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The AI isn't terrible, contrary to popular belief


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dD_ShockTrooper #1 Posted 20 July 2019 - 11:46 PM

    Ensign

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    07-31-2016

It just has no money in mid-late game and becomes irrelevant. In the early game you can and will see the AI playing extremely well on higher difficulties with expanding and rushing. The issue is they build literally everything in their colonies, and maintain a 3/pop tax rate; and anyone who's done this will know that the maintenance will cripple you to the point you basically cannot continue playing. You can tell they keep it at 3/pop because if they didn't you'd see a giant spike when they changed it in their GGP stat on the economic timeline. The AI could be so easily fixed here, either they should offer trade treaty literally whenever they can to whoever they can (and thus should ignore the existence of trade treaties when deciding upon wars), they should not build shit they don't need (sounds difficult to this lazily), or they should honest to god just cheat for more money on higher difficulties (who would notice when they waste it so much anyway?). Like, they should just have 5/pop tax at only -30% morale. When the AI does have money it's able to actually do things. 

 

Likewise the combat (both strategic and tactical) AI isn't atrocious. The issue is it only works well if all ships are built to standard default builds; which while true for AI ships, is not true for human players. I actually kind of like the fact the ships don't follow orders exactly in tactical combat, and will fire whenever they can at whoever is in range first. It really gives the tactical combat some unique character to it, your fleet aren't just mindless drones in this game, maintaining a controlled strategy in tactical combat requires an an actual good eye for strategy; rather than clicking the guy you want to shoot, you instead move into a position where that will happen. It's really such a shame this wasn't implemented for multiplayer, because it was something unique that genuinely would've had an insane amount of skill depth to it.

 

I might as well continue this to cover all of the feedback nobody will read at this stage. I think people are hating on starlanes just because it's not early MOO. They're different, and they do create strategy, just different strategy. My only gripe with them is lategame about 60% of the turns are spent doing in system moves. There really should've been a midgame tech that made in-system movement free (combat still ending movement though). This starts being noticeable after acquiring the ion drive and later engines, so it should have been placed on a higher tech tier than that drive.

 

I enjoy the pollution system. I hated it until I realised it really isn't worth keeping pollution at 0. Once I started just cranking up production, planet be damned in certain places, the mechanic was a lot more enjoyable. Makes you think about the role of planets within your empire, and means you have industrial cool-off periods where you build terraforming to chill the planet out every now and then.

 

In regards to race picks, I'd say that Cybernetic, Lithovore, Ship repair 5%, Ancient Artefacts, Omniscient, Telepathic, Uncreative, Homeworld Gravity/Tolerance, Homeworld biomes, and Creative are the only picks that actually make the race feel different to play. Every other pick is either irrelevant, or doesn't actually change anything in regards to strategy, because you do the same things it just takes shorter/longer now. You could probably mathematically determine which of those % modifiers is the most value for points, but you could easily determine it was Ship Cost -20% without even looking, closely followed by BC/pop%. Interestingly, those homeworld biomes should all be worth -ve points, because while kinda interesting, the reason they add unique strategy is because your start is now gimped due to reduced food and capacity. If you actually started with the unique homeworld (which you know, would make logical sense) there might be a reason to pick them. The Aquatic start is probably the only one that isn't just worse than Terran start (surprise, it's because you actually start with it. Why didn't they keep the trend and make aquatic races a Tundra start?). Kind of sad they didn't try to make each of the default races have a significant impact on how the game is played. For instance Darlocks simply starting the game with a spy centre in the capitol as part of the shapeshifter ability, Warlord trait allowing you to start the game with the ability to build troop transports and/or increasing the capacity of said transports. Trans-Dimensional allowing you to disobey the rules of starlanes and just travel from any starlane node to any other explored node. Doesn't really matter what the abilities are specifically, just so long as they're not +-X to thing you already do, and instead some actual legit new or altered mechanics.

 

My most major issue about this game is what's the point of ground combat? Like, everything related to ground combat is completely irrelevant. It's just a minor production tax and tech requirement for invasion. That'd be fine if it were just that, but there's all this stuff like "woah! +50% to ground combat" or "cool! you get +50% more soldiers" that have zero impact on the game, because ground combat is irrelevant. The enemy now only needs to increase their very minor invasion tax by +50%. See also armour barracks. What's the point of building it? It's not worth the maintenance, let alone the production cost. Why can't we just streamline the process of building transports and simultaneously fix all those ground combat bonuses being irrelevant in one go, by making it so you can simply move marines and tanks into space at will once you have the tech for it? No production cost required, the game just builds transports for them instantly when you need them. The 6 marine transport tech just replace with 1 tank transports. Could even do the same for civil transports. Just drag the guy from the planet into the "go to space" box. The cost is he doesn't pay tax in space, and requires 1CP. The part I find interesting though, is the devs clearly thought the ground combat was just as pointless as I did, because the ground combat itself has laughably lazy production quality, especially when compared the extremely cool looking ship combat. Hell, even the bombing animations are leagues better than the invasions.

 

Overall, I like the game, only it just has that "almost amazing" feel to it. There are so many times when playing this game where I think "wow, this game would be really awesome if it just did Y right now". It has things that literally every 4X game needs; for instance economic victory just unceremoniously ends the game in your victory if you've clearly already won and are just grinding to completion. The timing on it is so amazingly on point, and I think it's possibly the most well polished aspect of this game. I always unlock the stock exchange at the exact moment the game is kind of getting boring. Kind of bizarre, but this cutting of the endgame drag is probably what makes this game not feel mediocre, because it means my experiences are always tinted by the perspective of the early game rush, which is actually fun. Where the "if only it Y'd" comes in, is that the AI never lasts well into the lategame, so this is how every game ends, if it didn't end early due to domination or me controlling 2/3rds of the population super early and a vote being cast. I really want to play this game, if only once, where there's some actual lategame competition. Oh, and the Antarans are hilariously genius design, but they become pretty toothless once you realise it's better to just let them bomb your colonies, because they don't pack enough death spores anyway. The actual damage Antarans inflict on the score leader is ship losses from trying to defend against them, which naturally doesn't impact the unfortunate perceived score leader with no ships nearby.






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