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Heroes Community > Heroes 7 - Falcon's Last Flight > Thread: The AI, Should it be able to cheat?
Thread: The AI, Should it be able to cheat? This thread is 3 pages long: 1 2 3 · NEXT»
Dave_Jame
Dave_Jame


Promising
Legendary Hero
I'm Faceless, not Brainless.
posted August 24, 2014 10:03 AM

The AI, Should it be able to cheat?

A new member NACHOOOO just brought this up in the general discussion and I think this is something we should talk about.


The Idea of a well built AI that knows how to plan and use its abilities is very important. BUT...
The topic of cheating "using advantages and mechanics the player does not have acces to" should be discussed from a wieder perspective.

The problem in my opinion is, that the AI should have a distinguishable advantage towards the player. Why? Well First of all the player has access to tools like "Save and Load", which help him with his gameplay very much, redo errors or even save him from a desperate situation. The fact that the player knows the layout of the map after playing it just once should also be considered.

Especially in Heroes 6 with all the Dynasty features I many times felt like I was the cheater. I had access to treats, Weapons and Pets. Could replay battles for as long as I wanted and all this with my natural advantage of my brain.

Now I know many people dislike the idea of a Cheating AI, and even with all those features I posted above, they still felt like 6 was a very hard game, but not giving the AI any kind of an advantage makes us the cheaters.

So what would be the best and most balanced approach?
Give the AI more Resources, Creatures, Information, Experience? All of it? None of it?

I remember that back in H2 when you played on the Impossible difficulty the AI had +1 to all creatures growth, Full resources while you had none, and could see the entire map. But still in many cases, I could win even versus such odds.

Your opinions?
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redpuma77
redpuma77

Tavern Dweller
Pathfinder Demonist
posted August 24, 2014 10:17 AM

Ofcourse no!

But, the problem is that Limbic is a very small developer team, so they have not enough people to make a large perpesctive of the AI ( like a) AI do this b) AI do this  a) AI is agressive, b) AI is defensive) so.. I think they will use a crapload of cheat.!

But Hey! Maybe they can do it no visible. :S So Let's hopes high!
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Sal
Sal


Famous Hero
posted August 24, 2014 10:27 AM

I, Robot.

I think that, unless they find a way to create an exceptional AI, which is very unlikely, then AI has to cheat. If not, those really smart and trained will find no challenge outside multiplayer.

The optimal is to give to the player as options, how much of this or that AI will receive as bonus. Detailed and tons of options, not H2-H3 like-4 difficulties. This way, the player can set every AI parameter according to his skill and everyone will be happy.

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alcibiades
alcibiades


Honorable
Undefeatable Hero
of Gold Dragons
posted August 24, 2014 10:32 AM

I haven't got a full-fledged answer to this yet, but I just want to throw in that there's a world of difference between AI cheating and AI advantages. For instance, at higher difficulty levels, the AI should get more starting resources and gold than you get. That's not cheating, that's just handicap settings. Cheating would be if AI was able to bend the rules somehow - say for instance if AI hires all creatures at day 1 and take off, and then you appear on day 5 and AI is allowed to hire more creatures to defend town even though it had already hired that week's growth - that would be cheating and something I feel would be very lame.

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Sal
Sal


Famous Hero
posted August 24, 2014 10:46 AM

Of course not. The challenge AI vs human should be based on game regular resources, not on bonuses from sky.

If you set AI to get triple growth weekly, then you know what to expect and build your strategy accordingly.

If you set him to have normal growth then find zillions of creatures from nowhere, this is bad game label.

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Galaad
Galaad

Hero of Order
Li mort as morz, li vif as vis
posted August 24, 2014 11:40 AM

I agree with Sal here, even though I doubt that Ubi will provide some advanced panel with tons of AI options, we could have an option enabling cheats or not. In any case scenario, max difficulty should give all starting advantages (gold, resources, map, starting hero level etc) to AI and complete handicap (no nothing) to player. Then player can improve difficulty by enabling cheat option, that could allow AI growth bonuses and such. There could be Easy, Normal, Hard and Impossible difficulty + options to enable cheats and choose some (or all) of them.

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bloodsucker
bloodsucker


Legendary Hero
posted August 24, 2014 11:43 AM

In "The Lord of the Rings - THe Battle for Middle Earth" the game clearly cheats both on creature and struture costs and "powerpoints" aquisition. (Yes I'm sure, cheating my self with a program I faced a Balrog from an enemy with 0 kills and 0 strutures destroyed, with this conditions I would have 0 zero extra powerpoints, a Balrog costs 20 and is the last of a chain...)
I find this extremely annoing because you can't trust your own gameplay to avoid him to get stronger since even without access to resources and kills he still has ALL the advantages from it, so in fact it doesn't matter how well have nailed him.

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JollyJoker
JollyJoker


Honorable
Undefeatable Hero
posted August 24, 2014 11:46 AM

The problem with the AI is, that it gets predictable - players learn what the AI will do under certain circumstances and can take advantage.
Material advantages for the AI is the main reason for human players cheating (save/load) because without you are often simply crushed under the raw strength.

HoMM 4 had the right idea, even though in the end they screwed it.

The idea was simply, that apart from the obvious money and resource differences when looking at the different difficulty levels, they simply upped guarding stacks - but without changing the total XP value.

Levels were:
Easy: 67%
Normal: 100%
Advanced: 150%
Expert: 200%
Impossible: 300%

What did that mean?
Suppose a unit had an XP value of 30, when killing it, and suppose the regular (as set in the editor) would have meant a stack of 18 of those for an XP value of 540, if you killed it.

On easy diff, you'd face 12 of them - for 540 XP.
On Normal you'd face 18 - for 540 XP.
On Advanced you'd face 27 of them - for 540 XP.
On Expert you'd face 36 of them - for 540 XP.
On Impossible you'd face 54 of them - for 540 XP.

Now, the problem was, of course, that the AI had to play under the same rules. THAT meant, you had a hard time to get anything done at all on Impossible - but so had the AI - especially with moving guarding stacks. So once you were up and running, everything was fine.

However, imagine, it would somewhow be possible to adjust the difficulty for every player separately (like it is possible in AoW).

This might mean, that EASY diff for the player would set diff for AI to advanced. Normal and advanced would see the AI on normal as well, while expert and impossible would set the AI on easy.

In this case, you wouldn't need the AI to cheat. If you'd play on expert, you'd start with not much, and your guarding stacks would be 3 times bigger than those the AI faced . without gaining an XP advantage out of it.

And while numbers might have to be adjusted, the general idea is sound, I think.

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Stevie
Stevie


Responsible
Undefeatable Hero
posted August 24, 2014 12:08 PM

So how is that any different from cheating?

Instead of giving the AI bonuses to keep up with the difficulty level, you're just creating special conditions for them. Conditions that dumb down the gameplay even more!

I say a real solution is improving the AI, first and foremost. Making the AI's difficulty easier is sort of a compromise and not an improvement by any stretch of the imagination. It's a dead end also, since in case the AI would still be weak, you'd have no way to improve it on that same line. While with bonuses, you just add more.

Bottom line is that the AI fighting 5 Titans while you have to fight 15 is another form of cheating. Still cheating.

Btw, that Heroes 4 train of taught was a very subtle push into our minds. Don't do it again, it's disgusting.

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Dave_Jame
Dave_Jame


Promising
Legendary Hero
I'm Faceless, not Brainless.
posted August 24, 2014 12:19 PM

About now I see that many people make differences between the terms of Advantage and Cheat. One of them being acceptable and one not.
The question is where is the line?

While most people agree that some advantages like more resources a necessary for the AI to be a competition to the player. Some are more likely to be disliked.

An example of such a Cheat, a tool that the AI has available, is the movement counting element in H6. How often did you encounter that the AI exactly knew where to stop in such a way, that you needed one more step to attack it. It literally know your movement radius. an Information the player can never know, and it used it. This was annoying and one advantage i would personally not hesitate to call a Cheat.

Now are there more such unacceptable advantages?
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bloodsucker
bloodsucker


Legendary Hero
posted August 24, 2014 12:47 PM

@JollyJoker; I agree, this is a very good analyse. The problem with Heroes 4 aproach was that when you choosed Impossible difficulty you were in fact choosing it to both you and AI.
Ok, AI started with more resources but it was unable to beat "impossible" fights one after the other. After some point AI was playing Impossible and you were playing normal, since u managed to assemble the three times bigger army u need to win every battle with ease.

To base the difficulty on neutral armies also only human player can be facing them while AI has to be facing easy ones and still reciving full experience from it. If Heroes 4 had been tought this way it would have been the best game of the series.

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Elvin
Elvin


Admirable
Omnipresent Hero
What if Elvin was female?
posted August 24, 2014 12:53 PM

I don't mind the AI cheating but it should not be something easily detectable like in H5. I mean, unless the AI is incredibly smart it needs some benefits that a human player would not have. Like for instance a small discount in building(or starting with more resources), reduced casualties in creeping and so on. Things that a good player could do without you suspecting him of cheating.

But definitely not being able to see the map or huge resource bonuses that they can attack you with a fully upgraded lineup when you have barely managed to build champions. H5 was not very subtle about its cheating and shattered the illusion that you are playing against a medium level human. You instantly got the impression that you face a heavily cheating, one-track mind AI with a mission to Search and Destroy. Gone were the H3 templates of builder, explorer and warrior. The H5 AI would simply outbuild you and rush you on week 3 if possible. It would still lose against a good player but only because it was really stupid. Kind of like a baby with a machinegun.
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JoonasTo
JoonasTo


Responsible
Undefeatable Hero
What if Elvin was female?
posted August 24, 2014 01:16 PM

Quote:
starting with more resources

This is the worst way you can do AI cheating in any strategy game.
Discounts or proportionally incresed income is okay but starting resources is a huge no. It completely breaks the balance of the game and shifts the focus against AI very far from a normal game.
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JollyJoker
JollyJoker


Honorable
Undefeatable Hero
posted August 24, 2014 01:29 PM

Stevie said:
So how is that any different from cheating?

Instead of giving the AI bonuses to keep up with the difficulty level, you're just creating special conditions for them. Conditions that dumb down the gameplay even more!

I say a real solution is improving the AI, first and foremost. Making the AI's difficulty easier is sort of a compromise and not an improvement by any stretch of the imagination. It's a dead end also, since in case the AI would still be weak, you'd have no way to improve it on that same line. While with bonuses, you just add more.

Bottom line is that the AI fighting 5 Titans while you have to fight 15 is another form of cheating. Still cheating.

Btw, that Heroes 4 train of taught was a very subtle push into our minds. Don't do it again, it's disgusting.
No idea what you are babbling about.
If you really think an AI in a game like HóMM can be able to give you a run for the money without having access to bonusses, advantages an even cheats, your personal yardstick in that regard must be even lower as I would have guessed, judging from the majority of your postings.

There is also the question of more than one difficulty level. How is a good player after some time of playing and experience with the game is going to get a game against any AI that isn't a cakewalk? Doing nothing for week 1?

YOU SHOULD SEE THINGS AS THEY ARE:

People want a non-cheating AI for just one reason: that they can maintain the illusion that a win against the AI is worth something. If the AI is "doing nothing", but simply gets 10 units each turn out of thin air, the illusion of "playing a game against an oppoent" is destroyed.

The one way to do it, is first and foremost to program an AI that will make the AI play the game just as a player: flag stuff, builf up the town, hire heroes, scout around - MIMIC a human player.
Now, obviously, without help, an AI player, which is nothing more like a PROCEDURE - a recipe, if you want to - that is implemented, simply cannot play as good as a human - and most of the time its moves will be predictable after some experience with playing against it.

Usually a money and resource advantage works well - you can imagine the AI as a really dumb snow that is as rich as he is dumb, while you are a clever hero who's as poor as he is clever.

Special rules are fine also: what is wrong with having to fight against more for getting the same? Nice challenge, without destroying any illusion. What's wrong with special neutral surrender rules (if the AI force is more than X times as strong as the guards, no losses and full XP) - you may still rationalize this with the dumb snow buying the opposition out.

Because you have two weapons against the AI:
1) you can pick the difficulty level; for this to be a point the difficulty system must be halfway sophisticated to allow players to pick their game. In THAT regard HoMM 6 was a step into the right direction
2) You can always save and reload. Imagine your silly face, if you just won a nice battle against a superior AI force because of an AI blunder - and suddenly you'd get a message: "AI chose to reload the saved game and will fight the battle again. Battle commences in 3 ... 2 ... 1" STELLAR, right?

Of course there is a difference between AdvMap AI and BF AI, and on the BF, there are no cheats - at least not in HoMM. THERE COUD BE, however. In Etherlords, for example, the higher the diff level you play, the higher the probability of AI opponent's specialization triggering, and some specials, like snake venom, Goblin double damage and so on, could be HELL.
In HoMM, though, AFAIK the AI can't and doesn't cheat, and it's important that it plays a decent game there.
I will again point to HoMM 4 and to MIXED NEUTRALS: WORLD of difference, when you have MIXED guarding stacks like Elves and Tigers or Medusae and Minotaurs.

Now, there obviously is an easy rule here: the more interesting and difficult your EVERYDAY GAME is - fighting guarding stacks, finding your way through the intricacies of building your town up, moving and scouting and so on - the more difficult it gets for the AI as well. Which means, the more it is so, the more DIFFERENT the AI game must be from yours, because otherwise you won't have an opponent for a worthy conclusion of a map.

I mean, come on, it's no rocket science to see that, surely.


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Dave_Jame
Dave_Jame


Promising
Legendary Hero
I'm Faceless, not Brainless.
posted August 24, 2014 01:41 PM

Actually I think in H2-3 this battlefield advantage was there. I remember that random abilities like the Aging ability of the Ghost dragon in H3, or Dispel ability of the Archmage in H2, were skills i have rarely seen on lower difficulties, but encountered even several times in a single battle on higher ones.

I don't have the number behind this, but it was something I noticed over the years.
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We see, we look, we gather, we store, we teach.
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Sal
Sal


Famous Hero
posted August 24, 2014 01:45 PM

JollyJoker said:

Now, there obviously is an easy rule here: the more interesting and difficult your EVERYDAY GAME is - fighting guarding stacks, finding your way through the intricacies of building your town up, moving and scouting and so on - the more difficult it gets for the AI as well.


Not necessarily, and even it should not. For example, if human player skill requires neutrals at a certain size, to be able to correctly level up, the same size could and will be a brake for AI development, as it fights less effective.

Therefore, I think in such cases, neutral stacks should have a different size when attacked by AI player, reduced by whatever % could be, to allow AI to survive while you still enjoy difficulty..


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blob2
blob2


Legendary Hero
Blob-Ohmos the Second
posted August 24, 2014 01:46 PM

Every kind of AI better then in H6 will already be a huge success. In H6 the AI was tragic. Especially in those bonus scenarios (Succesion Wars etc) where, for instance, I fought the final battle with an AI who was only sitting in the town (a few months long game!) not even buying units. How cra*#y is that?

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JollyJoker
JollyJoker


Honorable
Undefeatable Hero
posted August 24, 2014 01:54 PM

Sal said:
JollyJoker said:

Now, there obviously is an easy rule here: the more interesting and difficult your EVERYDAY GAME is - fighting guarding stacks, finding your way through the intricacies of building your town up, moving and scouting and so on - the more difficult it gets for the AI as well.


Not necessarily, and even it should not. For example, if human player skill requires neutrals at a certain size, to be able to correctly level up, the same size could and will be a brake for AI development, as it fights less effective.

Therefore, I think in such cases, neutral stacks should have a different size when attacked by AI player, reduced by whatever % could be, to allow AI to survive while you still enjoy difficulty..


That's what I had suggested, but was massively critisized in the quoted post.

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Sal
Sal


Famous Hero
posted August 24, 2014 02:21 PM
Edited by Sal at 14:22, 24 Aug 2014.

Well, Stevie is theoretically right: the best thing is to improve AI and only then consider advantages to fill the gaps. But in practice we know that AI will be, as usual, abysmal. They will spend months to polish how it looks and will mess rapidly with the codes.

Because people buy on the look it has, they can't test game play before.

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artu
artu


Promising
Undefeatable Hero
My BS sensor is tingling again
posted August 24, 2014 03:09 PM

Well, the biggest gap in gameplay between a human and AI is caused by spells, especially non-damage spells like Fly, Town Portal, Blind, Berserk etc etc... With so many different spells having (and not having) so many different effects on many units, the variety of things a human can pull is enormous and to even things out, the AI must be capable of some kind of creative thinking, at least at some very primitive level. Do you see that happening, I don't.

Yet, the level of stupidity shouldn't be as obvious as the spell using of H3 AI, either. The computer should be able to use non-damage spells at least with little efficiency.

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