Getting started, need advice on AI mods

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Author: rkagerer
Date: Apr 25, 2017 3:21 AM
Category: Spaceport
Posts: 11
#1
Hi,

I'm getting [re-]acquainted with Space Empires IV. The last time I touched it was years ago, and I'm delighted to find there's loads of user-created content, particularly to improve things like the race graphics and AI.

I've never waded into SE4 mods before and need some advice. I think the combinations of mods I'm interested in are:

1) TDM + FQM + Additional Music tracks
2) ReStock5 (which claims to be the newer TDM ReMod AI’s + FQM + refreshed race and ship graphics) + Additional Music tracks

I like the new graphics added in ReStock (except the new "glass-button" user interface icons, which were simple enough to remove), but I'm not sure about the tweaks Blackadder made to the AI. Has anyone used ReStock, and can you comment on its performance vs. ReMod and TDM?

From what I can tell, the AI files evolved as:

TDM 3.60 (early 2000's, various authors) --> TDM-ReModPack 1.1 (April 2012, by Perimal) --> ReStock Mod 5.0 (June 2014, by Blackadder)

And the post-TDM ones are all optimized for FQM-like quadrants of 10 planets per solar system (rather than the stock game's 7).

One thing in particular I noticed, when Blackadder repackaged the earlier work, he changed several entries from things that looked like this:

Max Ship Size Tonnage From Start 1 Amount := 510
Max Ship Size Tonnage From Start 1 Num Turns := 20

To this:

Max Ship Size Tonnage From Start 1 Amount := 0
Max Ship Size Tonnage From Start 1 Num Turns := 0

That kind of stuck out to me, and some web searching led me to a discussion here where the consensus seems to be that 0's are a bad thing: http://kazharii.spaceempires.net/ftopict-407.html

Ironically, Blackadder himself commented over here that it can prevent the AI from building colony ships, and that he's "seen this mistake a few times in fan-made ship sets": http://64.22.124.205/ftopic-9826-next.html

So what gives? Could someone explain this to me? Should I just stick to Perimal's work?

Thanks!

Replies

Commenter: Blackadder
Date: Apr 25, 2017 5:12 PM
Getting started, need advice on AI mods
#2
Welcome back to SE4!

I changed the numbers you mentioned to zeroes so I could test what ships the AI's were building during the first turn at higher tech levels (if I left the restrictions, they only built smaller ships). I'm afraid you misunderstood my comments in the thread you linked. I wasn't saying the zeroes were a problem, but rather the opposite. If an AI is told not to build anything over (say) 300 kt for the first 10 turns, and colony ships are 350 kt in a mod, then the AI won't build any colony ships for 10 turns. Putting a zero in both places prevents this issue from arising. I have played hundreds of turns of ReStock, plus observed the AI playing for hundreds of more turns, and the settings being all zeroes have never caused any noticeable issues. The settings for the Eee (and I think one or two other races) were already all zeroes in the TDM Mod anyway.

(Where the zeroes could cause an issue for the AI is if you played on medium or high tech. In that case, the AI might be at a disadvantage because it would be trying to build larger ships, which take a lot longer, during the early game. I only ever play with a low tech start, so I don't care about that. If you intend to play with a medium or high tech start, you may indeed want to restrict the size of ships the AI builds for the first few turns.)
Commenter: Skyburn
Date: Apr 26, 2017 3:37 PM
Getting started, need advice on AI mods
#3
The thread you linked to is quite old, so it probably isn't the latest version of SE4 they're talking about. I've also never seen any issues with mods that don't use those settings (like CBmod.)

Careful AI design management can eliminate the disadvantage for medium/high tech starts, if that
should become an issue for you. It would take some modding, but nothing too difficult.
Commenter: rkagerer
Date: Apr 26, 2017 5:59 PM
Getting started, need advice on AI mods
#4
Thanks Blackadder, I was hoping you'd be around and able to chime in here!

So is it fair to say:
1) If you start at low tech, the 0's are fine
2) If "Num Turns" is 0, the "Amount" one has no effect
3) If you start at higher technology levels, you'd want to increase "Num Turns" (e.g. say to around 10) and make the "Amount" one just over the size of a colony ship, so that the computer won't waste resources building giant ships when it should be aggressively sending out little colonizers

Out of curiosity, is there any disadvantage to #3 in low tech starts (as long as Num Turns isn't unreasonably high)? Did you leave it all 0's to make your work more compatible with mods that might jigger with colony / scout ship sizes, or just never bother changing it after your testing was done?
Edited 3 time(s). Lasted edited Apr 26, 2017 6:02 PM.
Commenter: Blackadder
Date: Apr 26, 2017 7:08 PM
Getting started, need advice on AI mods
#5
#1 and #2 are definitely correct. #3 is up to you to decide. Generally speaking, the Construction_Vehicle files of most AI's will prioritize colonizers pretty near the top, behind one or maybe two scout ships. That's why the AI's build a lot of colonizers when it seems like they would be better off building warships (this is especially clear if you run an AI-only game and observe them). This would tend to mitigate the issue of most AI's building a bunch of large warships instead of colonizing. But I suppose it could possibly happen.

ReStock is really my constantly-evolving "house game" which I periodically release in case other people might enjoy playing it. Since I'm constantly testing the AI's, and since I don't care about playing on medium or high tech, I've just never bothered to change the settings back.
Commenter: rkagerer
Date: Apr 27, 2017 3:18 PM
Getting started, need advice on AI mods
#6
Cool. Thanks for your efforts and for sharing!
Commenter: Angus_Thermopylae
Date: Feb 14, 2018 9:18 PM
Getting started, need advice on AI mods
#7
Hi - I am attempting to run ReStock5 myself but am having a few problems. Please can anyone advise?

I've recently reinstalled SE4 and have been using Matryx's Mod Picker Utility to load mods, mainly TDM Modpack 3.60 combined with FQM. However I then read that TDM's AI isn't optimised for the latest version of SE4, so I'd like to try ReMod or ideally ReStock which, I understand, has further optimised the AI in ReMod.

Unfortunately having downloaded ReStock5, there is no readme or installation instructions I can find anywhere either in the folder or online. From the two installation options I can think of I'm getting different problems. When I create a subfolder for it in the main SE4 directory and try to run it through the Mod Picker Utility, I get an error message relating to a missing .bmp (in \[SE4 directory]\ReStock5\Pictures\Game\Dialogs\StartMenu.bmp) and it refuses to run. Alternatively when I create a copy of the main SE4 game folder and extract the ReStock5 zip into there (i.e. overwriting game files as opposed to creating a subfolder), the game then runs, however I'm not given any of the quadrant options that I've seen before from FQM (as per OP I understood FQM came as part of ReStock mod?). Do I need to reinstall FQM separately on top of ReStock in order for it to work?

Also - ReStock uses MoO2 music but I'd like to just use the normal music instead. I've tried simply not installing the MoO2 music files but this just leaves silence with no music playing. Is there a way of using ReStock but making it use the normal music files?

Lastly, I haven't yet run tests with the mod outside of a few turns to check it works, however I read on a different thread that the ReStock AI is extremely aggressive - to the point of instantly declaring war on the player within first few turns of contact, as standard. Is this the case or can you maintain normal (relatively) normal relations with the AI in this mod?

Many thanks in advance for any advice here!
Commenter: oipii
Date: Feb 15, 2018 2:51 AM
Getting started, need advice on AI mods
#8
As a linux/wine user I prefer manual editing of path.txt to using the mod picker.
What I do is to extract the mod into, for example, Mods\Restock5, that edit Path.txt to say
Using Mod Directory := Mods\ReStock5

That should work given you have all the dependencies (imagemod pack, soundpack, etc.) installed.

ReStock uses a stock-like Data\QuadrantTypes.txt, so it's OK you don't see all the quadrant types from FQM. The generated systems will be different from the stock though: with more planets, numerous moons, and asteroid belts.

As for the music, the list of songs is in Data\Settings.txt. Search for 'Song', try replacing the entire block of settings with the one from the stock config. (although I'm not sure that would be enough, music never worked for me on linux anyway).
Commenter: Angus_Thermopylae
Date: Feb 15, 2018 3:42 AM
Getting started, need advice on AI mods
#9
You sir are incredibly helpful. All seems to be working ok now - I look forward to giving this a go!

Thanks for the help and info, much obliged :)
Commenter: Blackadder
Date: Feb 15, 2018 10:50 AM
Getting started, need advice on AI mods
#10
"Lastly, I haven't yet run tests with the mod outside of a few turns to check it works, however I read on a different thread that the ReStock AI is extremely aggressive - to the point of instantly declaring war on the player within first few turns of contact, as standard. Is this the case or can you maintain normal (relatively) normal relations with the AI in this mod?"

I think people may be imagining this. I didn't alter any of the Politics or Anger files in ReStock, so the AI shouldn't be any more aggressive than the TDM Mod AI it was derived from. The only improvements I made to the AI were in Design Creation and Construct Vehicles, so the AI builds what I believe to be better ships and doesn't waste time on a lot of useless ships that the AI can't use well (like cargo transports and most stellar manipulation ships).
Edited 1 time(s). Lasted edited Feb 15, 2018 10:51 AM.
Commenter: Angus_Thermopylae
Date: Feb 16, 2018 4:59 PM
Getting started, need advice on AI mods
#11
Thank you for clarifying, Blackadder.

Actually, in case anyone else thinking of starting the mod is reading this, I have definitely found the AI to be very balanced. In the one game I've started, I've had consistently peaceful relations with the Phong and treaties with one or two others. I'm at war with two empires, one that declared on me, and the other I declared war on myself. But it's definitely not overly aggressive :)

Thanks for your work on this mod - it's great to get back into SE4 again!