View Full Version : Does the AI "cheat"?
March 6th, 2007, 02:27 AM
I am very impressed with the AI algorithms for this game.
Ok, here's the question. Does the AI get any benefits or bonuses to production that the human player does not? Are there any other fringe benefits that the computer players get that humans don't?
I have heard from friends and also read (I think) that the Dominions AI does not "cheat". But what does that mean? It could simply mean that the AI is not given any more information than what it should be able to see about enemy troop deployments. What about production and such? I assume that there are no tweaks done to tactical combat for AI opponents. Does the Dominions AI get to see any more of the map than it should? Does it get more information about enemy troops than it should?
I've set up a scenario I like that is very challenging. I play vs 5 AI opponents on a small random map. It's great because everyone starts right on top of each other. You don't have to wait long at all to get into the action. Whether and which independents to attack early is a crucial question. A bigger question is how much of your army you can send east when you've got a neighbor breathing down your neck from the west and the south. It's fun.
I am worried that playing too much against the AI is going to mess up my MP game. Maybe I should get into some more MP games.
Thanks for any help.
March 6th, 2007, 03:06 AM
The AI gets gold and production bonuses at higher difficulty levels. So it will gather larger armies and come at you with huge hordes, but it doesn't do things the player couldn't do. It does suffer a bit from the common strategy game issue of "AI sees all and knows all", so having low PD in the rear is an invitation to get rained on by Call of the Winds, Arouse Hunger and Call of the Wild, but that's a minor problem anyway.
Don't worry about SP screwing up your MP, MP is a whole different beast anyway, so you're going to have to essentially relearn the game for MP. These forums are a great help for speeding that process up.
March 6th, 2007, 05:10 AM
I'm impressed that anyone could be impressed by the AI.
I mean I don't want to complain about it because they could have chosen to not put it in at all,.. but seriously,.. what exactly impressed you about the AI?
March 6th, 2007, 08:01 AM
The AI is not that impressive IMHO. And indeed the AI "cheats", it gets more design points/gold/resources when set above normal level. Plus it gets information about where your provinces are to cast some spells on them.
Problem is that it builds mainly tons of low-end units, and has no idea about pretender design, bless strategies, or anything magic.
Still I agree it's a fun SP partner on small maps, as you are hard-pressed containing numerous AI armies in the early game.
March 6th, 2007, 10:39 AM
I'm not sure what it is. Maybe it is really the game design I am impressed by, and how fun it is to figure out how to win. The tactical combats are really a blast to watch "live" before you know the final outcome.
I guess I was impressed that any wargame was able to beat me. Now that I am aware of the extent of the advantage the AI has, I am not all that impressed any more. I am impressed that the game is so much fun and has such great depth.
March 6th, 2007, 11:21 AM
The AI in Dominions is quite impressive for a strategy game AI, especially for a game as complicated as Dominions.
March 6th, 2007, 11:29 AM
As AIs go this one is very impressive. In the AI newsgroups it holds its own very well against many other games. There is alot of "thinking code" in there which would be very hard to improve on without breaking it out into seperate versions for each nation, and each tendency (defensive, aggressive, neutral) and even subcategories within.
As for cheating..
The settings only decides whether the AI will start with less, the same, or more points for creating their pretender and scales. Thats what happens when you decide how hard an AI you will go against.
Its very hard to create an AI that doesnt "cheat". Unless it plays like you (from another program that makes its turns) its going to know things. Being a part of the game itself means that it starts out seeing whole map, it knows what everyone is doing, it knows where hidden items are. Its not that the programmer gives access to that info to the AI. The programmer has to try and write the AI to limit its visions of such things. I think Illwinter has done a great job of avoiding that type of cheating.
March 6th, 2007, 12:26 PM
We can only agree to disagree. True, Dom3's AI handles a lot of complicated things very well (at least as far as I can tell). However it also does a lot of incredibly stupid things. It's not really an excuse that the AI of a lot of other games is awful; Dom3 still has major AI flaws that remove a great deal of challenge and fun from SP.
I really shouldn't be able to whomp two Impossible level AIs on my second proper play of the game without ever feeling even slightly pressured, should I? I mean there are several settings of AI there, but I'd never use anything but impossible, despite the fact that it supposedly cheats in terms of resources, gold etc. Most other games I'd hesitate to play on an 'impossible' setting not because the AI cheats an insane amount, but because it is ruthless, efficient and aggressive.
Again, I'm not complaining here, but I find it hard not to chip in when people sing its praises. It's certainly adequate, considering the game leans toward multiplayer,... but impressive? Meh.
March 6th, 2007, 12:41 PM
Yes, impressive. Consider the number of variables and available things in the game and then consider the AIs of other games that are far more limited in scope.
The Dom3 AI is well coded and within its parameters, ruthless, efficient and aggressive, even if it can't optimize everything the same way a human can. I've always played my strat games on the higehst difficulty settings simply because otherwise there is no point and they are too easy. I did the same in Dom2 as well, but with Dom3, I don't necessarily want all impossible AIs all the time.
You citing just two games and being able to beat impossible AIs on the second one isn't indicative of much. Depends on how badly the AI nations screwed up pretender design. My first Dom3 game I started next to Mighty AI Niefelheim that simply fell apart with an empire of order 3, sloth 3, cold 3, death 3, misfortune 3, drain 3 and I mopped it up as an afterthought while I kept Yomi and Ermor off my back with the other hand. Meanwhile my friend started next to Arco, Lanka and Ermor and the only reason he didn't have a really hard time of it was that Abysia pestered both arco and Lanka enough to ruin their day.
The second game we put impossible AIs and it's like getting hit by a steamroller. We had to restart that game due to map bugs while we were both doing well, but the second try is the one where we're getting hammered.
Try a few more games on a bigger variety of maps and see if your assessment still stands. Of course, over time the AI will become easier and easier to beat and humans are more capable, but to say that the Dom3 AI is average only is not giving credit where credit is due.
March 6th, 2007, 01:04 PM
From my perspective it's not a matter of optimising, squeaking out a more efficient starting build or making sure that every gem or piece of gold counts. It's more that the AI just throws away its troops, mages,.. resources,... without the slightest consideration of what it's up against.
I'm far from an efficient player; I like to build nice thematic armies of stuff - I use units which I know aren't superb, because I feel that armies of nation A should be made up primarily of archer B and infantry C, with only small elite groups of D (those Ds are crazy powerful). I play for fun, not to win in the quickest time by the largest amount.
And yet again and again I've mangled impossible AI opponents and almost every time there's been little real threat. I'll be honest and say I haven't checked out their scales, but I've played a lot of SP on a variety of maps with a variety of nations and setups (although nothing /really/ huge because I don't have the time or patience).
Maybe I've just been very (un)lucky and the AI have picked terrible scales time after time. But looking at the score graphs they're almost always ahead of me in gem income, research,... often gold. They just tend to squander it all in battles they have no hope of winning.
Actually there is one part of the Dom3 AI which I would consider ahead of the curve; it is able to handle mod nations. Some of the ones with unusual gameplay mechanics fox it, but generally the AI does ok with them. This, I suppose, is because it doesn't rely on AI scripting tailored to individual nations (for the most part).
On the subject of the huge number of variables and how the AI handles them: The AI is actually pretty poor at most of the 'extra' things that Dom3 has over other games. Summoning, creating and assigning magic items, making use of the massive variety of troops,.. all of these things the AI does, but seemingly at random and without any intelligent strategy.
I'm willing to bet the AI would actually beat me on a tiny map. But it wouldn't make for a very interesting game.
March 6th, 2007, 01:52 PM
Feel free to tackle it if you want. Turn on debugging to a high level, play a game, look at the log to see the AI "thinking". Recommend changes.
But to say that its not impressive even though it ranks high as an AI but isnt AH (artificially human) is like saying that the space shuttle isnt impressive because its not star trek. If your level to be impressed is something that doesnt exist, then meh.
March 6th, 2007, 02:02 PM
I've played many computer wargames, and the AI in the Domion Series is Impressive compared to the majority of the games out there. One must remember that it is an AI, not a human, therefore in order to give it somewhat of a fighting chance and to make it at least somewhat challenging, ai cheats are the way to go until a learning, thinking ai is designed. This AI in SP stands alone compared to most wargames out there and it is very well done and developed. It shows that the designers did their homework and spent a lot of time developing it. Not everyone will agree with this, but thats only human. I only wish more designers would spend the time to make their ai's as good as the one in Domions.
March 6th, 2007, 02:26 PM
I've played a lot of strategy games with better AI than Dom3. You can assume I'm expecting ridiculous things of it or living in la-la land if you want, but I remain unimpressed. I could list games with superior AI, but this really doesn't seem the right place to do something like that and it's hardly constructive.
I suspect a lot of you have had your judgement clouded by your love of the game. Maybe I'm off the mark, but I really don't get where the praise of the AI is coming from. So Dom3 is a complicated game with a great deal of variables. So what? It's not like the AI makes use of these variables in a meaningful way. Dom3 supports stealth, but the AI doesn't launch stealthy raids, it supports assassinations, but the AI selects targets at random, it supports the building of SCs, the AI can't handle that, it supports waves of spies building unrest, the AI can't do that,.. and so on and so on. The AI plays a very simple game. It basically pursues brute military force and in my experience it seems to lack the risk assessment to make that work. It can maybe overpower you through weight of resources, or luck,.. but that's just about it. I fail to see what's impressing you. Is it that the AI researches and finds gem sites and casts spells? Please note that it really doesn't get anywhere by doing any of this. It's doing what a Dom3 player is supposed to do, but none of it boils down to anything that threatens the player.
If it seems like I'm being overly negative in this thread then I apologise. Maybe there's something I don't 'get' about how great the AI is. Maybe I'm just the best Dom3 player ever to grace the earth (hah). To me it's just an average AI which I'm glad to have at all in a multiplayer focused title. I still very much enjoy SP and I like the Dom3 community too.
How did the Dom3 AI 'rank high' by the way? Was it for challenge or was it for how closely it matches human playstyle?
March 6th, 2007, 02:34 PM
Gandalf - are you /sure/ that the only advantage the AI gets is starting points? I seem to face lots of enemies with very large armies even when their scales are not so impressive.
In fact, considering how poorly the AI uses its pretender design points I'd expect the different difficulties would not be very different in terms of how hard they are if this is the case. I was under the impression that the AI got a bonus to gold income at least on higher difficulties.
March 6th, 2007, 02:56 PM
You are right, I think that is correct. The AI does get that. On the average setting it gets everything the same as you.
But Im not sure if Id call it a "cheat" on higher settings. If you say "I want to play a mighty AI nation" then you get an AI with a mightier nation than you. Thats not a bad way of making up for the fact that the AI cant be as smart as you (much less a setting making it smarter than that)
Usually when people ask about cheating AI they mean seeing everyone on the map, making decisions based on knowing your moves, access to things that only the game can know.
March 6th, 2007, 03:36 PM
All right. I couldnt find where Johan had posted here the info we had in beta testing so I went back there and asked. He has given permission to post the exact formula.
Johan K said:
Resource, magic gem and money bonuses are -30, 0, 30, 60, 100%
Design point bonuses are 0, 0, +50, +100, +150 pnts
March 6th, 2007, 03:46 PM
Minor cheats, or rule differences on normal (iirc):
The AI has a supply bonus even on normal since putting supply into army movement calculations is hard(tm).
When an AI has decided to launch an assassination spell like seeking arrow at you, target province is choosen randomly weighted by how many commanders you have in each province.
March 6th, 2007, 04:03 PM
The AI is pretty good, but it does not compare to a human. However, short of very simple games, like chess, AI just isn't that good yet in any context. Compared to a lot of other complex strategy games, the AI is excellent.
I have faced AI SC, but not often. I have also seen good spell casting choices. I agree, the large army approch is not the way to play the late and mid game, but I have seen humans do worse...
March 6th, 2007, 06:21 PM
Thanks for all of the information, guys. This is great stuff. I am starting to understand now why the AI opponents are so challenging and so much fun to play against.
March 6th, 2007, 06:50 PM
You should browse thru its brain sometime. Turning on the debug and looking at the log shows ALOT of code has gone into making it smarter since Dom2
March 7th, 2007, 09:38 PM
The AI also knows who owns every province.
March 8th, 2007, 06:30 AM
The AI do get more gold and resources. that has been confirmed by the developers themself. That post should be on these boards and possible to find with a search.
March 8th, 2007, 12:42 PM
The AI also knows who owns every province.
I dont remember that being confirmed.
The game of course knows, which is why its one of the hardest things to do for AI. Program them to only know certain things. But the AI seems seperated.
Usually this comes from "it declared war on me and was no where near" but that usually ends up being from scouts or spells. Its very hard for normal players to verify.
The AI does seem to react to hidden units more than it should. Moving armies to provinces that have hidden units in them. But since that tends to get abused by the players it doesnt tend to get mentioned much.
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