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Author Topic: AI friendlies lowering shields or venting when unnecessary, while in danger  (Read 5395 times)
j01
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« on: October 24, 2014, 02:03:41 PM »

I've noticed a general set of AI quirks while playing as a lone ship in campaign mode and setting myself to autopilot. The problems are mainly obvious with the paragon, but seem to be present with many other ships.

I find that often, not just sometimes, my autopiloted ship, despite having max flux dissipation, enormous flux capacity, 40 levels of character progression that include perks like 20% hard flux dissipation with shield raised and huge extra boosts to flux capacity and dissipation, and shield damage multipliers exceeding 0.35%, will randomly lower its shields or vent flux at the most inexplicable, inopportune moments, even while at very low (and getting lower already!) flux, yet while still well in range of enemy weapons, and even while surrounded and under fire, yet not enough fire to pose a threat if the shields had just remained up.

Distance from the enemy doesn't seem to matter. I can be on like 2000 out of 40,000 flux, or even at 0 flux, and my autopiloted ship will randomly drop shields or vent right in front of an enemy or group of enemies. A lot of these times it seems like my ship will drop shields after destroying an enemy, even at very low flux, and even if still surrounded or even flanked by more enemies. To a lesser degree of idiocy, the AI also likes to drop shields if close to topped out on soft flux, but at very little hard flux, while under fire or well within range of enemy weapons, rather than just keeping its shields up and waiting a little longer, and more safely, for the flux to drop while shielded, even if the damage being done to it is insignificant, opening itself up to needless armor and hull damage, and provoking alpha strikes of opportunity from missiles normally held in reserve.

This critically stupid, suicidal behavior seems above and beyond other quirks that make human control obviously superior, like the autopilot's tendency to sometimes charge into weapons range and attack an enemy that's at little or no flux, while the autopilot itself is nearly maxed on hard flux, when it has plenty of a speed and maneuverability advantage to back off, vent or dissipate, and then re-engage. While silly, at least it isn't pointlessly suicidal.

Observing the autopilot controlling a customized paragon also has me wondering if the AI doesn't at all understand that the ship it's controlling has a mod that gives it a front shield rather than an omni-shield, as a lot of the random shield drops seem to conveniently leave its flank exposed right as the shield re-engages. This could be coincidence, though.

I find that it's an absolute prerequisite to add accelerated shields as well on any front-shield modded ships that were previously using omni-shields, just to mitigate their tendencies to needlessly expose themselves.


[EDIT]:

I'm also suspicious that the AI doesn't realize its ship has the perk that gives the engine boost even at up to 25% flux, which may contribute to it dropping its shields to try to move faster.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2014, 02:17:10 PM by j01 » Logged
Alex
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« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2014, 02:16:54 PM »

Just in general: if you're seeing something odd, it probably has to do with the specific circumstances (ship loadout, opponents, etc), so describing it in general terms doesn't really help pinpoint the problem.

Edit: to clarify, it would be really helpful, for example, to know that if you take ship X with loadout Y into a simulation with Z opponents, you're likely to see <specific behavior>. Without that level of detail, it's really difficult to even infer what area of the AI is responsible for any particular decision being made.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2014, 02:19:41 PM by Alex » Logged
j01
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« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2014, 02:19:52 PM »

Just in general: if you're seeing something odd, it probably has to do with the specific circumstances (ship loadout, opponents, etc), so describing it in general terms doesn't really help pinpoint the problem.

I did give examples of the circumstances where I've seen this behavior, and also that it occurs with a variety of different ships, loadouts, and situations. I can document the exact ship loadouts I'm using and take screenshots of when it happens too, if you'd like. It's easily reproduced in the refit simulation.
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Alex
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« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2014, 02:28:12 PM »

I did give examples of the circumstances where I've seen this behavior, and also that it occurs with a variety of different ships, loadouts, and situations. I can document the exact ship loadouts I'm using and take screenshots of when it happens too, if you'd like. It's easily reproduced in the refit simulation.

Right, what I was saying is the examples you gave are not specific enough for me to be able to put to good use Smiley

For example, there are plenty of situations where it makes sense to lower shields; taking some hits on armor isn't necessarily a bad thing even if it could be avoided - so, right, there's code that does that. It doesn't do it "randomly", and knowing the *exact circumstances* where it fails is critically important to being able to adjust it.
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j01
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« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2014, 02:34:12 PM »

Just from my experiences so far, if I had to pinpoint at least one very specific cause of the AI goofily dropping its shields while under fire or in danger without needing to (flux is fine or well on its way to being fine), I'd have to say it's when it overload's an enemy, or gets an enemy close enough to overloading that the enemy drops its own shields.

It seems to do this consistently one-on-one, which makes sense, because the overloaded or nearly overloaded enemy doesn't have the flux to fire back, and is vulnerable, but I'm thinking it follows this behavior often even when in one-on-twelve battles.
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Alex
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« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2014, 02:41:30 PM »

Hmm. So when I take a stock Paragon into a simulation, I can't seem to reproduce this. Either it's strong enough to win, in which case it does so with minimal damage (some armor, mostly no hull damage) or it's not, in which case it seems to do a credible job of managing its shields and venting in what's ultimately a hopeless effort. I'm deploying the simulation ships starting from the (D) Hammerheads onward.
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j01
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« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2014, 02:46:26 PM »

Narrowing it down, the only ships I've noticed this issue with in recent memory were omni-shield ships that have the front-shield mod equipped, specifically the paragon and the monitor. I think i've seen it with the medusa too.

If you don't want to waste your time, I could see about producing a video showing the issue in action.

[EDIT] Also I don't think i've ever seen it while fighting enemies with beam weapons other than once against another paragon who nailed me with tachyons when autopilot decided to drop shields while at 25% or so flux.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2014, 02:48:41 PM by j01 » Logged
Alex
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« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2014, 02:51:39 PM »

For a second there, I'd hoped it'd be as simple as it using the AI for the wrong type of shield in this case, but no dice.

I don't want to put you out, but a video could be very helpful, yeah.
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j01
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« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2014, 03:23:35 PM »

Let me just figure out how to compress these to sane file sizes and I'll upload you some varied examples of what I'm seeing. Is mediafire okay?
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Alex
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« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2014, 03:25:41 PM »

A private youtube video might be easier since then you don't have to figure out how to compress it etc (it does that for you), but whatever you prefer.
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Midnight Kitsune
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« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2014, 04:59:02 PM »

I've also seen some BS ally AI behavior like this with my beam Apogee along with two other behaviors: ADD like symptoms and setting the sensor drones to free roam.
With the sensor drones, it should set it to holding pattern so it protects the drone, which provides one of its main strengths, with his shield. Instead it sets them to free roam and they mostly get popped 2 or 3 mins into the game...
The other is that it seems to "bounce" its attention around multiple targets, many times leaving an enemy with very high flux but little or no actual damage. This at best makes the fight take longer and at worse gets the AI killed with very little damage done to the enemy
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j01
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« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2014, 05:59:42 PM »

Sorry for the wait, I had to learn how to compress videos after all, AND learn how to upload videos to youtube. I meant to learn this stuff eventually anyway, so it's no big deal.

Character progression info:

Paragon loadout:
(it has accelerated shields in the first video)

3 videos, with skip-to-the-example-mark links in each's description








These are just my first three attempts at recording, which just happened to have some minor examples of the phenomena. I've seen much more egregious examples, where the shields drop with enemies much closer and bullets/lasers/missiles still flying everywhere, yet flux is still fine or is already rapidly improving on its own. Hope this helps.

(make sure to hit 'more' under the description for the third video, as there are more links listed for shield failures and the results)

[EDIT] Just ran into it again while not recording. Autopilot dropped shield while within 600su distance (tactical laser range) of 3 enemy ships after destroying one of their friends. Maybe it thinks it's safe to lower shields or vent when a dead ship is nearby to hide behind?

[DOUBLE EDIT] Huh? This got moved from bugs to suggestions? How is the AI dropping shields or venting when it's at little or no flux and well within combat range of enemies not a bug? That can't be intentional.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2014, 06:40:17 PM by j01 » Logged
Alex
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« Reply #12 on: October 24, 2014, 06:41:59 PM »

First off: I really appreciate you taking the time to record and post these.

That said, I don't think what's happening here is all that problematic - rather, it's the lesser of all evils. In the worst example (the torpedo hit in the first video, by my reckoning), what the ship is doing is trying to speed up its flux dissipation by lowering the shields. It's one of those judgment calls where I suspect the player might get wrong from time to time - the Enforcer comes in from offscreen, was behind the Wolf that just got destroyed, and managed to sneak in a perfect torpedo shot. If anything, it's more of a success by the Enforcer than a major failure by the Paragon.

It's possible to make shield use more defensive, but that leads to worse problems. Having your flux level be higher than it could be is a big deal; ships actually used to be more defensive with shields and it was... not good. It can easily be exploited by looking vaguely threatening, and it can easily lead to worse consequences - imagine that instead of a torpedo hit, the ship found itself stuck in combat with several other ships with flux maxing out. That can be much, much worse.

This is also something can't be easily predicted - guarding against the possibility that a ship might come in from far off and slam a torpedo into your flank isn't the sort of thing the AI can reasonably do without being cripplingly paranoid. It looks at the surrounding area, sees if it's reasonably safe, and occasionally gets this wrong.

And for all that, what was the consequence of that torpedo hit? Probably close to zero, in terms of post-battle costs, as the damage didn't look like it was enough for repairs to outlast CR recovery.


(Incidentally, this is why it's probably a good idea to keep omni shields on the Paragon - a ship that large with front shields *and* no PD is asking for trouble. It really falls into the category of a specialized loadout where the AI is likely to have some trouble with the nuances - its behaviors have to handle a wide range of ships and loadouts, but it'll naturally do better with more standard setups, and with setups that require thinking less far ahead into the future. If you want the AI to do well, you kind of have to work *with* it.)


Basically, in practical terms, while marginal improvements are possible, it's not the sort of thing that can ever be perfect. The battles are too complex for that, and improving a particular behavior in one area often comes at the expense of making something else worse.
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j01
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« Reply #13 on: October 24, 2014, 07:09:17 PM »

The first video's example was the only one where the autopiloted ship had significant (soft) flux before dropping shields. The first and second videos' examples were the only ones where the enemies were far off enough for it to seem excusable or a fluke. The third video's examples are the closest to what I've been seeing more consistently during a lot of gameplay and a lot of testing loadouts in the refit sim with autopilot.

I've seen this kind of thing happen with faster, more maneuverable ships like the medusa, too. I've been seeing it happen with much more serious consequences than the videos show, if that matters. Posting about this at all was prompted by my encountering it for about the hundredth time and getting blasted down to a quarter hull in a fight my ship shouldn't have taken any damage at all from (just a bunch of frigates and a weak destroyer).

I'd be very surprised if I was the first person to notice this, though I guess not a lot of people run around in a single ship set to autopilot. I don't remember this kind of thing being a problem in the versions I played before combat readiness was implemented, though I might just not have noticed.

Also, it boggles my mind that you consider it out of the ordinary for someone who mentions a possible bug or issue to provide some kind of evidence and clearer examples of what they're talking about. What if the people who play your game are mistaken, or stupid? You'd have wasted your time on a wild goose chase with something that wasn't even a real issue!

Anyway, even if what i've been seeing has affected my own gameplay to a mildly frustrating degree, it really isn't an issue if the vast majority of people don't play the way I do, I guess.
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« Reply #14 on: October 24, 2014, 07:28:21 PM »

[DOUBLE EDIT] Huh? This got moved from bugs to suggestions? How is the AI dropping shields or venting when it's at little or no flux and well within combat range of enemies not a bug? That can't be intentional.

(A bug is something that's more or less objectively broken. This is more "AI makes mistakes sometimes", which is always going to be an issue to some degree. I mean, it depends on the severity. Sometimes something the AI does *is* a bug, of course. This doesn't look like it, it's just a compromise it needs to make - at least, based on what I've seen in the videos. Basically, if it's not clear-cut that it's a bug, then I tend to move things here.)

I've seen this kind of thing happen with faster, more maneuverable ships like the medusa, too. I've been seeing it happen with much more serious consequences than the videos show, if that matters. Posting about this at all was prompted by my encountering it for about the hundredth time and getting blasted down to a quarter hull in a fight my ship shouldn't have taken any damage at all from (just a bunch of frigates and a weak destroyer).

You know, this is *exactly* the sort of thing that'd be very helpful to see and something I could possibly act on - if there's a fight the AI loses/takes a lot of damage in where it really shouldn't. Even if it's something like a 50/50 chance to lose/take major damage, that'd be a good test case to look at and use to improve the AI.

(As an example, in the latest round of improving AI survivability, I spent a while making sure that a stock Wolf reliably won in a fight against 4 (D) frigates.)

Also, it boggles my mind that you consider it out of the ordinary for someone who mentions a possible bug or issue to provide some kind of evidence and clearer examples of what they're talking about. What if the people who play your game are mistaken, or stupid? You'd have wasted your time on a wild goose chase with something that wasn't even a real issue!

Well, I just know you're under no obligation here, and you're spending your time to help me, and I really do appreciate that.
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