Biter AI pathing makes game too easy.

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Meggal_Bozale
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Biter AI pathing makes game too easy.

Post by Meggal_Bozale » Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:22 pm

All these biters could EASILY beat down the laser turrets no problem, but instead they just flow on the metaphorical conveyor o' death.

Why does this have to be the case? Biter AI could be much smarter for the future. I'm not really sure what's in mind or what you amazing devs have planned, but some new way to have biters attack in some sort of hive mind or something else should be in order. Right now, turret creeping, choke points, and water bridges easily thwart these naive biters. Something has to be done!

An example:
Am I posting in the right thread, by the way? Not quite sure.. I was stuck between the Ideas and Suggestions thread and here.

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Re: Biter AI pathing makes game too easy.

Post by Koub » Tue Jun 18, 2019 5:12 am

I'd say that those biters played the role that was devolved to them : they made you invest some of your resources (in this case mostly power and time) to fight them, diverting those resources from being invested into building your factory. If I understand the devs' point on biters correctly, biters are not there to defeat you, but to distract you, and be a resource sink - which they obviously are.
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Re: Biter AI pathing makes game too easy.

Post by Hannu » Tue Jun 18, 2019 7:02 am

Koub wrote:
Tue Jun 18, 2019 5:12 am
I'd say that those biters played the role that was devolved to them : they made you invest some of your resources (in this case mostly power and time) to fight them, diverting those resources from being invested into building your factory. If I understand the devs' point on biters correctly, biters are not there to defeat you, but to distract you, and be a resource sink - which they obviously are.
Resource needs for defense is quite negligible with normal settings. I would say nothing if you use lasers except maybe short time in early midgame when you have not yet built first ore outposts. After that you do not notice resource sink anymore.

In late game I use gun turrets, leave large biter preservation zones middle of my area, make defense lines intentionally avoid natural choke points and put coal powerplants and mines intentionally near borders to get even small resource consumption. Still one 2 wagon train circulating my base three times per hour can maintain everything.

Better biter AI would give much better immersion in game. Current huge swarms of biters running straight to nearest turret feels just lazy programming. In my opinion it is futile to use thousands of work hours to make fancy graphics if functionality is from student work of basic school. It does not mean that biters kill you or you need more resources to defense at default settings but you have to think more realistically and interestingly instead of strange factorio opimal way.

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Re: Biter AI pathing makes game too easy.

Post by Opsse » Tue Jun 18, 2019 3:08 pm

I understand why you want smarter biters, but I'm not sure this would be fun.
A very smart biters swarm could target strategic electric poles or intentionally block trains to destroy them, which can make the game very frustrating. This is not the kind of difficulty the game want to offer.

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Re: Biter AI pathing makes game too easy.

Post by coppercoil » Tue Jun 18, 2019 6:49 pm

Intentional communication blocking would imply a significant biter intelligence, which is not what we expect (non-standard dangerous world could be an exception). Though, insect-stupid behavior is also unconvincing. I think biters should act like wild predators. What do they do if counterattacked? Maybe they attack from another side, retreat, stays confused for a second and then tries again in some different manner. I think no tiger will run straight if another one has just died in the flames. Of course, all attacking biters will die sooner or later, but some variety would add more authenticity.

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Re: Biter AI pathing makes game too easy.

Post by mudcrabempire » Wed Jun 19, 2019 7:50 pm

Opsse wrote:
Tue Jun 18, 2019 3:08 pm
I understand why you want smarter biters, but I'm not sure this would be fun.
A very smart biters swarm could target strategic electric poles or intentionally block trains to destroy them, which can make the game very frustrating. This is not the kind of difficulty the game want to offer.
I think the issue is not lack of strategy but the deliberate usage of stupidity. When a collumn of biters attacks your turrets in a completely open field, they will charge one after another (or maybe in small groups of ~5), while the rest of the collumn chills. If the whole collumn would bunch up and charge as one, they could often easily swarm over your defenses.

Biters may be meant to be a supply challenge, but that doesn't change the fact that they are enemies trying to destroy you and your factory. Enemies that go out of their way to help you thwarting their attacks and killing them all, by attacking you one after another. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

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Re: Biter AI pathing makes game too easy.

Post by Ranger_Aurelien » Wed Jun 19, 2019 8:10 pm

Note there are a couple of biter attack-related items in the "fixed in next release" folder:

viewforum.php?f=30

viewtopic.php?f=30&t=72036

viewtopic.php?f=30&t=72056
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Re: Biter AI pathing makes game too easy.

Post by Koub » Wed Jun 19, 2019 8:15 pm

mudcrabempire wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 7:50 pm
It leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
You shouldn't eat them :mrgreen:
mudcrabempire wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 7:50 pm
Biters may be meant to be a supply challenge, but that doesn't change the fact that they are enemies trying to destroy you and your factory. Enemies that go out of their way to help you thwarting their attacks and killing them all, by attacking you one after another.
There is no reason why those creatures should have an innate sense of strategy. They may act instinctly, and their instinct can't have prepared them for you, an unpredictable external element to their environment that popped out of nowhere.

Also, each bit of AI has a computing cost, and for a game whose main purpose is not fighting, this cost is often prohibitive.
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Re: Biter AI pathing makes game too easy.

Post by BattleFluffy » Wed Jun 19, 2019 9:04 pm

Koub wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 8:15 pm
There is no reason why those creatures should have an innate sense of strategy
What about wolfs? They are pretty organized. :>

Bitters are well known for their foolishness...

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Re: Biter AI pathing makes game too easy.

Post by mudcrabempire » Wed Jun 19, 2019 11:14 pm

Koub wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 8:15 pm
There is no reason why those creatures should have an innate sense of strategy. They may act instinctly, and their instinct can't have prepared them for you, an unpredictable external element to their environment that popped out of nowhere.
From what I know, most animals instinctively make use of their strengths. Even insekts, who are rather unintelligent can display impressive teamwork in the case of species that live in swarms (think about ants). Biters seem to live and attack in swarms or at least in groups, so it would make sense that they have some instinct of how to work together.
Koub wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 8:15 pm
Also, each bit of AI has a computing cost, and for a game whose main purpose is not fighting, this cost is often prohibitive.
Yeah, the big one, I guess. I would need to take a look at the code and at modding, before I can make serious suggestions, but two ideas I would try are:
-Biter attack parties move in some kind of column formation. Maybe changing that formation to a broader front would help.
-Biters have some kind of aggro range. If the front-row biters get in aggro range of a tower they charge away, while the dudes behind them are still out of range, so they remain in idle-walking-mode. This draws out the column, leading to the one-by-one effect. Maybe there is an easy way (in terms of computing cost) to alert the whole column at once.

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Re: Biter AI pathing makes game too easy.

Post by Meggal_Bozale » Thu Jun 20, 2019 1:26 am

Wow, thread blew up. Not much of a forum-er either, as you can see on the right. I'll clarify I few things I meant now, though.
Koub wrote:
Tue Jun 18, 2019 5:12 am
I'd say that those biters played the role that was devolved to them : they made you invest some of your resources (in this case mostly power and time) to fight them, diverting those resources from being invested into building your factory. If I understand the devs' point on biters correctly, biters are not there to defeat you, but to distract you, and be a resource sink - which they obviously are.
Well yes, but actually no. All they did was have me wait for them to pass over, one by one. This is not an audition, this is war. No army would let their soldiers fight one at a time, and these wartime mutants likely wouldn't either. They could at least communicate some signal to attack a tile at once, have swarm logistics or something. Being bugs, a hive mind could be in place.
Hannu wrote:
Tue Jun 18, 2019 7:02 am
Koub wrote:
Tue Jun 18, 2019 5:12 am
I'd say that those biters played the role that was devolved to them : they made you invest some of your resources (in this case mostly power and time) to fight them, diverting those resources from being invested into building your factory. If I understand the devs' point on biters correctly, biters are not there to defeat you, but to distract you, and be a resource sink - which they obviously are.
Resource needs for defense is quite negligible with normal settings. I would say nothing if you use lasers except maybe short time in early midgame when you have not yet built first ore outposts. After that you do not notice resource sink anymore.

In late game I use gun turrets, leave large biter preservation zones middle of my area, make defense lines intentionally avoid natural choke points and put coal powerplants and mines intentionally near borders to get even small resource consumption. Still one 2 wagon train circulating my base three times per hour can maintain everything.

Better biter AI would give much better immersion in game. Current huge swarms of biters running straight to nearest turret feels just lazy programming. In my opinion it is futile to use thousands of work hours to make fancy graphics if functionality is from student work of basic school. It does not mean that biters kill you or you need more resources to defense at default settings but you have to think more realistically and interestingly instead of strange factorio opimal way.
Indeed, especially when that strain is minimal from one biter at a time coming though. I'm not saying there should be a "Game over" from biters swarming you, especially on normal settings, but I AM saying that biters should be able to swarm parts of your base and outposts, etc.
Opsse wrote:
Tue Jun 18, 2019 3:08 pm
I understand why you want smarter biters, but I'm not sure this would be fun.
A very smart biters swarm could target strategic electric poles or intentionally block trains to destroy them, which can make the game very frustrating. This is not the kind of difficulty the game want to offer.
No, I don't mean this at all. I am attempting to convey, which I apologize for doing a poor job of, not your fault, that they should not really be strategic on what they attack, but WHEN they attack. Biters right now just attack single file, but it would be more realistic even since they can see around them to attack in swarms, almost like zombies, which still have found a way to be smarter than these huge alien insectoids, even brainless. I feel bugs have more of a "hive mind" thing going on as well. Since they are well off enough to construct bases and communities, why not have them use that moderate intelligence to attack your base more uniform? pleasenoonetilegapexploitanymore
coppercoil wrote:
Tue Jun 18, 2019 6:49 pm
Intentional communication blocking would imply a significant biter intelligence, which is not what we expect (non-standard dangerous world could be an exception). Though, insect-stupid behavior is also unconvincing. I think biters should act like wild predators. What do they do if counterattacked? Maybe they attack from another side, retreat, stays confused for a second and then tries again in some different manner. I think no tiger will run straight if another one has just died in the flames. Of course, all attacking biters will die sooner or later, but some variety would add more authenticity.
First off, they make bases. Entire LIVING BASES which efficiently make tons of biters on a SMALL timescale in VAST COMMUNITIES to attack YOU. They seem smart. Second statement you make is nice though from what I can interpret. Maybe not the more intelligent counterattacks as this still nonetheless is a simulation, but some swarm movement directly to the base at once is in order.
mudcrabempire wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 7:50 pm
Opsse wrote:
Tue Jun 18, 2019 3:08 pm
I understand why you want smarter biters, but I'm not sure this would be fun.
A very smart biters swarm could target strategic electric poles or intentionally block trains to destroy them, which can make the game very frustrating. This is not the kind of difficulty the game want to offer.
I think the issue is not lack of strategy but the deliberate usage of stupidity. When a collumn of biters attacks your turrets in a completely open field, they will charge one after another (or maybe in small groups of ~5), while the rest of the collumn chills. If the whole collumn would bunch up and charge as one, they could often easily swarm over your defenses.

Biters may be meant to be a supply challenge, but that doesn't change the fact that they are enemies trying to destroy you and your factory. Enemies that go out of their way to help you thwarting their attacks and killing them all, by attacking you one after another. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
This is exactly what I meant. Thanks for backing me up!
Ranger_Aurelien wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 8:10 pm
Note there are a couple of biter attack-related items in the "fixed in next release" folder:

viewforum.php?f=30

viewtopic.php?f=30&t=72036

viewtopic.php?f=30&t=72056
Good to know! I try to keep as-updated on Factorio development as I can. They're great at what they do! Don't forget FFF #300 is tomorrow!
Koub wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 8:15 pm
mudcrabempire wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 7:50 pm
It leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
You shouldn't eat them :mrgreen:
mudcrabempire wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 7:50 pm
Biters may be meant to be a supply challenge, but that doesn't change the fact that they are enemies trying to destroy you and your factory. Enemies that go out of their way to help you thwarting their attacks and killing them all, by attacking you one after another.
There is no reason why those creatures should have an innate sense of strategy. They may act instinctly, and their instinct can't have prepared them for you, an unpredictable external element to their environment that popped out of nowhere.

Also, each bit of AI has a computing cost, and for a game whose main purpose is not fighting, this cost is often prohibitive.
"You shouldn't eat them :mrgreen:" haha...

Instinct has its limits, yes, but that does not mean at all that they should have a bit brain. Instincts are, "an innate, typically fixed pattern of behavior in animals in response to certain stimuli." (Le googel) That instinct is in response to the stimuli of pollution, which they create a swarm to bring down. They don't make any other rational decisions about it I suppose, but no other move in any battle would possibly be, "You next, Barry! I'll watch your corpse melt over here with my pal Jim."
BattleFluffy wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 9:04 pm
Koub wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 8:15 pm
There is no reason why those creatures should have an innate sense of strategy
What about wolfs? They are pretty organized. :>

Bitters are well known for their foolishness...
This.
mudcrabempire wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 11:14 pm
Koub wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 8:15 pm
There is no reason why those creatures should have an innate sense of strategy. They may act instinctly, and their instinct can't have prepared them for you, an unpredictable external element to their environment that popped out of nowhere.
From what I know, most animals instinctively make use of their strengths. Even insekts, who are rather unintelligent can display impressive teamwork in the case of species that live in swarms (think about ants). Biters seem to live and attack in swarms or at least in groups, so it would make sense that they have some instinct of how to work together.
Koub wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 8:15 pm
Also, each bit of AI has a computing cost, and for a game whose main purpose is not fighting, this cost is often prohibitive.
Yeah, the big one, I guess. I would need to take a look at the code and at modding, before I can make serious suggestions, but two ideas I would try are:
-Biter attack parties move in some kind of column formation. Maybe changing that formation to a broader front would help.
-Biters have some kind of aggro range. If the front-row biters get in aggro range of a tower they charge away, while the dudes behind them are still out of range, so they remain in idle-walking-mode. This draws out the column, leading to the one-by-one effect. Maybe there is an easy way (in terms of computing cost) to alert the whole column at once.
Also this. Nature doesn't have to be stupid. Plus, these biters seem to have unparalleled strength on this planet possibly older than Earth, and they can't come up with anything intelligence-like for when the only other food is fish, fruits maybe, or the grass? They seem to be pretty dang smart if they can sustain themselves with about the same genetic form in a barren desert with such population as well. As for the question of alerting the whole column at once, yeah, I would certainly say those wonder devs can pull that off. Biters are in dire need of a remake.

Couple notes that I'm tired, it's 10PM, I wrote responses to every reply in this tread and it's hard to keep track of who when you're in the posting box, I have already been in a bad state today, so if I gave a wrong or duplicate response to a reply, sorry! :?

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Re: Biter AI pathing makes game too easy.

Post by Ultros » Thu Jun 20, 2019 2:12 am

I feel the balance of biter difficulty in this game is just right for vanilla freeplay. While an experienced player with a good understanding of biter pathing mechanics can trivialise them with effective chokepoint usage (as you have done in your screenshot with water and trees), it's much less applicable to new players who are not aware of these optimisations.

After all, humans have always abused the instincts of wild animals to slaughter them en masse, a very good example is the Native Americans and the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffalo_jump

You can always increase the difficulty by playing custom scenarios (such as Redmew Crash Site or Comfy Fish Defender) or by installing mods which make the biters stronger and smarter (such as https://mods.factorio.com/mod/Rampant)

PS: Consider using flamethrower turrets for defending your chokepoints. I have >200k kills on the leftmost flamethrower in my setup.
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Re: Biter AI pathing makes game too easy.

Post by SirSmuggler » Thu Jun 20, 2019 6:10 am

Form my observations, biters already are kind of "smart". Not geniuses by any means, but farm from blindly rushing in one by one.
My observations are mostly based on biters attacking as a counter to artillery fire, and this is the "intelligent" behavior I see:
- They form large "attack squads" and send them of toward my base.
- If terrain chokepoints along the way cause the group to be stretched out, the fore most individuals slow down to let the once further back catch up.
- The walk at a "medium" pace toward my base. When the first one of the enters turret range, ALL of them speed up to their max speed.

Taken together, that seems intelligent enough to me to be on par and even surpass any attack patterns seen in ants, wasps and such social insects we have here on earth.

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Re: Biter AI pathing makes game too easy.

Post by Ranger_Aurelien » Thu Jun 20, 2019 2:26 pm

SirSmuggler wrote:
Thu Jun 20, 2019 6:10 am
- They form large "attack squads" and send them of toward my base.
I've used "show-target" and "show-paths" to see what they get angry about and leave their camp to seek out. (Often an assembler or turbine)

https://wiki.factorio.com/Debug_mode
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Re: Biter AI pathing makes game too easy.

Post by Meggal_Bozale » Thu Jun 20, 2019 5:14 pm

It's mainly them walking to their deaths one by one and the exploit of one-tile-water-that-you-and-almost-anything-in-your-factory-can-go-thru-except-biters that gets me. They should at least see that other biters are charging around them and charge too, yes? And they are a seemingly untouched species on a possibly ancient planet still, so they should have more tricks up their sleeves, like basic attacks.

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Re: Biter AI pathing makes game too easy.

Post by Ultros » Thu Jun 20, 2019 9:14 pm

Meggal_Bozale wrote:
Thu Jun 20, 2019 5:14 pm
It's mainly them walking to their deaths one by one and the exploit of one-tile-water-that-you-and-almost-anything-in-your-factory-can-go-thru-except-biters that gets me. They should at least see that other biters are charging around them and charge too, yes? And they are a seemingly untouched species on a possibly ancient planet still, so they should have more tricks up their sleeves, like basic attacks.
They walk to their deaths one by one because they can't pass each other due to the chokepoint that you've created and the biter collision physics. It's the same logic as the Battle of Thermopylae. You've used the terrain effectively to slaughter biters who can barely fight back.

If you want a challenge, get rid of the lake, and fight the biters head on, or relish it and farm biters like I am doing.

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Re: Biter AI pathing makes game too easy.

Post by Meggal_Bozale » Tue Jun 25, 2019 8:00 pm

There are still scenarios where the biters are RIGHT in front of the turrets, and they just condense into a ball and slowly spindle out. No rocks, no trees, no water. just empty space and turrets,

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Re: Biter AI pathing makes game too easy.

Post by Zavian » Wed Jun 26, 2019 9:23 am

Meggal_Bozale wrote:
Tue Jun 25, 2019 8:00 pm
There are still scenarios where the biters are RIGHT in front of the turrets, and they just condense into a ball and slowly spindle out. No rocks, no trees, no water. just empty space and turrets,
So post some screenshots and a save, and maybe the devs can address the issue.

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Re: Biter AI pathing makes game too easy.

Post by Meggal_Bozale » Wed Jun 26, 2019 6:57 pm

Zavian wrote:
Wed Jun 26, 2019 9:23 am
Meggal_Bozale wrote:
Tue Jun 25, 2019 8:00 pm
There are still scenarios where the biters are RIGHT in front of the turrets, and they just condense into a ball and slowly spindle out. No rocks, no trees, no water. just empty space and turrets,
So post some screenshots and a save, and maybe the devs can address the issue.
If you want an example now, i just got one. THEY DIDNT EVEN TRY.

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Re: Biter AI pathing makes game too easy.

Post by orzelek » Wed Jun 26, 2019 7:40 pm

Meggal_Bozale wrote:
Wed Jun 26, 2019 6:57 pm
Zavian wrote:
Wed Jun 26, 2019 9:23 am
Meggal_Bozale wrote:
Tue Jun 25, 2019 8:00 pm
There are still scenarios where the biters are RIGHT in front of the turrets, and they just condense into a ball and slowly spindle out. No rocks, no trees, no water. just empty space and turrets,
So post some screenshots and a save, and maybe the devs can address the issue.
If you want an example now, i just got one. THEY DIDNT EVEN TRY.
You are intentionally breaking pathfinding by creating least favorable scenario for it.
Don't be surprised that they are not behaving optimally in that case.

Could they behave differently... maybe. But it's pretty difficult to handle every case especially with pathfinding. Maybe biters should be taught to mass destroy trees in this kind of scenarios to prevent player from abusing trees like that. And when using deep water for similar reason biter corpses in large amounts could change deep water into shallow one to slowly create a "bridge".

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