Fractal Softworks Forum
November 19, 2017, 07:49:39 AM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length
News: New blog post: Economy & Outposts (9/19/17); Starsector 0.8.1a is out!
 
   Home   Help Search Login Register  
Pages: [1]
  Print  
Author Topic: Fleet AI, orders, and command points  (Read 354 times)
intrinsic_parity
Commander
***
Posts: 132


View Profile
« on: November 12, 2017, 04:44:12 AM »

The combat in this game is a ton of fun, but I think that the tactical layer can be inconsistent sometimes because the AI is bad at making tactical decisions by itself and isn't the best at following orders and the command point system limits what orders you can give.

I should start by saying I have no idea how the AI actually works, and all of my evidence is heuristic. My general strategy is to begin the battle by placing assault orders on 1-2 key objectives (to keep my fleet grouped together) and then downgrading those to control once they are captured (and possibly placing new assault orders to try and get my fleet to advance in a coordinated way). I also try to order my largest ship to eliminate the enemies largest threat, and I give fighter strike orders on key threats. I usually also order my carriers to stay together via escort orders. All of my observations are made in the context of this general strategy.


I've noticed that if the player does not give orders, the AI doesn't seem to make any tactical decisions. As far as I can tell, it will just engage the first ship it encounters and then move on to the next closest ship (please correct me if I am wrong). I think it would make a big difference if the AI had some basic situational awareness. For instance, if ships attempted to engage enemy ships of the same size (so friendly cruisers would seek out enemy cruisers etc.) or if ships attempted to proactively reinforce areas where the fleet is outnumbers/outgunned. I think that the AI might do the latter to some extent, but it seems to me like if it does, it generally reacts too late to help the outnumbered ships.

In general, it is the responsibility of the player to make tactical decisions, however this can be complicated by quirks in how the AI responds to orders and the limitations of the command point system.

In my experience, the AI is not very good at capturing objectives. Here is an example of one of the weird objective behaviors:


For reference, the assault order has been on the objective for the entire battle and the enemy has been away from the objective for at least 30 seconds, probably more but I wasn't paying close attention. It took another 15 seconds before an allied ship finally bothered to actually get on the objective. Clearly, there are 7-8 ships that are not directly engaged and could easily capture the objective (although the shepherds are escorting the condor so they wouldn't actually be available). This is the most urgent order I can place on an objective but allies seem to not prioritize it at all. This is especially frustrating for pivotal objectives like nav buoys that can make a big difference in a fight. I've also noticed that in a standoff situation, the AI tends to form a concave behind the objective rather than on the objective (I don't have a picture but I can probably get one if necessary). I wish the AI would attempt to sit on the objective so that the enemy has to force them off to capture.

Here is another example of an annoying behavior, this time regarding eliminate orders:


The dominator in the bottom right has been ordered to eliminate the eagle in the top left (a little while ago), however, it is instead chasing a tempest down to the bottom right. It was closer to the eagle when I issued the order but it continued to chase the tempest for at least another 10 seconds before finally turning around and heading back to follow the order.

I think both of these issues stem from the AI generally having trouble disengaging. If the AI is engaged with another ship, it doesn't seem to respond to commands, at least not immediately. I think that if I issue a command to a ship, it should immediately back away from the fight that it is in to follow the order. In my experience, if I issue orders at the beginning of the game before any ships have engaged, the orders are followed well, but once the combat has begun, orders are generally followed very slowly if at all.


These problems are further compounded by the command point system. There are simply not enough command points to properly make tactical moves. In my most recent play-through, I took all of the command point skills, and that felt like it was just barely enough to be effective. I still ended up running out of command points and using them as they regenerated. I think that the number of command points available should scale with fleet size. In the early game, I think that the number of command points is fine, even without skills, but as fleet size increases, there are more objectives to capture, more allies to order around, and more enemies to kill. There really needs to be more base command points. I should add that I have never used the operations center hull mod. I'd imagine that would make a big difference, but my flagship is always a gunship and taking that hullmod is a really big hit to combat effectiveness. I think that the command point skills and hull mods should be luxuries that make the tactical gameplay style easier, not necessities for proper tactical gameplay. Currently without the skills or hullmod, you can barely even give objective capture and escort orders at the beginning of combat, and you need to save command points for retreat orders as well.

In conclusion, I think that either the AI needs to be better at making tactical decisions by itself, or the player needs to be given more control by increasing the number of orders that can be given and making the AI better at following orders.
Logged
Histidine
Admiral
*****
Posts: 1652



View Profile WWW Email
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2017, 05:35:10 AM »

I've encountered the AI disregarding orders before as well. In some cases I recall, a ship would yo-yo between chasing enemies and capturing a point.
I think I even saw one case of a ship going back and forth between an objective and an empty map corner, although I can't swear to it.

(Old) screenshots of a frigate ignoring objectives, apparently to chase an enemy: one two
Logged

Megas
Admiral
*****
Posts: 4385


View Profile
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2017, 05:48:13 AM »

That is annoying, which is a reason why I tend to ignore or not rely on orders.  I try to tell ships to sit on an objective, but they drift enough away that the enemy has little trouble stealing what I capture despite telling them to defend the point with their lives.  I get Coordinated Maneuvers 1 so I never need to capture Nav Buoys ever again.  As for enemy, they may or may not have Coordinated Maneuvers too, and if I cannot tell, then there is often no point denying enemy its nav points unless I can bottleneck and exploit enemy AI there.  (For example, on map with two points on left and one point on right, I go to the right, AI sits on the left, and streams ships one or few at a time to the right.  Easy-to-exploit AI map.)  Electronic Warfare 1 is mandatory.  If enemy has it too, you are more-or-less even (instead of at a handicap), and if he does not, you may not need to capture Sensors during that fight.  It is a win-win.  Most of my CP is used for Eliminate, Fighter Strike, or Retreat.

If player really has trouble with CP, he needs to bite the bullet and put Operations Center hullmod on the flagship.  CP regenerates much faster with that hullmod.  Personally, the only time I resort to that is if I spam fighter strike on every enemy with a pure carrier fleet (to overcome AI mismanagement of my fighters).
Logged
Alex
Administrator
Admiral
*****
Posts: 11141


View Profile
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2017, 08:49:23 AM »

<lots of stuff>

Thanks, made a couple of notes of things to look at!

In particular, better target-picking for otherwise unengaged ships is already on my list. Neither the assault nor the eliminate behaviors look right to me, will definitely check them out. Had already made some improvements in the disengaging behavior for 0.8a, but looks like there's still some ways to go there.
Logged
intrinsic_parity
Commander
***
Posts: 132


View Profile
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2017, 10:23:56 AM »

<lots of stuff>

Thanks, made a couple of notes of things to look at!

In particular, better target-picking for otherwise unengaged ships is already on my list. Neither the assault nor the eliminate behaviors look right to me, will definitely check them out. Had already made some improvements in the disengaging behavior for 0.8a, but looks like there's still some ways to go there.

Awesome, keep up the great work!
Logged
Shrugger
Ensign
*
Posts: 11


View Profile
« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2017, 03:00:18 PM »

Capturing points is pretty pointless right now because at high ship limits, you almost always have enough ships to get the bonuses up to the cap anyways (unless the enemy commander has the skills, too).

And when you do tell the AI to hold a point, it stays just far enough away form it to never actually take it.

Escort orders work well in terms of ships actually following the order, I find, but they tend to make them too inflexible - escorts have short lifespans.

What's generally missing, IMHO, is some sort of dedicated skirmishing behaviour - telling a ship to poke at the enemy, yet not risk itself. Cautious officers already do this, and officerless ships sometimes do it on their own, but it would be nice to be able to give an order to the same effect. Some frigates of mine just love to linger in front of Onslaughts.
Logged
NightKev
Lieutenant
**
Posts: 66


View Profile
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2017, 07:13:51 PM »

What's generally missing, IMHO, is some sort of dedicated skirmishing behaviour - telling a ship to poke at the enemy, yet not risk itself.
Actually there is such an order - Harass - but I've never used it so I don't know if it actually works or not.
Logged
Shrugger
Ensign
*
Posts: 11


View Profile
« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2017, 02:21:10 AM »

AFAIK Harass is target-specific; so not quite the same.
Logged
Megas
Admiral
*****
Posts: 4385


View Profile
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2017, 09:04:32 AM »

Capturing points is pretty pointless right now because at high ship limits, you almost always have enough ships to get the bonuses up to the cap anyways (unless the enemy commander has the skills, too).
I hope it stays that way.  I really dislike objectives (for being CP sinks and chains to my ships).  Rendering objectives moot is almost as good as removing them.  Almost as good because enemy AI still thinks they are important, giving them a possible weakness to exploit.  No objectives for unspoiled combat are best, but that is not an option late in the game.
Logged
Kwbr
Lieutenant
**
Posts: 55



View Profile
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2017, 11:09:40 AM »

i've always found the ai regards orders as a vague suggestion and little more; frigates with capture orders constantly fly past their targets, ships with escort orders end up flying in front of the ship they're meant to be escorting and dying, etc. i find its best to just view the rest of your fleet as fire support and cover for the player.
Logged
Pages: [1]
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.20 | SMF © 2006-2011, Simple Machines
Simple Audio Video Embedder
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!