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Author Topic: A better AI is possible...  (Read 1435 times)

Offline Zharkov

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A better AI is possible...
« on: January 26, 2019, 11:42:36 am »
...though maybe not any time soon for openxcom.

In my own experience the most disappointing thing about strategy games is the often abyssal incompetent AI (if you can call it this). But help is on the way:

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/01/25/ai_in_starcraft/

In almost every strategy game on the market, a higher difficulty setting gives the AI more resources that are then squandered in an inefficient way. This can make playing boring quite fast.
There are few exceptions like the Galactic Civilizations series that actually provides better algorithms on higher difficulty settings. But even here the AI needs additional resources to win against an experienced player.
I really hope that in the near future this will be the other way round and humans need a few in game advantages to keep up with AI players.

Offline Meridian

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Re: A better AI is possible...
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2019, 12:09:26 pm »
There's a very big difference.
In Starcraft multiplayer, the player and the AI (or another player) have the same starting conditions. So theoretically, it depends only on skill who wins.

In XCOM, a galactic superpower fights an early post-industrial-revolution civilization baby... or better said we fight them, they most likely don't even perceive us as a threat.

It would be really easy (no joke) to write AI for XCOM, which would crush the player 100% of the time:
- if you want to be a bit realistic, you would never even get to battlescape, because all your craft would just be shot down by hunterkillers
- if we forget that, aliens would just see you land and send 2-3 blaster bombs on your squad on turn 1, while you try to walk out of the flying coffin in your pyjamas with a pea shooter in hand
- if we even forget about all alien weapons, they could come completely unarmed... just send a handful of ethereals on january 1st to obliterate you instantly

XCOM AI is the way it is, because it was intentionally designed the way it is.

Offline Zharkov

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Re: A better AI is possible...
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2019, 12:35:50 pm »
I was thinking about strategy games in a more general way.

Once I read a paper about how AI needs to be handicapped in ego shooters or the player would not stand a chance. But the authors were talking about instant aiming, turning, and access to information and not about tactical behavior. A game unwinnable for the human player might not be marketable. But I think it is very interesting and important for future game design to build AIs with more interesting behavior than we see atm.

Nevertheless, I agree that a lot of things would not make any sense in XCOM, as it is not a multiplayer game with balanced starting positions. Implementing a strategic AI for the aliens would need a completely different game. For XCOM I would be happy with a better tactical AI in battlescape. Of course some weapons would have to be eliminated from the game, if the AI was really good.

Offline Yankes

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Re: A better AI is possible...
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2019, 02:37:12 pm »
Probably goal of better AI in XCOM would be not to "win" but to made game more interesting.
Like throwing smoke grenade to block player vision. Destroying terrain to flank player. Undermine player cheese strategies (your sniper squad get always BB after 10 turns if they do not move).

Offline Bloax

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Re: A better AI is possible...
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2019, 02:32:44 am »
Personally I'm less interested in SUPREME CHEATER AI and more of an AI that operates under the same limitations as a human player (it doesn't even know the map!) and tries to match them in performance.

Offline Arhaeus

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Re: A better AI is possible...
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2019, 03:09:33 am »
We are currently working on an AI that has the same limitation on the map as the human opponent: fog of war, limited ammo, morale/panic handicap, etc. It will have more units tho, but they will be with limited combat experience, because the player will "grow" his squad to max each unit abilities. Plus the AI will not have access to the Save/Load couple.
The AI will be a Utility AI type, that has more versatile and flexible behavior vs the Behavior Tree AI type.

Probably goal of better AI in XCOM would be not to "win" but to made game more interesting.
Like throwing smoke grenade to block player vision. Destroying terrain to flank player. Undermine player cheese strategies (your sniper squad get always BB after 10 turns if they do not move).

On lower difficulty levels the AI will try only to make player live a bit more hard, but on higher difficulty levels it will try to win with any means available (no cheats tho, only fair and square).

There's a very big difference.
In Starcraft multiplayer, the player and the AI (or another player) have the same starting conditions. So theoretically, it depends only on skill who wins.

In XCOM, a galactic superpower fights an early post-industrial-revolution civilization baby... or better said we fight them, they most likely don't even perceive us as a threat.

It would be really easy (no joke) to write AI for XCOM, which would crush the player 100% of the time:
- if you want to be a bit realistic, you would never even get to battlescape, because all your craft would just be shot down by hunterkillers
- if we forget that, aliens would just see you land and send 2-3 blaster bombs on your squad on turn 1, while you try to walk out of the flying coffin in your pyjamas with a pea shooter in hand
- if we even forget about all alien weapons, they could come completely unarmed... just send a handful of ethereals on january 1st to obliterate you instantly

XCOM AI is the way it is, because it was intentionally designed the way it is.

Depends on the nature of the alien invasion, if the invasion starts from a mothership located on Earth, may be near that location an battlescape mission will be impossible, but on the rest of the globe they will be in a strategic disadvantage.
Landing in current special operations is made in safe landing zones, from there the squad proceeds to combat area on foot. In a game the travel to mission site part is left out, from obvious reasons. So we will have the both combat teams, humans and aliens, in a close combat zone.
The use of OP alien from in the early game can be easily restricted in a game where the aliens breed their units in "nursery" or clone bases. The more powerful alien types could be harder to obtain and in fewer numbers, it would require special conditions and resources to make their equipment. So a balanced and realistic  ingame condition, could be created for an advanced AI and human mind to confront each other.
We are just doing that in Terran Shield, even now we are working at the Utility AI in our demo map, its code name is "The Executor".