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Heroes Community > Heroes 4 - Lands of Axeoth > Thread: H4 WOW Brawnier AI
Thread: H4 WOW Brawnier AI
Darrow
Darrow

Tavern Dweller
posted March 13, 2003 07:57 PM

H4 WOW Brawnier AI

I am in the third scenario of the Mysterio campaign and have been pleasantly surprised (and rudely awakened) by the aggressiveness programmed into the AI.  It is not unusual, playing on Expert, for the AI to attack your castles, even early in the scenarios, especially if you hold one of its high level heroes in jail.  In the second week of this scenario I have a moderately large AI ranged army with a level 30 General and level 20 Paladin lurking less than two days away from my main base of operations, daring me to come out and "play."  I am reduced to securing the nearby resources while building up an army capable of joining the fray with a fair chance of surviving.

This is what I EXPECTED of H4!

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Targan
Targan


Known Hero
posted March 13, 2003 08:59 PM

this is sarcasm, taken to the next lvl

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pepak
pepak


Adventuring Hero
posted March 14, 2003 07:44 AM

It has nothing to do with an AI. The computer is just given a much larger army to wander around with, and of course he occassionally blunders into one town of yours or another. Any algorithm that isn't 100% random would, it's not about intelligence, but about sheer brute power.

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Darrow
Darrow

Tavern Dweller
posted March 15, 2003 02:26 AM

Pepak:

Your analysis might seem meritorious based on the little that I disclosed in my original post, but there is more behind my comments.  The most frequent and annoying attacks by the AI were in the second scenario, not the third, and seemed co-ordinated.  My most lightly defended castles were contantly attacked by Red, Orange and Purple, not just one of them, and seemed to occur only when I was far enough away that I could not readily return to defend or recover my holdings.  The attacking armies were rarely as large as my main force but were large enough to lay siege to a lightly defended castle.  I had to leave Titans, Gold Golems, Nagas and Dwarves behind in my main Academy to defend it and the Academy just across the river to protect them from these incursions while Mysterio worked with Genies, Mages, Halflings and a few Black Dragons that I scavenged from Chaos castles as I sought to extinguish the opposition.  Until the last third of the scenario it was impossible to build up a large enough army in newly captured castles to withstand the invariable counter-attack that the AI would make after Mysterio moved on looking for new conquests.  If I pulled too many reinforcements from my academies, an AI army or two would suddenly threaten attacks on my home base.  This was NOT random activity.

The third scenario fits your analysis more closely.  The AI DOES start out with strong armies (that Paladin I referred to in my original post was level 25, not 20!).  However, I doubt that the presence of that strong Life army near my home base so early in the game was random.  The Green home base is on the far side of the map from my castles.  I also failed to mention that a Red army, somewhat weaker than Green, was about to pass through a protected garrison nearby to do further damage, if feasible.  I won the battle with Green by beating him by two steps to a Champion generator where I picked up three Champions that I could illusion into a force that withstood the ranged attacks long enough for me to take out the General with Ice Bolts and my feisty Halflings while my Genies Slowed and Song of Peaced as many units as they could until killed off.  When the smoke cleared, only Mysterio stood alive on the battle field.  My level 12 Reaver with 100+ Skeletons, 100+ Imps, 25+ Ghosts and a few Vampires discouraged Red from coming after me.  I am far enough along now where I have 31 Genies, 12 Titans, 4 Evil Sorcesses, 300+ Halflings and 60+ Mages in my main army and Mysterio has GM Order magic.  I see only one Purple army that may match up with me (hate those Catapults!), but the AI is STILL threatening my Academy with sorties across the water every time I draw down its defenders to supplement my main army.  Fortunately my large Death troop army is close enough to discourage any serious effort in that direction.

Bottom line is that I believe that, in at least this campaign, someone has tweaked the AI to give us a more challenging game.  I know little about programming, but have heard it said elsewhere that the difference may be in setting higher priorities in the AI to recover its lost high end heroes and to capture the player's castles.  Be that as it may, I can certainly say that this is the most challenging of the H4 campaigns that I have played (have played all of the H4 and H4 TGS campaigns) and that I hope that the rest of the WOW campaigns as as well designed.
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pepak
pepak


Adventuring Hero
posted March 15, 2003 03:33 PM

Quote:
The most frequent and annoying attacks by the AI were in the second scenario, not the third, and seemed co-ordinated. My most lightly defended castles were contantly attacked by Red, Orange and Purple, not just one of them, and seemed to occur only when I was far enough away that I could not readily return to defend or recover my holdings.  The attacking armies were rarely as large as my main force but were large enough to lay siege to a lightly defended castle.


That's "normal behavior" for Heroes 4, though. The AI simply knows the whole map and isn't affected by a fog of war, and it does have the rudimentary "intelligence" to know that if it overpowers a human player 10:1, it stands a chance of victory. You could see precisely the same behavior in, for example, H4 Order campaign mission 5 (with a one-way teleporter exit near your home castle), H4 Nature campaign mission 1 (where the chaos player behind the gate never left its town as long as you were nearby), H4 Nature campaign mission 5 (once again, the one-way teleporters) etc. The attacks are not coordinated, no - the AI simply build a small army, checks the teleporter exits, and if there is no or too weak opposition, it goes through. All you (as a mapmaker) have to do to increase the AI aggressivity is to give it a larger starting army, so that it can overpower larger defender armies. That's all.

Quote:
Until the last third of the scenario it was impossible to build up a large enough army in newly captured castles to withstand the invariable counter-attack that the AI would make after Mysterio moved on looking for new conquests. If I pulled too many reinforcements from my academies, an AI army or two would suddenly threaten attacks on my home base. This was NOT random activity.


Of course not. I didn't say it was RANDOM - I said that ONLY A RANDOM ALGORITHM would not be able to seem more aggressive with a more powerful army behind its back. Heroes 4 AI IS NOT random, thus it DOES APPEAR to be more aggressive if it gets a starting boost.

As to your problem, the solution is simple - lure the AI armies through the teleporter (by hiding the hero and his army inside a mine, where the computer can't see them), crush them, then place a few Level-4 units (which have far higher "AI-repelling power" than should be the case based on just their hitpoints, damage, attack and defense) outside the teleporter and go hunting with no opposition whatsoever! If you guard the teleporter with Level-4's, you might not even have to descend to "cheating" (hiding in the mines).

Quote:
Bottom line is that I believe that, in at least this campaign, someone has tweaked the AI to give us a more challenging game.


Sadly, that's not the case :-((

Quote:
Be that as it may, I can certainly say that this is the most challenging of the H4 campaigns that I have played (have played all of the H4 and H4 TGS campaigns) and that I hope that the rest of the WOW campaigns as as well designed.


For me, the most challenging was the Waerjak campaign (Might campaign in H4). Beating past those pirates and bandits at the beginning was a real tricky part. WOW campaigns, on the other hand, prove not challenging, but rather frustrating for me :-(

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Thunder
Thunder


Responsible
Famous Hero
posted March 15, 2003 04:38 PM
Edited By: Thunder on 15 Mar 2003

Wrong Pepak, the AI DOES NOT know the whole map. Though it doesn't seem to be affected by Wog of War (considering the effect of Necropolis and Seer's Hut in H3, it is good that it "sees" through it). AI has to scout like a player has to. And considering AI aggressiveness, it would be stupid of it to attack the player that it has no hope to harm significantly (though it does so when it has no towns remaining).

AI's main weakness in battle versus player is that its heroes level up extremely poorly (you get the same effect when you use increase experience level script, I consider this bad design decision), casts spells poorly (though better than in H3), doesn't protect heroes well enough (it doesn't understand that it is better just to wait and defend with Knight than go and get killed it with doing very few damage), it doesn't use potions or scrolls, doesn't use enough heroes and often has bad artifact management. Of course the siege battles are its own chapter. All above mentioned is the reason why AI needs to have considerable advantage, though it isn't for certain 10:1, it is much less.

For me, the most challenging was the Waerjak campaign (Might campaign in H4). Beating past those pirates and bandits at the beginning was a real tricky part. WOW campaigns, on the other hand, prove not challenging, but rather frustrating for me :-(

That's because you play on champion. If you want to get challenge beating through creature stacks that just sit there and do nothing, the champion is the level for you. I got bored to that wait until you get strong enough army and then go beating up and wait again, after first try. Not to mention that it did made AI even weaker than it is normally (on advanced). Champion difficulty might be fixed in patches, but I'm not positive of that.

AI's main problem is that it way too often stops its army's moving after taking a loose resource/artifact/altar from the ground. This greatly slows down AI development, more than that capture mines bug. I consider it as a bug that shouldn't be there. But it seems that most players are unaware of it.

Has anyone else noticed that those AI armies that have no heroes sometimes seem to "flag" the mines? You can notice that when the creatures turns towards mines (if it has picked up resources) or visits it.

Some tips to the map makers:
Give the AI good skills from the start (like (Grand) Master Magic with spells). Giving it multiple levels doesn't often help as the level up theme is more towards diversifying than specializing.
Give the AI enough resources to build up the town with better speed.
Give it more heroes from the start.
(Those three alone should be enough to make the AI tough)
Give it more creatures (not necessarily needed, AI's weakness is heroes.)
Give AI artifacts (in the case you don't want that them player gets them, take those artifacts away from defeated branch of hero's (not army's) standard events).


To make the AI appear smarter (in the case you don't want that it cheats):
Don't use normal mines at all, instead use weekly resource mines. AI does much better job capturing those.
Give both player and AI Mage Guilds fully built-up with libraries and maybe some other buildings like Caravans (that way the AI doesn't waste it resources to Mage Guilds).
Don't put much loose piles of resources/artifacts/altars to the map.
Give multiple heroes at start to every player (better used when there are no random starting alignments, so no need to random heroes).
I'm not sure of this, but AI often seems not to use up its full movement, so it might be good idea to use slow terrain type like sand or desert in the map.

How to keep the map alive and exciting (instead of that usual mop-up after tough enemy armies are taken, which plagues many strategy games).
1. When there is more than one computer player, and one of them is defeated, give considerable bonuses to other AI players (bigger bonuses the bigger the map is and how long it takes).
2. Same as above, but with heroes instead of armies. So when one AI hero is defeated, AI players gain bonuses.
3. To keep the map from mop-up, consider special victory conditions.
4. Let AI stacks loose (who are trapped in the map) with bombs. Can also be neutrals (neutral heroes can capture towns, mines and dwellings like coloured heroes do).

Even with H4 AI, it is childsplay to make the AI way too strong. Remember that the goal seldom is to make the player lose (unless the map has a touch for the bizarre or there is storyline behind it) than to give the proper amount of challenge ("proper" amount sometimes reflects how good player the map maker himself is ).

I don't have the expansion, so I don't know if the AI has been improved in it or not. However, I know that 1.3 patch (and maybe latters too) has improved it and a lot. I can remember how badly the AI played in Just Another Mine War in 1.0 (it was especially annoying as AI used to teleport hop meaninglessly all the time).

If the bugs and bad design decision I mentioned in this post were fixed, I'm pretty sure that most or all of the players were more than pleased with the AI.
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pepak
pepak


Adventuring Hero
posted March 15, 2003 09:24 PM

Quote:
Wrong Pepak, the AI DOES NOT know the whole map.


Yes, it does. It can be, and it was several times, proved easily. One example: simply build a test map with an AI army located on a clearing with 4 teleporters out, and place the guards at three of the teleporter exits and a treasure at the fourth. The AI hero will always avoid the guarded exits (if you make the guards strong enough).

Quote:
Though it doesn't seem to be affected by Wog of War (considering the effect of Necropolis and Seer's Hut in H3, it is good that it "sees" through it). AI has to scout like a player has to.


We are talking about Heroes 4, though, and in H4 the AI does see the whole map from the beginning. It will never teleport if it can't beat the guards at the teleporter exit, despite the fact it should not be able to see the guards at all. It will never leave its castle unguarded if there is any possibility that you could reach it. Etc.

Quote:
For me, the most challenging was the Waerjak campaign (Might campaign in H4). Beating past those pirates and bandits at the beginning was a real tricky part. WOW campaigns, on the other hand, prove not challenging, but rather frustrating for me :-(

That's because you play on champion. If you want to get challenge beating through creature stacks that just sit there and do nothing, the champion is the level for you.


I wonder why people think that on champion you have to sit tight and gather army... The whole point, and the whole challenge, is to beat the neutral stacks despite their overwhelming strength...

Quote:
How to keep the map alive and exciting (instead of that usual mop-up after tough enemy armies are taken, which plagues many strategy games).
1. When there is more than one computer player, and one of them is defeated, give considerable bonuses to other AI players (bigger bonuses the bigger the map is and how long it takes).


I don't consider this idea "exciting". It will either improve nothing (if I am powerful enough to beat one AI, I am usually powerful enough to beat them all), or it will make the map frustrating (why should I bother playing it if the better I play, the more I get punished for that).

Quote:
I don't have the expansion, so I don't know if the AI has been improved in it or not.


It has not, in either of the expansions, and according to NWC people it never will. Perhaps in H5, but I don't hold my hopes too high for that.

Quote:
However, I know that 1.3 patch (and maybe latters too) has improved it and a lot.


I have never seen any improvement.

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Thunder
Thunder


Responsible
Famous Hero
posted March 15, 2003 10:09 PM
Edited By: Thunder on 15 Mar 2003

Make a small map. Put eight stack of AI armies with considerable strength and heroes in it to one corner. Put a town to opposite corner. And put your own hero into small area cornered by mountains. Leave the rest of the map blank. When you start the game type NWCPROMETHEUS and see what the AI does. It explores the blank areas, whereas it wouldn't if it saw the entire map.

I said that the AI doesn't see the WHOLE map. And even though it does see the guardians behind the teleports. Once it has exited those unguarded ones, it starts to explore (it went to directions where there was nothing to be gained, even opposite direction where that castle was, I tested out the teleport thing).

Quote:

I have never seen any improvement.



I have. Everything isn't mentioned in readme, but: "A.I. creatures now give their items to the hero when they join the army.". And I haven't experienced that teleport hopping since 1.0.
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pepak
pepak


Adventuring Hero
posted March 15, 2003 10:27 PM

Quote:
see what the AI does. It explores the blank areas, whereas it wouldn't if it saw the entire map.


It wouldn't? I have seen it wandering aimlessly and avoiding unguarded castles or mines before. I find it more likely that is does see the whole map but just acts stupidly all the time than that it only sees some areas of the map and plays either stupidly or cleverly on random.

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Thunder
Thunder


Responsible
Famous Hero
posted March 16, 2003 02:32 PM
Edited By: Thunder on 16 Mar 2003

ok, I made new version of the map (where there was those eight heroes, but made it to four stacks), filled the map with eyes of magi and put a hut of the magi next to the AI heroes. In the first turn AI combined its forces to two groups and ended the turn (this is the bug I mentioned in the above post and it should be fixed as it handicaps the AI greatly). On the next turn the AI visited the hut and started to move towards the towns IN A DIRECT LINE without taking any sidesteps or anything. However, the AI moved only one of the two combined armies the another did nothing (I've forgot to mention this, but the AI sometimes doesn't move all of its armies for some odd reason, I consider it a bug). After the AI captured the town it didn't start to wander aimlessly but stayed right here and brought the another army to the town, simply because there was nothing left to do.

And I don't even remember when I've last seen the AI wander aimlessly. Last time was in 1.0, I think. Or maybe it is because I don't play on Champion. Skipping mine doesn't mean that AI is wandering aimlessly, it always has some agenda to do so even if it is just discovering the dark shroud.
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