Revamp Exobots and flat bonuses

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Oberlus
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Revamp Exobots and flat bonuses

#1 Post by Oberlus » Mon Nov 26, 2018 12:59 pm

This suggestion aims at reducing early snowball effect, increase strategic options at start (specifically make adaptive automation less no-brainer, specially for good research species), and increase the balance between different galaxy layouts (i.e. make the availability of good/adequate planets at start less determinant to success).

For species with native environment far from inferno/radiated/barren or with bad industry, Exobots can be an asset. On the other hand, for species with inferno/radiated/barren native environment and good or better industry exobots are pretty useless (this is specially the case for Replicon).
@Voker57 may think something similar: https://github.com/MatGB/freeorion/pull/3
In that pull request, he suggested to nerf the exobots to be 75% research, 75% industry and 75% population and tolerate all environments as adequate.

Another concern of mine is regarding the strong effect of the flat bonuses to research (Nascent Artificial Intelligence) and industry (Adaptive Automation), that are close to no-brainer techs for every species (good research species must get it, and probably exobots, ASAP; good industry species can get first fusion and delay AA for longer while they build up enough colonies with NAI to accelerate research). Experienced players, correct me here if I'm wrong.

And finally, there is the issue regarding some very unlucky starting galaxy layouts that could make your game boring or frustrating, when your homeworld is surrounded by nothing but planets hostile or poor to your species as far as the eye can see. If you are are, say, Scylior, you then now you need Exobot ASAP (that you were going to get anyway, because of AA), if you are Replicon, you know you have to search further away or prioritise Xenological Genetics (although any of those mean you'll be way behind other empires no matter what you choose). Experienced players, again...

So I've got this idea, that may tackle (or alleviate) all three issues mentioned above, for your consideration:
  • Change AA to give a flat industry bonus equal to HabitableSize (+1 for small, +5 for huge, +3 for asteroid belts... +3 for gas giants?) and be unlocked by Robotic Production and Algorithmic Elegance.
  • Let the Exobot tech be unlocked by Robotic Production and Algorithmic Elegance, with the single effect of making outposts able to receive the NAI and AA flat bonuses (require Microgravity Industry to get in from asteroid belts, and orbital generation to get it from gas giants). So it would be useful only when at least one of NAI and AA have been researched.
  • Remove the exobots as species, i.e. make them implicit to every colony and outpost of the empire once you get the tech (that would still talk about autonomous robots able to perform complex tasks in planets uninhabited by any species. Actually I like this alot, but haven't thought of it enough, and seems like a big change.
[Edited the tech requirement, they have more sense now]

Expected consequences with this suggestion in place:
- Any empire can get some profit from every planet in its surroundings regardless of environment, so small empire strategies become more of an option in more starting galaxy layouts, and luck on the starting position becomes less determinant.
- The reduction on AA output (from +5 to an average +3), and the fact that empires would have a more similar progression on number of planets (not colonies), should reduce the early snowball effect of AA (I'm thinking of this particular case: currently, a research-focused empire with enough colonisable planets at start can get around turn 60 a production several times greater than that of a production-focused empire with few colonisable planets at start).
- Some more reasonable choices at start regarding research: for empires with no adequate/good planets around, Xenological Genetics doesn't become mandatory; AA is not the nature force it's been until now so can be delayed further in favour of other early game strategies (detection/stealth, better weapons/hulls, faster pop-based research boost, etc.)

Special point regarding Nerada (an unofficial playable species by @Jaumito that has the NO_OFFENSE_TROOPS trait). No Exobots as species would mean that NO_OFFENSE_TROOPS species would be unable to conquer enemy planets, never. That I don't like it.
- Add a new tech (within defense? growth?, construction? production? it is a hard one to categorise for me), unlocked by Exobots, to unlock a new special kind of robotic ground troop ship part that, regardless where it is built, it produces Exobot troop ships (possible glitch: if you produce in a Scylior colony an armed warship with a exobot troop pod part on it, would the pilot be Exobot or Scylior?).


A much less disruptive suggestion is that of Voker57's:
  • Make exobots bad on research, industry, and population, and adequate on every environment.
  • Change AA to give a flat industry bonus equal to HabitableSize (+1 for small, +5 for huge, +3 for asteroid belts... +3 for gas giants?).
Last edited by Oberlus on Mon Nov 26, 2018 10:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Geoff the Medio
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Re: Revamp Exobots and flat bonuses

#2 Post by Geoff the Medio » Mon Nov 26, 2018 2:47 pm

Oberlus wrote:
Mon Nov 26, 2018 12:59 pm
...unlock a new special kind of robotic ground troop ship part that, regardless where it is built, it produces Exobot troop ships (possible glitch: if you produce in a Scylior colony an armed warship with a exobot troop pod part on it, would the pilot be Exobot or Scylior?).
A part exclusion could help resolve that.

This discusion makes me inclined to get government policies merged quickly, even if not finished. If flat bonuses required a policy in one of a limited set of slots to enable, using them would be much no-brainy. Making it a policy choice would also mean using it could come with some explicit penalties, unlike with a always-active tech effect.

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Re: Revamp Exobots and flat bonuses

#3 Post by ovarwa » Tue Nov 27, 2018 12:12 am

Hi,

I agree with (and I think I've pointed out) these issues, but do not agree with the proposed solutions.

For me, the underlying problem is that focus doesn't work as intended. There is a little strategy involved in choosing a focus, but not much, at least for a human player. (The AI does some really dumb things with focus, but that's a tangent.)

Setting a hard choice for each planet between research and production (almost never something else, but sometimes) distorts the beginning of the game for everyone, and makes the AI especially sad.

Humans also understand that techs that provide flat bonuses are usually critical early on: If you start focused on Industry you need Physical Brain. If you are playing the game, you need NAI. If you are focused on Research you need AA (after NAI), otherwise you can get Fusion first and dither longer, especially if your species or position warrant population tech up front. And you need to plunk down a bunch of colonies to take advantage of those flat bonuses. There's a little going on here to think about, but I suspect not much.

So:

* No flat bonuses at all from a tech. AA an NAI should provide bonuses based on population, like pretty much everything else.
* Worlds produce both rp and pp without needing a focus for this. Focus is only used to grab additional bonuses from technology.
* Growth focus can go away.

There does need to be some kind of hard choice, but I don't think focus is it. Human players rarely need to change each planet's focus more than once, and usually never.

BTW, I really don't like the idea that Exobots can treat all worlds as Adequate, or even Poor. If that's true, it means that everyone can borg like the Trith once Exobots are researched. Species that prefer Barren and Radiated are at a disadvantage, sure, but that sort of thing should be part of species balance, which has much larger issues than this. I also notice that I rarely need to use Exobots on something other than an Asteroid before I come across a better candidate for that, despite playing with no natives. (Of course, I might be playing suboptimally in that I tend to research pop tech to allow settling of asteroids before using Exobots.)

Anyway,

Ken

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Re: Revamp Exobots and flat bonuses

#4 Post by Oberlus » Tue Nov 27, 2018 12:38 am

ovarwa wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 12:12 am
No flat bonuses at all from a tech. AA an NAI should provide bonuses based on population, like pretty much everything else.
No. At least from my perspective, it is intended to allow for the dicotomy wide vs tall (i.e. making possible to get good research/production from many "small" planets or from few "big" planets). Flat bonuses are intended for wide empires, and one of each for the dicotomy industry vs research focus. That they are unbalanced is a different story.

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Re: Revamp Exobots and flat bonuses

#5 Post by Ophiuchus » Tue Nov 27, 2018 11:25 am

Oberlus wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 12:38 am
ovarwa wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 12:12 am
No flat bonuses at all from a tech. AA an NAI should provide bonuses based on population, like pretty much everything else.
No. At least from my perspective, it is intended to allow for the dicotomy wide vs tall (i.e. making possible to get good research/production from many "small" planets or from few "big" planets). Flat bonuses are intended for wide empires, and one of each for the dicotomy industry vs research focus. That they are unbalanced is a different story.
Agree with Oberlus, we should have wide (lots of planets) vs tall empires (few big planets with high population) strategies and the flat bonuses are the closest thing we got at the moment making that distinction. So they probably should neither be based on population nor on planet size.

I like Kens impulse that we should rethink focus in the sense of talking of what focus should represent. For me they represent a strategic long-term investment in some goal - the vision a planet should become. Focus switching should be rare and should happen rather constant than linear with empire size.
For me it would make sense to have a fraction of population based production/research (maybe a fourth or third??) be independent of focus in order to provide a base to build on and show the species influence on the planet. So an average production/research species is showing its strength compared to a good production+bad research species. So that putting focus on your strength still means your weaknesses matter (a bit at least). Also it would mean a planet on defense focus would still contribute (which would be a good thing for AI). This would also fit nicely with a revamp of stockpile (removing the focus-independence of the population based bonus).

Also what i like in the OP is fiddling with exobots. Their role is to function as a guaranteed almost-average native species with some extra (asteroids). Actually i would like not to have any good radiation environment starting species so exobots would also fill that role.

But also agree with geoff, policies should probably become the start of rethinking the whole focus/production/research/growth/stockpile. For me policies are like empire-wide focus: the vision (and the means) of what your empire should become. So e.g. having strategic economic policies: wide (extra flat bonus), tall (extra planet size/population based bonus), distributed (no idea, something stockpily).... A tall empires policy should make sure that having one planet with 20 population gives significantly more bonus than having two planets with 10 population each.

edit:
I actually didnt comment in my post on the OP so much :oops:
Oberlus wrote:
Mon Nov 26, 2018 12:59 pm
So I've got this idea, that may tackle (or alleviate) all three issues mentioned above, for your consideration:
  • Change AA to give a flat industry bonus equal to HabitableSize (+1 for small, +5 for huge, +3 for asteroid belts... +3 for gas giants?) and be unlocked by Robotic Production and Algorithmic Elegance.
  • Let the Exobot tech be unlocked by Robotic Production and Algorithmic Elegance, with the single effect of making outposts able to receive the NAI and AA flat bonuses (require Microgravity Industry to get in from asteroid belts, and orbital generation to get it from gas giants). So it would be useful only when at least one of NAI and AA have been researched.
  • Remove the exobots as species, i.e. make them implicit to every colony and outpost of the empire once you get the tech (that would still talk about autonomous robots able to perform complex tasks in planets uninhabited by any species. Actually I like this alot, but haven't thought of it enough, and seems like a big change.
  • As said, i think flat bonus in its current form should neither depend on population nor on HabitableSize (for the sake of wide vs tall). But the effect of a "tall empire policy" could be the HabitableSize bonus you suggested. In that case the "wide empire policy" could be a flat +3 bonus for AA.
  • i think having an upgrade tech for NAI/AA is a great idea. And unlocking the effect for uninhabitable places fits the exobots really well. Probably NAI on every outpost is too much though and especially i guess the cost of outposts is too low to give full advantage(?). Or could that be the wide empire strategy? Spreading outposts everywhere?
  • i like your idea of getting rid of the basic exobot species for simplification. If you cant get your hand on natives it would would force you to choose a wide empire strategy. Think this would be acceptable. Not sure all the benefits coming from real colonies (e.g. supply) are covered though. Probably the both topics are not so much related and exobot species should stay.
And again on policies/@geoffthemedio: yes, please give us a build with policies (e.g. merge it or provide another build). We need the players to understand the way it is going in order to further the content discussion IMHO. Maybe there should be a discussion how that is going to happen (e.g. if merge into master should there be an option to turn off the policies)?
Any code or patches in anything posted here is released under the CC and GPL licences in use for the FO project.

Furthermore, I propse... we should default to four combat rounds instead of three ...for the good of playerkind.

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Re: Revamp Exobots and flat bonuses

#6 Post by em3 » Thu Nov 29, 2018 11:49 am

Aren't exobots also useful for species with really bad pilots?
[...] for Man has earned his right to hold this planet against all comers, by virtue of occasionally producing someone totally batshit insane. - Randall Munroe, title text to xkcd #556

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Re: Revamp Exobots and flat bonuses

#7 Post by Oberlus » Thu Nov 29, 2018 12:03 pm

em3 wrote:
Thu Nov 29, 2018 11:49 am
Aren't exobots also useful for species with really bad pilots?
Exobots are "bad pilots" too, so nopes. Except for a non-robotic species that would want to use the robotic interface shield.


@Ophiucus, I was thinking of tall empire = few planets but great populations and wide empire = many planets with little population, so wide fits better for good industry species that pursue fast expansion and flat bonuses, and tall for research species that pursue slow expansion and fast growth (population) bonuses.
To base the industry bonus on HabitableSize was to make the choice of what you colonise first depending on the planets characteristics (more things to think about) and not just on what is neareast.

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Re: Revamp Exobots and flat bonuses

#8 Post by Ophiuchus » Thu Nov 29, 2018 2:52 pm

Oberlus wrote:
Thu Nov 29, 2018 12:03 pm
To base the industry bonus on HabitableSize was to make the choice of what you colonise first depending on the planets characteristics (more things to think about) and not just on what is neareast.
But then it would be basically the same choice for tall and wide empires.

It would be nice though if not all planets are equal. One could base the bonus on robot-friendliness of the planet (whatever that means .. ?environment?).
Any code or patches in anything posted here is released under the CC and GPL licences in use for the FO project.

Furthermore, I propse... we should default to four combat rounds instead of three ...for the good of playerkind.

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Re: Revamp Exobots and flat bonuses

#9 Post by Oberlus » Thu Nov 29, 2018 4:31 pm

Ophiuchus wrote:
Thu Nov 29, 2018 2:52 pm
Oberlus wrote:
Thu Nov 29, 2018 12:03 pm
To base the industry bonus on HabitableSize was to make the choice of what you colonise first depending [also] on the planets characteristics (more things to think about) and not just on what is neareast.
But then it would be basically the same choice for tall and wide empires.
Oh, you are right...

Maybe make outposting bigger planets harder (slower and/or most costly) than smaller ones. Thus wide will prefer small planets and flat bonuses, and tall will prefer bigger planets that will allow bigger populations.

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Re: Revamp Exobots and flat bonuses

#10 Post by Ophiuchus » Fri Dec 07, 2018 9:11 am

Oberlus wrote:
Thu Nov 29, 2018 4:31 pm
Maybe make outposting bigger planets harder (slower and/or most costly) than smaller ones. Thus wide will prefer small planets and flat bonuses, and tall will prefer bigger planets that will allow bigger populations.
Slower complicates things usually a lot because you need an extra inbetween phase where things are fuzzy.

But maybe in this case it would work. We could have some effect to autoupgrade outposts (and colonies?) after some turns which could depend on Planet size etc.

In that way outposts can contribute rp/pp but not unconditionally. Note that a delay in extra bônus amounts also tô some kind of resource cost.

What we could also fiddle with is population: split the species trait into robustness and fertility. Compared to the current system robustness would make planets more habitable but not increase maximum population.
And make habitability harder in the normal case, so players automatically prefer the bigger planets because they are not able without a lot research to build colonies on small planets.
Any code or patches in anything posted here is released under the CC and GPL licences in use for the FO project.

Furthermore, I propse... we should default to four combat rounds instead of three ...for the good of playerkind.

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Re: Revamp Exobots and flat bonuses

#11 Post by Ophiuchus » Sun Dec 09, 2018 1:26 pm

If not going down the AI/NAI bonus on outposts... How about tall empire bonus like:

Huge Planet: +200% resource output
Large Planet: +100% resource output
May decrease happiness on smaller planets in order to "punish" colonizing everywhere.

This means everything increasing population on big/huge planets will also be subject to the tall empire bonus.

Such a policy should be either costly to get/implement or be available to everyone from the beginning.


How about basing wide empire bonus on supply? Probably supply without elevator effect ;)
+20% resource output per supply (so without any supply tech/bonus a large planet would have about -17% resource output)
Any code or patches in anything posted here is released under the CC and GPL licences in use for the FO project.

Furthermore, I propse... we should default to four combat rounds instead of three ...for the good of playerkind.

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Re: Revamp Exobots and flat bonuses

#12 Post by xahodo » Sat Jan 05, 2019 6:32 pm

What Stellaris does with something similar to this is that the robots might revolt and start attacking everyone, forcing everyone to cooperate.

So, why not give the exobots a collective mind on the world they are sent to work on? Eventually, with enough exobots located on the planet, the exobots might revolt and recognize they have been used as slaves which causes them to attack the player who put them there in the first place.

This should be a nice reason to not put them down on every planet your species cannot colonize, but only on those of strategic importance.

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Re: Revamp Exobots and flat bonuses

#13 Post by Vezzra » Sat Jan 05, 2019 6:38 pm

xahodo wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 6:32 pm
This should be a nice reason to not put them down on every planet your species cannot colonize, but only on those of strategic importance.
Putting a species prone to revolt on strategically important planets sounds like a bad idea...?

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Re: Revamp Exobots and flat bonuses

#14 Post by Oberlus » Thu May 09, 2019 8:32 am

Oberlus wrote:
Mon Nov 26, 2018 12:59 pm
...unlock a new special kind of robotic ground troop ship part that, regardless where it is built, it produces Exobot troop ships.
I've looked into the FOCS files for troop parts and macros and I don't see a way to specify/change the species of the troops (i.e. the species of the ship is determined by the species of the colony it is built on). It has "class = troops" and I assume this is handled in the backend and can't be done only with FOCS?

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Re: Revamp Exobots and flat bonuses

#15 Post by Morlic » Thu May 09, 2019 10:30 am

There should be a "SetSpecies" effect which you could probably use. That solution would come with a turn delay though.

The easier solution would be to just introduce another ship part which is unaffected by species traits. Note that the current effects already work on specific parts and not on the entire ship.

Code: Select all

NO_OFFENSE_TROOPS
'''EffectsGroup
            description = "NO_OFFENSE_TROOPS_DESC"
            scope = Source
            activation = And [
                Ship
                Or [
                    DesignHasPart name = "GT_TROOP_POD"
                    DesignHasPart name = "GT_TROOP_POD_2"
                ]
            ]
            stackinggroup = "NO_OFFENSIVE_TROOPS_STACK"
            accountinglabel = "NO_OFFENSIVE_TROOPS_LABEL"
            effects = [
                SetCapacity partname = "GT_TROOP_POD"   value = 0
                SetCapacity partname = "GT_TROOP_POD_2" value = 0
            ]
'''
If I provided any code, scripts or other content here, it's released under GPL 2.0 and CC-BY-SA 3.0

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