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Offline RidleyN

Playing AI Growth Mod sight unseen
« on: January 12, 2019, 06:47:50 PM »
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  • Coming back to the game after a few months, I'm going to jump back in with bvanevery's AI Growth mod. I skimmed the mod front page in a cursory manner, but I'm going in mostly in the dark by choice. I know that the tech tree has been rearranged and factions have been rebalanced, but I didn't read too closely. Come on a voyage of discovery with me and whatever poor faction is burdened with my leadership. Settings will be as follows: Random map, Enormous to test the generator, everything average, 30-50% oceans. Full random factions, all victory conditions, Transcend. It's been six months so I'll probably die gloriously, but I'll have fun doing it.
    « Last Edit: January 13, 2019, 01:44:30 AM by RidleyN »

    Offline RidleyN

    Re: Playing AI Growth Mod sight unseen
    « Reply #1 on: January 12, 2019, 09:30:43 PM »
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  • Believers it is then
    Believers it is then

         So it looks like I am to lead the Believers this time around. I'll take a look at the datalinks to see what I'm working with. I would have preferred a coastal start, but I don't usually play with look first on.

    Well that's a change
    Well that's a change

         These believers look like they are more the gospel songs and lots of kids types as opposed to "The Son of God Goes Forth to War" types. This is certainly going to mean a very different playstyle than I am used to with this faction, but having the in game portrayal of my religion be more positive is nice. The ECON will be a nice boost. Immunity to mind control is good, but I don't know how effectively the AI will be using probes.


    UhOh…
    UhOh…

        Worrisome. Aliens make for lively games, but the can be really tough to beat if they land nearby. Let's hope not. Monolith and Minerals from pods for New Jerusalem.



    Looks like a nice fertile band extending west from planetfall; dryer mountain area to the south. From the looks of the black area, we are on a large continent. Lots of fungus near the second base but not much I can do yet.


    First tech is a year behind Morgan, he has a full +2 Econ so that makes sense. No specifically research bonused factions, but the aliens will be able to direct their research. Given that CentEco is now a build tech, I don't even know how to guide my research with the four focuses anymore, since is deliberately didn't familiarize myself with the changes to the tech tree. For now, Explore and Build, I need rec commons next ideally; it seems like it should be under one or the other of those.


    That scout is going to have a hard time, and that will limit my expansion northward.

    Offline bvanevery

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    Re: Playing AI Growth Mod sight unseen
    « Reply #2 on: January 12, 2019, 09:35:40 PM »
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  • That oughtta be interesting!  I haven't tried an Enormous map recently.  Sometime over the past several months I changed focus to Huge maps.  The faction placement is calibrated for Enormous.  That's as large as the map can get without placement problems, and still retain an aesthetically pleasing aspect ratio.  What I would expect to happen, is some faction, maybe a few, are going to give you a stiff economic challenge on such a big map.  Because they already do that on Huge, until I come clobber them.  On Enormous that effect will be more pronounced.

    In fairness I should note that in 1.27, coming out Real Soon Now, I'm going back to Politics and Economics choices being easy to acquire.  Making that stiff and difficult was a big change in 1.26, one that in hindsight, I'm not in favor of.
    « Last Edit: January 12, 2019, 09:56:10 PM by bvanevery »

    Offline bvanevery

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    Re: Playing AI Growth Mod sight unseen
    « Reply #3 on: January 12, 2019, 09:51:41 PM »
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  • Immunity to mind control is good, but I don't know how effectively the AI will be using probes.

    The AI will come all the way across the map, by sea, to take over one of your sea bases.  On an Enormous map that's actually a gift.  It makes it much easier to infiltrate and steal a tech.  But since you can't be mind controlled, perhaps they'll just come to steal techs from you.  If you have any.  Since this isn't the stock Miriam, you could be researching just fine for all I know.

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    Worrisome. Aliens make for lively games, but the can be really tough to beat if they land nearby. Let's hope not.

    There is nothing to worry about.  Making the Aliens only as strong as other factions, was one of the most basic, earliest changes I made in this mod.  They don't have armor or recycling tanks.  They don't even get free Trance anymore, they get the darned useless Cloaking Device now.  The AI doesn't even know what to do with that.  The Aliens are still powerful because they can do directed research, but that's really the only trick up their sleeve.  Even the main armament of their Battle Ogre has been nerfed.

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    Given that CentEco is now a build tech, I don't even know how to guide my research with the four focuses anymore,

    Centauri Ecology is cross-listed as Build, Explore, and Conquer, because it does all of these things.  Only a pure Discover faction would have any trouble acquiring it.  There are no pure Discover factions among the AIs, it's either Explore Discover or Discover Conquer.  A human player could choose to do pure Discover as a starting strategy.  If it didn't work so well for them, presumably they would change to something else eventually.

    There is nothing wrong with keeping the Believers' default Explore Conquer focus.  Generally this is how I test the game, not making any changes to default research foci, so that I can see how the tech tree behaves as the AI sees it.  All of the default faction foci, work for that faction.  Not saying you can't do otherwise, you most certainly can, but the defaults will work.  You do end up with different tech than you'd expect though.  It can be challenging, improvising when something you're used to having "by now", hasn't been researched yet.

    On an Enormous map, I would expect a Conquer focus to usually be a waste of research points.  You typically don't have any enemies to fight for a long time.  However, it is possible to start next to someone, and to want to conquer them, even on an Enormous map.  I think the Spartans are the most disadvantaged on Enormous and larger maps, because they have no basic assets for empire building.  They need a victim!  Every other faction is better rounded than that.

    Miriam, with her new +1 ECONOMY advantage from all the tithings, is going to do better on an Enormous map than most.  Actually if the AI were playing her, I might expect her to be a real monster.  One thing about the new non-Fundamentalist Miriam, is once she decides she wants you dead, you don't have any basic way to ingratiate yourself to her!  You can't imitate her Politics, Economics, Values, or Future Society because she has no preferences.  She's totally free will.

    Offline RidleyN

    Re: Playing AI Growth Mod sight unseen
    « Reply #4 on: January 12, 2019, 10:00:16 PM »
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  • Lots of Fungal blooms this game, just bad luck I guess. this is the third one so far.


    Explore more to the north, scout has survived some mind worms and found an artifact. It will be hard to get home with the fungus and a tower right there though.


    Well never mind. Also Bad. Was hoping Aliens were not close, at least it's the caretakers. They might be easier to work with. Probably not, but I can be optimistic.



    Growing out to the west, I don't usually like overlapping my bases that much, but three minerals on one base with fertile ground was too good. More fungal blooms and mindworm pops though, and I'm feeling the lack of the +25% extra 'fanatic' attack bonus. A few scouts dead, more to follow.


    I want to go home. The Caretakers are to the north, I don't know how far; I don't even have Progenitor Psych yet, so I just get this. No new weapons or armor yet. If the aliens get similar techs at start to the base game this could be a short playthrough. Ah well.

    I get the tech for rovers, it's conquer now. I need to prototype it so that I can scout faster and hopefully find safe direction to expand.


    No techs for SPs yet, even though some of the ones I have normally grant them; but prototypes are SP levels of expense now, with a whopping +200%. Skunkworks once i can get them are a must.



    Fifth fungal bloom now, and at least 5 mindworm pods as well. I have lost a lot of colony pods and their escorts. Expensive losses, I am not where I want to be at this stage in terms of base numbers. On the bright side, that is a nice big chunk of inhospitable fungus between me and the Caretakers. I can hope for someslowing and maybe some attrition when the assault comes.



    Continuing expansion west, more fungal blooms to the southwest make that direction too expensive for now. I need more bases, and quickly. At this point, the lack of the usually support bonus for the beleivers is pretty hard. But at least I'm not technologically backward. Seagoing units are much cheaper too, early seagoing efforts are much easier, as witnessed by Sven's dominance of the power graph. Santiago starts the Command Nexus, which could make her a real pain if I have to fight her anytime soon, but I can't even start that SP so I won't worry about that for now. I need to set up a forward area I can defend against the caretakers, so I can have warning before they get to my heartlands.



    Front line down, I couldn't make it coastal and still have access to the monument since the former I was bringing died to mindworms. Really cheap light artillery cost the same as scouts, but I don't know how effective they will be. Switched priorities to conquer, hopefully I get lasers or some armor soon. That said, her border isn't ugently close, she will have a long march to get down here even with an established road network, and I don't know if she has that.




    Offline RidleyN

    Re: Playing AI Growth Mod sight unseen
    « Reply #5 on: January 12, 2019, 10:03:29 PM »
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  • Thanks for your reply! Don't spoil it too thoroughly for me though, having to struggle through figuring out a new tech tree is a fun, if daunting, experience. Glad to hear the aliens are a little toned back, I enjoy roleplaying my factions as much as I can get away with, but sometimes when backed into a corner on Transcend I just have to break character and play 'optimally' like using nerve gas as a faction that I don't want to use it with.

    Offline bvanevery

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    Re: Playing AI Growth Mod sight unseen
    « Reply #6 on: January 12, 2019, 10:12:38 PM »
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  • These believers look like they are more the gospel songs and lots of kids types as opposed to "The Son of God Goes Forth to War" types. This is certainly going to mean a very different playstyle than I am used to with this faction,

    Something else to bear in mind.  My version of Fundamentalist has proven to be very popular with the AI factions.  Most factions will choose it at some point in their empire's evolution, even if they change to Democratic later.  A major change coming in 1.27, is Democratic is going to actually make money again, giving factions much more reason to choose it.  Free Market is not going to make as much money, I think it is overpowered as is.

    SUPPORT was outsourced in this mod.  No faction gets any inherent SUPPORT bonus.  If you want SUPPORT, you make the social engineering choices that will give it to you, and take the consequences.  Unless of course you are immune to the negative effects of some choice.  Those are also getting adjusted in 1.27, in the case of the Hive and the Cult of Planet.

    Offline bvanevery

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    Re: Playing AI Growth Mod sight unseen
    « Reply #7 on: January 12, 2019, 10:50:21 PM »
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  • More fungal blooms and mindworm pops though,

    You sure are getting a lot of that.  I played a Believer AAR some time ago where I got like the worst piles of fungus at the beginning that you could believe.  It might have been before I stared AI Growth mod.  It almost makes me wonder if there's some modification to the supply pod results just for the Believers.  In the original game they did have -1 PLANET after all.  But the other possibility is, it's just coincidence and I'm merely feeling your pain.

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    and I'm feeling the lack of the +25% extra 'fanatic' attack bonus.

    Won't help you when 3 mindworms surround you anyways.  You'll kill 1, then they'll kill you.  My experience is that every faction kills mindworms just fine at the beginning of the game.  That said, in 1.27 the Believers will lose the GROWTH bonus, and will be given +1 MORALE.  They will also go back to being Aggressive.  Although I don't want them to be fanatical lunatics, there's nothing wrong with them still being jerks

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    If the aliens get similar techs at start to the base game this could be a short playthrough.

    Let's see, what did I put in the early tech tree for 1.26?  I forget because I've been working on 1.27 for over a month now.  I even went back and forth on the early armor and weapons redesign a couple of times.  Ah, ok, just checked it.   You'll be fine, I don't have to feel sorry for you.   :D

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    No techs for SPs yet, even though some of the ones I have normally grant them;

    No SPs until Tier 3 of techs, and it takes awhile to get there.  The beginning of the game is now about finding your footing, not about SP races.

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    but prototypes are SP levels of expense now, with a whopping +200%.  Skunkworks once i can get them are a must.

    Actually they aren't, and you won't.  Expect to pay for your prototypes.  Good way to soak up an Artifact if you're really desperate.  You won't be getting Supply Crawlers any time soon either.

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    On the bright side, that is a nice big chunk of inhospitable fungus between me and the Caretakers. I can hope for someslowing and maybe some attrition when the assault comes.

    I hate to break it to you, but they are a +1 PLANET faction.  They are going to gain mindworms, I don't know how good the AI is at actually using them.

    You'd better not settle next to that stuff and get some Sensor Arrays built.  Free tip, their defense value has been bumped from +25% to +50%.  They are a substantial defensive advantage.  You aren't likely to discover this in the ordinary course of play, except by sheer frustration, as it is a minor detail and not readily talked about anywhere.  Gotta spill some beans or it's gonna make my modding look bad.  I'm really, really in favor of the new defensive bulwarks.  Tim Nevolin came up with the idea, but oddly enough, I'm the one who ran with it.

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    At this point, the lack of the usually support bonus for the beleivers is pretty hard.

    Hey you've got money.  More than anyone but the Morganites.  Who now have lots of money.  But passing those Church collection plates around, sure is worth a lot of money.  Just keep praying and collecting, I know it deep in my atheist heart that the Almighty Dollar is gonna save you!
    ;morganercise ;worship

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    But at least I'm not technologically backward.

    Exactly.  Isaac Newton's got your back.  Don't talk to Miriam about sending any cyborgs into combat though.  Ain't happenin'.

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    Seagoing units are much cheaper too, early seagoing efforts are much easier, as witnessed by Sven's dominance of the power graph.

    It's a strategic phenomenon that you're going to want to keep in mind.  He's Pacifist.  He believes in Wealth, not Power. 

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    Really cheap light artillery cost the same as scouts, but I don't know how effective they will be.

    Well, they can keep enemy light artillery or pop cannon ships from tearing up your terrain improvements.  The Light Artillery is an artifact of when I was trying to have the earliest part of the game be about "scouting rockfights".  This partly changed in 1.26, I started going back to something more traditional.  You have probably realized by now that Synthmetal Armor is a Conquer 1 tech.  Heavy Artillery is moving again in 1.27, Light Artillery goes away as not important enough to waste the AI's time on.  But boy, there were several mod iterations where there sure was a lot of Light Artillery shelling going on!  Just reams and reams of pop pop pop, the AI sure fixated on it.

    Offline RidleyN

    Re: Playing AI Growth Mod sight unseen
    « Reply #8 on: January 14, 2019, 01:40:58 AM »
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  • Started off today with more of the same, as you might imagine, I lost that base.
    Good news is it looks like I am on a large continent, plenty of space to expand, and aside from the caretakers somwhere to the north, I haven't met anyone else to box me in. Hopefully everyone has enough space to make the game interesting, with no tiny island starts, we'll see.


    So good news, I may be at the bottom of the power graph because of losing so many colony pods, but Lular can't be doing to much better. She truced me for some EC, and it turns out that there is a tiny and pretty defensible land bridge between us to the north. I have sensors built up there in the vicinity of that base to keep an eye on things, and I have synthmetal armor now. No lasers yet.


    Meet sven by one of my sea bases, he Vendetta's me right away after i won't give him my latest techs for free. He only has a couple probe teams out this way though. He manages to steal one of the two techs he wanted anyway. I know that he is the strongest faction right now, so if he is close by, that could be an issue; but it isn't as bad as a land neighbor. He can harrass me at sea, but i rarely ever see the AI actually build many land bases.


    I didn't expect that at all. Mag tubes so early will change things up. I discovered the monsoon jungle to my southwest on the coast of the continent and the sunny mesa due south of my settlements. Still no new land factions, so I should be able to settle the jungle; especially with the increased movment. Getting a stack of formers working.


    There is the land bridge, halding it down with a few rovers artillery and scouts. synthmetal units coming up behind. The Caretaker troops are still there, don't tust the truce to hold. There are a couple mindworms, a scout and a half dead Battle Ogre MK1 that i can see right now. I might put in a second base near the monolith to the east, I'm undecided. I might not have the efficiency base cap to do it when i want the jungle as well.


    Yup. I hit the limit, then remember that I unlocked democracy recently. Plus 2 effic will let me settle more, but I will have to be careful, since i can't use police any more. Right now it isn't a problem since i have colonization as a social outlet, but if i don't get hologram theaters soon it might get more sticky.


    Sparta finishes the Command Nexus before i even have the ability to start it. Don't know where they are yet though. I'm  behind for sure at the moment, bad luck with fungus and mindworms, but with some really good land to move into, and a lot of space on the map; I should be able to pull things back around.

    Offline bvanevery

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    Re: Playing AI Growth Mod sight unseen
    « Reply #9 on: January 14, 2019, 03:36:28 AM »
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  • Hopefully everyone has enough space to make the game interesting, with no tiny island starts, we'll see.

    I am fairly confident that tiny island starts are impossible in my mod.  There simply aren't any tiny islands generated to start on.  I did a lot of testing up through map size Enormous.  That work was actually done before I started AI Growth mod proper.  I can't remember how long it took me to determine the best settings, but it took some time.  I did write a thread about it somewhere.

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    if i don't get hologram theaters soon it might get more sticky.

    The good news is Hologram Theaters are cheaper to make and take much less maintenance energy.  The bad news is in 1.26 I decided to torture you with difficult to obtain social engineering choices.  Hologram Theaters are held hostage to that.  It's a decision I regret and am reversing course in 1.27.

    Offline RidleyN

    Re: Playing AI Growth Mod sight unseen
    « Reply #10 on: January 17, 2019, 07:47:42 PM »
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  • Continuing to play, weird thing, none of the AIs have a single discover tech. None of them, and it's 2223. I just realized this after doing more exploration. I pacted 3 of them and infiltrated the others. Of course, I didn't have that tech until recently either. But that might be something that you want to look into. Given this mix of AI's at least, none of them will seek it out. Without network nodes, you can't cache artifacts and are stuck with basic research ability; so the game almost felt like I had tech stagnation on.

    Offline bvanevery

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    Re: Playing AI Growth Mod sight unseen
    « Reply #11 on: January 17, 2019, 08:23:01 PM »
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  • Thanks for noticing!

    Continuing to play, weird thing, none of the AIs have a single discover tech. None of them, and it's 2223.

    It's by design.  Indeed, a design I've gone back and forth on, in different versions of this mod.  Information Networks is a "pure Discover" bottleneck.  Factions that don't have a Discover focus, need to either trade for it, steal it, or pop it from a pod.  The Discover part of the tech tree is mainly about speeding up one's research rate.  It doesn't bottleneck most other things like weapons, armors, abilities, facilities, etc.  You can go a pretty long time without learning any Discover techs at all.

    One exception is the Biology Lab which is useful for a lifecycle bonus, not just research.  In 1.27 I removed the Biology Lab from the Discover tree and put it in the Explore tree, thinking of it as a Gaian way to do things.  So if not having Biology Labs by now is an objection, it's been solved.

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    Of course, I didn't have that tech until recently either.

    That's the thing, a human player can choose to focus on Discover.  "Why am I not learning lots and lots of new techs?"  Because you never expressed any interest in that.  Presumably you wanted a shiny new artillery piece, or a horrific mindworm, or a fast ship, or to make lots of money.  In this mod you don't just "get everything".  The Explore, Discover, Build, and Conquer foci are fairly distinct.  There is overlap, but every single overlap is carefully premeditated on my part.  There are simply no giveaways.  The stock game's policy is to just "dole out" weapons and armor every so often to factions pursuing one of the foci.  I don't do that.  If you want weapons, you have to research Conquer.

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    Without network nodes, you can't cache artifacts

    Indeed.  But Artifacts are also useful for building Secret Projects and completing unit prototypes, because you don't get Supply Crawlers for quite some time.  Myself, I tend to save my Artifacts for a midgame spurt.  I prefer to steal everything from other factions, to gain what I call "tech parity", before spending the precious Artifacts to pull ahead.  So I do not see early lack of Network Nodes as a problem.  You may have a different play style and differ on this point.  But I don't think it's advantageous to spend Artifacts on early techs.  You can just pay 100 credits for a lot of those.

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    and are stuck with basic research ability; so the game almost felt like I had tech stagnation on.

    The basic playtesting question is, do you still have tools to make progress in the game?  Like, you don't need piles and piles of tech to advance your cause.  You might only need 1 specific tech.  This game is trying to keep you 'lean' on having weapons and armor advantages.  So that you will use tactics, not just a high tech turkey shoot.  There's a difference between "lean and challenged" though, and "bored out of one's freakin' mind".  I'm not trying to do the latter.  The playtesting question is whether you are merely challenged because it's different than you're used to, or whether something is seriously sucking.

    If you do actually feel the game is godawful sucking slow at the beginning, I recommend you quit and try 1.27 in a brand new game.  It's not a greatly different Discover tree, Biology Lab aside as noted above.  But it is totally different as far as getting your Politics and Economics going, and that does affect your research rate.  I definitely consider the harshness of getting Politics and Economics in 1.26, to have been a bad move.  IMO I fixed that.

    On the other hand if all you're really feeling is "this is different than I'm used to, and I'm being stretched" well that's the intent.  Might as well finish your game in that case.  Thanks for the feedback!

    Offline RidleyN

    Re: Playing AI Growth Mod sight unseen
    « Reply #12 on: January 17, 2019, 09:23:16 PM »
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  • It's mostly good, and I normally play with Tech stag on with such large maps anyway. I wasn't bored, and I enjoyed some of the changes a lot. Early mag tubes is huge, as well as units with 2 specials. Those techs both open up a lot of gameplay and tactical choice earlier. I would say that It was fine, as a human player; I wasn't frustrated, the date crept up on me and then I suddenly realized that the planet didn't have a single network node on it. As I play, if the lack of discover techs really hurts the AI and it can't compete with me, then I might change my tune. For example, I would be concerned if I was able to totally monopolize the research oriented secret projects. The AI will need to steal those techs from me if it wants to compete, but that isn't a certainty since I keep as tight a lid on probes as I can until I can get the HSA (In my opinion the most overpowered SP).

    Offline bvanevery

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    Re: Playing AI Growth Mod sight unseen
    « Reply #13 on: January 18, 2019, 06:09:00 AM »
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  • as well as units with 2 specials.

    I'm afraid I sorta reversed in 1.27.  Repurposed Neural Grafting for Bioenhancement Centers.  Put 2 abilities into Industrial Automation, since I think it's somewhat logical as a manufacturing process, rather than as something you stick into your brain.  So now it's a Build 4 tech, same time as a Supply Crawler, not as easy to get.  If there is a 1.28, I could make 2 abilities a Tier 3 tech again, just not sure where to put it.  I'm not 100% sure how useful it is now anyways, because Trance and ECM abilities aren't free anymore, they cost 1.  Less incentive to combine abilities in 1 unit when you have to pay for everything.

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    As I play, if the lack of discover techs really hurts the AI and it can't compete with me, then I might change my tune.

    That will be interesting to find out.

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    For example, I would be concerned if I was able to totally monopolize the research oriented secret projects.

    My test games happened to have factions in them that acquired Discovery techs just fine, and just blazed away at such projects, typically getting them before I even remotely had a chance to!  Didn't think about the possibility of our roles being reversed.  I'm not concerned if AIs are otherwise cranking out SPs, which they seem to in my test games.  I have trouble getting all the SPs myself.

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    The AI will need to steal those techs from me if it wants to compete, but that isn't a certainty since I keep as tight a lid on probes as I can until I can get the HSA

    I find that defensively, it's not that hard to keep the AI from bothering you, by making some armored probe teams to defend with.  On an infantry platform.  I tried to get the AI to understand this with some predefined units, but they'd always just use them offensively, not defensively. 

    Quote
    (In my opinion the most overpowered SP).

    Cloudbase Academy is much worse.  HSA is overpowered only to the extent the game overpowers probe teams.  Something I did in my mod seems to have calmed the AI down.  Maybe removing the PROBE advantage from Fundamentalist, threw the AI off.  In 1.27 I've tried to make the Data Angels more threatening, don't know if I've succeeded.

    Offline Trench Dog

    Re: Playing AI Growth Mod sight unseen
    « Reply #14 on: June 02, 2019, 09:16:35 AM »
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  • Been enjoying reading up on these and past AAR's for certain. You planning on continuing this?

     

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