Exobots

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EricF
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Exobots

#1 Post by EricF » Wed May 08, 2019 9:18 am

OK, this is a question that I have been meaning to ask for a long time, but I suppose I know it will involve a lot of game rework so maybe I haven't asked before because...ah you know. But it still kinda bugs me so I will finally ask it.
Exobots, from their name I would assume, are robots specifically built to operate on alien worlds. So why do I need to research certain Biological adaptation techs to get them to be useful on pretty much any alien world? Why do I need Symbiotic Biology to get them to be able to inhabit Asteroids for example? Asteroids are airless rocks floating in space. They have no biology to speak of let alone any that would benefit a robot.

My suggestion for a complete rework of Exobots would be something like the following.
A) Exobots have no preferred Planetary Suitability. They operate the same on any planet. They are purpose built to operate on the planet they are built on.
B) Exobot colonies are established one of two ways.
1) You can build an Exobot Colony ship. When it arrives it places one Exobot on the selected planet.
2) You can build one from an existing Outpost. The Exobot colony is more expensive and takes longer than a normal species colony.
C) Exobot populations do not grow on their own. The initial Exobot colony either contains an Exobot manufacturing facility and/or you could build more Exobot Colony ships and send them to existing Exobot Colonies. To grow more Exobot populations you queue an Exobot Pop work order on the planet you want to add more Exobots to.

This means you don't get free Exobots like you do a normal Species. Each Exobot Population will cost you Production Points.
Additional suggestions are that Exobots are 200% Industry and produce no Research. How much an Exobot Pop would cost would need to be balanced to reflect this.
Any more thoughts?
Last edited by EricF on Wed May 08, 2019 11:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Exobots

#2 Post by Oberlus » Wed May 08, 2019 9:38 am

Related:

https://github.com/MatGB/freeorion/pull/3
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=11124

I like your suggestion, EricF, most of it.

This part I don't:
EricF wrote:
Wed May 08, 2019 9:18 am
C) Exobot populations do not grow on their own. The initial Exobot colony either contains an Exobot manufacturing facility and/or you could build more Exobot Colony ships and send them to existing Exobot Colonies. To grow more Exobot populations you queue and Exobot Pop work order on the planet you want to add more Exobots to.
Boring micromanagement.
Let Exobots populations grow on their own (i.e. the exobot manufacturing facility is implicit, you paid for it with the exobot colony/building).

So I would make them GoodHabitability+VeryBadPopulation on every environment, Average (or good) Industry and Bad Research, make them not affected by any (or most) of the growth techs, and place them in a mid tier on their branch. Removing research from them could be crippling in certain situations.
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Re: Exobots

#3 Post by em3 » Wed May 08, 2019 9:51 am

They could have very bad growth and require growth-focused Exobot colonies in supply to grow (or to be set to growth focus themselves).
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Re: Exobots

#4 Post by EricF » Wed May 08, 2019 11:15 am

However you do it I still think their growth should cost Production Points. They don't breed. You are building them.
The Growth Focus Idea is a good one. Not set on that they don't grow and don't cost you PP's
Set to Growth Focus the Pops grow, but it costs you PP's.

Also one of the reasons for these ideas is that Exobots currently are a bit Over Powered.
Once you get the tech to build them building them almost everywhere is a bit of a no-brainer.

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Re: Exobots

#5 Post by 4xel » Wed May 08, 2019 12:32 pm

I would not mind if exobot were as you described, but I don't see any lore issue with he way they currently work.
EricF wrote:
Wed May 08, 2019 9:18 am
Exobots, from their name I would assume, are robots specifically built to operate on alien worlds. So why do I need to research certain Biological adaptation techs to get them to be useful on pretty much any alien world?
[...] A) Exobots have no preferred Planetary Suitability. They operate the same on any planet.
That Exobots are made for alien worlds does not mean all alien worlds are equally easy to adapt too. Oxygen is highly toxic to about anything, we did overcome it's toxicity in the earliest stage of evolution on Earth, but for an exobot, steel remains easier to do than stainless steel; so it makes sens for exobots to prefer barren lands. And while high radiation will grill fine computing circuits, bots can shrug at mild doses which will give cancer and worst to about any DNA/RNA based lifeform. Same for gravity, I think it makes/would make a lot of sens for Exobots to have higher habitability on Asteroid than anywhere else (and conversely that species that have evolved for up to billions of year under gravity would have trouble colonizing an ateroid belts, though they are workaround).
Why do I need Symbiotic Biology to get them to be able to inhabit Asteroids for example? Asteroids are airless rocks floating in space. They have no biology to speak of let alone any that would benefit a robot.
True IRL for now, but FreeOrion universe contains krill, floater, snowflakes and whatnot. FO Krill is by their very definition asteroid native fauna and by their spontaneous apparition (as opposed to most other monster in the game), it's safe to say that most asteroid belt or even empty space is not completely sterile.
1) You can build an Exobot Colony ship. When it arrives it places one Exobot on the selected planet.
kinds of contradicts :
They are purpose built to operate on the planet they are built on.
I don't mind Exobot colony ships, but their absence makes Exobot a little more unique both gameplay and lore wise.
C) Exobot populations do not grow on their own.
Exobot are supposed to be self replicating. Self replication is probably at most as hard as Artificial General Intellegences, probably easier, and both appear in several instances throughout the game : The Physical Brain, Nascent AI, Adaptative Automation, and many species lore, robotic or not (Abadoni for example, while not robotic themselves, are slave to a mother AI).
Additional suggestions are that Exobots are 200% Industry and produce no Research.
What would then be the point of playing any industry focused species, when you could reliably have the best of both world by rushing exobot with a science oriented one? Also, Nascent AI is literally bots making research and is a requisite for exobots, it would have to change if you want bot being no research.

From a lore perspective, it does not make sens to have dumb bots performing better in industry when unassisted, after all, you can use dumb bots under the supervision of fully fledged intelligent living species for same or better results, as already symbolized by the tech Robotic Production and Adaptive Automation.

From a game-play perspective, it's better for a species that is available to everybody to be mediocre generalist rather than excellent specialist (200% industry is top level specialist). It ensures Exobots can be used as a complementary species by most starting species. Nereda (viewtopic.php?f=7&t=10958) for example, would be mildly screwed if Exobot were no research.

em3 wrote:
Wed May 08, 2019 9:51 am
They could have very bad growth and require growth-focused Exobot colonies in supply to grow (or to be set to growth focus themselves).
EricF wrote:
Wed May 08, 2019 11:15 am
However you do it I still think their growth should cost Production Points. They don't breed. You are building them.
In growth focus, they produce much less PP. You can imagine they put this PP into replication, or being produced by someone else. In any cases, game-play should strongly supersede any other considerations here. Exobot factory, having to fiddle with focus... All sound like unnecessary micro that you could replace with : 1) considering there is a small amount of regular folks to supervise them 2) making exobots colony more expensive to account for the bigger infrastructure setup (exobots factory) 3) making exobots mediocre, to reflect the resources dedicated to their support and supervision. For all intents and purposes, that's already how the game works.

Also one of the reasons for these ideas is that Exobots currently are a bit Over Powered.
Once you get the tech to build them building them almost everywhere is a bit of a no-brainer.
Simply no. By all metrics, Exobots are underpowered but very usefull to complement most specices (some more than others).

I spam exobot on asteroid belt and that's it. I usually conquer natives well before I research exobots, and often even other empires. Regular species are much better at inhabiting lands suitable to Exobot. Even when I finish back filling mediocre planets before having good speices for them and I put exobots on them, I usually evacuate/wipe them as soon as I can populate the planet with a better species, or terraform the planet.
Last edited by 4xel on Wed May 08, 2019 12:49 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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Re: Exobots

#6 Post by Oberlus » Wed May 08, 2019 12:34 pm

EricF wrote:
Wed May 08, 2019 11:15 am
Their growth should cost Production Points. They don't breed. You are building them.

The Growth Focus Idea is a good one.
Your first objection is about realism, but anyway:
Exobots are building themselves. Robotic building and organic breeding both cost PPs. If you are attending your children you spend resources on them and have less time to work (same for robots). Also keeping robots functional or organic beings healthy also cost PPs (that's why, e.g., you get a bonus to PPs from concentration camps).

Growth focus to speed up the pop. growth of any species (in that colony) seems a nice idea, but maybe a bit micromanagy.
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Re: Exobots

#7 Post by EricF » Wed May 08, 2019 2:56 pm

Oberlus wrote:
Wed May 08, 2019 12:34 pm
EricF wrote:
Wed May 08, 2019 11:15 am
Their growth should cost Production Points. They don't breed. You are building them.

The Growth Focus Idea is a good one.
Your first objection is about realism, but anyway:
Exobots are building themselves. Robotic building and organic breeding both cost PPs. If you are attending your children you spend resources on them and have less time to work (same for robots). Also keeping robots functional or organic beings healthy also cost PPs (that's why, e.g., you get a bonus to PPs from concentration camps).

Growth focus to speed up the pop. growth of any species (in that colony) seems a nice idea, but maybe a bit micromanagy.
No, sorry you are the only one talking about realism.
I think you are all missing the point. Right now Exobots are just another Species with one Huge exception. You can research them. All other Species have to be found and conquered. In an effort to make them unique and to live up to their name, Exobots, I propose making them treat all Habitats the same. My rational fluff explanation is that they are purpose built for the environment they will inhabit. If they are going to be on a Radiated world they get extra radiation shielding. If they are going to be on a world with toxic chemicals like water and oxygen then they are built with materials to resist that and so on. However this creates a Huge problem. If they treat all planets the same then you are going to need some game mechanic to discourage people from spamming them everywhere. Hence the idea to have them not self replicate. These are the basic models. If you want to have another later Tech that allows them to self-replicate then that is another topic. I do agree that just putting them to Growth Focus should be enough and not cost you additional PP's. In effect it is costing you PP's because instead of the PP's that the planet would normally produce you are losing that to growing additional population.

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Re: Exobots

#8 Post by Oberlus » Wed May 08, 2019 6:05 pm

4xel wrote:
Wed May 08, 2019 12:32 pm
That Exobots are made for alien worlds does not mean all alien worlds are equally easy to adapt too. [...] steel remains easier to do than stainless steel; so it makes sens for exobots to prefer barren lands. [...]
I like your lore, but one of the concerns (not necessarily relevant) about current Exobots is that some species do not get much advantage from them because of the inequal environment tolerance. Several players have expressed that concern in the past. So it seems rather interesting to give Exobots a flat environment tolerance (if that does not make them OP). In that sense, decoupling Exobots from growth techs could also be interesting (I don't really have an insight on this).
Additional suggestions are that Exobots are 200% Industry and produce no Research.
What would then be the point of playing any industry focused species, when you could reliably have the best of both world by rushing exobot with a science oriented one? [...]
From a game-play perspective, it's better for a species that is available to everybody to be mediocre generalist [...]
By all metrics, [current] Exobots are underpowered but very usefull to complement most specices (some more than others).
I think the same.
EricF wrote:
Wed May 08, 2019 2:56 pm
No, sorry you are the only one talking about realism.
Sorry, I was confused. I thought you were talking about what "makes sense" ("Exobots, from their name I would assume, are robots specifically built to...") rather than about gameplay.
Now I get your point.
I propose making them treat all Habitats the same.
Yes, exactly what others have suggested before, and I like that suggestion.
then you are going to need some game mechanic to discourage people from spamming them everywhere.
Yes, and that mechanic should be making them worse than the rest of species, not making them better than many and then force the player to do boring repetitive actions to get the most from them.
To make it clear: I'm absolutely against forcing the player to keep an eye on every single Exobot colony until they get full population to change focus from growth to industry, and against forcing the player to build exobot ships or buildings to populate every Exobot colony individually.
As 4xel said, make them bad generalist and forget about micromanagement.
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Re: Exobots

#9 Post by 4xel » Wed May 08, 2019 9:11 pm

Oberlus wrote:
Wed May 08, 2019 6:05 pm
I like your lore, but one of the concerns (not necessarily relevant) about current Exobots is that some species do not get much advantage from them because of the inequal environment tolerance. Several players have expressed that concern in the past.
I've encountered this argument on the forum, and it is a very good one but I am not convinced. In practice, Species with the most overlap with exobots (preferring Inferno and Radiated) are industry focused, meaning they will have a hard time researching exobots any way, but start at a huge advantage when it comes to early conquest natives and rival lands. Besides I don't thinkspecies should be too symetric, or even balanced, I like that Abadoni are underpowered and that Eagsaw are nearly strictly better than humans, it allows 1) finer control of the difficulty of a game one want to play and 2) bigger variance in AI power, allowing some to stomp other and provide a challenge to human player late game (but I really think Egassem ultimate rushing power or even Replicons milder traits more than make up for exobot overlap).
So it seems rather interesting to give Exobots a flat environment tolerance (if that does not make them OP). In that sense, decoupling Exobots from growth techs could also be interesting (I don't really have an insight on this).
Sounds interesting. I have not much insight on this either, cept for the OP bit :if you make them 75% industry as well or somehow bad pop, you can be sure they won't be OP (migth not be necessary, but balancing them should not be too hard).

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Re: Exobots

#10 Post by EricF » Fri May 10, 2019 10:05 am

This was just one idea. The discussion following it still didn't resolve the original problem.
Why do I need Biological Techs to get Exobots to live on Alien worlds?

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Re: Exobots

#11 Post by Oberlus » Fri May 10, 2019 10:17 am

EricF wrote:
Fri May 10, 2019 10:05 am
This was just one idea. The discussion following it still didn't resolve the original problem.
Why do I need Biological Techs to get Exobots to live on Alien worlds?
Why is that a problem? Does it affect gameplay in any sense? Is it unbalanced? Causes micromanagement? Is it too complex for players to figure out how to use it? Anything else not related to realism?

In the remote case this could be related to realism, I have fluff explanations to justify it if you are interested.

Anyway, it could be an option to decouple Exobots from the other growth techs (although it wouldn't make any sense to decouple it from growth techs that affect robotic species, though).
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Re: Exobots

#12 Post by 4xel » Fri May 10, 2019 11:33 am

Oberlus wrote:
Fri May 10, 2019 10:17 am
EricF wrote:
Fri May 10, 2019 10:05 am
This was just one idea. The discussion following it still didn't resolve the original problem.
Why do I need Biological Techs to get Exobots to live on Alien worlds?
Why is that a problem? Does it affect gameplay in any sense?
I can see some issue related to :
EricF wrote:
Wed May 08, 2019 9:18 am
So why do I need to research certain Biological adaptation techs to get them to be useful on pretty much any alien world?
Exobot can be researched without researching any growth tech, and in that case, they have 0 pop on adequate worlds, their highest possible suitability. I can see it being annoying (I was caught recently researching them early to settle a lot of nearby asteroids just to realize I needed xenological genetics to have >0 max pop). However, I don't think there is any issue. You can see exobot planet suitability before even researching them by right clicking on a planet, so a careful player should have no surprise. What's more, there are choice as to which growth tech to chose to make world habitable to your exobot.

More importantly, you don't even need a growth tech to settle exobots if you have a robotic resource. Even without a resource, there might be cases where it still is a good choice to research exobot before growth tech so as to settle while researching growth. Keep in mind that a settlement with max pop at 0 will almost never die out completely, and while it is vulnerable to bombardment and will take a while to grow back, you will benefit from flat bonuses as soon as the max pop exceeds 0. That and denying the colonization to other empires.

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Re: Exobots

#13 Post by labgnome » Mon May 13, 2019 12:10 am

EricF wrote:
Wed May 08, 2019 9:18 am
Exobots, from their name I would assume, are robots specifically built to operate on alien worlds. So why do I need to research certain Biological adaptation techs to get them to be useful on pretty much any alien world? Why do I need Symbiotic Biology to get them to be able to inhabit Asteroids for example? Asteroids are airless rocks floating in space. They have no biology to speak of let alone any that would benefit a robot.
On a more general note it's been suggested to have separate habitability boosting technologies for the different metabolisms. So this is just one more argument in favor of making that kind of change.
My suggestion for a complete rework of Exobots would be something like the following.
A) Exobots have no preferred Planetary Suitability. They operate the same on any planet. They are purpose built to operate on the planet they are built on.
I have suggested something similar, but my suggestion includes removing exobot asteroid habitability and creating a new artificial lithic metabolism species that specifically has only asteroid habitability.
B) Exobot colonies are established one of two ways.
1) You can build an Exobot Colony ship. When it arrives it places one Exobot on the selected planet.
2) You can build one from an existing Outpost. The Exobot colony is more expensive and takes longer than a normal species colony.
I prefer the current outpost colonization mechanic where you can colonize any outpost so long as you have researched exobots.
C) Exobot populations do not grow on their own. The initial Exobot colony either contains an Exobot manufacturing facility and/or you could build more Exobot Colony ships and send them to existing Exobot Colonies. To grow more Exobot populations you queue an Exobot Pop work order on the planet you want to add more Exobots to.
Stellaris makes you have a factory building to grow robotic populations. Perhaps something similar might not be a terrible idea, at least for exobots, even if they are supposed to be self-replicating. We can always change the fluff explanation to fit game mechanics. However I don't think we should constantly have to enque as that would create a lot of micro-management.
This means you don't get free Exobots like you do a normal Species. Each Exobot Population will cost you Production Points.
Additional suggestions are that Exobots are 200% Industry and produce no Research. How much an Exobot Pop would cost would need to be balanced to reflect this.
So one suggestion currently in the influence discussion topic is the idea to have establishing colonies at outposts cost influence instead of production like they do now. Perhaps we could make the change for the regular species and keep exobots costing production. I do kind of like that idea.
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Re: Exobots

#14 Post by Ophiuchus » Mon May 13, 2019 2:48 pm

EricF wrote:
Wed May 08, 2019 9:18 am
This means you don't get free Exobots like you do a normal Species.
The whole concept of the whatever-they-are-called is that they provide a okayish species for colonisation of planets to empires which do not have access to natives. Having the normal growth mechanisms working for them ensures easy balancing against other species.

They also had a niche (radiated planets) where no other species was feeling good - so they were a reasonable choice there. That got muddled up IMHO by people not groking the original design of environment distribution between species (i.e. that species with the same preferences compete which each other and that the distribution of species per environment is by intent not uniform but a balancing mechanism). I hope that gets changed to the old concept in a future balancing pass.

They still have the asteroid niche.
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Re: Exobots

#15 Post by labgnome » Mon May 13, 2019 5:39 pm

Ophiuchus wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 2:48 pm
They also had a niche (radiated planets) where no other species was feeling good - so they were a reasonable choice there. That got muddled up IMHO by people not groking the original design of environment distribution between species (i.e. that species with the same preferences compete which each other and that the distribution of species per environment is by intent not uniform but a balancing mechanism). I hope that gets changed to the old concept in a future balancing pass.
Personally I like the relatively uniform distribution of species between environments. IIRC one part of the reason that no species got radiated planets was that there was an idea to get rid of them as a planet type, which from what I understand isn't planned anymore. Also part of the uneven distribution was that "food" was originally a resource in Free Orion, but it isn't anymore. Plus as far as balance goes no one was supposed to get gas giants, and now we have Sly so I think we have defiantly moved to even distribution.
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