Weekly Discussion Thread #241: Ai Management

  • September 6, 2016 at 6:52 PM #132231
    Cyberdogs7
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    Colonel
    Total posts : 3214

    So this is a bit more in reference to campaign mode, but can be applied to Siege mode as well.

    As you build out your squad/faction, its very likely you will need some AI to help fill out your ranks. Who doesn’t want players that are on 24/7 to help defend your bases and carry out your attacks? What about taking in some wingmen for that extra fire power?

    But, the question of management comes up. How do you want to manage these? If you are ‘recruiting’ them yourself, it might be ok to deal with 2-5, but what about 50? Do you want to make their builds for them? Do you just want to generally tell them what to use?

    What if they just had their own selection of builds and used what they wanted?

    How much detail do you really want to get into with your AI squad mates?

    As always, all feedback is appreciated!

    September 6, 2016 at 7:49 PM #132235
    LegacyElite84LegacyElite84
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    Lieutenant Colonel
    Total posts : 2516

    For the overall recruitment, I can see a limit being put on the number of AI to fill ranks. Perhaps a squad limiter/financial limiter should be in place. A squad could fill up all its slots with AI, but the squad treasury best have enough for them. If the treasury runs short, a random number may defect every payment time, and may cause “property damage” to any resource settlements or fortifications.

    For cost of the AI, factors such as battle costs, AI skill, and build should be added in. If the AI fight a battle, they get a lump sum of payment per battle depending on the outcome and their rank. Modifiers could be placed on the conditions of the battle. For the user builds, I’d say have the AI choose from a pool of builds, and the AI picks the one according to it’s play style. The squad leader can also see the RT type of each AI and delegate which AIs go into the battlefield and run user builds. Having the AI run a user build as opposed to an AI build should cost a lump sum more to the treasury.

    As for camo, have a squad camo (and soon to be emblem), and both are applied to the build the AI are using.

    A limiter on number of AI recruited per time slot may also be a good idea. Having them “Level Up” would also be very nice. Needless to say, pay and costs goes up with the level.

    September 7, 2016 at 10:45 AM #132242
    Anvildude
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    Major
    Total posts : 1884

    I’d say have the ability to do large recruitments, but also the ability to focus down. Think detail layers in renders.

    I’d like to be able to head up an entire AI faction myself. Start with your basics, go in alone and do some damage, get some prize money. Maybe even capture a territory or two somehow. Use your income to hire a couple AI squaddies- maybe a Defender and some Artillery. Use them and capture another territory or two, make some more money, get more income. At that point, you’ll have enough that you can hire enough AI to form a second squad. Now, all the AI up to this point (the ones you hire individually) are customizable to a large extent. You hire from a pool of randomly generated Classes (think the Followers from Diablo II)- an Attacker who prefers Rockets, or a Sniper that focuses on cockpit shots- AI of a specific class with a focus to their algorithms (I know how the behaviours of Elder Scrolls NPCs are controlled, with percentages- I hope I’m coming across clearly here). You can then assign them a specific build, or they use a ‘default’ based on their specific behaviours. You assign them to a squad. You can then send that squad off on missions (if it’s pure AI) or take the squad headed by you out on missions. If it’s a pure AI squad, and it’s against a pure AI squad, just do some calculations to figure out what happens, without actually ‘playing’ the game (maybe? have that as an option, perhaps, as an ‘auto-calculate battle’, vs doing a full AI battle that can be spectated?).

    However, there will come a time when you have enough resources and a wide enough front that you’ll want to recruit entire SQUADS, not just individual members. In that case, it uses a different system- the whole squad is auto-generated, and you don’t get to personalize it. You can maybe weigh what Classes will be in it, but that’s about it. Everything else is automatic. This is for larger, more RTS-style play, where a single human can direct an army of AI squads to defend or attack. This ‘zoom out’ allows for a single person to help hold back an invasion until their pals can get on, or be used as a sink for resources at the higher levels, where a faction with too much money could just send in a couple of auto-generated AI squads to weaken an enemy before going in themselves. AI being what it is, is often less dangerous than human opponents (or at least easier to predict in-fight). So it’s entirely possible that a solid human squad just wrecks wave after wave of AI sent after them, thereby gaining a ton of Prize resources while the enemy is draining their coffers.

    Of course, the balance of price is going to be important, but that’s something to figure out through Gameplay, I think.

    Tl;Dr: If recruiting individually, full customization (aside from ‘personality’). If recruiting entire Squads, no finer control.

    Things like cost, prizes, etc are definitely gameplay balance tests after a mechanic has been implemented. However, an AI should be inexpensive enough to be worth taking instead of a Human partner, if the human is really, really bad.

    Ah, remembered something else.

    Based on what Legacy said, on cost. First off, I like the idea of ‘rogue’ AI. ’tis a neat one. Maybe implement that later, though.

    But yeah, each squad/AI should have a coffer- but that coffer has dividers in it. When you hire on a squad/AI, you’re not paying for the whole of the MAV they bring with them, but you also don’t get the whole of the money they win/get in prizes/take as their cut. So they should be able to earn their own upkeep, but if they go into the negative, you have to either pay the balance or they leave (and may or may not go rogue- we could just say that they defect to the EDS). High level AI are more likely to make up their costs in prize money, and help take more valuable territories, but their parts also cost more, and they cost more to initially recruit. It’ll all balance, but yeah, AI should be able to earn their keep and not need paid if they do well enough.

    September 8, 2016 at 10:36 AM #132250
    SergeDavidSergeDavid
    Moderator
    Colonel
    Total posts : 3065

    So our goal is to 1. Have as much UI reuse as possible, and 2. Be able to make this stuff self sustaining, and 3. Make sure AI vs AI battles fit a nice spot of being useful to the war effort while not drowning out human vs human battles aka the map grinders from Chromehounds that made any pvp or pve useless in the face of those farmers that could capture a territory in an hour instead of a day.

    And I accidently hit submit before I typed anything else in, will update in a minute or two with my thoughts.

    To start Let me talk about my idea for the AI system. They’ll have several defining stats off the bat that don’t change and then ones that do as they progress in battles.
    Static Stats – Behavour

    • Aggressiveness – 0% they will play passively and run away from enemy fire / stay along the outskirts of the battle such as a good Sniper or Gunner, 100% would go balls deep like a good attacker or burst scout might.
    • Awareness – 0% would have the AI gain tunnel vision on their target while 100% would mean they’re super aware of their surroundings and almost never die to landmines / switch targets almost instantly. Sometimes you might want someone with a lower awareness though as they’d focus down someone instead of spreading out damage until focusing someone who is critical. 0% wouldn’t have the ai ignore landmines completely, just be slower to notice they’re there.
    • Flanker – 0% would have the AI prefer staying with the group and always having the enemy in front of them which can be good for a lot of roles while 100% would have the AI constantly trying to get around the enemy to distract and hit them in their weaker spots.

    There is definitely more behaviors we could add like “twitchieness” (very stutter steppy) or conservative (take wild shots vs making sure they all land).

    Then we’ve got the dynamic variety that is influenced by role-type levels which they’d probably gain differently then us as their xp would be more in relation to what kinda build they bring ai wise vs what they do so sniper xp is earned by the AI “being” a sniper.

    • Sniper – Increase long range accuracy by 0.25% up to a total of 25% above their current default accuracy. (or have it on a decreasing curve, whatever)
    • Attacker – Increase accuracy at close range by 0.35% up to a total of 35% above their default accuracy.
    • Scout -Quicker reaction time to spotting enemy positioning
    • Engineer -Better positioning / awareness of ally and enemy locations within network area
    • Defender -Better landmine / turret / wall awareness
    • Gunner – Better non-LOS accuracy by 0.3% up to a total of 30% (50% when target is within network area) aka make them hit less accurately by default and then these bonuses can actually matter.

    Hiring AI – There should be 2 levels of AI hiring using the same menu. Squad and Faction.

    • Squad level has a wider control over who you hire (you can see their average info such as deviations from 50% on behaviors would go like “Mildly Aggressive and Very Trigger Happy”, also you can see their RT levels as these would increase their hire price and upkeep. (since no behavior is exactly “negative” they don’t influence cost)
    • Faction level instead would just be role-type info where you’d just pick what you’d want to see and then hit the hire button, probably have sliders in there with some variation so you’d get something like “needs high sniper level” but that could be anyone from only high sniper to high sniper and scout levels. Costs are cheaper and upkeep is cheaper but you have less control.

    Now for what they bring to battle I’d say only have that for squad based ones, You’d have to pay for the mech out of your own pocket as they aren’t maintaining their own gear but the ones you’re loaning them so it’d be more expensive to make them run more meta builds.

    I’d probably give them a pool of mech types like a checkbox for each RT so you can say no engineer or sniper but yes to the others so they could either go pure attacker or maybe a gunner defender hybrid. This is if you don’t give them a build to run.

    September 8, 2016 at 1:02 PM #132251
    Anvildude
    Participant
    Major
    Total posts : 1884

    Solid breakdown.

    I’m not sure they should gain experience, though. Maybe make a third level- have the ‘partner’ AI which is very expensive and limited in number, has to be on your Squad, but ‘learns’ as it goes?

    Honestly, though, I think AI should just be AI- no leveling, just you get what you hire. This would also encourage people to work as teams and get better via practice, ’cause there’d only be so far an AI squad would get you.

    One thing I was wondering- what about making the AI… AI? In lore as well as fact? This’ll be far enough in the future that there could potentially be High-functioning Algorithmic Logic Systems running some equipment- not true learning AI, but systems that can be trusted to follow instructions and do a job in a dynamic environment. Opens up a few interesting options in lore as well.

    September 8, 2016 at 6:50 PM #132252
    Cyberdogs7
    Participant
    Colonel
    Total posts : 3214

    Great write up Serge, I will add some more thoughts later.

    Anvildude, I can agree with your idea, but I have a very spefic lore element that I am going for and I believe having a bunch of AI piloting MAV’s would highly distract from that.

    September 8, 2016 at 7:52 PM #132257
    Lerch2000
    Participant
    Sergeant
    Total posts : 89

    You can always have a couple special recruits unlocked thru the story line, as kinda the intro to the hiring idea. As far as them leveling, I do like the idea but currently trees seem to stump their thought pattern (looks like the AI still needs work). Sorry never been one for words

    September 8, 2016 at 8:14 PM #132261
    Anvildude
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    Major
    Total posts : 1884

    Fair enough. It was just a thought, really.

    I do like Lerch’s idea of having a couple of, say, ‘Named’ mercs that you could hire- maybe specialists that have a flat rate for participating in a single battle, while also taking their cut of the prizes. They’d be specialized in their respective Class, or with a theme of some sort, and be very, VERY dangerous within that specialization. Like, a Sniper who hits every shot with their massive Railgun, but prefers to remove weapons before going for the kill, and who’s MAV isn’t armoured at all, without any secondary armaments. Or a Defender who will never go farther than a couple hundred meters from the Base, but has an incredibly heavily armoured MAV so that he’s very, very hard to take down.

    September 8, 2016 at 9:00 PM #132263
    Cyberdogs7
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    Colonel
    Total posts : 3214

    Named AI are a confirmed thing. Kickstarter reward and all that.

    September 8, 2016 at 9:22 PM #132265
    Lerch2000
    Participant
    Sergeant
    Total posts : 89

    edit edit edit

    September 9, 2016 at 7:26 AM #132270
    Anvildude
    Participant
    Major
    Total posts : 1884

    I figured the Named AI were just going to be Story Mode characters. I mean, I’m one of those who gets to create one, so yay?

    Lerch, do you want that post deleted? I can do that for you.

    September 9, 2016 at 7:28 AM #132272
    Lerch2000
    Participant
    Sergeant
    Total posts : 89

    doesn’t matter, just sounded rude, didn’t mean for to be that way

    September 9, 2016 at 8:35 AM #132276
    SergeDavidSergeDavid
    Moderator
    Colonel
    Total posts : 3065

    So instead of having the mercenaries level up as they play maybe they “unlock” the ability to progress and you can “promote” them using the same sort of rt based stats such as being more accuracy at long range or better map awareness.

    To go a step further what matters and doesn’t matter when hiring mercenaries and managing them and their upkeep?

    First lets go over what matters and doesn’t matter into their cost.

    • Behavior attributes don’t matter such as Aggressiveness / Target priority (tunnel vision vs shooting all the things) / Flanking vs Sticking with the pack / etc.
    • Accuracy matters (See the next section for my idea on accuracy)
    • Quality of the build it owns such as stronger pit and legs and full groups of weapons.
    • The AI skill ranking
    • Relative role-type rank aka “bonus’s” to the ai such as an increased chance of noticing landmines and avoiding them / using 100% armor parts to ignore them, and better dodging skills.

    Pretty much there isn’t much to balance with as most of it is build reliant and accuracy reliant. Any other easy attributes likes health or movement speed is handled by the build and their behavior sliders which should stay as a zero sum gain / lose instead of incrementally better.

    *Accuracy sidetrack
    Split AI into grouping skill level, Rookie / Cadet / Lieutenant / Cowbell / Sargent and give them general stat ranges such as base accuracy for a rookie might be 30~45% and a Sargent might be 60~75%. Then we can have a lovely slider for “Aiming” which at 0% means they’re 50% more accurate at close range but 50% less accurate at long range so a Rookie would have a 15~22.5% dead on accuracy (aka their “aim here bubble” is much wider) while the close range accuracy would be closer to 45~67.5% based on where that particular AI lands in the possible spectrum.

    This could give a lovely “accuracy” attribute that has an up side to both sides of the slider since an ai that is bad at close range could be more “panicky” or just has a low dpi mouse.

    So lets go onto the management of AI mercenaries, and starting that off is the Hiring UI.

    • Radio / button for Squad or Faction level “click one and the other is deselected and them side by side or just the same button and toggle it to be either one”./li>
    • Checkbox buttons for rank selection which can be a left to right list of toggles for enabling / disabling finding rookies / cadets / etc.
    • Role-Type Preference Checkbox toggles to help narrow down what you want them to use such as limiting it to a single RT or opening it up to ones that play multiple types.
    • Search Button to bring up / repopulate the following element.
    • Profile Cards for the different possible AI which states their basic. We could display this menu as an overlay to the multiplayer garage so flipping between candidates could show their preferred build in the background.
    • A cost to hire and upkeep indicator next to a “hire” button, also a back out and “next / prev” ai” set of buttons would be nice.

    The Faction level cards could show a broader layout with the build showing the captain of the mercenary group you’d be hiring with the card telling squad size / skill rank / and role-type variety.

    Now moving on to upkeep they’d of course take their share of the games bounty just like any other player who joins into the match so you won’t be awarded a 1 vs 2 prize pool if you win a match with 1 AI vs 2 players. Beyond that I’d say we can either have a “daily” upkeep cost which is automatically removed from the factions bank / your squads bank. These both should have a nifty visual for costs vs income anyway so you’ll know if you can afford the next upkeep charge or not and if you’ll need to transfer funds to do it.

    Another idea is that maybe they pull a larger portion of the prize pool when their mechs are down but probably keeping this stuff standardized with a flat feed would be easier.

    For the Upkeep UI it should be pretty simple using similar elements of the hiring UI.

    • Squad or Faction level filter button(s)./li>
    • Mercenary Skill Rank Checkboxes are filters.
    • Role-Type Preference Checkbox toggle filters.
    • Refresh Button.
    • Profile Cards for the different possible AI which states their basic. We could display this menu as an overlay to the multiplayer garage so flipping between candidates could show their preferred build in the background.
    • An upkeep cost info near a “Dismiss” button would be right also a back out and “next / prev” ai” set of buttons would be nice.
    • Possibly add a “Promote” button to increase the skill rating of a Mercenary or Mercenary group.
    September 9, 2016 at 3:40 PM #132281
    Anvildude
    Participant
    Major
    Total posts : 1884

    This is somewhat interdependent on how the menues end up (I’m still hoping for a ‘dating sim’ style “Go to this room, talk to this person to access the usable window” thing- changing the full screen as opposed to just menu overlays), but I’d say have a “Main” Mercenary window (which would briefly describe the why and what of hiring Mercs, and that they’re AI), 2 paths from that, and then 3 sub-windows on each path.- one for Individual Recruitment, one for Full Squad Recruitment, one for Living Legend Recruitment. These sub-windows would be tab-swappable, so you could easily access either other from the current by ‘swiping’ to the left or right.

    In the actual windows, it’d be roughly the same with each- a list of available Mercs, Squads or Legends- all will be shown initially, autopopulated with either the generated or created options. There would then be, as Legacy said, checkboxes to filter for “Affordable”, options to give a max/min price-to-hire, a checkbox to sort from most to least or least to most, a per Class (one for each class, maybe an option to either whitelist or blacklist each Class), and for Skill Rank (same as with Class)- so you could filter for just Defenders, or for anyone BUT Defenders, and only of rank Sergeant or above, or look only for the cheapest Attackers no matter their Rank.

    Click on the name, it takes you to another screen- buttons for Hire, Compare, and Back, as well as all their relevant information layd out in easy-to-understand Graphical format (with numbers as well, of course). For the Legends, have a little blurb. Heck, maybe have a little blurb for the generated ones too, describing what they prefer to do.

    Firing Mercs (or releasing the Contracts) would be done from the page where you Overview the ones you have Hired. This would be that second path from the main Mercs screen, where the first would be for hiring. Maybe have an option on this screen to jump to the Hiring screen (or sub-window to appropriate sub-window), especially if you don’t have any current Hires. Again, a list of each Merc, this time when you click on them and go to their individual screen, it’s saying that they’re hired on to you. Give the length of time they’ve been hired, some small stats about their effectiveness, but replace the ‘hire’ button with a ‘fire’ button- keep the Compare and Back buttons as well.

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