Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
Improving the AI for more interesting challenges

The AI in Startrek Online is pretty weak. It uses a few power in an often suboptimal but always predictable manner and then it takes your fire. To give us a "challenge" it seems we are forced to fight either tons of enemies (5 spawns in space or ground) or fight enemies that simply deal more damage and have more hit points then normal (Difficulties Advancend And Elite). As a side effect, all success in PvE does nothing to prepare for your PvP since your enemy in PvE is barely using powers.

o NPC Powers by Tier
Enemy ships need more powers and use them more often, just like players do.
  • Tier 1: 2 Ensign Powers.
  • Tier 2: 1 Lt. Power, 2 Ensign Power.
  • Tier 3: 1 Lt.Cmdr. Power, 2 Lt. Power, 1 Ensign Power
  • Tier 4: 1 Cmdr Power, 1 Lt.Cmdr Power, 2 Lt. Powers, 1 Ensign Power
  • Tier 5: 1 Cmdr Power, 2 Lt.Cmdr Powers, 2 Lt. Power, 1 Ensign Power
Enemy ships still won't have anything close to as many powers as players have, but they will have more then now, allowing more complex interactions.

o Effects of Difficulty Levels
Ships are assumed to have "generic" base statistics based on their level.
Normal: All cooldowns as if trained at 1 rank. 80 % HP and 80 % damage
Advanced: All cooldowns as if trained at 5 ranks. 100 % HP and 100 % damage
Elite: All cooldowns as if trained at 9 ranks. 120 % HP and 120 % damage.

o Ship Statistics by Class
  • Frigate ("Minion" Ship.)
  • 60 % Hull, 60 % Shield, 60 % damage. Bonus Power: Evasive Maneuvers or Battle Cloak
  • Special: Frigates lose their highest level Power for a ship of their tier.
  • Escort:
    85 % Hull, 85 % Shield, 120 % damage. Bonus Power: Evasive Maneuvers
  • Science Vessel:
    80 % Hull, 130 % Shield, 90 % damage. Bonus Power: Brace for Impact
  • Cruiser:
    100 % Hull, 100 % Shield, 100 % damage. Bonus Power: Brace for Impact
  • Battleship ("Elite" Ship):
    133 % Hull, 133 % Shield, 133 % damage. Bonus Power: Brace for Impact or Battle Cloak
    Special: Battleships add one additional power of their second highest level.
    Also, some Battleships might have the ability to reduce their damage output against one opponent to 100 %, but engage a second opponent with 100 % damage, too.
  • Flagship ("Boss"ship):
    166 % Hull, 166 % Shield, 166 % damage. Bonus Power: Brace for Impact
    Special: Flagships add one additional power of their highest level.
    Also, some Battleships might have the ability to reduce their damage output against one opponent to 133% to engage 2 opponents at the same time at 133 %, or reduce it to 100 % to engage 3 opponents at a time.
    The special rules for Battleships and Flagships are intended to make them more "interesting" to fight with groups - instead all damage (and all healing countering it) to target one enemy, it hits 2 or 3. The overall damage output is higher, the pressure against an individual enemy is lower, but the attacking team overall is more engaged. This ability could be particularly useful for Borg Cubes and Tactical Cubes that currently seem very weak. An inbuilt AI support for a single ship engaging more then one target could greatly improve these ships without necessarily making them overpowering for single-combat scenarios.


o Power Rules.
There are many powers in this game and mastering them is highly complex and depends on your build, on your team mates and many other factors. I don't think we can define an AI for that easily. So we have to do with an easy ruleset, but even that will beat what the AI is doing right now. The below are just relative simple explanations, coding would certainly require more precise information and would probably warrant a unique one for at least every power, possibly a unique one for each ship.
  1. Targeted Healing Powers
    Examples: like Engineering Team, Auxillary to SIF, Hazard Emitters, Science Team:
    - Use on self when relevant hit points at 75 % or less.
    - Use on ally within 5 km when relevant hit points are at 50 % less.
    (relevant hit points means: if it's a shield heal, check shields hit points. If it's a hull heal, check hull. For shields: Account only for the lowest facing.)
  2. Self-Defense Powers
    Examples are Emergency Power to Shields, Metaphasic Shield, RSP, Polarize Hull, Brace for Impact
    - Use when relevant hit points are at 75 % or less. (For hull-effects: Use when one shield facing is at 0 or less.)
  3. Speed-Powers
    Examples are Evasive Maneuers, Emergency Power to Engines and Auxillary to Dampeners
    - Use when current target is at 75 % or less hull points and at 10 km or more. (ensure facing in the direction)
    - Use when current hull points are at 75 % or less hull points.
  4. Attack Buff Powers:
    Examples: Attack Pattern Alpha, High Yield Torpedoes, Beam Target Subsystem Shields
    - Use when a target is within range and power is available.
  5. Feedback Pulse:
    - Use when taking damage from attacker for at least 6 seconds.
  6. Subnucleonic Beam:
    - Use when enemy has at least 2 or more powers that can be dispelled, or when self has one shield facing at 25 % or less (signifying it's time to at least slow down the enemy).
  7. Cloak
    - While not aggroed, cloak when recharged and stay cloaked for at least 20 seconds.
    - If current target is cloaked for at least 15 seconds, cloak until target is no longer cloaked or for up to 30 seconds.
  8. Battlecloak
    - When at least one shield facing is at 0 % and hull is at 75 %, or hull is at 50 %, immediately battlecloak and stay cloaked for 20 seconds minimum. If no enemy within 10 km, stay cloaked until at 85 % hull.

Example Ships:
Starfleet Frigate (Miranda, ShirKar, Centaur)
  • Tier 1: Evasive Maneuvers I, Miranda: Engineering Team I; Shirkar: Science Team I; Centaur: Emergency Power to Shields I
  • Tier 2: EM II, Beam Overload I, Miranda: ET I; Shirkar: ST I; Centaur: EPtS I
  • Tier 3: EM III, BO I, High Yield Torpedoes I, Miranda: ET II; Shirkar: ST II; Centaur: EPtS II
  • Tier 4: EM III, BO II, HYT I, Miranda: ET III, Shirkar: ST III, Centaur: EPtSII
  • Tier 5: EM III, BO II, HYT II, Polarize Hull I, Miranda: ET III, Shirkar: ST III, Centaur: EPtSII
Additional Combat Scripting Ideas:
  • Fire Support: 30 % chance per difficulty level to target enemy that has highest aggro among all spawm members.
  • Group Retreat: 30 % chance per difficulty that all frigates within spawm use Evasive Maneuvers together to fly in same direction.
  • Fleet Support: 30 % chance per difficulty level that ship uses Science Team or Engineering Team on ally that is suffering from a debuff clearable by it. (E.g. SNB, Jam Sensors, Scramble Sensors for ST and Subsystem failures for ET).

Klingon Cruiser (D'Tanco, K'Tinga, Vor'Cha)
Special: Normal Cloak on all tiers.
  • Tier 1: Brace for Impact I, Cannon Rapid Fire I, Engineering Team I
  • Tier 2: Bt II, CRF I, Emergency Power to Shields I, ET I
  • Tier 3: BI III; CRF I, Aceton Field I, EPtS II, ET II,
  • Tier 4: BI III; CRF II, HYT II, AFII, ET III, EptS II, High Yield Torpedo I
  • Tier 5: BI III; CRF II, HYT II, AFIII, ET III, EPtS III, Tractor Beam I

Klingon Battleship (Neg'Var)
Special: Normal Cloak on all tiers.
  • Tier 1: Brace for Impact I, Cannon Rapid Fire I, Engineering Team I, Emergency Power to Shields I
  • Tier 2: BI II, CRF I, High Yield Torpedoes I, Boarding Party I, ET I
  • Tier 3: BI III; CRF II, HYT I, Beam Overload I, BP II, ET II, BO II
  • Tier 4: BI III; CRF III, HYT II, BO II, BP III, ET III, Emergency Power to Shields I, BO III
  • Tier 5: BI III; CRF III, HYT III, BO II, BP III, ET III, EPtS III, Tractor Beam I

Romulan Cruiser (Warbird)
Special: Normal Cloak on all tiers.
  • Tier 1: Battlecloak, Science Team I, Tractor Beam I
  • Tier 2: Battlecloak, High Yield Torpedo I, ST II, TB I
  • Tier 3: Battlecloak, HYT I, Photonic Shockwave I, ST II, TB II
  • Tier 4: Battlecloak, HYT II, Beam Target Subsystem Weapons I, PSW II, ST III, TB II
  • Tier 5: Battlecloak, HYT III, BTSW II, PSW III, ST III, TB II, Transfer Shield Strength I

----

The above is just one approach to improve the number of powers that can be scripted in the first place, and gives only few actual scripting ideas. I think the current options for the AI is to limited as that we could improve it greatly by scripts. Startrek Online is very skill-based and if the NPCs can't rely on that, they can never really provide a good challenge. But just having abilities wouldn't be enough - we need good guidelines for these skills. They don't have to be perfect or fool-proof, just better then what we got now.

So, any more ideas for AI scripts? More examples, better "language"?
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 2
12-01-2010, 01:21 AM
Here is an interesting article about the difficulties of creating a "good" AI.
http://blogs.msdn.com/b/alfredth/arc...ogramming.aspx
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 3
12-01-2010, 11:12 AM
one would think starting to give each ship a comparable weapon load out to players would be starting point....
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 4
12-05-2010, 05:18 PM
It would be nice to see the different levels of enemies act and do different things...
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 5
12-07-2010, 02:16 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by claydermunch View Post
one would think starting to give each ship a comparable weapon load out to players would be starting point....
i know, im so sick and tired of using my teir 1 escort (which has only 1 rear weapon slot) and then follow and npc that is also in said ship, to bhe hit by torps and phasers.... they cheat!
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 6
12-14-2010, 10:01 AM
Man, I hope someone reads this. Maybe re-post it in the general feedback section or something?

I'm super tired of every ship behaving in the exact same way. Same weapons, same abilities, same attack order. If they went all the way to your changed it would be awesome, but at the very least they should mix it up more than they do now so you are not 100% sure how an encounter is going to go before you even start it.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 7
12-14-2010, 10:16 AM
Quote:
Man, I hope someone reads this. Maybe re-post it in the general feedback section or something?

I'm super tired of every ship behaving in the exact same way. Same weapons, same abilities, same attack order. If they went all the way to your changed it would be awesome, but at the very least they should mix it up more than they do now so you are not 100% sure how an encounter is going to go before you even start it.
Not a fan of spamming the forums with the same ideas. If it doesn't get the attention, maybe people are happy with how things are? Or maybe this discussion is too ... specific? Maybe people would be more willing to talk about the general topic of "AI is dumb" then "here's how one might make the AI harder to deal with".

Well, there's always PvP when you need a few smarter and unpredictable opponents.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 8
12-14-2010, 12:45 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by MustrumRidcully View Post
Not a fan of spamming the forums with the same ideas. If it doesn't get the attention, maybe people are happy with how things are? Or maybe this discussion is too ... specific? Maybe people would be more willing to talk about the general topic of "AI is dumb" then "here's how one might make the AI harder to deal with".

Well, there's always PvP when you need a few smarter and unpredictable opponents.
I get that, this particular corner of the forum barely gets any traffic though. Anyway, good luck
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 9
12-14-2010, 01:03 PM
Really nice idea, while we'll never get 'great' AI more vareity is always good. Sounds like what snix was describing for the combat revamps he's working on but far more detailed here's hoping the devs are still trashing out design ideas...
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 10
12-18-2010, 05:44 AM
One major thing that needs to be done is to make it so the NPC ships try harder to use their 45 degree arc weapons. Dual Cannons and Dual Heavy Cannons are supposed to be weapons to be feared, but on an NPC they are used so ineffectively as to be basically worthless.

Negh'Vars broadside with a couple beam arrays instead of trying to keep you in the frontal arc where they have not only a beam array, but a dual beam bank and a dual heavy cannon. I understand that for a Negh'Var keeping a target in the frontal arc might be hard, but...

Romulan Mogai Escorts hit evasive maneuvers, cannon rapid fire, and then plink away at you with a rear turret. They literally don't try to face you, but rather broadside with the turret. Why the hell do they have the other weapons? And unlike the Negh'Var they are maneuverable enough to keep you in the frontal arc.

Ships with cannons and dual beams need to give a lot higher priority to keeping you in their frontal arc and they need to use hit and run tactics. The way the Mogai uses evasive maneuvers right now is simply all wrong. You don't do it before an attack run and then move so fast that you pass the target by in half a second, if anything you use it on the way back out so you return to a distance faster for another run.

I agree the NPCs also need more abilities, but just a simple change to make it so they used their weapons effectively would make a lot of enemies a lot more formidable.
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