Bugged or a systematic AI 'cheat'? - core techs missing.

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Heracliton
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Bugged or a systematic AI 'cheat'? - core techs missing.

#1 Post by Heracliton » Wed Apr 13, 2016 2:53 pm

Version: FreeOrion_v0.4.5_2015-09-01.f203162_Test_Win32

Hi

New FO player; played MOO3 SP for a few weeks soon after it was released, then, in disgust, melted the disk in the microwave when I discovered how AI cheating was so core to the game. Went back to "Stars!".

I did look at Free Orion shortly after it was announced, but it wasn't really playable then so forgot about it until I noticed it on GitHub.

Here's the (my?) problem:

Every time I start a game, I see the available tech lacks (at least, haven't wasted time looked at all tech):

1. Asteroid processing;
2. Robotic hulls;
3. Organic Incubator;
(these first three mean I'm effectively limited to the Large Basic Hull - cruisers - with 3 external slots only).
4. Gas Giant generators;
5. Solar generators;

Makes no difference what race I start with, except that Ergassem (9 starts) missed terraforming 3 times. Important tech for a narrow-hab race...

MOO3 had a feature where semi-random tech was missing, forcing the player either to trade, or attempt to gain it by capturing another race's planet or planets (like pop-dropping in Stars!). In FO, trade isn't implemented, and I have captured about 20 worlds in total from both native and AI with nary a change.

I re-downloaded and re-installed to no effect.

My simple test: take the default start settings, add seeds ranging from 1 to 10, start & check the tech tree.
Test again with a different race. With more than 60 trials, all consistently lacked the ability to build those first 5 techs (& maybe others).

This makes the game not worth playing IMNSHO. Who wants to play a game where the human player's race has been sawn off at the knees?

I just gave up on a game where careful micromanagement gave me 160 PP and 70 RP by turn 100. My Plasma 4 BLH cruisers plus Zortrium are barely a match for an AI neighbour's new Laser 4 robotic ships (which are probably significantly cheaper; I have no way to tell). In a few tens of turns hull tech difference will make even a Golden Horde approach unviable.

This is not fun.

If this strategy of crippling the (SP only?) player is indeed designed in, then, to use an appropriate if somewhat archaic British aphorism, "B*gger this for a game of soldiers, I'm off".

Could be a bug, as a number of posts referring to v0.45 (e.g., inter alia, an excellent post by CmdrKeen viewtopic.php?f=28&t=9954&p=82544#p82544 in Feb) mentioned organic hulls and /or asteroid hulls. However, I would not expect such a bug to be so consistent.

If it's by design, frankly it's highly unimaginative and likely self-defeating in terms of developing the player base, since relatively few people are likely to want to play much beyond 100 - 150 turns when they're going into battle with the comparative equivalent of a banana and a bunch of chrysanthemums. That would be a great pity as there has clearly been a lot of person-years by talented people in their own time, and since there is at least one simple way to give the AI a boost without vitiating the players race.

BTW, "Low" monsters is a bit of a joke setting. Haven't tried higher settings, getting blocked in quite, er, "succesfully" in most starts.

On another (constructive) criticism: the Pedia is mostly worthless blah. 'Laser 2 tech unlocks the Laser 2'. Quelle surprise! How about saying "Laser 2 has power x?

As one of many examples, the Industrial Centre entry is about 100 words - with a content of zero. What does it do? More precisely, what does it do for the player? One or two sentences would suffice.

This seems an unfortunate hangover from MOO3, where I suspect that it was deliberately obfuscatory since some tech, like "sanitary infrastructure" offered no discernible benefit but merely to give the vile Viceroy routine something to block the queue (watch your new colony starve to death because it can't build any farms, can't build ships etc because it can't build any mines... etc., when rapidly expanding).

I look forward to responses; hopefully this is not unremediable. In many other aspects, the programmers have done an outstanding job producing something that rivals products from commercial studios.

Cheers

H.

System: Win7 64 Pro SP1, Intel i3770K, Asus P8Z77-V LX2, 16GB Corsair Vengeance Red 2133MHz, Asus HD9790 Windforce 3GB GPU, Samsung 850 Pro "C" drive, 1TB WD Black HDD, Corsair 800W PSU.

defaultuser
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Re: Bugged or a systematic AI 'cheat'? - core techs missing

#2 Post by defaultuser » Wed Apr 13, 2016 5:16 pm

What do you mean by "missing"? You can't use ship hulls or parts until you have researched the necessary technology. Things are not randomly removed (or at all) they just aren't available yet. When you view the items in the Research options, select Locked to reveal the full paths to all techs.

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Re: Bugged or a systematic AI 'cheat'? - core techs missing

#3 Post by MatGB » Wed Apr 13, 2016 5:24 pm

There are no techs deliberately missing, nor does the AI use any cheats, at all, by deliberate design.

However, the default display for the tech window is to only display techs you've already completed and those that you can immediately research. All the techs you mention have prerequisites you need to research first, if you look at the tech display then you'll see that partially unlocked and locked techs aren't selected, toggle them and you'll see all the techs.

If this isn't the case you have a weird edge case bug I've never seen before that wee need to investigate very quickly.

And yes, the PEdia is in a constant state of being updated and improved, volunteer contributors are always welcome on that side, the English language area has been mostly my area but I'm swamped with other projects at the moment. Sometimes, descriptions are vague because the exact details are still in flux as we add and refine features.
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Re: Bugged or a systematic AI 'cheat'? - core techs missing

#4 Post by Geoff the Medio » Wed Apr 13, 2016 6:09 pm

Heracliton wrote:On another (constructive) criticism: the Pedia is mostly worthless blah. 'Laser 2 tech unlocks the Laser 2'. Quelle surprise! How about saying "Laser 2 has power x?
The latest version has this text for the Laser 2 tech:
Unlocks

Technology: Organic War Adaption
Technology: Laser 3

Improves Laser weapons by one level, increasing strength by 2.

Unlocked By Techs:

Laser Weapons
As one of many examples, the Industrial Centre entry is about 100 words - with a content of zero. What does it do? More precisely, what does it do for the player? One or two sentences would suffice.
The latest version has this text for the Industrial Centre building:
Initially provides a bonus to Industry on all Supply line connected planets with Industry focus by 0.2 per Population.
More than one in the same Supply connected Resource Group do not stack and add no extra bonus.

Greater Industrial Center refinement doubles the bonus.

Supreme Industrial Center refinement further increases the bonus to triple the base bonus.
Or if you meant the tech, it has:
Unlocks

Technology: Greater Industrial Center
Building: Industrial Center
Followed by some flavour-text. If you want info on the building itself, you need to click the link, though.

I suggest you try a recent test build. If nothing else, any feedback on that would be substantially more useful than the half-year out-of-date v0.4.5.

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Re: Bugged or a systematic AI 'cheat'? - core techs missing

#5 Post by Heracliton » Wed Apr 13, 2016 7:34 pm

Thank you all very much for the replies.
MatGB wrote:There are no techs deliberately missing, nor does the AI use any cheats, at all, by deliberate design.
I am hugely pleased to learn that :D

I do understand about the tech tree - when I set it to list mode to search, I always set it to display all including 'locked'. I tend to play with locked items displayed even in tree mode.

Those techs are consistently absent.

Earlier I downloaded what appears to be the latest test build, FreeOrion_2016-04-12.9cd2642_Test_Win32. I did a complete uninstall of the previous version, including deleting the keys registry left behind & deleting the folder left in C:\Users\******\AppData\Roaming\FreeOrion, before installing the test version. The same problem occurs; I have tested it 7 times. I even tried the 'Super Tester' as well, but to no effect.

I am not a coder so have no clue why this is happening. All my other programs are working fine, from heavyweight molecular modelling stuff to ArmA 3 (all of which are very demanding in terms of CPU, memory, graphics, etc.).

Re the Pedia: I am not in a good position to help edit the Pedia since my installations appear to be seriously borked and I haven't played long enough to get an idea of what the various techs (would) actually contribute; however that is something I would be happy to assist with in future. Writing papers for publication in decent journals requires skill in being concise and clear, especially for journals with size limits like Nature.

@Geoff the Medio: those look much better :)

Also the new floating bar with buttons to control what is shown is a big improvement. Kudos also to whoever produced the new hull/ship graphics; very pretty indeed.

I'll stick with the test version and explore it. One piece of feedback already: after hitting the turn button, the system seems to run very slowly. It is 4-5 seconds before the message window finishes and the SitRep appears. During that time I can see scouts that have arrived at a monster nest before the icons vanish. Maybe the 'hints' are slowing it down? I turned them off, but could discern no difference.

I'll have a reasonable amount of time on Sunday to put it through its paces. What is the best forum in which to post feedback?

Thank you all again. Despite this apparently inexplicable problem, I am greatly encouraged. I've been a fan of space-set 4x games since getting my hands on a BBC micro and Elite a long time ago.

Cheers

H.

PS one simple trick to give the AI-controlled 'player' races improved chances is to boost their growth rate by a set factor; most useful at the start of colonisation and when capturing planets. Different levels of boost could apply at different difficulty settings. It's because, all other things being equal, games will be won by resources (industry and tech currently) so the ramp is critical. Industry and tech resources are at base both pop-driven, with additional boosts from tech advances. The AI would get an advantage to offset the keener judgement of the human player(s).

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Re: Bugged or a systematic AI 'cheat'? - core techs missing

#6 Post by defaultuser » Wed Apr 13, 2016 8:02 pm

Make sure that you're looking for the right thing. For instance, there's no Research tech called "robotic hulls" but rather "military robotic control" or something like that. It's one of the core hulls, so unlikely to be missing from a build or this wouldn't be the only mention of it - there'd be an uproar.

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Re: Bugged or a systematic AI 'cheat'? - core techs missing

#7 Post by Heracliton » Wed Apr 13, 2016 9:43 pm

I am sure, despite possible minor mis-remembering of exact names. I'm hardly the village idiot :roll:

The robotic tech tree goes pretty much like:

robotic automation > military robotic control > robotic hull.

The latter is always missing (and a couple of times MRC was missing also).

Asteroid processing - in list mode the first 8 - 10 rows are obscured by the non-closeable (!) Pedia window. Easy to solve: click on any asteroid hull tech. That and all the requisite precursors appear in the tech queue except asteroid processing. The other tech items simply do not appear either.

And it's not just one build, either. Something very odd is occurring for a set of diverse, crucial technologies to be blocked so early in the tech tree.


Cheers

H.

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Re: Bugged or a systematic AI 'cheat'? - core techs missing

#8 Post by slv » Wed Apr 13, 2016 10:16 pm

I think I understand what is the problem,
Heracliton wrote: robotic automation > military robotic control > robotic hull.

The latter is always missing (and a couple of times MRC was missing also).
There is no technology called "Robotic Hull", there is a "Robotic Hull" hull which is available as soon as you researched Military robotic control technology. You don't need to research anything else to build robotic ships. So the robotic hull research process is just a

robotic automation > military robotic control

and that's it, nothing else needed and you can build robotic ships right away
Asteroid processing - in list mode the first 8 - 10 rows are obscured by the non-closeable (!) Pedia window. Easy to solve: click on any asteroid hull tech. That and all the requisite precursors appear in the tech queue except asteroid processing. The other tech items simply do not appear either.
Again, there is no such thing as "Asteroid processing" technology but there is an "Asteroid Processor" building you can build on asteroid outposts as soon as you've researched Asteroid Hulls.

Looking on your list again
Heracliton wrote:1. Asteroid processing;
2. Robotic hulls;
3. Organic Incubator;
(these first three mean I'm effectively limited to the Large Basic Hull - cruisers - with 3 external slots only).
4. Gas Giant generators;
5. Solar generators;
I see that 3,4,5 are also not technologies but buildings available as soon as you've researched their prerequisite.

For example f you've researched Domesticated Mega Fauna and Organic Hulls you can build your incubators. There is no separate "Orbital incubator" technology indeed.

For freeorion technologies it is frequent that they unlock a lot of things at the same time. This includes buildings/hulls/other technologies. Buildings and hulls are unlocked immediately and do not require anything else to make use of them.

So you're right that these techs are "missing", but what happens is that the thing you think they will unlock are already unlocked by their precursor.
Last edited by slv on Thu Apr 14, 2016 12:36 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Bugged or a systematic AI 'cheat'? - core techs missing

#9 Post by AndrewW » Wed Apr 13, 2016 11:32 pm

In the production window if you click on Unavailable then hover the mouse over what is unavailable it will tell you why you can't build something.

In list view, just move the pedia window to the right.

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Re: Bugged or a systematic AI 'cheat'? - core techs missing

#10 Post by MatGB » Thu Apr 14, 2016 7:50 am

Heracliton wrote:I am sure, despite possible minor mis-remembering of exact names. I'm hardly the village idiot :roll:

The robotic tech tree goes pretty much like:

robotic automation > military robotic control > robotic hull.
There is no Robotic Hull tech, Military Robotic Control unlocks the Robotic Hull and Robotic Interface Shields, as well as allowing you to move on to Spatial Flux Hull and then, with other techs, Nano-Robotic Maintenance and Contra Gravitational Maintenance, which gives you two of the most powerful battlecruisers in the game.
Asteroid processing - in list mode the first 8 - 10 rows are obscured by the non-closeable (!) Pedia window. Easy to solve: click on any asteroid hull tech. That and all the requisite precursors appear in the tech queue except asteroid processing. The other tech items simply do not appear either.
The Pedia window is movable, and essentially needs to be there so you can see what the techs actually do.
And it's not just one build, either. Something very odd is occurring for a set of diverse, crucial technologies to be blocked so early in the tech tree.
Yes, very odd. We basically need at this point to see some screenshots as what you're describing is previously unreported and has never happened to me on any of the versions I've played across multiple OSs, if there is a bug it's incredibly obscure.

On the other hand, that the locked/unlocked display is unclear and the default settings confusing is something we can do something about.
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Re: Bugged or a systematic AI 'cheat'? - core techs missing

#11 Post by Heracliton » Thu Apr 14, 2016 12:59 pm

Hi.

I had already decided to make some screen shots before logging on this morning.

I made screenshots of the early techs in normal display mode, and a set which show all techs in list mode.

I don't intend to quibble about exact names or differences between 'tech' and 'building', it's a distraction as the shots will show.

In list mode I cannot move the Pedia window (either build), so I resized it to be as small as possible. Trust me, asteroid processing isn't there (check the first few images if you don't want to trust me :P ).

This was with the latest test build, FreeOrion_2016-04-12.9cd2642_Test_Win32_Setup.

It gets weirder...

I ran a short game & researched to Mass driver 4. Went to the ship design page - that's the penultimate image.
Clicked on "unavailable" before taking the final shot. I think it's pretty obvious that something is very seriously borked.

The issues shown in the last two images do not occur with the last stable release, FreeOrion_v0.4.5_2015-09-01.f203162_Test_Win32.

I considered that there might be some sort of conflict, since MSI Afterburner's screenshot does not work when FO is running (either FO version) - I had to use FRAPS, so apologies for the BMPs rather than nice jpgs.

I turned off all but core services, all non-essential startups (including Comodo IS, and ran offline) and exited everything that was not essential. Restarted, uninstalled then reinstalled the 2016-04-12.9cd2642 build and tried again. No change...

Would a game save file be any use?

Here's the link to the screencaps:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/gou3oz40x91cb ... ts.7z?dl=0

7z file, 1.69MB;
MD5 683fdc1ebf5917467d8ec19300e02f16;
SHA 1 f2782281793dd20c81336b466a0e64fc5b208655;
SHA 256 0a9369b6cd73ca792ec1fed1e9cbde55c922ad5e4fdb2e3c2b20203141f6484d

As of now I have zero ideas about what to do next..

BR

H.

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Re: Bugged or a systematic AI 'cheat'? - core techs missing

#12 Post by slv » Thu Apr 14, 2016 1:42 pm

Heracliton wrote:I don't intend to quibble about exact names or differences between 'tech' and 'building', it's a distraction as the shots will show.
Pretty sure the difference between 'tech' and 'building' is the reason for your misunderstanding.
In list mode I cannot move the Pedia window (either build), so I resized it to be as small as possible.
This indeed can be irritating at times. In the top-right corner of pedia window there is a circle-like toogle. Pressing on it makes window movable or unmovable.
Trust me, asteroid processing isn't there (check the first few images if you don't want to trust me :P ).
Of course it isn't there. Why do you think it should be there in the first place? It isn't there in my version of the game either.

All your screenshots pretty much coincide with what I get in my game, there is nothing wrong with any of them. I guess you can try to follow a step to step procedure to make your robotic/asteroid ships.
1.Research "Robotic production"
2. Research "Military Robotic control"
(3. Open Ship design tab and make a design using robotic hull)
4. Build the designed ship or a default Robocruiser (M1) design in your homeworld
Does any of the steps fail for you? If yes, please tell which one. They do not fail for me and my research window screens agree with yours.
1. Research orbital construction.
2.Research Microgravity Industry.
3.Research Asteroid Hulls.
4.Find a system with an asteroid belt and a habitable planet. Build shipyard on any planet in that system and make an outpost on the belt.
5.Build "Asteroid Processor" on the asteroid belt via production queue.
6. Make asteroid hull design
7. Build you designed ship on a shipyard in a system with the belt
Again, does this algorithm work? If it doesn't, please tell which step fails.
Heracliton wrote: I ran a short game & researched to Mass driver 4. Went to the ship design page - that's the penultimate image.
Clicked on "unavailable" before taking the final shot. I think it's pretty obvious that something is very seriously borked.
I don't see anything seriously borked. Can you specify what's wrong?

There is no such tech as "Asteroid Processing". There is no such tech as "Robotic Hull". There is no such tech as "Orbital incubator". The screens you gave show us exactly that, that there are no such technologies, what's wrong with that? In my research list they are absent too, mainly because they are absent from the game. Why do you think they should be there?

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Re: Bugged or a systematic AI 'cheat'? - core techs missing

#13 Post by MatGB » Thu Apr 14, 2016 2:26 pm

Heracliton wrote: I don't intend to quibble about exact names or differences between 'tech' and 'building', it's a distraction as the shots will show.
No, it's not.

The research screen is where you choose technologies to research. Each tech may or may not unlock a variety of different things, this might include buildings, ship hulls, a mixture of both or simply be a prerequisite to unlock the next tech in the line.

I attach two screenshots. Both are directly edited from yours. As we've already said up thread, the techs you need to research are there, clearly displayed with the names we gave them.
asteroid-hulls.png
asteroid-hulls.png (549.93 KiB) Viewed 861 times
military-robotic-control.png
military-robotic-control.png (477.79 KiB) Viewed 861 times
You are trying to find int he techs list the specific items you want, that's not how it works. Please reread the existing answers given.
I ran a short game & researched to Mass driver 4. Went to the ship design page - that's the penultimate image.
Clicked on "unavailable" before taking the final shot. I think it's pretty obvious that something is very seriously borked.
There's a Mass Driver clearly showing in that design shot.

In recent Test builds, one of the biggest changes has been that refinements no longer create new parts, but instead upgrade existing parts, if you look at your ships that exist in game you'll see they've gone up in strength.

So, unless I'm missing something, there is no actual bug at all, merely a misunderstanding of how things work.
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Re: Bugged or a systematic AI 'cheat'? - core techs missing

#14 Post by UrshMost » Thu Apr 14, 2016 5:42 pm

Each technology that you research can unlock one or several of the following:
  • a new technology
    a new building
    a new ship part
    a new ship hull
These are listed in the Pedia entry for each technology in the tree and are all different aspects of the game and have different functions.

If something, like a new hull, is unlocked by a technology, it is ready to use as soon as you complete research on that technology. You don't then need to research some 'hull' technology to finally access it.

The new hull will have various requirements to build it, which are listed in the Pedia entry for that hull. i.e. for Robotic hulls, it states:

"In addition to a Basic Shipyard, an Orbital Drydock is required at the planet where it is constructed.".

Since you start the game with both a Basic Shipyard and an Orbital Drydock on your home planet, you can start building them on your home planet as soon as you finish researching 'Military Robotic Control'.

With regards to weapons, once you have researched the first version of a weapon family, like lasers for example, you may start building ships with lasers. As you research more advanced laser technologies, you new ships automatically use the newest version of the weapon family. Existing ships that have older versions of the weapons will be upgraded to the newest version of the weapon family if they are within supply range of your empire.
Weapons will not upgrade to a different technology though. Your mass drivers will always be mass drivers, they will never upgrade to lasers.

Does that make things more clear?
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Re: Bugged or a systematic AI 'cheat'? - core techs missing

#15 Post by Bromstarzan » Thu Apr 14, 2016 8:42 pm

Won't enter the discussion on tech/building/hulls/ship part uppgrades as I think I do understand the concept by now. However, the Pedia, yes the so important Pedia that I have to rely on for getting my drivers license in this brilliant game: If I'm not mistaken, build 1509 (yes, back in september last year) allowed me to have 2 Pedias open at the same time (using multiple screens, this was perfect)! This was very useful for me as a beginner and I wonder if it has been removed now since I cannot anymore do this (was this actually reported as a bug or just a change of design?).
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