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From time to time I like to do a full AI evaluation to see where a given game is.  The reason I started programming in the first place was to write AI.  25 years later, we have Crusade.

So how does it stack up?

[[..]]

I've scored the other AIs Stardock (or I) have developed over the years and I suspect my literal score changes slightly due to faulty memory.  But here is where I see the various GalCiv games. 

BTW, while the score is 1 through 10, it is not a linear quality bar but rather more exponential in nature.  That is, a 6 is a lot better than a 5 and so on.  A 5 would be what I'd consider "game industry acceptable for the genre".

So here we go:

  • GalCiv OS/2: 8
  • GalCiv I: Windows: 7
  • GalCiv II: 1.0: 5
  • GalCiv II: Dark Avatar: 7
  • GalCiv II: Twilight: 5
  • GalCiv III: 1.0: 5
  • GalCiv III: 2.0: 6
  • GalCiv III: Crusade: 7

I may have some bias against GalCiv III's AI since I didn't write it.  I consulted on it.  I did work on the GalCiv III 2.0 AI which is where I started to learn the architecture.  With Crusade, I implemented a multi-core AI (AI jobs get spun out to the least busy core which is why turn times are fast...and why you get stuck turns).

Strengths:

  • Can beat most players on normal without cheating (and no, it can't see everything, 18% of its turn CPU time is spent figuring out what it can see or guess things based on my knowledge of how the map generation is done -- something an expert player would notice too).
  • Is REALLY good at trading overall (and yes, I just fixed that ship cost thing, very annoying).
  • It is quite good at military engagement.
  • It is quite good at colony construction

Weaknesses:

  • Incredibly wasteful with administrators.  No one needs refunding from constructors more than the AI. 
  • Not good at finding detours to get to a destination to route around problems. I wish GalCiv had a way point system. hint hint.
  • Still new to the promotion system, doesn't use Commanders well yet.
  • Still new to the global economy, doesn't use leaders well yet (still better than most players).
  • Needs to use starbases better
  • Still learning the new tech tree system. I would like to have the game send me your data but the PR people say we could run into issues. But if I knew what paths 100,000 players were using, the AI could start using it.

Turn 500

Let's check in on an AI vs. AI game on turn 500.

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So Jar Jar is allied with the Engineers, the Vorlons and the Irridium Corporation but at war with the Arceans, Federated Suns, and the Spathi.  So there's a big galactic civil war going on here that my race, controlled by AI, has stayed out of.

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Many of the good asteroids are not being mined.  However, he only has 109 billion credits (bc) to work with so there may be a reason.

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I'm playing as  a Xenophobe, Colonizer which, in my build, means a 100% boost to research and social construction and a 50% drop to ship construction and 1 admin point per colony.  Here, he's moved his leaders in a way that seems reasonable and is making 79 bc per week.

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Definitely did a nice job laying out the planet.  I don't know if I would have built the preparedness center and probably wouldn't have built the market center.

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Currently stealing tech from the Federated Suns.

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Gungan fleet is no joke.

 

So overall, it's looking pretty good.  But...it can get better. A lot better.  And over the next two years, in free updates, it will continue to get better.


Comments (Page 1)
on May 15, 2017

I can give pretty objective feedback on this.

 

The original Galactic Civilizations AI caused me severe problems at the standard non cheating difficulty.  I tended to lose.

 

In Galactic Civilizations II, I could abuse the poor handling of the differing damage types and beat normal AI just fine, but it would still kick me to the curb at higher levels.

 

In it's current iteration, along with pre-Crusade improved vanilla AI, Gifted is really easy, even though it's clearly a cheating whore and can somehow afford to rush build multiple colony ships 10 turns in.

 

If it's really a 7, either I was just too dumb to play the first two and this iteration is simplistic by comparison, or your estimations of the earlier levels are a wee bit low and the first should be somewhere around a 10, the second an 8 or 9.

on May 16, 2017

off the top of my head I see a few things, the AI has problems with:

Asteroid mining: in the early game it can be beneficial to just plug a starbase next to 4+ asteroids. The AI should consider this when placing mining starbases, its first starbases or even placing starbases just for asteroids altogether. The boost to your early economy is worth it. At the moment I also think, that due to this there is an idea class of starts:
 - two constructors, because that way you can start building mining bases early
 - rushed shipyard with rushed scout, because you need to know whats going on around your homesystem and it adds early production
 - a home system with at least 2 asteroid groups.

Evasion: with tacBoosters it is now very available, but the aI does not really react to it. Evasion can currently be used to completely circumvent other defenses.

I only tried normal so far and took a peak at genius. at normal I outpace the AI by leaps and bounds with my two custom civs. On genius I don't see how to outplay the AI without exploiting a couple of things.

on May 16, 2017
  • Still learning the new tech tree system. I would like to have the game send me your data but the PR people say we could run into issues. But if I knew what paths 100,000 players were using, the AI could start using it.

Would it be possible to build this as a voluntary Opt-In system?  I'd happily opt into this.  

Also, something against the current Crusade AI, doesn't value tech strategically and tends to trade tech way too easily to other AI, even when it is not in their interest (the Drengin have no business trading weapons or slaving technology to Benevolent civilizations).  This isn't seen when Tech Brokering is banned which leads me to not believe Espionage luck is in play.  This is something that the previous AI's did get right in II.

on May 16, 2017


Strengths:

  • Can beat most players on normal without cheating (and no, it can't see everything, 18% of its turn CPU time is spent figuring out what it can see or guess things based on my knowledge of how the map generation is done -- something an expert player would notice too).
  • Is REALLY good at trading overall (and yes, I just fixed that ship cost thing, very annoying).
  • It is quite good at military engagement.
  • It is quite good at colony construction

What does that mean? Does that mean it is good or has some advantage during actual battles or is it prosecuting a war in general?

on May 16, 2017


image
From time to time I like to do a full AI evaluation to see where a given game is.  The reason I started programming in the first place was to write AI.  25 years later, we have Crusade.
So how does it stack up?

I've scored the other AIs Stardock (or I) have developed over the years and I suspect my literal score changes slightly due to faulty memory.  But here is where I see the various GalCiv games. 
BTW, while the score is 1 through 10, it is not a linear quality bar but rather more exponential in nature.  That is, a 6 is a lot better than a 5 and so on.  A 5 would be what I'd consider "game industry acceptable for the genre".
So here we go:

  • GalCiv OS/2: 8
  • GalCiv I: Windows: 7
  • GalCiv II: 1.0: 5
  • GalCiv II: Dark Avatar: 7
  • GalCiv II: Twilight: 5
  • GalCiv III: 1.0: 5
  • GalCiv III: 2.0: 6
  • GalCiv III: Crusade: 7

Why was it so good in OS/2 compared to later release? (1 and 2+expansions?)

Can beat most players on normal without cheating (and no, it can't see everything, 18% of its turn CPU time is spent figuring out what it can see or guess things based on my knowledge of how the map generation is done -- something an expert player would notice too).

What about above normal, does it still see everything then?  Because it used to, and it was fairly easy to see during the colony rush.

 

  • Still new to the global economy, doesn't use leaders well yet (still better than most players).

Give us some time to learn it!

  • Still learning the new tech tree system. I would like to have the game send me your data but the PR people say we could run into issues. But if I knew what paths 100,000 players were using, the AI could start using it.

I'm still learning it too

 

About the PR issues: such issues arise because the tracking system is hidden or not well published and mandatory.  See Windows 10.  On release and during the beta, people weren't told exactly what info was sent, what MS was doing with it, and there was no option in Windows to disable it.  It's been fixed now, but it was still a mess at release.  So don't do that

Make it optional, and prepare a very short statement about what kind of information you collect from us.  Don't go the EULA road where I'm supposed to read 7-8 pages of legal text (for the short version) in a language that isn't my own to decide if I should install the software or not, please.  I know lawyer like these long forms and they have an aversion for bullet point lists, but I think it's clear and concise: what you collect, what you don't.  And make sure you don't change your code on what you collect without re-requiring consent, because that is PR nightmare, really.


EA is using such data to monitor some multiplayer games (they did it with Mass Effect 3) to try to balance the game a little more.  I don't know if Steam and the other services you sue allows you to collect that kind of information, though.

on May 16, 2017

An opt-in data sharing would be something I would sign into in a heartbeat.  It was always my expectation that GalCiv would be using our own cleverness against us.  Or should I say everybody else's cleverness against me?  Yeah, that sounds right.  

 

on May 16, 2017

erischild

An opt-in data sharing would be something I would sign into in a heartbeat.  It was always my expectation that GalCiv would be using our own cleverness against us.  Or should I say everybody else's cleverness against me?  Yeah, that sounds right.  

Seconding this.  Opt-in telemetry is fine, especially if there's a way to verify what data is being sent.

on May 16, 2017

^^ 100% That.

on May 17, 2017

 

//

Definitely did a nice job laying out the planet.  I don't know if I would have built the preparedness center and probably wouldn't have built the market center.

//

My thoughts on that planet layout...

I give the AI props for effort. It is clearly embraced hub and spoke. However the problem is that it spent so much effort on the wrong hubs.

(A.1) Citizen planet alignment:

The planet has decent sci output, but only bc of the bazillion scientists- tile output isn't up to snuff. The main issue is that the bulk of the planet tiles are dedicated to social output while the bulk of the citizens are dedicated to sci. This is a problem when you consider that a civ only gets one computer core. Which should have been the most prioritized hub for this planet.

(A.2) General Priorities:

The important star port was left neglected; and with plenty of trivially better spots for it. Surly one of them must have been available pre-terraforming. Also, the central mine is also a worse hub than the space elevator yet the AI built more factories around the bad hub than the good ones.

(A.3) Silliness:

 

Some tile bonuses (resistance) are worthless and should be ignored, or even removed since they are the worthless ones are uninteresting to me as a player and apparently sub-optimal for AI.

 

//Is REALLY good at trading overall (and yes, I just fixed that ship cost thing, very annoying).//

^ Hopefully you caught them all The ones's I've run into:

(B.1) AI buys merc ships and sells to me for less than they paid... other war ships seem pretty cheap too.

(B.2) I can cripple the AI by buying up all their survey ships + constructors + troop transports while at the same time accelerating my growth bc I don't have to spend citizens on administrators or generals. The ships are worth far more than their war/manufacturing value.

 

Also the AI will doesn't seem to understand when a tech will be nearly worthless to them, and thus will research and trade for worthless tech. For example trading for additional ship range on a small map mid & late game when ships can already go anywhere on the map, extreme worlds after they are all colonized, silicon life wanting farm tech. Like other obsolete tech-they shouldn't be willing to pay much for this stuff.

 

My personal imprecise rating of the AIs from best to worst

GalCiv 1 

GalCiv 2 with expansions disabled

GalCiv 3

GalCiv 2 with expansions enabled

 

The squeals are more complicated games so it isn't too surprising that the AI struggles more understanding them. The current AI clearly understands a lot more than it did in galCiv 2.

on May 17, 2017

Re why was the OS/2 version better at AI?

Primarily because it was the only GalCiv game that I designed and programmed and thus the AI and the gameplay were in perfect sync.

In Crusade, for instance, look at the tech trees? If you're an AI, how do you pick what's the best one and do it in less than a 15ms?  Ship design is another one that is really tough to deal with.

Nowadays, most gamers don't appreciate  AI or don't know what it is (exploiting a trade UI isn't AI for instance).

The OS/2 version also had a primitive expert system.  I stored data between games that set up what kinds of things  you did in previous games and then used them against the player.

on May 18, 2017

Re.  AI tech trees

What if you had a "vs. Cloud AI" mode? You could even make that a PR selling point

on May 18, 2017

I thought the game already collected telemetry?

on May 28, 2017

A year a go, I thought you had given up on AI. Really glad to see that you haven`t and are still working on it. as long as you do, I`ll follow and purchase (within reason).

on May 28, 2017

Not meaning to be a spoilsport, but I can probably tell you half of the results your telemetry will yield allready. I was about to make a new post, but it fits here just as well...

---------------

So, I endulge in some weird voyeurism sometimes...

I start up the game, put in the fow and god cheats and just observe what the AI does (the point being figuring out which screws to tighten to improve it for a mod).

Let me tell you about the last short session. My setup was a tiny map, one normal AI with a custom civ which starts with two constructors. I wanted to see if the AI would search out favorable asteroid mining spots. Here is what I observed:

Both (!) constructors bee-line towards a spot with 3 ressources and 2 relics, which is way outside their vision range. What is interesting about this?

1) Both constructors go to the same spot and one retargets just after the spot is taken. Not quite so bad but it tells you there is something weird going on with the AI handling the two starting constructors.

2) Fine example of SD's AI not maphacking, since it has only knowledge about how the map was created... Guys (SD)... If you don't call this cheating you are arguing semantics. It would be really appreciated if the AI was at least somewhat dependent on scouting (in the early phase).

3) The decision of sending both starting constructors for ressources was WRONG. In the current balance the best thing you can do with starting constructors is claiming asteroid mines in your homesystem asap (at least one constructor). The diminishing returns are huge.

-----------------

Asteroid mines fit a nice role at the moment. They are highly efficient, but also risky, they can be destroyed by pirates and early attacks of other empires. Since starbases and planets are hard to attack early on, asteroids being targets, by which you can hurt an enemy are the only thing keeping early war from being obsolete. They make the choice of early warships relevant. If they don't allready, I think privateers should be able to attack them.

But this also means the AI can't just treat it as a sideshow, taking them when there influence has spread enough. It has to actually identify their value. and conclude that it can't use promethion or ascencion points that early, but it will get a lot out of putting up a starbase near the asteroids in the home system and neighboring ones. This also makes ressources (especially durantium) a lot more valuable, if asteroids are next to it, since you can then deploy the mines rather quickly.

Another consequence of this is, that all starting systems should have at least 2 asteroid groups.

A third note is, that constructor starts needs some looking at. I can see rush buying a shipyard and a constructor directly after, is being somewhat balanced against rushing a space elevator for example, due to cost. I can't say the same about 2 constructors being balanced against the other 4 starting ship variants.

on May 29, 2017

Crusade is definitely improved in that even on incredible I won easy every time before, but now if I have a rough starting spot incredible is usually a serious challenge that I'm not likely to win (however if my spot is lucky it's just a good match, though little chance of losing).

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