Sins of the Fallen: Improving the AI (Part 2)
First I'd like to say I think the Sins AI is really good and can make for some fun games. That said after modding multiple races you begin to see things the AI does not do very well especially when it comes to using advanced features of mods.Unfortunately, as many of the regular's of Sins modding know, the AI is not very moddable. This of course leaves us with very little tools at our disposal to impact how the AI plays both in the core game and with our mod extensions.
So what is actually moddable that may improve the AI?
- How the AI prioritizes ships based on damage percent bonuses (Part 1)
- How the AI prioritizes things like ships, research, starbase upgrades, etc (Part 1)
- How the AI uses abilities (Part 1)
- How the AI performs research (it's worse than you realize) (part 2)
- How the AI upgrades star bases (part 2)
How the AI performs research (it's worse than you realize)
If you ever have the opportunity to watch the AI in the developer.exe, switch to an AI player and watch it's research path. What you will see may disappoint you.
Here's what the AI prioritizes (not necessarily in this order):
- Research that unlocks frigates
- Research that unlocks modules especially superweapons
- Planet access research for Ice and Volcanic (if needed)
- Relationship modifier research (Diplomacy tab)
- Capital ship slots
- Ship slots
- Worm hole
- Star jump (If needed)
- those cool envoy abilities available to the AI may never get researched even though it has 8 civilian labs.
- Star base ability upgrades may never be researched (or upgraded, see below)
- Hull, Weapon, Armor and Shield may barely be touched if at all
What I've discovered after my own investigations and collaborations with other modders is the AI can be heavily influenced into researching key technologies as defined by the mod. This can be accomplished by applying a hidden frigate/research pattern that prompts the AI to go after specific pre-reqs.
In my testing I've been able to influence the AI into researching:
- Full weapons upgrades like phase missiles
- All envoy abilities
- All available pacts
- Specific abilities like Meteor Storm in Advent.
- and many other things not previously prioritized.
How the AI upgrades star bases
The AI never does anything cool with these!
Why? Because it put's all it's upgrade points into Weapons/Toughness/Strikecraft before it even thinks about a different upgrade type.
This results in fairly boring usage of Star bases by the AI...
- Decrease the amount of upgrades available for Weapons/Toughness/Strikecraft
- Increase the amount of upgrades allowed for a Star Base from 8 to ?
- Add instant low level access for all star base upgrades
- Limit any improvements to the non-human AI player only
In essence this would simply make additional upgrades available for Trade, Block Colonize or other special abilities
Increase the amount of upgrades allowed for a Star Base from 8 to ?
Add instant low level access for all star base upgrades
Limit any improvements to the non-human AI player only
Quite simply, this means Human players will not get any extra advantage provided to AI players.
Where to go from here?
My plan is to use all this knowledge to create AI's that are harder by giving more than just resource cheats.
This can range from better Ability selection which will benefit the AI and human player (less micro) to specific cheats made available to the AI making it a more formidable opponent.
Some of the specific AI only enhancements that have been suggested:
- Auto-leveling on capital ships.
- Extended levels on star bases.
- Additional starting capital ship crews.
- Additional starting fleet supply.
- +X% research speed.
- -X% research costs.
- +4 logistics slots
- Additional targets per bank on capital ships.
- Star base options noted above.