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An exhaustive treatise on the specifics of our overhauled AI, coming in the next version.

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In our soon-to-be-released update, we have completely overhauled Age of the Ring’s skirmish AI. This has been a massive undertaking in which many different aspects of the game were changed. The article below breaks down what we’ve done, and what you can expect from version 6.0 going forward.


Subject A: Target Priority

The first thing we adjusted when we set out to improve the AI is called Target Priority. Target Priority tells each individual unit what exactly it should be attacking in any particular engagement when the AI gives it an attack-move command. As you might suspect, the core targeting priorities in the old AI were all over the place; nearly every unit had a preference for attacking buildings over units, and most units were not very good at focusing on targets that they naturally counter. In 6.0, you’ll be facing an enemy that takes full advantage of unit target priorities, which means keeping your own troops alive will be much more difficult. In our experience, it’s been a huge improvement.

The AI’s tendency to suicide units into the back of the player’s base has been greatly reduced! While these farm-seeking teams are actually an essential element of the AI’s tactical ability, they were being dramatically over-produced and were notoriously annoying. Expect the new AI to send them far less often.

Units now have more intelligent targeting capabilities. Pikes will actively seek out cavalry and surround heroes and monsters, and cavalry will prioritize archers first and infantry second. Swordsmen will reliably engage pikemen and other nearby targets, and archers are programmed to snipe down fleeing heroes.

AI combat 1

Subject B: Skill Updates

Many unit and hero skills were not used by the AI in previous versions of AotR, but we’ve taken some new steps to ensure that the AI can make much greater use of its entire arsenal of skills and powers throughout the game. This particular part of the overhaul will be expanded upon further post 6.0. Until then, enjoy Dol Guldur’s new affinity for Necromancy!

Skills now behave more intelligently. We’ve done a pass on many skills’ AI types to ensure that the AI uses them in a more appropriate manner. This part is still under active development, and will not be fully complete when we release 6.0. It’s definitely functional however, and will be further improved with subsequent releases.

AI combat 3The AI sends a second team to attack across the map


Subject C: AI Metagame

We also have made changes to the AI’s building priority, as well as the number of each kind of unit it builds and when it builds them during the flow of the game. No longer will early-game Entwives be the Dol Guldur AI’s main source of danger, for example. In general, the AI is now much better at moving up the tech tree more appropriately, and builds a bigger, more varied army.

The AI can more readily purchase upgrades! While the overarching system that governs upgrade purchasing is, unfortunately, completely random, we’ve made a number of changes to ensure that when the AI wants to upgrade, it can. Expect to see upgraded units happening much more frequently, especially during longer games.

The AI’s base building skills have been drastically improved. The AI now builds a much more defense-oriented base that is far more difficult to break into, and can train a lot more units at any given time. It’s very likely that any siege you mount upon the AI’s base will be met by a garrison of defending units. Which leads into the next point...

...The AI will now wait and build up a large force before attacking, particularly in the late game. Rather than 2-3 units at a time, now in the endgame the AI will send entire armies to attack. These enormous armies are spectacular to see in action!

When in doubt, cheat! The AI now has various economy buffs to allow it to keep pace with the player and make up for some shortcomings in its tactical abilities. The cheats are specifically designed for each faction in order to bring them up to an acceptable level of play. Rivendell and Rohan are no longer the pushovers they once were!

AI base 1

A massive Woodland Realm AI base


Subject D: Scaling Difficulty

The AI’s difficulty settings have been greatly overhauled! In place of the old Easy, Medium, Hard, and Brutal, players can now look forward to facing Peasant, Soldier, Captain, and Death March.

Peasant - A dramatic upgrade over RotWK’s mostly-useless Easy difficulty, Peasant serves as an introductory difficulty for newer RTS players, as well as newcomers to BfME2. This AI will throw the entire roster of units at you, but expect smaller attacks, few heroes, and light spell use. A great place for any beginner to start learning the ropes of AotR.

Soldier - Landing somewhere between old Medium and Hard AI, Soldier AI introduces the player to large-scale armies and more extensive spell and hero usage. You’ll have enough time to build up a decent base, but once the enemy gets going you’ll need to keep up the pressure to push it back.

Captain - Captain’s challenge lies between old Hard and Brutal, and fully showcases AotR’s new and improved skirmish experience. The AI has full command of its spells and abilities, and will engage you very early in the game with a steady ramp-up in difficulty into a relentless endgame full of heroes, upgrades, and elite units.

Death March - A challenge for the true masochists among you! Death March takes all of the upgrades to the AI and combines them with a massive discount to drown you in an endless sea of units and heroes. Ruthless, quick, and very unfair, this AI is meant to make you hurt. Not for the faint of heart, this AI takes the skills of a pro player to defeat (note: this claim is fully verified). Try a handicap setting, perhaps.

difficulty info

Subject E: Build Me An Army

AI army construction has been completely overhauled. The AI can build multiple armies simultaneously with different orders, meaning that one force can focus on attacking your units while the other flanks for your economy.

We’ve also taken advantage of built-in systems long left mostly dormant by EA to give the AI the ability to strike when you least expect it through what are called Opportunity teams. The AI has a system for scanning the relative threat level of your base and forces, and can create squads to take advantage of any weaknesses it perceives. While this system has always been present in RotWK, we’ve drastically increased the AI’s ability to create these teams and strike when you’re most vulnerable. The AI can even flank your entire army and attack from the side, sometimes on multiple fronts!

AI base 2Dol Guldur AI gathering an army at two of its Gaols before sending them out


AI combat 5
Army versus army


Subject F: Map Overhaul

Many maps within AotR, including several from the original game, had terrain and farm template issues that could prevent the AI from expanding properly throughout the game. If you ever had the AI suddenly slow down and stop producing units at any point, this is likely what caused it. Our mappers have been hard at work going through every single map in the AotR roster, ensuring that these issues have been resolved to the best of our ability. This is a massive undertaking that has taken months to complete, and while there may still be some hiccups here and there, most maps are now completely viable for skirmish play.

Being that each and every map had to be edited, our mappers have also taken the time to improve and visually rework many of them, as well as editing their information to display more facts about the map’s capturable structures, creeps, map hazards, and region.

map info

map rework 1
The ruins of Amon Sûl on the Weathertop map were greatly improved


map rework 2
The Ruins of Carn Dûm is a newly converted and heavily edited skirmish map



That's all for this update. We hope you enjoy Age of the Ring's new and improved AI experience when we release. Which, by the way, is soon. Release candidate 1 has been completed and is being tested.

Remember to stay safe out there,
The Age of the Ring Team

Comments
Uomoro
Uomoro

Awesome, now i can rage more when I lose :). Happy to see you making hot stuff, but I have to ask you: does AI Dol Guldur give the ring to the necromancer now?
Thanks for your awesome work!!!

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MathijsRevora Author
MathijsRevora

DG does not give the Ring to the Necromancer, no.

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klem
klem

Some say it was impossible, so they made it. Cant wait.

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Guest
Guest

Great Work, Looks like I'll have to drop my casual self down to medium for a bit XD

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TheScootness
TheScootness

Haha I believe I'll be starting over at Peasant for a while!

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Vanders
Vanders

This all sounds wonderfully in depth, but also like the AI difficulty is vastly increased.

As someone who enjoys a slow paced game of watching battles take place without too much need for urgency/stress in reacting, will Peasant really provide this? It'd be nice for the casual player who plays RTS games for the spectacle rather than challenge (looking at people spamming shortcuts and clicking a million times a second in Warcraft III).

I know in a lot of mods for Dawn of War overhaul AI, and easy mode is more like hard if you ask me.

One other question, will you overhaul the War of the Ring overworld AI too?

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Ephemeralised
Ephemeralised

I used to play against easy because I mostly enjoy the building and fortification aspects of the game. Suffice to say that Peasant level difficulty is giving me a very stressful time already. That said, a victory on Peasant feels much more deserved than one against the former 'Easy' AI.

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Elf-ThranduilKing
Elf-ThranduilKing

Excellent work, i have a question about the maps. So, will all maps coming in 6.0 include revision and changes to the new AI? or are there still some pending for future updates?

Excited to see also new AI improvements in WotR.

Congratulations

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Lich_King_of_Angmar
Lich_King_of_Angmar

This is so cool, I am blown away by you devotion and skill. I wish some millionaire was a fan and saw your great work and just bought the rights to the game and hired you all full time.

Also I was wondering about the tricky AI problems in fortress siege maps? (defense not starting at all or simply not closing gates making the sieges less challenging. Or on the offensive not using siege towers/ladders/bombs or attacking unless we leave the gates wide open)

Also will we expect the Al to build any walls on skirmish maps?

But anyway, Keep up the great work! I am a huge fan of the game and have gotten allot of my friends into it and am excited for the future! Thank you!

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GendoR
GendoR

"The AI’s tendency to suicide units into the back of the player’s base has been greatly reduced!"

Sounds good!

Congratulations and well done!
I'm really looking forward for the new AI.

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ilja-lotr
ilja-lotr

No words, can't wait to play!

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aresliap
aresliap

perfect changes!it was a game ''issue'' that you guys solve!we need a better AI.i still want walls for all factions though!we cant wait for release congrats once more for the perfect work !!!

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Finrod_(Felagund)
Finrod_(Felagund)

Will this also affect siege battles

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numan1111
numan1111

Great update!!!

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Ursidey
Ursidey

Congratulations ! Very good work ;-)

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hamiltonx
hamiltonx

Amazing update. Age of the ring is growing to become quite the RTS.

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srkisha
srkisha

Holly molly ,you guys alwasy find a way to bring me back to play . Is mirkwood included in 6.0 ?
If yes sony 5 can wait,not impressed.

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CaptainCorrigan
CaptainCorrigan

Yes, Woodland Realm will be in 6.0!

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TheScootness
TheScootness

Wow! All of these upgrades sound amazing. I've pretty much always played with AI only (outside of LAN parties like 15 years ago). Very much looking forward to seeing everything!

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vikingman369
vikingman369

please don't turn this into Starcraft. Age of Chivalry did that, and it made the game almost impossible to play and not fun at all. not everyone is a try-hard

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TheDemonBlack
TheDemonBlack

For something there are the difficulties of "Peasant" and "Soldier". All they've done is bring out the potential of this great mod.

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MathijsRevora Author
MathijsRevora

Across the board, difficulty has gone up considerably thanks to the AI actually using its full arsenal and attacking your units intelligently. However, BFME2 has a handicap feature that should be helpful if the AI is too much for you.

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Glemli
Glemli

Well... there goes my ability to beat a Brutal AI... xD

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Befored
Befored

Damnnn now that I've played RotWK a bit, this is going to be sick :O

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