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Starsector 0.95.1a is out! (12/10/21); Blog post: Hyperspace Topography (10/12/22)

Author Topic: Help with Fleet AI  (Read 526 times)

IronBrawler

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Help with Fleet AI
« on: November 10, 2022, 09:04:18 PM »

I can't seem to get the AI to do what I want. I'm piloting an Onslaught face-tanking 2/3 of the enemy fleet while my comrades sit back and watch. I try to assign escorts to my ship but all they do is set on the back half of my ship and do nothing unless the enemy is behind me. Although this is sometimes useful, it is not generally very helpful. If I assign my fleet a defend order on my ship they will rally behind me while I get pummeled to death. I try to assign aggressive officers but they are a mixed bag. They either push winnable engagements and come out on top or push entirely unwinnable engagements and instantly die.

I know the reason the AI is so passive is because I've started to take on fleets that are comparatively equal or stronger than my own. My fleet AI want to give ground because of their self preservation, and they don't want to push fights without having a clear advantage. The problem is that if my fleet would just stand with me, and not behind me, I could outgun the enemy with my Onslaught and grind away at them. Even if I lose a few ships it would still probably be a positive trade against the enemy. But if my ships don't stand with me then I just get blasted to death without being able to do much damage.
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Serenitis

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Re: Help with Fleet AI
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2022, 01:50:46 AM »

Try this to see if it helps:

Load your game as normal, then press <D> to access the command screen.
In that, select the Doctrine & Blueprints tab (or press <4>).
On the left-hand side you'll see something like this

Change the very bottom setting (Aggression) to a higher level, then press Confirm at the bottom.

This will change how aggressively ships behave without officers.
Try a few battles and see if it makes your fleet participate a bit more.
The default level for this setting is 2, which (imo) is too cautious.
Changing this will also have the side effect of making any officers generated by your faction tend toward this setting - which may or may not be of use to you.
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vok3

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Re: Help with Fleet AI
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2022, 02:04:05 PM »

The fleet AI is completely and totally reta rded.  It really should be the focus of an update at some point.

The ships have no concept of operating as a fleet - that is, in concert with other friendly craft.  They have no concept of taking advantage of supporting fire.  They have no concept of reasonable prioritization, or of judging likely risks associated with different possible actions to take.  The orders the player gives get fulfilled in what is often the least intuitive manner possible.

You will repeatedly see frigates dashing forward at maximum speed and continuing to advance even as the enemy launches fifty billion missiles and slug shots at them because they still are at zero flux so everything's fine, right?  This tends to end badly. 

They always try to spread out to surround the enemy, even if the enemy significantly outnumbers them.  This always ends badly.

When they get in trouble, they try to move away from the nearest enemy ship.  This nearly always means moving away from any friendly ships that might help.  This also ends badly.

"Concentrate fire" order means "select two ships to attack this target."  It does not mean "all nearby ships attack this target if and when possible", which would be rational and useful.  No, it means "select two ships, usually starting with the smallest available, and if possible with at least one starting on the opposite side of the battle and having to travel right through the thickest fighting to reach this target".  It also means "continue attacking regardless of circumstances and regardless of how much trouble you're in and regardless of whether your attack is completely ineffective and especially regardless of whether four or five friendlies are approaching and the attack will go much better if you coordinate with them".

"Capture strategic point" means "fly to this location and capture it, but only if there's no enemies; if there are enemies we definitely don't want to be rude, so back off and let them have it in that case".  "Move to waypoint" is much the same.

Selecting two ships and telling them to capture a location with a single click means "EVERY FREAKING SHIP IN THE FLEET GO HERE NO EXCEPTIONS".

Setting a "fleet defend this ship" order means "Everybody pretend you're defending this ship with arrows pointing to it and everything but actually just fly around and do whatever you feel like including chasing that one dinky frigate off to the far corner of the map while your flagship explodes, it's cool, no pressure".

I could go on.
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Candypowers

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Re: Help with Fleet AI
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2022, 02:37:59 AM »

I found the easiest way, for me at least, is to divide my  fleet into separate squadrons or groups. Like 2-5 ships per group, depending on ship size, weapon range, and roles. Let the groups do their own thing. I found that I rarely have to do any micromanaging this way. I don’t even need to have aggressive officers, all of them are steady except for distraction frigates.

Also if your problem of having your fleet is getting blasted but you aren’t hitting back, having high ecm rating helps with that. if you don’t have electronic warfare, having at least 2 officers with elite gunnery implants and ecm hullmod on a tanky frigate (centurion, monitor) can alleviate that problem.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2022, 04:54:58 AM by Candypowers »
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Hiruma Kai

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Re: Help with Fleet AI
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2022, 08:23:12 AM »

I know the reason the AI is so passive is because I've started to take on fleets that are comparatively equal or stronger than my own.

When you say comparatively equal or stronger, how much stronger?  Could you give a bit more details?

For example, total DP in your fleet, total DP of an opposing fleet you're having AI issues against, and how many individual ships on each side, or even what the bounty value was, like ~300k from the intel screen assuming these are bounty fights?  Like, 120 DP, Onslaught with 5 Scarabs and 5 Tempests up against 100,000 credit bounty fleets, or up against 300,000 credit bounty fleet (and whether it was a bounty from a contact or not).

Sometimes, simply having more bodies on the field, even if not individually on parity in terms of DP, can have a significant effect on being able to flank, and thus being willing to engage.

Also, could you give an example AI ship fitting you are using?  Sometimes damage type mixtures can make ships more or less brave depending on opponent.  Having a higher amount of kinetic damage compared to explosive damage will tend to drive flux up earlier all else being equal, leading more buildup of hard flux on enemy ships faster, which will sometimes make them more willing to engage.  Still want some HE mixed in there, but in terms of just holding the line, more kinetic will tend to help.

I also agree with winning the range war via ECM suggestion.  A 10% range advantage can be quite useful for improving AI behavior.  Range can also be affected by other fitting choices (Safety Overrides, Integrated Targeting Unit being an option, Hypervelocity + Heavy Mauler vs Arbalest and Heavy Mortar, etc).  Ships with higher speed and longer range than their opponents will behave much better than having the reverse true.

In terms of escort suggestions for a personal Onslaught, I like having a carrier or missile ship as escort, since they can shoot or send fighters over the Onslaught.  A base Legion works, for example, and seem pretty easy to come by if you can get your hands on an Onslaught.  A Legion XIV is better for this if you happen to stumble across one exploring.  But even a Gryphon with Squall + Harpoons or Mora + Harpoons and Longbows can be good.

For example, a base Legion can stack on 5 Harpoon MRMs, Expanded Missile racks, and Missile Specialization for 180 Harpoons launched in swarms of 20 over your Onslaught even if it's behind the Onslaught, as long as there is a ship at high flux or overloaded nearby.  Add in ECCM for extra speed/range on the missiles.   Combine with Longbows for some long range kinetic mix.  It's a basic support ship that will do something reasonable even behind an Onslaught, and since it can't move backwards very fast, should stay pretty close.  A pair of Mark IXs and some vulcans can round out the guns, or other mixtures if you want something more accurate, like a couple Railguns.  Probably worth investing a pair of story points into such a ship (or 3 if BotB).  Legion XIV with Squall + Hurricane is a solid long range missile support (or variations on that), plus bombers to compliment.  Squall + Squall wants so HE bombers (Daggers or Cobras), while Hurricane + Squall might want Longbows.
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