Author Topic: Colony Automation  (Read 1783 times)

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Offline Hydrofoil

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Colony Automation
« on: January 10, 2018, 08:03:37 AM »
So i was reading the Aurora 4x discord channel and they were talking about micromanagement and automation and how some people love and hate it. It got me thinking and I have a question/consideration for Steve. How easy would it be to implement some automation to colony development?

In my head I see it going something like this:
  • Player assigns a planetary governor
  • Player than hits a tick box that allows the governor the ability to build stations/ground constructs/ground units on a planet based on some preset behaviours Economic/Scientific/Warfare that sort of thing.

Im not sure how dependent the NPR Colony management AI is on other parts of the system. but its possible that, that code could be used to allow players to automate management of colonies and allow them to concentrate on other things, whilst still allowing those who love micromanaging everything to do so.

What do people think?
 

Offline AL

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Re: Colony Automation
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2018, 04:13:37 PM »
Similar to the sector AI in Stellaris? I feel you should be able to "automate" most things in colony development with a repeating queue of 4 or so construction items; getting some smart AI might take too much time away from other development, and if you don't do it right it just never gets used too.
 

Offline froggiest1982

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Re: Colony Automation
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2018, 06:25:57 PM »
To answer the question: I don't really think the AI is a problem considering the new races are already managed by the AI (with limitation to make it easier for them) and the system could be implemented for human use as well. 

Personal consideration off topic: I believe the main purpose of Aurora is to manage and customize all aspect of your race and I am quite sure that Steve is not interested in having an Aquarium like game on the style of Distant Worlds, but that is my feeling and I could be wrong.

More indepht considerations on automated functions: I agree that would be good to have some sort of automations especially in late games where you have multiple colonies to look after, but honestly I also recognize that even in my biggest and longer game I probably have only 3 or 4 planets to really look after, the others are just a bunch of logistic chains to supply materials which once set are pretty much running forever unless you are in need to refit the ships, then you have to set it again; must be noted that you can always use the save order function and apply it back once the ships are out of refit process.  Honestly, and here I would like to know what @Steve Walmsley have to say in regards, would be great to have the same function implemented for conditional orders as well considering I find it tedious to apply the same conditional orders all over again when we could just have presets same as for orders.  I apologize if this has been implemented in Aurora C# already and I didn't notice it.
 

Offline ChildServices

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Re: Colony Automation
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2018, 09:42:54 PM »
I don't think there's much reason to force the player to constantly be manually doing any of the things that aren't actually fun. Which is to say, I don't think there should be that much micromanagement outside of combat (which I've started to view as the main feature of the game) aside from the direct production of war materiel, and the "set and forget" phase of making your non-forgeworld colonies into money-printer farms.

Something I actually said in the discord mentioned by OP:
Quote
[15:19] ChildServices: I think I have the radical view of fans of this game. That is to say, I don't believe having to do more things yourself really increases the game's depth.
Especially since it's not actually a real time game. In an RTS it's different and your effective APM can actually drastically alter the outcome of the game, but you can take as much time as you want before passing the next increment in Aurora.
[15:21] ChildServices: How much really changes at the strategic level of the game if I drag two sliders and then let the civilian economy sort out the rest (Distant Worlds)
Versus...
Setting every single stockpile limit myself, building the resource train(s) myself, and then manually telling that train to pick-up/drop-off at every single core planet along the way to the forge world and then back out to the rim.
The short answer is: Nothing. Aside from your quality of life.

Elaborating on how this kind of automation would work... We should be able to use the automated civilian fleet as effectively empire-wide mass drivers. Only they'd be for any resource, including: fuel, ordnance (civilian magazines will be in C#), fighters (so will civilian hangars), and maintenance supplies.
The upside of mass-drivers for in-system resource transactions over just paying civilians to do everything would simply be their raw efficiency. You don't have to pay them to move anything, and they do it on a much more reliable timetable.

Somebody also suggested having some kind of SMAC-like colony AI that automatically produces certain buildings depending on what you set it to. The issue of that though is always going to be the issue of preserving the granularity in strategic decision making with any system that automates the game. That granularity is what I imagine most of the fanboys actually value, not the micromanagement itself. Even then, there's a way around that...
Quote
[03:05] ChildServices: I think fitting in with Aurora's granularity is important
[03:05] ChildServices: Deciding specific structures you want him to repeatedly make, and being able to make that a template you can apply elsewhere, would fit better
[03:06] ChildServices: There's no reason for money printer worlds to be building anything that isn't a money printer[financial centre], for example
I don't think you'd actually lose any player agency if this was the way governors were implemented.
Other features to make this more user friendly:
  • A toggle that halts automation at 50% of their set stockpile.
  • The ability to set a template to automatically apply on all new colonies.

Edit: Could even add civilian terraformers to the game. It's going to be boring no matter how much more detailed you make it, might as well let us automate it.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2018, 09:47:06 PM by ChildServices »
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Offline froggiest1982

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Re: Colony Automation
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2018, 11:12:07 PM »
Could even add civilian terraformers to the game. It's going to be boring no matter how much more detailed you make it, might as well let us automate it.

I actually really like this idea. I agree terraforming at the end is just boring because the procedure is almost pretty much same and you end up with the calculator trying to understand the most efficient way to terraform worlds based on which would also be faster. I personally sorted this issue using a custom Excel file :-)
 

Offline King-Salomon

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Re: Colony Automation
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2018, 02:49:43 AM »
IF there would be some kind of "automatisation be included, I really would like to see a system were the skill of the planet governor counts into this...

a high skill administrator would do well in the "laws" the player sets for this... a bad administrator would do as he wants - maybe the player would only see "how bad the governor really is" AFTER he set the planet on auto - and than it could be too late to even chance the administrator as the governor would use force to defend his position...

for me its: if you want automatatisation, you have to deal with the possibility that it will "bite you in the ass" somehow - and that the "AI" should be doing well (meaning: doing what the player wants it to do) with high skill Comanders but really bad (doing random things) with low skill commanders - problem would be the player would only select high skill admins to be set on auto - to reduce this there would also be some kind of mechanic be needed
 

Offline ChildServices

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Re: Colony Automation
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2018, 03:49:14 AM »
a high skill administrator would do well in the "laws" the player sets for this... a bad administrator would do as he wants - maybe the player would only see "how bad the governor really is" AFTER he set the planet on auto - and than it could be too late to even chance the administrator as the governor would use force to defend his position...

Maybe if your game is Crusader Kings 2, but I think it'd be horrible in this game. I would basically go back to VB6 if that was included.

The micromanagement in this game is pretty awful. I don't agree that we should run the risk of being "punished" for avoiding it.
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Offline Jorgen_CAB

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Re: Colony Automation
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2018, 02:27:16 PM »
One major problem I think many games have which also is in Aurora are that we will be able to min/max colonies and planets much better than the AI.

Industry should be more of a rigid thing as should research so you actually just set long term development and that's it. It would automatically be automated.

Right now there are no reason you don't just put 100% of your industry to do one thing at a time and it does that with 100% efficiency, this could be changed so different planet industry and good at different types of production and switching changing a planets industry focus should actually hurt until it get back up to full efficiency again.

The current system and production method does not leave it self to good use of automation since the mechanic is very black and white.
 

Offline ChildServices

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Re: Colony Automation
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2018, 10:13:50 PM »
One major problem I think many games have which also is in Aurora are that we will be able to min/max colonies and planets much better than the AI.

Industry should be more of a rigid thing as should research so you actually just set long term development and that's it. It would automatically be automated.

Right now there are no reason you don't just put 100% of your industry to do one thing at a time and it does that with 100% efficiency, this could be changed so different planet industry and good at different types of production and switching changing a planets industry focus should actually hurt until it get back up to full efficiency again.

The current system and production method does not leave it self to good use of automation since the mechanic is very black and white.

I think the problem with this is that minmaxing and the extreme granularity of strategic/tactical choice (i.e you basically make every tiny little decision at every step of the way) is almost the entirety of what makes the game so rich and complex. Automation of any form should take that into account. It's why I think being able to save/load production templates and having far more involved use of civilians is a better solution, and far truer to the game, than basically removing all player decision making in research and industry construction as you've suggested.

And the old "all is manual" way of moving things around that we have now would still be available, and viable due to its efficiency over waiting for civilians to actually fulfil contracts. It'd add a choice of having a state-run supply train versus a civilian one, based on the logistical value of that train.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2018, 10:15:34 PM by ChildServices »
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Offline Hydrofoil

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Re: Colony Automation
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2018, 04:39:56 AM »
I think the problem with this is that minmaxing and the extreme granularity of strategic/tactical choice (i.e you basically make every tiny little decision at every step of the way) is almost the entirety of what makes the game so rich and complex. Automation of any form should take that into account. It's why I think being able to save/load production templates and having far more involved use of civilians is a better solution, and far truer to the game, than basically removing all player decision making in research and industry construction as you've suggested.

And the old "all is manual" way of moving things around that we have now would still be available, and viable due to its efficiency over waiting for civilians to actually fulfil contracts. It'd add a choice of having a state-run supply train versus a civilian one, based on the logistical value of that train.

It was mentioned earlier in the thread that at most in longer games the player only really has 3-4 actual planets that need looking after. That is a limit of the current game as by that point the game is slowing to a crawl due to DB processes. However, this is going to be radically different we are going to see larger games with more colonies etc. Now what I'm proposing is not to get in the way of those that want to micromanage everything. What I'm proposing is to give the player the choice. Allowing the player to hit a button or toggle and set some rules on the automation I don't think is too much to ask and still, it probably would be possible for players to interrupt the automated process and add their own construction queues in. In the end, i believe its the players choice what they want to do. I know i like micromanaging things but even Aurora makes my head hurt sometimes and id love to just set a colony going with the governor and let them start building with a focus but still be able to but in with my own stuff. Its kinda how local government and national governments work in an abstracted way anyway, Local councils/governments set out zoning areas for things but national government can but in aswell from time to time and tell a local council/government "build that there".

Also i never mentioned anything about Automating research in my initial post :)
« Last Edit: January 12, 2018, 04:41:30 AM by Hydrofoil »
 

Offline Jorgen_CAB

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Re: Colony Automation
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2018, 08:45:28 PM »
As said above... when you have a few planets to look after then the idea of micro manage this a few times a year is ok but not when you have hundreds of colonies.

The current mechanic are very gamey, if I may say so, and I don't really think it adds much to the game in the long term... what I suggest is instead that the player make long term planning instead of short term planning with his colonies. Not only is it more realistic, it also actually is HARDER to plan ones economy that way which produce more IMPORTANT choice instead of chasing short term goals with little real impact since most of those choices are self evident (most of the time). I usually call them choice by illusion because you really only have very few "real" choices to make with the current mechanic, there almost always are only one good choice you should take in order to expand your economy in the most efficient way.
 

Offline ChildServices

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Re: Colony Automation
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2018, 10:15:52 PM »
As said above... when you have a few planets to look after then the idea of micro manage this a few times a year is ok but not when you have hundreds of colonies.

The current mechanic are very gamey, if I may say so, and I don't really think it adds much to the game in the long term... what I suggest is instead that the player make long term planning instead of short term planning with his colonies. Not only is it more realistic, it also actually is HARDER to plan ones economy that way which produce more IMPORTANT choice instead of chasing short term goals with little real impact since most of those choices are self evident (most of the time). I usually call them choice by illusion because you really only have very few "real" choices to make with the current mechanic, there almost always are only one good choice you should take in order to expand your economy in the most efficient way.

I disagree that there'd be more or more important choices. You'd just go for whichever industry focus' RNG is the most likely to allow you to build war materiel, because that's what this game is mostly about: wars.

I'm sounding like a broken record now but, like, the granularity is the game.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2018, 10:20:32 PM by ChildServices »
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Offline Jorgen_CAB

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Re: Colony Automation
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2018, 03:22:35 AM »
I disagree that there'd be more or more important choices. You'd just go for whichever industry focus' RNG is the most likely to allow you to build war materiel, because that's what this game is mostly about: wars.

I'm sounding like a broken record now but, like, the granularity is the game.

That is not even slightly true because this is how I actually play the game using house rules. First of all I usually play with multiple human controlled factions so it is a must unless I want to go insane from micromanagement.

The decisions I need to make is how each colony should grow within a five to then year period. I can only change the production roughly once every year and only a fraction of it. I can only turn around a planets production into mostly war production in a few years. Before that they are on long term production schedules and I often have some planets producing. War in these kind of conditions also tend to be low intensity wars, no one really want's to fire the big gun because everyone are afraid on being on the loosing side.

But you could also introduce this with a slight update to the economically model in the game. The civilian industry should be much more important and dynamically expand industry in planets anyway as well as consume resources. You should rather set up contracts with the civilian part of the population when you want government stuff produced. I think it should work more closely with how you interact with the civilian fleets.

I promise you, the decisions you make are fewer but in general the have a bigger impact and is important when you do them, they also require you to think hard because you can't easily change your mind later.

The current system is also harder to have the AI keep up with the player in efficiency. With a slower less controllable system you can always have the AI cut some corner here and there and it is harder to abuse the mechanic to min/max. Min/max mechanic should be reduced as much as possible if you want the AI to be a bit more competition in general, there simply need to be less good or bad decisions and more bad/bad or good/good decisions to make.

Going to war should always feel like a huge gamble unless you are a super power and there are no other powers even close to rival you. Since there are no internal social pressures in the game aside from RP most decisions in the game then become rather binary.

But then again, this game is all about RP in the first place... there are too many loopholes in the game mechanics and you may Space Master anything you want at any time.
 

Offline ChildServices

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Re: Colony Automation
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2018, 09:29:56 AM »
This turned out to be much longer than I thought it would.
Hehe... That's what she said.

That is not even slightly true because this is how I actually play the game using house rules. First of all I usually play with multiple human controlled factions so it is a must unless I want to go insane from micromanagement.

The decisions I need to make is how each colony should grow within a five to then year period. I can only change the production roughly once every year and only a fraction of it. I can only turn around a planets production into mostly war production in a few years. Before that they are on long term production schedules and I often have some planets producing. War in these kind of conditions also tend to be low intensity wars, no one really want's to fire the big gun because everyone are afraid on being on the loosing side.

But it is true. Everybody who either does the bare minimum of roleplaying (me), or just doesn't roleplay at all, is just going to pick whichever focuses will let them actually access the core of the game: space wars. You can roleplay that all of your factions are scared of wars for whatever reason, and then do things to arbitrarily keep them all at even levels in power so that there's actually some basis for it, but it's still just make-believe. It's not really supported by any of the mechanics, and I don't view results gained from roleplaying as real practical evidence that a system works.
Why do I view roleplaying as bad evidence? Because it's effectively arbitrary in the game. It's just the player intentionally playing in a suboptimal way for fun and to create a story.

And that's not an attempt to belittle you for playing the game in a way that you feel is fun, because a lot of Aurora fans seem to have fun the same way. I just don't think you understand what's going to happen when your house rules become actual game mechanics and get into the hands of minmaxers like me. I read this and all I think is:
"I will have less choices to make and less things to do, so now I have less actual game to play."

Quote
But you could also introduce this with a slight update to the economically model in the game. The civilian industry should be much more important and dynamically expand industry in planets anyway as well as consume resources. You should rather set up contracts with the civilian part of the population when you want government stuff produced. I think it should work more closely with how you interact with the civilian fleets.

I promise you, the decisions you make are fewer but in general the have a bigger impact and is important when you do them, they also require you to think hard because you can't easily change your mind later.

But I already know exactly what needs to be built, so let me build it. I think until you add actual working internal politics to the game, leaving your empire's development effectively in the hands of the RNG is really not ideal. In my eyes, it would just remove actual gameplay for the sake of simulation or roleplaying.
The game would become, as @froggiest1982 amusingly called it, an "aquarium game" :)

You see, the decisions I make now are all probably just as high impact as the ones you make under your house rules, they just have a large number of individual pieces as far as actually implementing them goes. All I want is to eliminate the repetition of the micro involved in implementing my strategies.
To imply that what the player is doing has less long term impact because they have to perform more individual actions is silly. And to imply that if the player had less direct control over the game, they'd have more strategic options available or more "deep" ones, is even more silly. The only reason your system would be more deep is because you're making a hundred decisions in one go, whereas somebody like me would rather only make 50-60 if that's all he needed to do to achieve certain goals.

The core of my desire for more automation comes from keeping the game basically how it is, only a little easier to play. I just think I shouldn't have to perform any task more than once per match if that task itself isn't all too enjoyable or individually important. Those tasks should be much easier to repeat.
Games like Factorio support that very concept with things like automated construction blueprints, and something in the same vein as that would work perfectly with Aurora. I'm even fine with it if it has to be eventually unlocked through technology or something else, although preferably before the point where it'll start to really matter.

As for how this would work:
At every single new colony I'd like to be able to apply a colony "blueprint". All I'd do is load a thing, and (using my ideal "blueprint" for every non-factory world as an example) it'd automatically apply terraforming targets, stockpiles, a demand contract for certain facilities (usually a few construction factories and terraformers), and the order to repeatedly construct financial centres until there's no pop to support more (and to start again when there is).
Maybe optionally add in a toggle that automatically disables and then puts a supply contract out for all of the terraforming installations on the planet when both 1) the terraforming targets that were set by either myself or the blueprint are met, and 2) the planet is habitable. That way these expensive and bulky facilities return to the supply system and can be used elsewhere once they're not needed, so I don't have to remember where they've gone. Alternatively: civilian terraformers.

Coupled with this, I'd like to be able to just place an empire-wide construction order for certain transportable installations, similar to Distant Worlds' "ship production order" screen.
My designated construction worlds would distribute the contract amongst themselves based on their production rate at the time, resource availability, and when their factories will actually be available. Then they'll get to work fulfilling my request after finishing whatever manually assigned tasks they have. Once the facilities are built, they'd be automatically added to a supply contract wherever they are.

Quote
The current system is also harder to have the AI keep up with the player in efficiency. With a slower less controllable system you can always have the AI cut some corner here and there and it is harder to abuse the mechanic to min/max. Min/max mechanic should be reduced as much as possible if you want the AI to be a bit more competition in general, there simply need to be less good or bad decisions and more bad/bad or good/good decisions to make.

Going to war should always feel like a huge gamble unless you are a super power and there are no other powers even close to rival you. Since there are no internal social pressures in the game aside from RP most decisions in the game then become rather binary.

But then again, this game is all about RP in the first place... there are too many loopholes in the game mechanics and you may Space Master anything you want at any time.

I disagree that this is even a game about roleplaying, let alone all about roleplaying. You don't even want to know what I think about not being allowed to minmax just because the AI is dumb.

I actually think this is a game that is mostly about space warfare, with a very detailed logistical side to it. Because this is a wargame, I see that the best way to make the AI competitive is for them to make better tactical decisions and to have better ship design guidelines. That way they'll have the tools they need to actually make you think twice about going to war, which would also satisfy your desire for war to be a gamble. Although, it'd be less of a gamble (RNG MAKES HULK ANGRY) and more of a problem which, in order to solve, will require a lot of strategic manoeuvring, scouting, and preparation, so that you can seize the initiative and hold it until you win.

Admittedly, they'd still be pretty dumb on the empire building front, but I think that can be remedied if you'd implemented my idea of colony blueprints by just giving them good blueprints to work off of. Wouldn't be perfect, but it'd be a vast upgrade.
Besides, they could just keep using cheats like they (and basically every other 4x game's AI) do now. They'll still be a pretty substantial threat if all you do is give them better ships and the ability to have more consistent doctrine.
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Offline Person012345

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Re: Colony Automation
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2018, 11:40:18 AM »
Just to say, his suggestion wouldn't facilitate roleplaying or a roleplaying style, it'd facilitate his particular roleplaying style. As someone who is heavily into the RP aspect rather than the gamey aspect, I don't like his suggestion either as it limits the options I have to roleplay. The fewer hard and fast rules empires have to live by the easier it is to imagine a wide variety of scenarios. So I am not for reducing the amount of deciding you are allowed to do either, as you are I am only in favour of reducing needless clicking where possible. I actually enjoy managing as much of my empire as possible and once ran a game with like, 10 or so player controlled factions without any real issues.
 

 

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