be rushed, but I'd have rules on what and where is a priority.

    Once AI borders with other factions ( make it year based and depending on mapsize, if there is no way to make it smarter ), I'd make it try to accumulate and maintain some emergency funds, for probe team actions and emergency rushing of military units after loosing a base. Make emergency fund x times current money output, maybe I'd make it enough to rush one up to date unit in each base + mind control a base.


    Offline T-hawk

    Re: SMACX Thinker Mod
    « Reply #268 on: March 21, 2019, 07:09:03 PM »
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  • Rushing drone control facilities does run into the problem that the (unmodded) AI doesn't realize when they won't actually work, because the drone problem is caused by pacifism units that override facilities.  And really the best way to rush your way out of drone problems is a colony pod to reduce the size of the base.

    I agree with dino, rushing is for fresh bases not established ones.  Although the logic isn't because the base is new, it's because which item is much more important than which base, and the best items will occur at new bases.  Also because rushing is worth more in bases with low mineral production, because rushing minimizes the unspent-minerals-turns waiting in the box.  Formers are almost always the most important item for those new bases.  It's more colony pods if you have the PTS but of course most AIs won't.  Recycling tanks are always at least decent too and I think generally better than support-costing units.  Economic multipliers should rank a lot lower than the unmodded AI and most players think, basically never worthwhile until the input baseline is at least 20 units and more typically like 40.  And there is nothing special about the HQ, except for the rare cases of running -4 Efficiency or having a labs-doubler secret project.

    Offline dino

    Re: SMACX Thinker Mod
    « Reply #269 on: March 21, 2019, 08:02:18 PM »
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  • If I understand features description corectly, thinker AI can already switch out off free market, when hit with pacifist drones, so making them not trigger psych facilities rushing should be doable.
    Thinker is also capable of popbooming, so two, or more extra worked tiles can make psych facility really worth investment.
    But if free space on the continent isn't filled yet rushing colony pod instead could be better.
    With right police and support, rushing police unit (with police abillity preferably ), is a cheaper alternative to psych facility.

    In early stages developing outer bases faster and deploying colony pods from them faster, helps with land grabbing.
    Base placed in poor location can be useless for many decades if left alone, but with rushed recycle tanks, two formers and a crawler, will catch up quickly.
    Both cases can be recognised by smaller size, this why I'd prioritise smaller bases.

    It should be up to the code that chooses production to recognise when percentage bonus facility is worth investment.
    If it's choosen for production at all, then it could be rushed as well, if there is no other more usefull stuff to rush and "emergency fund" is maintained.
    « Last Edit: March 21, 2019, 08:57:39 PM by dino »

     

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