Author Topic: Technology values and chaining  (Read 1328 times)

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Re: Technology values and chaining
« Reply #15 on: December 07, 2019, 10:28:38 PM »
It does not seem like it was designed to support different play styles.

You are conflating different play styles with different combat styles.  They are not the same.  Nobody said you have to play this game by focusing on combat.  If you choose to be a Spartanesque war machine, yes your options are going to be narrowly channeled.  Bigger weapons are better, thicker armor is better.  You do have some combined arms variance.  You do have some different naval, air, hovertank, and mindworm invasion options.  The variety of what you can do to prevail in combat is limited, but it's not zero.

I think it is difficult to establish what is a valid or invalid play style, when the AI is not competent enough to pursue many of them.

I meant exactly play style, not combat style.
Tim

Offline bvanevery

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Re: Technology values and chaining
« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2019, 10:31:38 PM »
You are doing it for too long, man. I didn't say it is impossible. The fact that you did it doesn't make it easier for general public.
:D

What's stopping you or anyone else for following my rules about weights?  You don't even have to license that, you just have to apply the same sensibilities.  Primary categories are 4s.  Secondary are 3s.  Blockers are 0s.  There should almost never be 1s or 2s.  Rarely, make something a 5.  Don't do what the original game did, with an 8 somewhere.  This isn't hard stuff.  You just have to have faith that the regime actually works.  I've proven that it can work.

If you want to make a tech difficult to get, while still keeping it in the same place in the tree, disrupt the continuity of research category like 3 times in a row.  My textbook on this is Retroviral Engineering.  Genetic plagues are a game buster and I didn't want anyone to have them easily.

Quote
Nobody else bothers.

How many nobodies are really under discussion though?  I mean "nobody" mods SMAC in any huge way, if you get right down to it.  I presume, based on public comments, that a lot of people change a few settings here and there, as they like.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2019, 10:55:52 PM by bvanevery »

Offline bvanevery

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Re: Technology values and chaining
« Reply #17 on: December 07, 2019, 10:49:29 PM »
I meant exactly play style, not combat style.

Why should I agree with that then?  You can colonize endlessly, you can extract every Artifact from Planet, you can grow big cities and vote yourself the Best Thing Ever, you can overrun your neighbors, you can dig Thermal Boreholes, you can pit factions against each other with covert missions.  There's lots of variety for how you want to reach a victory condition.

Re: Technology values and chaining
« Reply #18 on: December 08, 2019, 12:29:04 AM »
Quote
Nobody else bothers.

How many nobodies are really under discussion though?  I mean "nobody" mods SMAC in any huge way, if you get right down to it.  I presume, based on public comments, that a lot of people change a few settings here and there, as they like.

I didn't see other modders bothering with encoding certain evolution path into the tech tree.
Tim

Re: Technology values and chaining
« Reply #19 on: December 08, 2019, 12:33:25 AM »
I meant exactly play style, not combat style.

Why should I agree with that then?  You can colonize endlessly, you can extract every Artifact from Planet, you can grow big cities and vote yourself the Best Thing Ever, you can overrun your neighbors, you can dig Thermal Boreholes, you can pit factions against each other with covert missions.  There's lots of variety for how you want to reach a victory condition.

You are taking things out of context and arguing with who said which word. Don't rush it. We have all the time in the world.

The blind research mechanics does not support play styles. I didn't say there are no play styles. There are. However, there is no direct correspondence between play style and the research priority that suits it best. At least not in vanilla.
Tim

Offline bvanevery

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Re: Technology values and chaining
« Reply #20 on: December 08, 2019, 01:18:16 AM »
In my mod if you want combat, you do Conquer.  If you want money and minerals, you do Build.  If you want mindworms, you do Explore.  If you want population growth, you primarily do Explore, but recently I decided you also secondarily do Build.  That's sort of a prevarication back to the original design of the game, recognizing that working more squares does make you more money and minerals.  If you want faster research, you do Discover.

My main beef is it feels to me like Build and Explore are used for too much stuff.  Feels like there should be a 5th category, but that wouldn't have fit their original marketing agenda.

Offline dino

Re: Technology values and chaining
« Reply #21 on: December 08, 2019, 11:34:20 PM »

Finetuning weights can improve AIs performance great deal though and for this reason it's worth playing with. For AIs you want to make it differentiate between factions less and only provide some slight flavour in a form different priorities and early short detours, while making sure that all factions will get essential techs not too far apart from each other.

It sounds contradictory to what you and I said above about unpredictability of blind research. True, AI gets some technology set skew based on set priorities. However, the exact skew is 1) very unpredictable and unreliable, 2) very-very-very difficult to fine tune with research weights and tree dependencies, 3) dilutes very easily with technology trading. One probably can play thousand games and discover that certain priority set leads to certain technology set on average. However, slightest change in weights or tree build changes this and one would need to play another thousand games to understand how exactly.

In summary, it's not worth optimizing.

You can't make it satysfying replacement for direct research, but you can prevent AIs from shooting themselves in the foot in the early game.

I've found that assuring that all AI factions get Centauri Ecology, Industrial Automation and resource lifting techs relatively early is essential, especially with thinker mod.
Getting at least 4/2 units early is essential for survival while having aggressive neighbour.
And for flavor you can tune it, so aggressive faction go for impact weapon first, economy techs second and the rest other way around.
Beyond described tweaks for early game, I've found further tweaking tech weights to have little impact on AIs and not worth bothering indeed.

The way thinker mod changes the weights is not effective, since many factions skip Centauri Ecology with its tech_ai feature on and also remain defenseless for too long.
I've suggested Inducti0 additive, instead of multiplicative bonus to make it better, but don't remember if he implemented it. Just fine tuned weights in alphax.txt work even better anyway.

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Re: Technology values and chaining
« Reply #22 on: December 09, 2019, 02:20:18 AM »
Industrial Automation and resource lifting techs relatively early is essential, especially with thinker mod.

I just delay the hell out of them.  No Thermal Boreholes for you!  A long delay does level the playing field.  You seriously have to watch out for whoever builds the Weather Paradigm in Thinker Mod though, because it's such a game breaker.  I can't delay the WP too much, I already put it as a Tier 3 project, same as all the other Secret Projects.  Half the point of the WP is to give terraforming abilities earlier.

Quote
Getting at least 4/2 units early is essential for survival while having aggressive neighbour.

I kneecapped everyone's offensive capability, in favor of early defense.  I did recently reintroduce Lasers though.

Re: Technology values and chaining
« Reply #23 on: December 09, 2019, 05:30:35 AM »
You can't make it satysfying replacement for direct research, but you can prevent AIs from shooting themselves in the foot in the early game.

There are plenty of direct and predictable methods to balance factions if you like. Giving them starting techs for one.

The way thinker mod changes the weights is not effective, since many factions skip Centauri Ecology with its tech_ai feature on and also remain defenseless for too long.
I've suggested Inducti0 additive, instead of multiplicative bonus to make it better, but don't remember if he implemented it. Just fine tuned weights in alphax.txt work even better anyway.

I'm sorry. I wasn't aware Thinker changes any game mechanics besides AI choices. If it does, what are additive and multiplicative bonuses you are talking about?

Have you tried my mod? It is built on top of Thinker. You get challenging game from AI plus my changes highlighting different game features and strategies. The most noticeable one is combat units: smooth weapon/armor value progression, sane unit pricing, solved reactor problem, distributed timing, etc. See the readme for complete view.
Tim

Offline dino

Re: Technology values and chaining
« Reply #24 on: December 09, 2019, 08:13:16 AM »
I haven't tried it yet, but I sure will try it, when I go on another AC playing spree.
At least I've downloaded it and had a read, I like what you are doing.

tech_balance=1 from thinker.ini
This feature multiplies ai weights from alphax.txt of selected few techs by 4.
Problem was, if original weight is 0, it did nothing to direct AI towards this and the other extremely high weights would make some AIs skip some essential techs like Ecology.
I suggested to make it additive +8 bonus instead, he agreed, but you'd have to find it in source, or patch notes, if he actually changed it.

I personally had it turned off and used manually edited in alphax.txt weights instead.
With slightly less heavy weights, so AI is more likely to deviate from it a bit for variety and few more techs, including some techs leading to the essential ones:

Industrial Base,            Indust,  4, 3, 5, 3, None,    None,    000000000
Information Networks,       InfNet,  3, 5, 3, 3, None,    None,    000000000
Applied Physics,            Physic,  5, 3, 2, 3, None,    None,    000000000
Social Psych,               Psych,   2, 3, 5, 4, None,    None,    000000000
Centauri Ecology,           Ecology, 4, 4, 5, 6, None,    None,    100000000
Nonlinear Mathematics,      Chaos,   6, 4, 3, 4, Physic,  InfNet,  000000000
Planetary Networks,         PlaNets, 3, 5, 4, 3, InfNet,  None,    000000000
Industrial Economics,       IndEcon, 3, 3, 5, 4, Indust,  None,    000000100
Industrial Automation,      IndAuto, 4, 4, 6, 5, IndEcon, PlaNets, 000000100
Gene Splicing,              Gene,    3, 4, 6, 5, Biogen,  EthCalc, 000100000
Environmental Economics,    EnvEcon, 3, 3, 6, 5, IndEcon, EcoEng,  000000100
Ecological Engineering,     EcoEng,  4, 4, 6, 5, Ecology, Gene,    000000000

I still consider increasing weights even more, but this is what I played with last time.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2019, 08:30:52 AM by dino »

Offline dino

Re: Technology values and chaining
« Reply #25 on: December 09, 2019, 09:23:05 AM »
If you use the latest thinker mod, it has a new tech cost formula that base cost on tech level, not on the number of known tech.
Since you've reduced the number of tech levels in your mod, you should either edit the source code of the new formula, or disable this feature in thinker.ini.

Re: Technology values and chaining
« Reply #26 on: December 09, 2019, 03:08:42 PM »
tech_balance=1 from thinker.ini
This feature multiplies ai weights from alphax.txt of selected few techs by 4.
Problem was, if original weight is 0, it did nothing to direct AI towards this and the other extremely high weights would make some AIs skip some essential techs like Ecology.
I suggested to make it additive +8 bonus instead, he agreed, but you'd have to find it in source, or patch notes, if he actually changed it.

Thank you for reminding me Thinker has this feature. I need to reread it. It was long ago.
I should probably align my changes with this.
Tim

Re: Technology values and chaining
« Reply #27 on: December 09, 2019, 03:09:43 PM »
If you use the latest thinker mod, it has a new tech cost formula that base cost on tech level, not on the number of known tech.
Since you've reduced the number of tech levels in your mod, you should either edit the source code of the new formula, or disable this feature in thinker.ini.

That is too. I should pay attention to it.
I didn't reduced number of levels and I never planned to. It is still 15 or something. Similar to vanilla.
Tim

Offline dino

Re: Technology values and chaining
« Reply #28 on: December 09, 2019, 06:47:02 PM »
You use the latest release version 0.9, while I'm up to date with his develop builds, it was the source of my confusion regarding missing variables in the thinker.ini, the new tech cost formula is not implemented in 0.9

Thank you for reminding me Thinker has this feature. I need to reread it. It was long ago. I should probably align my changes with this.

I think it's better kept disabled, you can achieve the same, or better just by editing weights in alphax.txt.
The only advantage ( or not ) of the thinker bonus, is that it affects AIs, but not blind research for the player.

In the 0.9 version weights of selected techs are multiplied, in the latest develop build there is additive bonus probably, you can always check the code to be sure.

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Re: Technology values and chaining
« Reply #29 on: December 09, 2019, 08:21:27 PM »
I think it's better kept disabled, you can achieve the same, or better just by editing weights in alphax.txt.

Yes actually "why won't you respect the weighting system that other modders implement, that is there precisely for this purpose" was the original source of friction between us.  I think that issue abated, not entirely sure.  More recently, we can't possibly agree on 'fair' eco-damage rules for the AI, or ignoring AI faction social engineering choice requirements.  So from my standpoint, it's good to have some other modder doing something with the Thinker Mod tech.  I have a much better chance convincing Tim what The Right Thing To Do is.

 

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