Player Bonus Settings Revamp


  • Moderators

    Ok. This post should capture most of my considerations on this matter, based on what discussed so far. It is a pretty intense post; so probably better you go make some tea first. Hopefully it is worth the time.
    I know you are not comfortable with me making big posts, but I think this post simply covers so many matters, that it gets long.
    Besides the preamble on the old options and related legacy matters, I've divided this post into different distinct parts, starting with (.); so you (and anyone) can read each of those like they would have been single distinct posts.

    So, I've tested TripleA 1.9.0.0.4379 and I see that what you are going to do is:

    • Remove all current AI bonuses.

    • Have only a percent bonus, restyled as a per player bonus, under the current format:

    "Russians Bonus Income Percentage", where "Russians" is the "player" name.

    So, first of all, I want to say that I'm under the impression that, under the current system and in the recent past, the "flat" is not clearly less popular than the "percent", amongst AI players, and I believe a significant share of them (that might even be the majority) prefer to use the flat over the percent.
    With this said, I, for one, am not a fan of the flat, and I'm fine with having this concept of AI bonus removed.
    The main difference I can see is that the flat causes longer dragged on games, thus you can have a flat bonus at a great enough level for the game to be highly challenging, while being much less dramatically decided very early on then a competitive percent, as with a challenging percent either you crush the AI fast (reducing its production rapidly) or the reverse is likely to happen soon.
    In particular, I guess the flat should reduce the impact of early luck in the game.
    I'm mainly saying that, if you remove the flat, you should expect someone to get upset about it (I may be wrong), because he finds the "flat" a more enjoyable AI bonus. But all good for me, except that I rarely play AI, so I'm not a good reference. If anyone here likes the flat, better he speaks out for himself.

    As I said, I doubt anyone will miss the att / def bonuses, instead.

    I see that you plan to "eventually remove the 4 old AI properties from game XMLs", and this would be fine for all those games for which such settings are nothing more than a marginal touch.
    But I don't think that this applies to any maps having them in the xml, as, in some of those, the mapmaker might have set them for some significant reasons, and may not be around (unlike @Frostion) to readily rework them. In particular, how do you plan to deal with those meant to be AI challenges? I guess this item has a minor importance, at this point, since most maps having the AI bonuses set in the xml were made and balanced for the old removed Moore AI; still, this may kill a few maps for which the AI bonus settings are critical, until anyone will rework them, of course (but we all know that the chance of this happening is very low). I don't really know what those maps are, since I very rarely play AI, and I don't think I've ever played any maps specifically built as AI challenge (I'm not saying I'm not interested in them; I actually wanted to try some, but never did, so far).
    While I agree on the general principle of removing pointless properties from any xml, especially editable ones, as it is definitely bad to offer users pointless and ineffective options, this, on the other hand, would make harder to rework those maps, if anyone will want, in the future, because you won't get anymore to see what bonuses those games used to have, thus wondering if they had any, if you remove them (of course, this besides referring to older releases of these same games, but such releases are liable to become less and less worthwhile overtime (think about having now to go back to a release before 1.9)).
    I'm just wondering if you are thinking just in terms of the majority of maps for PvP, that get played with AI too, while having no AI bonuses set default, but overlooking the minority of PvAI maps, and maybe a few hybrid cases (some @Frostion maps come to mind, like the Primeval version of Age of Tribes, that are not an issue, because he is around to fix them, but this does not apply to all maps in the repository), that have the AI bonuses spelled out. For example, also some of the PvP maps have some default AI bonuses, meant so to kick in just in case someone puts the AI on, without thinking about giving the bonuses, or as a mapmaker's suggestion about how to play an enjoyable game with AI.
    Here I'm talking mostly in theory, as I don't really know these kind of maps (I rarely play with AI), but I'm sure there are at least a few of them in the repository. Also, sometimes maps come bundled with AI challenge mods of the main version, or have anyways versions for PvP and versions for PvAI, that might rely on old bonuses, to some extent.
    Whatever the case, in the moment in which you remove all old AI properties from the xml, you lose the values they were set at, which I tend to agree is a trivial (virtually unimportant) matter in the majority of cases, but likely not all of them.
    It doesn't concern me personally, as I've no maps in the repository, nor I'm interested in taking ownerships of or making changes to or anyway work on or even just play any maps having relevant AI bonuses.
    I also tend to think that maps should not stop improvements at the engine level (nor anyone who improves the engine should be supposed to rework all maps having any problems because of this!), but rather getting flagged as broken, waiting for anyone to take them over and rework them.
    So, no problem for me, as I think these improvement justify breaking some maps, that are always free for anyone to rework and retune, with the new better system.
    The main thing I'm warning is that this is going to be a very slow process (or not done at all), thus this will probably end up with having some maps more or less broken in the repository, for the time being.

    So, I think we can divide maps having AI bonuses set at default different from 0 in the xml into 2 main categories:

    1. PvP regular maps that have also a default "suggested" AI bonus, likely but not necessarily tailored for noobs;
    2. AI challenge maps that (among probably other things, like a purposely unbalanced setups) use AI bonuses as a main element of the game, plus any other kind of maps that make a not marginal or optional use of AI bonuses (for example, Age of Tribes : Primeval).

    For the category number 1, let's take as example "Pact of Steel 2", no less. For what follows, I will take Pact of Steel 2 as the example of a full PvP map that happens to have some AI bonuses arbitrarily set for it, just in case someone wants to play it with AI, while surely not being meant to be played with AI.
    You can see that you have "AI Bonus Income Percentage" = 20.
    This is clearly a level set for noobs, that might not think of setting it themselves, before giving the map a run with AI, so to give some decent challenge for the casual player, I'm guessing (just trying to enter the mapmaker's mind, here).
    I would personally not have it, and I disagree with this decision of having AI bonus set in normally full PvP maps, for some reasons, I'm not going to explain, to keep the post from being even more long (all minor considerations).

    For the category number 2, I don't think any examples are needed (but there are a few). Also, I believe all AI challenges TripleA has were made for optimum gameplay with Moore AI, that it is not anymore available, and I don't think many, or even any, of them has been remade for the latest AI (I'm not sure, here), which is anyway continuously under development; so it would not really be feasible to rebalance them, at least not closely.
    This might reduce the importance of the matter, since one might argue that all AI challenge games were already broken when Moore AI was removed (I don't really know, since I've never played any AI challenges).
    I would defer to the players and the makers of the AI challenge games, as well as other games meant to be played with AI, any judgments on how all this would impact on them, as I know little of what I'm talking about, here.
    Of course, there may be AI challenge games that do not rely on any AI bonuses, but just on their own setup / triggers / etc. and, in such cases, they are not part of the second category and the matter would be off topic (I don't really know, but I guess all those are already broken for the latest engine, if they were made for Moore AI and meant to be really challenging).

    What are the conclusions?
    For the category number 1 (Pact of Steel 2 having a percent of 20, Napoleonic Empires having a flat of 8, etc.) my personal opinion is in support of automatically mass-deleting such options from all maps for good, substituting them with nothing (in the xml), which is what you intend to do (and I would have suggested this anyway!).
    For the category number 2, I'm surely not sure, but I guess leaving them as they are, even doing nothing, might be better (very confusing for the users either ways!), so to give a referring parameter, about how the map worked in the past (before being broken), in case anyone wants to rework them, especially in case either these deletions or the deletion of Moore AI will or did much damage them. However, this is hard to say, because leaving ineffective bonuses is liable to cause an endless series of bug reports, in the future, from people that will ask again and again why such options appear doing nothing, and it is going to just waste people time to figure out that they are indeed ineffective. Most likely, keeping the disabled properties in them, for future reference, would be a sensible move only if these maps are removed from download list too (I'm not suggesting this, since removing a map from download list is really a big step).
    Admittedly, I don't really know about what to do for category number 2; so my suggestion is really just limited to 1.
    Another option (I'm not encouraging nor discouraging), especially for finding a compromise for the second category, you might want to take into consideration, is not removing any AI Bonuses, but just deprecating and keeping supporting them only for maps having them set in the xml (removing only the current feature of having them automatically showing if not set). In this case, I would say it would be sensible to proceed removing all AI bonuses from category number 1, anyhow, especially to keep the options cleaner, and nothing from category number 2, of course. This would depend mostly on what is the consideration and the importance you assign towards all those maps having AI bonuses specifically set (at a value different from 0), and how much those options are important for the same games. Myself, I just don't know, since I know very little about those few maps and their popularity.

    Of course, a main item to start with is how to discriminate maps between category number 1 and 2 (if you decide to threat them differently in any ways). The only sensible way I can see to do such a thing (if possible) is making a mass search of all maps having bonuses set in the xml, at any default different from 0, and posting the list here, telling that all these maps are going to have those properties deleted; then waiting for people to contribute their opinion in sorting them out. But I don't actually know how well this would work.

    Of course, I'm not requesting or saying you have to do any of the above, nor I'm really personally concerned about any particular maps, as these are just general thoughts, and if you want just to go ahead mass deleting all options from both the engine and the maps, that is fine for me.

    As a clarification, my category number 1 does not comprise maps having AI bonuses at 0 default only, set in the game xml; the main reason being the customisation of the "max" and "min" assigned to the option. Of course, no problems removing all AI bonus properties from these.

    Now, let's go back on what it is proposed to be added, rather than on what it is proposed to be removed (I've already lingered far too long!), and the related legacy issues for maps' games.

    .Starting Resources Multiplication

    First of all, an important matter and a whole point I just missed (damn), when putting forward my suggestions, which may well be considered a regression we all overlooked!
    In the moment in which I suggested and we agreed to move the bonus from multiplying the PUs stock before purchase to multiplying the PUs flux (the main reason here being not multiplying saved income), we are not anymore multiplying starting income! This is a functionality lost in the old one, where the income everyone had at start game would have been multiplied accordingly, right before the first purchase for that player.
    I think this is quite an important matter, especially with reference to the traditional games, where the starting PUs are equal to the starting productions, thus it is nonsensical that players would get more units to buy on round 2 onwards, for the same total production, while not having any bonus on their purchases on round 1. This would have a continuity-breaking feeling as, in the normal games, the PUs the players start with is supposed to be the PUs they would have collected in the round before round 1 (most games don't start at the start of the referring war, but sometimes in the course of it, usually 1942).
    So, I think you should add this point as one of the ones at the starting post of the Topic (a point I would have surely added myself, amongst the ones you pasted, had I not just overlooked it totally!):

    - Having it multiplying all starting resources, assigned to the respective players (in resource initialize) (particularly important when we multiply placement abilities too).

    This is particularly important relatively to the other point about the multiplication of placement capabilities, otherwise, in standard games, the placement multiplication would be not justifiable for the first turn of the benefitted players. Probably not much of a big deal, practically, but it would be a nonsensical element, in the system, making it unrefined.
    Moreover, if all starting PUs are multiplied, I think this would be generally more sound for the general impact of the AI bonuses, and lowering the perceived need of assigning both the percent bonus and a bid, too, as the starting PUs multiplication would partially cover the popular balancing-through-bid concept, making the AI bonus alone more self-sufficient, at least as a matter of the feel of it.
    Of course, this should apply to other resources, than PUs, just as much as the regular multiplication would.
    I think this is practically a regression from the old system, that has to be corrected by assuring the multiplication of all PUs (and any resources) assigned at start game (in the resource initialize).
    I actually now think that the main, or maybe only reason, why the old AI bonuses worked that strange way of multiplying what you have before purchase (instead of what you collect) was exactly to assure multiplying the starting income too! I'm not even sure if moving the multiplication from stock to flux (which I suggested) can be considered a net improvement, if we lose this dynamic.
    A warning, just in case, is to avoid multiplying the PUs earned when not using some of the assigned bid (the bid getting saved should not be multiplied; only the resources in resources initialize).

    .Per Player Bonuses

    Personally (as it can be inferred by the fact that it was not part of my initial main suggestions), I hardly feel the need of being able of assign bonuses per player, and I would even question if that is worth the trouble of having to set multiple each time, in case you want all AI players having the same bonus. It may be considerably annoying when you play a new map, because you have to recall all the unfamiliar player names that are in the alliance supposed to be played by the AI.
    To feel it, do this:
    Select "Domination 1901" with AI, taking the "-Br.Sp.It.O.D" alliance, with the other 2 alliances to the AI.
    Then, click on Map Options and assign a 25% bonus to all but the ones you intend to play yourself.
    While I can see the point of having a per player flat bonus, I don't really see any major reasons for having per player percentage bonus; as long as there are no issues, inducing me to do otherwise, I think I would always want to just give all AI the same bonus percentage. I can't imagine any reasons, with the AI bonuses not causing issues, in which I would want to give +20% to some players and +30% to some others, instead of +25% to all.
    Even in case the game is a traditional two sides one, and I'm taking only some of a side, thus playing with some AI allies against all AI enemies, I think it would still make the most sense to give the same percent bonus to all, comprising the AI players fighting on my side (as per how the current bonus work), as that bonus is meant to be a balanced representation of how the AI is inefficient in strategising, thus it should be applied to AI friend and foe alike.
    But, while the arguments against having a per player AI bonus are rather minor, and maybe the biggest one is that, in the moment in which you have to multiply all, this would pretty much forcefully restrict the AI bonus to be of only one kind or, at the very most, two kinds (but probably two is already too much), I'm not seeing here in this topic any real strong argument / example / user case about why the AI bonus are good to be made per player specific.
    Does anyone have any clear example in which you would feel the need of setting the AI bonus individually and differently, instead of giving +25% or whatever to just all AI players?
    I'm mostly curiously waiting for someone (that it is more into AI gameplay than I am) to give me an example; not being negative on the matter for the hell of it, just a bit curious, since everyone agreed without much discussions, so I feel like everyone is seeing something obvious I'm missing.
    But, sure, I guess setting bonus per player may have a bunch of good uses, and having to set the bonus per player should be bearable enough, even if you want just the same for all AI.

    @Black_Elk said in AI Bonus Settings Revamp:

    Sounds good. I'd say by far the most important would be the ability to assign the bonus on a per nation basis.

    I'm not opposing your views but, mostly out of mere curiosity, can you explain why this is "by far the most important"? I'm not really making an argument against it; I'm just mostly curious about what exactly cases I'm overlooking, maybe other people might be wondering too.

    But, at this point, we have to realise we have gone off-topic!
    We are not talking anymore about AI bonuses at all!
    Now these bonuses are all not-AI options, albeit made with AI gameplay in mind (just like you can give some bid to the AI; this does not make the bid itself an "AI bonus"!).
    Just like with the bid, now these options can be used for whatever, related or not related with AI, just like other not-AI options.
    For example, a mapmaker may decide that Player1 is a more productive civilization than Player2, thus able to get more income out of the same land...
    Of course, I'm being just formal here, and I surely realise that these bonuses will be almost always used only for AI players, but they are not anymore "AI Bonus" themselves; just options that you may or may not use for any AI related reasons (like other ones).

    .Similar Income Multiplication Property

    About this, I want to put briefly out a warning, here, about the co-existence of this option (as per "pact_of_steel_2.xml"):

    	<!-- Multiply PUs will multiply all PUs gained or lost during a turn. It will not yet multiply costs of units or any other costs, or starting PUs -->
    	<property name="Multiply PUs" value="1" editable="false">
    		<number min="1" max="10"/>
    	</property>
    

    What you are creating are, for now, a per-player, percent and positive-only version of the above option.
    This is just a side note, and my suggestion is to leave this "Multiply PUs" option just as it is (keeping it, of course), without any changes.
    I've tested it, and your new option changes the income based on the flux after it has been multiplied by the above option, already, as it should be (for example, if "Russians Bonus Income Percentage"=50 and "Multiply PUs"=2, Russians will get 3 times the money, which surely seems the most correct behaviour, to me).
    So, all good here, it seems that your option works fine with the existent "Multiply PUs", which is a rarely used, but good to have, property.
    "Multiply PUs" is a handy well rounded option, that I've rarely tested, but I recall that it worked totally fine.
    I'm thinking to use it for a map with maintainment costs, since when you have maintainment costs, you need much more income per placement, to have some reasonable placement limits (thus I've in mind to use it at "6", so that a production 1 territories gives placement 1 but 6 PUs). The alternative would be setting different unit placement and income production for each single territory.
    This was just a notice about the existence of this similar option, and a confirmation that it appears working just fine with your new ones. So, all good, here.
    Eventually, your options will become more and more dissimilar from this one, the more you add features (in particular multiplying other resources), while this option should stay as it is.

    .Placement Multiplication

    Let's retake the matter of the placement abilities multiplication. Not actually sure if you got convinced about that, and will go on implementing it (I surely still suggest it), but, to answer some considerations on the matter:

    @Black_Elk said in AI Bonus Settings Revamp:

    I'm not entirely sure I understand the increased placement thing. Do you mean increasing the production capacity of territories under the AI's control? Like a territory that would normally build 10 units could then produce 15 units if the AI setting was +50%?

    Yep.
    And, as you can see, this needs to be coupled up with multiplying the starting PUs too (a needed improvement regardless), otherwise, on round 1, all those players will have more placement capabilities for no reasons at all (you can place 15, instead of 10, but what you can spend on round 1 is the same!).

    @Black_Elk said in AI Bonus Settings Revamp:

    I can imagine production increases being problematic for the hitpoint spam, since the AI already does a pretty good job of piling up infantry haha, so I'd prefer the ability to separate those two options and control for them if possible.

    In my mind, this is rather a good argument in favour of having the placement increase default or maybe even forcefully bundled.
    However, I'm always a fan of customisation, so I'm totally with you that I would like this being optional, as well.
    Since it should be much less distortive for the AI purchase decisions if income and placement increase of the same amount, I think this will cut down, in a way or another, the problem of having an AI fine tuned for no-cheats working with them.
    If the increase income without increase placement would make the AI purchases qualitatively worse, this is obviously a good reason for counterbalancing it by increasing placement.
    If the increase income without increase placement would make the AI purchases qualitatively better (like in the case that the AI is buying too much fodder, without cheats), this would be showing that the AI has problems in making normal purchases (as, of course, it is supposed to be fine tuned for no cheats situations), and might be even more of a reason for not trying to reduce cheat-driven placement limits distortions, as the AI purchase itself should rather be fine tuned with respect to no cheats, than having the cheats changing it for the better, as, if they do so, this means that there must be some problems with the purchase decisions (if you are thinking to v5, I don't really know how much going from 5 to 6 in cost should reduce the armour purchases, but in v5 the matter is surely made worse off, for the armour, by the fact that the artillery is still cost 4; I've no experience, but it looks like that should quite dramatically reduce your armour purchases, from v3 or v4).
    As long as the AI is meant for no cheats (and aims at minimising the need of them), the less the distortions (for the better or worse) the cheats cause, the more such games are worthwhile references for analysing the AI itself.
    Ideally, it should never happen that the bonus income modifiers qualitatively change the AI purchases for the better (well, assuming the AI is meant to be fine-tuned for no cheats).
    If you think that, currently, the AI buys way too much fodder (thus making the games less challenging / interesting), then you should hope / suggest the AI being changed as to buy more of other units, not needing having it due to cheat-driven placement limits, I think. Of course, this is just in my mind, but I guess this is it.

    I'm not sure if anyone here already know this, but "the ability to separate those two options and control for them" is maybe proved possible by the fact that this is exactly what Dynamix did (maybe), as you can see back in 1.6.1.4:

    0_1496283463380_Dynamix_Multiplier.png

    I said maybe, since I never actually playtested if it even worked.
    Just to avoid misunderstandings, I'm not pushing for something similar to this. In particular, I disagree with having the bonuses as something modifiable in the in-game menu, during the course of the game, and I think we all agree with this (especially since an AI player may happen to play right away, after starting a new game).
    I'm just showing this here as a curiosity and in case it might be of help for you; not sure if you already know that Dynamix had this option. If you don't, now you do.
    Myself, I suggest the placement multiplication being handled with a general true / false (boolean) property, applying to all players having the income multiplication (not only for a specific player), for having it when true, and being off as default (not because I believe it should not normally be used (all the contrary, actually, as I've made clear), but because it makes sense it is not bundled as default, unless the name of the income bonuses get changed to directly clarify that they are both income and placement bonuses, which, coupled with the fact that we have the player name too, would probably make them a tad too long), appearing in the options of all games (even when not in the xml), right after the related bonuses, that, when ticked, makes you multiply the placement abilities of the same amount as the bonus income percentage, as correctly understood by @Black_Elk.
    I think that if you choose to have the income multiplication on a per player basis, then probably this excludes having the ability to set it for each player, as this would arguably make for too many options.
    To sum it up, my suggestion is either a boolean applying to all percent bonuses (when selected) or having it automatically and surely; but, in this second case, the bonuses should be renamed as "Income-Placement", instead of just "Income".

    .Other Resources Multiplication

    My opinion on resources is not totally defined.
    Surely, I believe the first step would be to expand the options as to multiply any resources, just like the PUs.
    I think this should be good enough, for any regularly intended uses of resources, or almost so, as I don't believe there should be any important exceptions.
    Still, resources are so extensive, beyond being just a parcelization of income, that I would surely encourage making a way for mapmakers to decide what resources are meant to be duplicated like PUs and what others should not be duplicated, as existing for roles diverse from income.
    Age of Tribes is a borderline case, as you might argue that using units as tech "flags" for triggers is basically a (good) hack, which is justified mainly by how limited the true tech is.
    In my opinion, unless Frostion really wants to keep the dynamic that buying a tech takes up a placement spot (I don't really see the reason for that), this should be ideally solved by making the actual tech phase able to handle a tech system like Age of Tribes, which seems a totally reasonable one, and I guess a few tweaks away from what is currently possible.
    However, there may be other cases, I am sure, in which you would want some resources to be multiplied and some others not; so, if you want to give a way for mapmakers to exclude specific resources from being multiplied, that would be fairly good.
    Since (as said) these bonuses are not AI bonuses, an option for setting what resources can be multiplied by these new properties should surely stay all inside the xml itself, and not be assumed or defined as anything AI related at all, as any mapmaker could use them for reasons having nothing to do with AI (non in any specific "map AI configuration", that I surely believe, instead, should not be part of any games' xml).
    Anyhow, I believe there should be at least one exception to normally multiplying all resources: never multiply tech tokens or anything that works for anything else but the purchase phase (currently, "techTokens" is the only resource of this kind in existence that is fully supported, but "VPs" should not be multiplied, either). So, as of now, just remember to exclude "techTokens" and "VPs", upon expanding these option to all resources (even tho techTokens are usually bought, you might want a map with player starting also with some techTokens, instead of only PUs, to represent development started in previous rounds (before round 1); in this case, I think the PUs should be multiplied, but not the techTokens).


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    .Other Sources Multiplication

    I've seen that the PUs flux generated by the units themselves is added up too, like normal income, and, then, the total income flux is multiplied, which here is definitely the way to go, since you may have units producing only 1 or -1 PUs each. So, all good, here.

    <option name="createsResourcesList" value="3:PUs"/>
    <option name="createsResourcesList" value="2:techTokens"/>
    

    Also notice that in cases like:

    <option name="createsResourcesList" value="-3:PUs"/>
    

    this is the normal way of implementing maintainment costs.

    Of course, all income given via national objectives should be surely multiplied, after having been summed up with any other income flux, at End Turn:

    <option name="objectiveValue" value="4"/>
    

    I tested the engine behaviour is already optimal, in this regard, multiplying (if I see it correctly) all the income flux at end turn, no matter if it comes from normal collection or from national objectives, and I think this is the best (normal collection and national objectives income being treated the same, and all summed up like it is just all normal collection, before multiplying). So, all good, here.

    A similar way to give income, instead of objectives, is with triggers.
    Actually, objectives are substantially redundant, as I could do all with triggers and conditions, instead of objectives.
    As a matter of actual gameplay, if I have a national objective giving some PUs or I have a trigger firing under the same conditions, after the same end turn, the result is the same. Thus, I could substitute all national objectives in all games with analogue triggers firing after end turn, and nothing would change, except only that in the EndTurn Reports they are identified as triggers (but the information given is substantially the same).
    I've tested and can confirm that triggers giving "resource" and having no "when" specified, thus firing at End Turn, appear to be handled just like the objectives. So, all good, here, hopefully.
    More in general, I believe also whatever resources given specifically by triggers should be multiplied too, but I'm unsure, on this point. One might argue that, with triggers, I can give 3 more infantry or 10 more PUs; since the triggered infantries are not multiplied, one may argue it would make sense for the PUs not to be, as well.
    However, as I said, my opinion is that trigger given resources should be subjected to multiplication too (and it seems they already are).
    While triggers giving resources firing before or after End Turn should probably be summed up with whatever other income (normal production, objectives and units resource creation), and the total net flux getting multiplied (it seems it currently already works this way, but I've not fully tested, especially not tested triggers firing before End Turn, instead of after it, as default), triggers giving resources firing not during an End Turn phase I believe should be summed up between all those firing at the exact same moment (in this case, "after" and "before" a same phase would be not the same moment), and the total flux at that point be multiplied (I've not tested if it already works this way).

    <option name="resource" value="PUs"/>
    <option name="resourceCount" value="4"/>
    

    .True Multiplication

    I want now to make a marginal case in favour of this new property being configured as a full multiplier, instead of as a bonus; meaning also working on the negative.
    A very marginal example can be seen if, for example, you have production 6 and a national objective of -10 (for example, in Napoleonic Empires, Spain reduced to the capital only), making your net collection equal to -4; I think that if you have a bonus at 25%, then you should get -5, instead of only -4 (currently, when the net flux is negative, the bonus is just ineffective, instead).
    In this case, these bonuses would be not bonuses anymore, but multipliers, thus the name would need to be changed to:

    "Spain Income Multiplier Percentage"

    I actually would make it shorter as:

    "Spain Income Multiplier %"

    Also, surely in this case, yet anyhow, I would set the default value to 100, where 100 means that we are multiplying by 100%, thus no change (this way, the values would go from 0 to infinite, instead of from -100 to infinite, that seems more logical, in my mind).
    Actually, I would prefer the default being 1 (as the "Multiply PUs"), but only as long as you can add decimals (like "1.25").

    .Report Rewording

    I think the wording of the bonus income may be improved; it is like:

    Giving player bonus income (25%) of 6 PUs; end with 29 PUs

    I see there are the parenthesis, and the wording itself is correct, but the position makes me instinctively think that we are saying "25% of 6 PUs".
    Maybe better if it reads:

    Giving player 25% bonus income of 6 PUs; end with 29 PUs

    Also, if this would be a multiplier, on the negative (if in a turn we collect a net negative amount of PUs) we could have, either:

    Giving player 25% bonus income of -4 PUs

    or

    Giving player 25% malus income of 4 PUs

    .Options Listing

    I see that, as now, the listing is in alphabetical order; I really disagree with that, as it is not really helpful for anything.
    I guess the simplest and most obvious way is just having it listed by the turn player order, which is how you normally list players, and this should be useful to quickly assign what you want in maps you know very well.

    My preference would be listing by the turn order, but grouping up the alliances, prioritising depending on the player starting fist among the ones of a same alliance.

    So, for example, in v3 it would be:
    Germans
    Japanese
    Italians
    Russians
    British
    Americans
    Chinese

    Or in v2 it would be:
    Russians
    British
    Americans
    Germans
    Japanese

    This would be user friendly the most, in most cases, in my mind, as you just assign the bonus you want to (I'm guessing over 90% times the same for all players of a same side), having to look only at the first and the last one, filling everything else in between too.
    Of course, any mapmakers is able to set the bonus in the xml, to configure the listing as he finds functional the most, but this will be true only for a very small fraction of played games.

    .Other Considerations

    As a final warning, there will be all of a series of specific cases, like the malus income from blockades or the different kind of bombing rules, etc., that may or may not have to be taken into account, as sources of serious distortions.

    For example, I would argue that if a player gets a percent bonus income, and especially (but not only) if this effects its placement limits of the same amount, then the max cap for bombing raiding under v3 rules should be increased of the same amount (the cap for bombing in v3 is default equal to 2 times the production value of the bombed territory).
    Since bombing is already a borderline strategy, usually balanced so to be hardly worthwhile to pursue, you can see that if in v3 we just multiply income and placement, nobody will, then, decide to bomb a player that gets a considerable percent boost, just because of how scarcely effective would that be (you would need to outsmart the AI rather than engaging in an economic bombing war you virtually can't win, due to the economic bonuses), and this would be distortive, especially depending on how much bombing is a factor in that particular map (there are a lot of maps in which you can totally play by never bombing at all, but this should not be assumed).
    Since I don't think there is any maps in which bombing is the necessary way to go, I imagine that here the matter would be limited to a loss of gameplay variety, rather than being highly game-changing.
    More problematic may be rather the reverse: if I give +25% bonus to the AI, then a smart AI might be expected to mostly spam bombers, as the best way to win.

    As another example, I would surely argue that the cost of buying tech (via "techTokens" or directly) should be multiplied of the same amount as the bonus income.
    For example, if you have bonus income 100%, then you earn two times the money and, if buying tech costs the same, then you would end up, at least for most of the techs, to have a much better relative value for investing in tech; thus, if you double the income, while the cost of tech is the same, you should more than double the amount of money you spend in tech, and this is distortive.
    Thus, I think that if the income gets a 50% bonus, also the cost of the tech should increase by 50% (like from 5 to 8 or 7).
    In the case of tech giving an income boost, this is obvious, as that boost should (and already is) be multiplied as well.
    For example, if you have a 50% income bonus, all your income should be multiplied, after adding a +1d6 bonus income from tech (thus multiplying it too), if you have it (as it actually already works). In this case, it is obvious that the cost of the tech should be increased by 50%, or the balancing between tech costs and benefits would be broken. You can see that if you have a bonus income of 100%, and (as it already works) you get twice a 1d6 bonus for warbonds, it would make the only sense that the tech cost of researching warbonds is doubled too.

    However, I tend to think we (and here I mean you or any developers) can add up all the specific cases, as progressive refinements, after the system is all there for the basics; likely each one of them will have to be singularly argued upon.

    Also, this whole matter reminds me that you may want to make this change (both in the starting menu and in the in-game "Game" menu):

    Map Options->Rules Options
    (or "Gameplay Options")

    Since normally a "map" is the whole folder, and can have more than 1 xml in it (and the options are specified in the xml, not in any properties inside the map's folder).

    You can imagine this post took some time to be formulated, so I hope it will be justifiably helpful (actually, split into 2 posts, because it was too long for the forum).



  • Real quick, just to explain why I said I thought that having the bonus assigned by player nation would be cool. I was thinking about this mainly from a PvP perspective, because I think it's a novel and relatively simple way to balance these types of games by sides. Of course it also has applications for the AI, but it doesn't have to be exclusive to the AI.

    So just as an example in a game like v5 or v6, (both of which are heavily slanted towards Axis), the Russian or American player might be awarded a smaller recurring income bonus rather than a large pre-placement bid, as a way to correct the perceived imbalances baked into those games.

    Or similarly if a player is inexperienced with a particular map, it is likely much more forgiving on the newb to receive a moderate recurring income bonus that kicks in every round, as opposed to a large one-time bid that they might not even know how to use effectively for that particular map.

    So its more than just a suggestion aimed at the AI, it's a proposed alternative to the bidding process that could serve as a standard game option. I like this for a number of reasons, but the main one is that it's somewhat less disruptive to the opening round/turn than bid, which allows the map creator to still craft a cool script, with all the expected 'gives and takes' or interesting TUV trades, by pushing out the advantage over several rounds.

    I like that in the last pre-release you had the option to give universal income bonus to all AI players or an option to assign the Bonus individually by Player Nation.

    I still think it might be helpful to have a universal AI bonus by team/side. Since then you have a couple nice default options for designing the income balance for any particular match, that allows a good degree of customization with either a Bid or Bonus (or both if desired.)

    I think there is room for a flat rate/percentage toggle. Just make these like a single checkbox, so it doesn't take up a ton of UI space to switch between them.

    My comment about playing mainly with percentage lately might be more about the specific maps I've been playing.

    I think flat rate might also be closer to the table top experience for some players. Where having a hard number is just more convenient or more potent than a percentage.

    One thing I've always loved (and which requires constant editing) is the idea of ascending flat rate income bonuses. So the idea of round 1 = +1 PU, round 2= +2 PU and so on. It's a fun way to up the stakes as the game goes on. Or conceivably you could do a descending penalty -1 PU per round. And it could be a way to encourage/discourage game resolution depending the desires or the playgroup.

    I think you could cover a lot of ground with a limited number of options, but I certainly still see the possibilities of allowing the ability to do the same types of things with production capacity. I just don't know that I'd want them default attached to one another because they could be used to do different things. Like you could create a high economy for a low production map, or vice versa. Or Similarly you could just create a high economy with high production version of the map.

    I think each of these options are put into effect according to player preference. Some people like to restrict the money/units/production that enter play as a way to speed things up. Others prefer the opposite. So I like the idea of more options.

    Probably easier to keep flat rate on offer. I think it could be just like a universal switch. For the field to be percentage or flat rate.

    I also don't know which would be more interesting for something like fuel. Or for other resources that are meant to either be diminishing over time, or expanding over time. So it just seems like it would be cool to have options there.

    For the A&A style maps, I think there are some simple standards that could develop PvP. More complex maps, (I've been playing Iron War mostly) have me just wanting more options to tweak the income for the AI to make it challenging, so I like having all the things, for as far as the UI has the space.


  • Moderators

    @Black_Elk In my mind, from a traditional boardgame perspective, the cleanest way to give a better bonus than a bid, to rebalance the setup without altering its concept too much, would be a per player flat bonus that also adds the same placement bonus in the capital, that would equal just increasing a capital income.
    For example, to rebalance WWIIv6 I could give a "Capital Production Bonus" of 3 (and we could bid about its value), that would have these effects:

    • Give +3 PUs Russians start game
    • Increase Russians income collection of 3 PUs per round (flat bonus, but only as long as you can collect / have your capital)
    • Increase Russians placement abilities in capital by 3

    However, I think this concept is not sound for TripleA, since you may have games having a number of capitals per player different from 1.

    Another thing I thought is that there may be a boolean option for the percent bonus also giving a starting bid equal to that same percent of the player's starting TUV, but I discarded this proposal, as I believe it would be just kind of strange, that is probably better letting the players manage to set both a percent bonus and some bids themselves. Of course, this would dramatically increase the effect of the percent bonus, if it also increases starting TUV accordingly, in the form of a bid. Moreover, it would need stricter bid rules, in which you can only place 1 unit per territory and only in a territory having already exactly that type of unit.
    For example, this would mean that in v6, if you give a 10% income bonus to Russians, then Russians also get 8 bid.


  • Admin

    I have a question concerning the new individual player bonus income percentage.
    I think it ruins the simplicity of the "Map Options" window when every and all players are displayed like this:

    0_1496328405969_Picture.png

    I think this option displayed in the Maps Options window needs to be changed somehow. On maps like TWW and Iron War the many players makes this option display massive amounts of text. It really floods the screen, ruins the simplicity and the overview.

    Would it not be possible to handle this feature with some sort of drop-down list. Like if there in the Map Option windows were only one case of “Player Bonus Income Precentage” displayed followed by drop down menus “Player” and “Percentage“. Or alternatively, just “Player Bonus Income Precentage” followed by one drop down menu “Player” and then a box that changed the percentage number displayer if another player in the dropdown menu is chosen? Something like the Human/Hard AI/Fast AI etc. drop down menu when stating games.

    PS: Also, it would be cool to have any alliances be represented in the player dropdown list, like if the top of the player list included a ”All Axis” and ”All Allies”.


  • Admin

    So my end goal for AI bonus settings is something similar to HOI4 as I think its one of the better systems I've seen: https://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/index.php?threads/hoi4-development-diary-12th-of-august-2016-read-op-edit.962543/

    There will be a 'default' for all maps that is used if a map doesn't specify anything in the XML. But the parameters will also be available to map makers so they can create the number of different levels with different bonuses. I'd like to have at least 'income %', 'income flat', and 'production %' available. Also they will be able to set whether the bonus slider is available or not for each nation (so might not want bonus sliders for neutral players or minor players).

    I'm also planning to move the AI bonuses out of the settings window and into the player selection window as it makes more sense there.

    I'm thinking the default will be something like the following but still up for discussion:
    Level 1 - +20% income, +10% unit production limit
    Level 2 - +40% income, +20% unit production limit
    Level 3 - +60% income, +30% unit production limit
    Level 4 - +80% income, +40% unit production limit
    Level 5 - +100% income, +50% unit production limit

    @Cernel - I glanced through some of your posts but that's just too much to read honestly. The one thing I'll confirm is that I plan to completely remove the existing parameters and do understand there are a few maps that used these existing AI bonus parameters (such as AI challenges). Most of the older maps that used them are no longer balanced with the new AI and the other couple of maps are recent and still maintained so can be updated to the new system.


  • Moderators

    @redrum said in AI Bonus Settings Revamp:

    @Cernel - I glanced through some of your posts but that's just too much to read honestly.

    Ok. I believe this is the most important section:

    .Starting Resources Multiplication

    First of all, an important matter and a whole point I just missed (damn), when putting forward my suggestions, which may well be considered a regression we all overlooked!
    In the moment in which I suggested and we agreed to move the bonus from multiplying the PUs stock before purchase to multiplying the PUs flux (the main reason here being not multiplying saved income), we are not anymore multiplying starting income! This is a functionality lost in the old one, where the income everyone had at start game would have been multiplied accordingly, right before the first purchase for that player.
    I think this is quite an important matter, especially with reference to the traditional games, where the starting PUs are equal to the starting productions, thus it is nonsensical that players would get more units to buy on round 2 onwards, for the same total production, while not having any bonus on their purchases on round 1. This would have a continuity-breaking feeling as, in the normal games, the PUs the players start with is supposed to be the PUs they would have collected in the round before round 1 (most games don't start at the start of the referring war, but sometimes in the course of it, usually 1942).
    So, I think you should add this point as one of the ones at the starting post of the Topic (a point I would have surely added myself, amongst the ones you pasted, had I not just overlooked it totally!):

    - Having it multiplying all starting resources, assigned to the respective players (in resource initialize) (particularly important when we multiply placement abilities too).

    This is particularly important relatively to the other point about the multiplication of placement capabilities, otherwise, in standard games, the placement multiplication would be not justifiable for the first turn of the benefitted players. Probably not much of a big deal, practically, but it would be a nonsensical element, in the system, making it unrefined.
    Moreover, if all starting PUs are multiplied, I think this would be generally more sound for the general impact of the AI bonuses, and lowering the perceived need of assigning both the percent bonus and a bid, too, as the starting PUs multiplication would partially cover the popular balancing-through-bid concept, making the AI bonus alone more self-sufficient, at least as a matter of the feel of it.
    Of course, this should apply to other resources, than PUs, just as much as the regular multiplication would.
    I think this is practically a regression from the old system, that has to be corrected by assuring the multiplication of all PUs (and any resources) assigned at start game (in the resource initialize).
    I actually now think that the main, or maybe only reason, why the old AI bonuses worked that strange way of multiplying what you have before purchase (instead of what you collect) was exactly to assure multiplying the starting income too! I'm not even sure if moving the multiplication from stock to flux (which I suggested) can be considered a net improvement, if we lose this dynamic.
    A warning, just in case, is to avoid multiplying the PUs earned when not using some of the assigned bid (the bid getting saved should not be multiplied; only the resources in resources initialize).


  • Admin

    @Cernel So that is correct that it currently isn't multiplying starting PUs just PUs produced during turns. I'm aware of this and not sure how I feel about it. My initial thought is that the new system is simpler as it just focuses on giving bonuses to actual income and initial balancing would be handled through bids. But I can see your point as well.

    I think I'll add a comment to the first post around starting resources and see what other players think.


  • Donators Moderators Admin

    @redrum Starting could be handled easy enough by the map maker by the map maker or the player with an Edit.

    Either a mod(s) could be made which adjusts the starting income based on the scenario... it could simply be referenced in the game notes.


  • Admin

    @Hepps True though my goal for TripleA as a whole is that Edit mode should be a last resort for regular games (mostly should just be used if a mistake was made or something isn't working properly).

    I mostly just want the available AI bonus parameters to be straightforward and feel intuitive. So if you were to say I want my AI opponents to get '+25% income' would I expect the initial resources to be increased by that as well?


  • Moderators

    @redrum said in AI Bonus Settings Revamp:

    I'm thinking the default will be something like the following but still up for discussion:
    Level 1 - +20% income, +10% unit production limit
    Level 2 - +40% income, +20% unit production limit
    Level 3 - +60% income, +30% unit production limit
    Level 4 - +80% income, +40% unit production limit
    Level 5 - +100% income, +50% unit production limit

    Uhm, I'm thinking it would be better to allow for defining the percentage, I mean having an almost continuous slider, giving the ability of setting +25%, if wanted, without having to jump from +20% to +40%. That would allow fine-tuning a challenge, trying to inch till the uppermost level you can manage to win vs the AI. If having steps, I suggest them being 5% each (5%, 10%, 15%, 20%, 25%...).

    Also, I don't see why having the placement increasing half than the income? As I suggested, I proposed a switch for having / not having a same placement bonus as the income bonus, but maybe, instead of a boolean, you can have a percent of how much the unit production should increase with the income (so, in your case, you would set it at 50, but you can set it at 0 or 100).
    If the matter is not risking, due to the placement abilities being sometimes limited and forcefully integer, the placement factually increasing more than the income, in some territories, I'd go for just having both increasing by the same percentage, but the income approximating normally, while the unit placement always rounding down. Thus, if you have 25% bonus income, you would have the following placement changes:
    1->1
    2->2
    3->3
    4->5
    5->6
    6->7
    7->8
    8->10
    9->11
    10->12
    I would still suggest just approximating both the same ways, but I think this alternative solution would be better than having the placement increasing half than the income, which I can't really see a reason for. As you can see, the above system is already pretty modest; a 25% is pretty strong bonus, if the AI plays well, and, in common maps, would just give a +1 placement from 4 to 7 and a +2 placement for 8 or more.

    Tho I'm not sure I really understand, the rest of the system / concept sounds cool, but I'm personally against having a default different from no cheat. I think a game should not have AI bonuses default, unless it is clearly presented as an AI challenge. Noobs (and not only noobs!) might overlook, and you would have to wonder, in some cases, if they were using a bonus or not, if they don't have to actively choose one.


  • Moderators

    @redrum said in AI Bonus Settings Revamp:

    So if you were to say I want my AI opponents to get '+25% income' would I expect the initial resources to be increased by that as well?

    Of course waiting for others, as you already know my answer, but, just to formalise: yes, especially in the basic games in which the starting PUs are the same as the starting productions and especially (but not only) if on round 1 I get a bonus to my placement abilities.


  • Moderators

    A related note, since we are also talking about that in
    https://forums.triplea-game.org/topic/128/resource-system-assessment-and-improvements
    is that we might have collection at start turn (but I don't even know if it currently exists a map that does it, actually). In that case, not multiplying starting resources would not be a big deal (the starting resources would be what the players are supposed to have saved the theorical round before the start of the game only), but I think it would be still fine to do it, or at least I would not make exceptions.


  • Admin

    @redrum
    Yes, please keep the AI bonus system simple and correspond as much with what players would intuitively expect when the AI is getting bonus. That is also why the current multiplilying of the bank PUs is kind of wired.

    Please don’t forget my concerns about ALL resources types being multiplied by a factor and how it might not fit the map and the purpose of the special other resources. An XML option to turn on / off multiplication would be very welcome. 😀

    A % slider would be cool. And If a player was to get +20% bonus through the entire game, why would it be a problem that this also meant to any starting PUs? I would think that if a player was to be boosted during the entire game, then it might as well include the stating money.

    Also, I like the idea about a general level setting that could raise a player’s chances, but I do have concerns about a placement bonus thing. If placement amount is a part of the map rules, like in Iron War where players might expect factories to only produce 5 units, or Age of Tribes and Dragon War where different factories also have fixed production stats, I would not like players to get confused by seeing some of these factories produce more than they should. I would prefer advantages / handicaps be “hidden” when playing, in the sense that players could just feel a bit more pressure from the player getting bonuses, not that the player getting bonus could also do stuff that normal players could not do.


  • Moderators

    Ideally, the best would be a "production bonus" (like you place 6 armours at the cost for normally placing only 5, and taking only 5 placement abilities), but, since you cannot really have that working well on an integer base, then my suggestion was to indirectly obtain it by boosting the income collection and starting resources; this is also why the suggestion of scaling back income when you capture it from the AI.
    Probably the best would be if the AI gets the income bonus right when spending it, but only for the income actually spent (thus, like the old system, but excluding to multiply saved income). I don't know if this would be feasible, but I'd rather suggest going that way, if it is (for example, when the AI has 24 PUs and a bonus of 25%, it will be able to spend 30 PUs using 24 PUs or spend 27-28 PUs using 22 PUs and saving 2 PUs). This would remove the need of multiplying any starting resources, as well as not worrying about capturing income, and would work the best in case you switch a player between human and AI, during the game, as the income would be just multiplied right before spending it and only if you spend it, not in the bank.

    @Frostion Not sure, but I tend to agree. Likely better to apply the placement bonus only to factories following the rule of placing depending on what the territory allows (usually placement equal to territory production), not to those factories that have a fixed production per turn, regardless of the territory they are in. For example, in 270bc, the city should get the placement bonus, but not the legionaire (building 1 fort per turn regardless). This means that factories like Age of Tribes, in which you have the caves producing 1 in any, the forts producing 2 in any etc., would probably better not get any placement bonuses, as it would really make sense only if you are using them at 100% (doubling all). However, I believe this can be argued both ways; it is just a problem relative to having to round it to integer levels, while factories may be just production 1, 2 or so, so it would take some thinking at what level they get the +1, eventually (plus people may wonder if a 2.5 would be rounded up or down).

    Yeah, I saw that this topic would have been not that easy to sort out.


  • Moderators

    @Frostion said in AI Bonus Settings Revamp:

    Also, I like the idea about a general level setting that could raise a player’s chances, but I do have concerns about a placement bonus thing. If placement amount is a part of the map rules, like in Iron War where players might expect factories to only produce 5 units, or Age of Tribes and Dragon War where different factories also have fixed production stats, I would not like players to get confused by seeing some of these factories produce more than they should. I would prefer advantages / handicaps be “hidden” when playing, in the sense that players could just feel a bit more pressure from the player getting bonuses, not that the player getting bonus could also do stuff that normal players could not do.

    In a map where all factories always produce 5 units I guess this can be left just totally to the players if they want a +20% bonus to raise factory production to 6 or not.


  • Admin

    So I've decided to get rid of the idea of increasing unit production for now. I think it ends up complicating things a lot as many maps have different unit production systems.

    @Frostion Yeah, the plan is to move the AI bonuses to the player selection window instead of settings window. So they would be alongside the dropdowns where you select AI vs player for each nation. I do also plan for the bonus to apply to all resources by default but have the ability for mapmakers to disable bonuses for certain resources where it doesn't make sense.


  • Moderators

    @redrum
    Another idea, going a very different way, may be having a % chance of unit duplication upon placement.

    Meaning that if you set it at 25%, each time the AI places 1 unit there is a 25% of another unit being added up for free (not taking placement spots, either).

    Otherwise, I agree that adding (or not) placement expansion should be left for for a second time, after the system is otherwise in its final form. And, it should definitely be an optional choice if to have any bonus placement or not.


  • Moderators

    @Cernel said in AI Bonus Settings Revamp:

    @redrum
    Another idea, going a very different way, may be having a % chance of unit duplication upon placement.

    Meaning that if you set it at 25%, each time the AI places 1 unit there is a 25% of another unit being added up for free (not taking placement spots, either).

    Nevermind about this weird idea. There is the problem that additional fighters may not have a carrier to land on, tho they could be redirected to the land territory, if they don't. But probably this is just too random a bonus; duno. Tho it could like apply to the starting setup too, besides the new placement. Probably just too strange / random a bonus tho, on a second thought (maybe noone would like such a thing).


  • Admin

    Next set of changes are submitted: https://github.com/triplea-game/triplea/pull/1791

    Highlights:

    • Bonus income now works for all resources
    • Starting resources are increased by bonus as well
    • Updated wording of bonus in history and end turn report
    • Adjust bonus income range to only be positive (0-999)