Improving the AI

Real time World War II combat simulation
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Quitch
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Improving the AI

Post by Quitch » Thu Oct 13, 2005 5:52 pm

While all these new features ideas are nice, it seems that the AI is the biggest area for improvement since, no matter what features the game has, your only option is to play the AI and thus the AI is the one thing that needs to be excellent or the game has no draw.

The AI is enoyable to fight, but having played the Russian campaign I'm starting to suss it out and can turn back a Major Attack with an Excellent rating.

1. The AI lets its tanks get away from the main force too often. It seems to pause them during advance, I presume to let the infantry catch up, but they always arrive before the infantry and tend to be dealt with before the infantry arrive. This may be in part due to the behaviour that's making them charge off the screen, but the AI should be moving them away from, or keeping them out of sight of, anti-tank guns until the infantry have moved up and dealt with them.

2. The AI always attacks down the centre. On a widesh front, but still down the centre. You can always guess pretty much where to place your guys since you know what the AI is going to do. I'm guessing that when you're allocated a default setup you're getting a glimpse at the way in which the AI force would be distributed in the same situation. I think the AI needs something slightly more advanced, like understanding which side of the map offers better cover on route to the objective, etc.

3. The AI is always and I mean always beaten by flamethrowers on the objective. It fails to learn they are there and sends tank after tank, man after man to go die at their hands. So long as the objective is a wood this can go on until the end of time. I've seen the AI move troops redirect its troops once other troops start taking fire, but it needs to taking into account the kind of fire they're taking and it looks like it uses its whole force each time.

4. Infantry facing an on-coming tank need to get out the way! Hidden infantry can be run over, but don't make a sound, the tank doesn't know it got the kill and the infantry man makes no attempt to avoid!

5. Enemy artillery, once a target is chosen, falls in the same place until all three full barrages have been fired. It fails to account for troops movements. Now, if the AI knows its men are supressed and engaged in trading fire with an enemy force, THAT is the time to bring in the artillery.

6. The AI is too easily pinned. You can draw huge numbers of men into an area with a couple of squads. When an AT shot lands men for miles around duck down, so even if you're outnumbered it won't matter, you'll be surpressing them as much as they you. While there you can hit them with artillery and do horrendous damage. I've routed forces twice my size doing this. The AI needs to stop bunching so much and learn how to flank.

Hopefully pathfinding will allow you to resolve some of these issues since with pathfinding comes intelligences and an understanding of the map. The AI could do with a little more work. Once we've got networked play and a central server to host on, I'll be less concerned ;)

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Sean OConnor
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Post by Sean OConnor » Fri Oct 14, 2005 9:26 am

I think I've addressed a lot of these points in the latest version that's been uploaded (3.99i):

- There was a bug that got introduced after I let you alter the ratio of infantry to tanks. I found on a tank only defence it took ages for the enemy tanks to get to you so I made them advance faster. I forgot that the reason that they advanced that slowly was so as not to outrun the infantry. It's fixed now so they'll move more quickly if it's tank only, but slower if there are supporting infantry.

- I've fixed the bug where enemy attacking tanks could move off the screen. This would happen if they didn't find a good target and without the supporting infantry (which they used to leave behind - see above) they would just keep advancing. Now they will head towards the objective rather than go right past it.

- The attacking AI is much better now in that instead of just spreading the troops out evenyly he now chooses a central point of attack for the main advance, but puts out some diversionary attacks too. I think this will make defences a lot more interesting as you'll have to try and figure out where the main attack is so keeping a unit in reserve may be a good idea now.

Maybe flamethrowers are too powerful and should have less fuel? I don't tend to use them when I'm testing the game so I've not actually had any experience of using them!

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Sean OConnor
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Re: Improving the AI

Post by Sean OConnor » Fri Oct 14, 2005 11:34 am

Quitch wrote:4. Infantry facing an on-coming tank need to get out the way! Hidden infantry can be run over, but don't make a sound, the tank doesn't know it got the kill and the infantry man makes no attempt to avoid!


I've made it so that infantry will run away now if it looks like they're in danger of being squashed. I used to use the tactic of driving up and down an enemy position to kill off a few of them and hopefully this won't work now, but it will flush them out.

Quitch
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Post by Quitch » Sat Oct 15, 2005 12:18 am

You definately need to test the flamethrower. I can't see how the AI will ever kill a team in the woods. Anything that they see dies in a second, they never miss, and because they kill instantly they go straight back to hiding.

You'd need to swarm them to stand any chance, and I don't even know how well that'd work.

1. Flamethrowes should be easier to kill. Those tanks were easy to burst.

2. Their morale should be low. Troops hated flamethrowers as using them meant you could well suffer a horrible death if the tank was hit.

3. Maybe they should be easier for infantry to spot? I can't imagine that tank on the back being easy to hide.

Anyway, weren't flamethrowers an offensive, not defensive weapon? You don't see that in FF.

I fear that tanks are already too powerful, and now hidden infantry get up and move when they come close. They should move, but tanks navigate too safely and too easily through the sort of areas infantry hide in (e.g. woodland). But that's another topic...

Really looking forward to seeing how the new attacking AI works. I'll mail you for the link now :)

Quitch
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Post by Quitch » Sat Oct 15, 2005 5:45 pm

Tried 3.99i... much, MUCH better.

I setup in the usual way and lost. AI almost lost it at the end when it allow my flamethrower team (who ran away after being charged by an infantry squad) took out four tanks around the objective.

Still, the AI swept in past the left side of a central hill with a tank and infantry squad. The other tanks move more centrally and blew threw the centre and destroy my AT guns because the crew had been pinned by first infantry, then tank fire. Finally I was having trouble moving my infantry as the AI had more infantry attacking the central hill.

We'll see how it does in a few more games, but thus far, very good :)

Still, my HMG team must be blind. Men swarmed up their hill under their noses and they didn't notice until they were point blank ;)

henjed69

Post by henjed69 » Tue Oct 18, 2005 10:11 am

I wonder if anynoe has had happen to them what has now happened to me twice in about 200 games, viz. that the AI establishes the point to capture in a ridiculously easy position. One one occasion I had the enemy flag set up in the bottom left-hand corner, to which I marched, taking no casualties for a superb result. And I have just had the flag placed about one screen-centimetre away from the edge of my deployment zone, with an identical result.

It rather makes me chuckle and seriously boosts my rating (and gives the poor squaddies an easy bash for once!) but I imagine that it could be classed as a fault. ;-)

Are you aware of this glitch, Sean?

Mike H

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Sean OConnor
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Post by Sean OConnor » Tue Oct 18, 2005 11:21 am

No, is it happening with the current version? If so, save the game and email me the .gam file and I'll take a look.

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Post by Guest » Tue Oct 18, 2005 12:12 pm

No, Sean, it isn't - sorry. I should have pointed that put. I still can't use the new version as my computer thinks it hasn't enough space to use th right graphics.

Just had another odd game (old version, 3.0): got all my troops to within 1 screen centimetre of the flag (in a village), all the way through woods up the centre of the map without any casualties or indeed any enemy firing - and that despite me mortaring and shelling where I thought enemy troops/guns/tanks would be holed up. I took the objective before a single enemy shot was fired - an enemy tank suddenly appeared right at the top of the map on a hill, which I immediately hit. Altogether I suffered two wounded men, killed eight of his (all invisible) and the other 31 (where were they?) escaped. Weird. Saw NO enemy troops (excepting tank) and there was barely an enemy shot throughout (only *right* at the end). Positively spooky

Mike

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Sean OConnor
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Post by Sean OConnor » Tue Oct 18, 2005 1:16 pm

I've fixed dozens of bugs that were in version 3.0 so I'm not entirely surprised!

Guest

Post by Guest » Tue Oct 18, 2005 3:17 pm

A weird part of me thought it quite realistic, bug or not! - like being ordered to sieze a village from the enemy only to find it had just been abandoned: the suspense was more deadly than the enemy as I sneaked up ever so slowly, two recce squads ahead, through the shadowy forest, closer.. ever closer....

Mike

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