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Author Topic: Tone Down AI's "Form Line" Behavior  (Read 931 times)

SafariJohn

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Tone Down AI's "Form Line" Behavior
« on: November 23, 2020, 08:40:38 PM »

I have seen too many ships suicide in front of stronger enemy ships because they are trying to position themselves in front of the enemy to "form a line". I'd like it if the AI were better at choosing when to form lines, but that is a lot to ask. Could they at least try to move to, say, 10 o'clock and/or 2 o'clock instead of dead ahead? Then they wouldn't be lemming directly in front of the enemy's hardpoints.
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IonDragonX

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Re: Tone Down AI's "Form Line" Behavior
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2020, 05:28:23 AM »

I imagine it would be cool if destroyers could fly up over capital ships and frigates could fly over those and cruisers.
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Modo44

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Re: Tone Down AI's "Form Line" Behavior
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2020, 09:08:22 AM »

Ships do not "form the line", nor do they perform any other formation flying unless you force it with the Escort order. Individual ships may move in and pull back to similar ranges depending on their weapons. If they have good health, they will try to engage. The more aggressive the commander, the more likely a low health engagement. In terms of cooperation, the autopilot only checks for nearby friendlies is to avoid friendly fire. Anything more complex would break battle performance.

What you are seeing are emergent situations. Good or bad, it's the individual ship AI making the decisions. To prevent suicides, make sure your smaller ships either a) are not in the big boy battle, or b) have a Cautious commander who is more likely to not engage everything in sight. Better yet, learn to use the battle orders. All of them.
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TaLaR

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Re: Tone Down AI's "Form Line" Behavior
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2020, 01:17:22 PM »

Well, somebody has to be in front of enemy, unless your ships have so much maneuverability advantage enemy can't turn fast enough. Which is rare outside of frigate vs capital scenarios.

AI doesn't try to out-turn enemies as intentional strategy though. But it tries to surround when is has numeric advantage.
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SafariJohn

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Re: Tone Down AI's "Form Line" Behavior
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2020, 05:40:19 PM »

I am having trouble finding any quotes atm, but I will swear Alex has stated there is AI code intended to encourage battle lines. I am pretty sure part of it is moving to the front of the enemy ship.

What I know is that I have seen ships choose to move from the side of a powerful enemy ship to its direct, 12 o'clock front. I have seen this behavior many, many times, and it always results in the AI taking extra damage for no reason.
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Alex

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Re: Tone Down AI's "Form Line" Behavior
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2020, 06:10:26 PM »

Ah - what I might've said is that the AI's behavior with regard to how it maneuvers may often lead to battle lines forming. But it's not specifically *trying* to do that, it's just an emergent result of both sides trying to avoid being flanked.
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SonnaBanana

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Re: Tone Down AI's "Form Line" Behavior
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2020, 06:11:48 PM »

Ah - what I might've said is that the AI's behavior with regard to how it maneuvers may often lead to battle lines forming. But it's not specifically *trying* to do that, it's just an emergent result of both sides trying to avoid being flanked.
What if the AI is less concerned with not getting flanked?
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Alex

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Re: Tone Down AI's "Form Line" Behavior
« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2020, 06:13:22 PM »

What if the AI is less concerned with not getting flanked?

Could you clarify what the point is you're trying to make?
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SonnaBanana

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Re: Tone Down AI's "Form Line" Behavior
« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2020, 06:30:15 PM »

What if the AI is less concerned with not getting flanked?

Could you clarify what the point is you're trying to make?
What if AI is willing to get flanked to inflict more damage on the enemy?
Or at least, AI has frigates move around so much that they won't bother protecting it's flanks?
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Morrokain

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Re: Tone Down AI's "Form Line" Behavior
« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2020, 09:02:25 PM »

FWIW I agree with toning down AI flanking (and missile) concerns in specific situations. The AI's preoccupation with it stalls out some opportunistic moves under certain conditions. The main issue I have is when, say, an enemy ship overloads and begins retreating and I have a ship nearby that could take advantage of this. I give an eliminate command but my AI ship won't capitalize on the overload because it could be flanked by a nearby enemy. Alternatively, incoming missiles could stall it out long enough that the window is gone even though I as the player knows that AI ship's PD could handle it. Before speed is mentioned, I've personally taken control of the ship when it happens under my flagship's autopilot and proved that I can get there in time and do damage. The AI just isn't willing to in that situation. Alternatively, when a slower ship has high flux and is trying to retreat and vent and I do the same command. Sometimes the AI ship won't get into full weapon range and the weapons it is using isn't quite enough to prevent hard flux from dissipating. Once again, I feel like an opportunity was lost because of AI cautiousness despite a direct order to the contrary. The thing is, it doesn't always happen that way - just sometimes. But a common denominator in these situations is nearby enemy ships or missiles. So that is my assumption of what is probably the culprit.

How to fix it specifically? Maybe make it so that if there is an escort order on the player AI ship or an eliminate command on the enemy ship that the player AI ship is assigned to, then it won't consider flanking or missiles when engaging at all? Of course, that's assuming its easy to "turn that behavior off" under that context. I mean, it kind of does that already if there is an allied ship in between a flanking enemy and the ship in question right? It at least seems like it does in practice. I've noticed that additional enemy ships nearby can still give the AI pause in that scenario, however. Not sure if that change would slow down battles or not, but I think it would help the player use commands to get out of a situation of stagnation and make opportunistic strikes without having to have their flagship nearby.

As a counterpoint for reference: Alex made a really good point a while ago that cautious AI allows for lots of situations for the player to personally intervene - either to kill a priority enemy target or save an allied ship in a bad situation. So some stagnation is good. As a whole, I very much agree with that analysis. If the player only gets to really fight one or two ships in a big battle before its over and has to reconcile with losses because of suicidal AI, that wouldn't be very fun and would inevitably shift the meta into only fast ships more than it already is.

On the other hand, I get pretty frustrated by the scenario I mentioned. I guess the best way of putting it is that I don't want RTS level micromanagement, but I want enough control through commands to be able to use tactics like that consistently and I'm perfectly fine with paying the price of a lost ship if I misjudge the situation. I mostly can already, it is just that one scenario in particular that bugs me, and I have a feeling it is because of flanking and missile concerns. Personal flying is a lot of fun don't get me wrong, but I'm a tactics junky at heart lol.

It's a pretty tough call because if ships make a bee line without trying to coordinate, that itself can cause problems against large and tough enemies as they can pick off superior numbers piecemeal that way, but I'm just more ok with losing ships I guess. I don't think that is necessarily the popular opinion though.  :D

I'd call my problem an edge case for sure as it requires a specific situation, but it is a painful one as I really like to use the AI and commands. That, and nothing is more frustrating to me than an overloaded enemy ship that I can't do anything to punish.
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Arcagnello

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Re: Tone Down AI's "Form Line" Behavior
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2020, 09:01:51 AM »

The only ship AIs that will purposefully avoid the front of enemy ships belongs to phase ships and very mobile corvettes and destroyers. They will both distinguish between the front and the back of an enemy and will attempt to stay behind said enemy should they be in a position to easily do so (phase ships will of course phase thru the enemy and go behind it, while corvettes/destroyers with exeptional mobility will advance unimpeded into the enemy's back and try to stick to it.

It seems to be particularly related to how mobile the allied ship is compared to the enemy it's facing, meaning this action is also basically inexistent in bigger, slower ships.

The main problem as far as I'm concerned is that AI behaviour is awfully railroaded into timid, steady, aggressive and reckless personalities and that all 5 of them (there's one even more conservative than timid wich I can't remember the name of) share the same exact behaviours nonetheless wich is (and I'll be blunt here) extremely disappointing and unbecoming of the otherwise intuitive and organic personality differences.

Example 1: All ships will raise their shield as soon as a piece of enemy ordinance comes into a certain range from the ship, no matter the enemy ordinance, their class, tonnage, armor, hull, shield efficiency, Point Defence capabilities or Personality. You'd assume a timid ship to quickly raise the shield as soon as anything comes anywhere near it and a reckless one to only raise it and keep it up at the last feasible moment to accrue as little flux as possible and instead use its flux capacity to fire back but no. All personalities raise their shields the same way

Example 2: All ships will either slow down or start backing away from the enemy they're engaging if an enemy missile/bomb/fighter/bomber comes anywhere colse to them no matter the enemy entity, their class, tonnage, armor, hull, shield efficiency, Point Defence capabilities or Personality. A timid officer on a small ship with limited PD should behave as all ships do now and back away from any entity challenging its point defence in order to not get overwhelmed, while an overridden abomination with no shield, 1100 armor, 26k hull, burn drive and half (if not more) of its weaponry also doubling as PD should not give two credits about a blasted hound with some dingy rockets shooting at it and just push thru and blast it to hell and back.


The point you're trying to make is solid SafariJohn, but arguing the AI should not suicide into the enemy's frontal weapon mounts would be the same as asking a blind, getriatic man to to complete a United States Marine training course. The base subject is simply insufficient for the task you're asking it to accomplish.

AI as a whole would need to undergo a radical overhaul to even begin doing things the smart way and actually be an ally/enemy anywhere comparable to even the greenest of players,

That would involve (as much as Alex and the rest of the dev team seem to purposefully avoid for the sake of new players) introducing between 4 to 8 addittional "sub-sliders" (I've actually got a word file with them written on by the way, I just have not completed writing that text wall of an endeavour yet) complementing the singular, timid-to-reckless slider we currently have.

Here's a simple example. Feel free to ask me what some subpersonalities mean and what their levels rapresent. I decided to give each and every sub-personality their own 5-notch sliders with personalized nomenclature to better rapresent what they'll do, wich I think is just miles above the bland very low-low-average-high-very high.
 
Ship personality:          Ship Sub-personalities:
Aggressive                Target Priority: The Bigger The Better
                                  Flanking Susceptibility:Uncaring
                                  Friendly Fire Constraints: Loose
                                  Target retention: Obstinate
                                  Engagement Range: Well Inside Weapon Range
                                  Shield usage: Essential
                                  Point Defence Reliance: Trusting
                                  Limited Ordinance Usage: With Abandon
                             
                                 
Edit: It appears to me the game has developed itself into a bottleneck of sorts.
No matter what additional features are added or how refined already existing ones become, the subpar ship AI will only let a fraction of them through.

What's the point of new weapons working in alternative ways if the AI is only capable of optimally using a select few of them?
What good can an improved skill system bring to the game if only the player can realistically use all of its features and the AI and its fleets are left as they are now?

Giving more and more features to the player while leaving the AI metaphorically playing in the kindergaden with toy soldiers feels a lot like playing Souls-like games on NG+ and above, where as the player gets more and more proficient the game's only option is to just provide more enemies with more HP and damage to up the ante.

This game can do better than that, therefore it should.





« Last Edit: November 25, 2020, 09:43:52 AM by Arcagnello »
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Alex

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Re: Tone Down AI's "Form Line" Behavior
« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2020, 09:30:01 AM »

I give an eliminate command but my AI ship won't capitalize on the overload because it could be flanked by a nearby enemy.

Hmm - "Eliminate" actually makes the ship completely disregard all flanking-related concerns, so it's got to be something else. Main things that come to mind is either relative flux levels (though if the enemy is overloaded - and will remain overloaded for a while - it shouldn't be a concern for the AI) and the presence of missiles. As per usual, it's pretty much impossible to say anything conclusive w/o seeing it personally, unfortunately...
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Arcagnello

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Re: Tone Down AI's "Form Line" Behavior
« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2020, 10:02:33 AM »

I give an eliminate command but my AI ship won't capitalize on the overload because it could be flanked by a nearby enemy.

Hmm - "Eliminate" actually makes the ship completely disregard all flanking-related concerns, so it's got to be something else. Main things that come to mind is either relative flux levels (though if the enemy is overloaded - and will remain overloaded for a while - it shouldn't be a concern for the AI) and the presence of missiles. As per usual, it's pretty much impossible to say anything conclusive w/o seeing it personally, unfortunately...

From personal experience, "Eliminate" behaviours actually vary between ship personalities, where a timid Odissey will push in for the kill a lot less than a reckless one with the same order, mainly because

1) aggressive/reckless personalities weigh their flux levels relative to the enemy's much less when considering to keep pushing in. Recless as an example will only ever retreat from the enemy it's ordered to eliminate when it's overloaded.
2) the only personailty I've found to keep the ship at the maximum allowable distance from the enemy where all its offensive weapons can open fire on it is "Timid", every other more aggressive personality will go in closer than their lower weapon range, making them less susceptible to the enemy retreating

Missiles and enemy fighters/bombers under normal circumnstances are more or less viewed like enemy ships by the AI, wich will force it to slow down/back up when they get close, no matter the personality. Installing a good amount of medium-to-long range PD can help with that kiting loophole of a strategy quite a lot.
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Alex

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Re: Tone Down AI's "Form Line" Behavior
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2020, 10:08:25 AM »

From personal experience, "Eliminate" behaviours actually vary between ship personalities, where a timid Odissey will push in for the kill a lot less than a reckless one with the same order, mainly because

1) aggressive/reckless personalities weigh their flux levels relative to the enemy's much less when considering to keep pushing in. Recless as an example will only ever retreat from the enemy it's ordered to eliminate when it's overloaded.

IIRC that's correct, yeah; Eliminate only removes concern about flanking and doesn't simply override the personality with "reckless".
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Morrokain

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Re: Tone Down AI's "Form Line" Behavior
« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2020, 04:29:37 PM »

Oh seriously it already does that? Ok well then nvm hmm.

Also for clarification the personality was Steady in most cases. There *might* have been a case with Aggressive but iirc I think that one was a speed issue and it happened quite a long time ago.

Well, if I see it again and happen to be recording it I'll post it.
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