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Balancing a 1 player vs many AI game

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larienna
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I am having 2 ideas of a solitaire game where a player is facing 6 different AI opponents. I was just giving some thoughts on the balance issue.

If a player fight directly agains the 6 AI, this means that as the player kills AI, the difficulty of the game will drop and at a certain point, if I do not boost the AI, it will be too easy for the player.

In my starcraft solitaire variant, I think that was conter-balanced since the AI could do tech upgrades that would empower is race. It was also impossible to kill an AI which made it challenging all the time. But considering I want it to be posible to destroy an AI, I cannot use the same technique here.

Another idea is that the player could starts by facing 3 out of 6 AI. Then AI gets added to the battlefield as the game progress. So it forces the player to stay ahead of the AI, if the player manage to kill no AI at all, then when all 6 AI are there, the player would have no chance to survive.

The ways I thought that the other 3 AI could come in are:

- The AI is not prepared, so he needs to build up an army and that takes time.
- The AI is farther away or has obstacles to cross slowing down the invasion
- The AI is not at war and enter the war on specific turns.

Else could there be other ideas to make sure the game is challenging until all the AI are dead (or almost).

kos
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Joined: 01/17/2011
Increasing power AI

If you want all the AIs in the game at the start and gradually kill them off as the player progresses, this is also possible. I have no idea what your mechanics are, but an example of how this could work is:

VERSION 1: The AIs receive 30 production points per turn, divided evenly between them. After receiving production points, each AI pays 3 production points as upkeep.

The effect of the above rule is that when there are 6 AIs the player is fighting against a total of 18 production points per turn. 3 AIs will have 21 points between them, and the last surviving AI will have 27.

VERSION 2: The AIs each receive 3 production points per turn. When the first AI is killed, all surviving AIs increase their production by +1. When the second AI is killed, all surviving AIs increase their production by +2, etc.

This second version is similar in effect, but involves less math. Depending on the rest of your mechanics, the power increases don't have to be production; e.g. it could be an increase in tech level.

Both of these versions may inadvertently encourage retrograde play, such as cornering an AI into and then leaving it there in a weakened state instead of killing it off just because the player doesn't want to power up the remainder. Perhaps a better way is to trigger the AI power increases from some other board condition to encourage the player to eliminate the AIs rather than leaving them crippled. E.g. in a territory control game, trigger the power increases when the player controls 3, 6, 9, etc territories, or trigger on turns 3, 6, 9, etc.

Just some random ideas. I hope your brainstorming goes well.

Regards,
kos

Maaartin
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Joined: 05/15/2011
Nice

A dying civ could donate "all their knowledge" to all other AIs. Assuming all AIs start with a civ-specific bonus, this would mean that after killing the first enemy, you're facing only 5 but they all have 2 bonuses instead of 1.

This way the bonuses mustn't be too strong, otherwise you'd have no chance after killing a few enemies. The problem can be countered by taking kos' idea inverse: For example, each AI gets 3 production points per turn plus 1 for each other AI. This is easy to calculate and probably tunable enough.

kos wrote:
Both of these versions may inadvertently encourage retrograde play, such as cornering an AI into and then leaving it there in a weakened state instead of killing it off just because the player doesn't want to power up the remainder. Perhaps a better way is to trigger the AI power increases from some other board condition to encourage the player to eliminate the AIs rather than leaving them crippled.

This should work. Some alternative ideas:

  • A computer-controlled AI could simply give up if damaged a lot.
  • After some time (corresponding with about 1/6 of the whole game) without any AI dying they get some huge bonus.
  • The base production of all AIs grows over time and gets reset when any of them dies.
larienna
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Joined: 07/28/2008
First let me put you in

First let me put you in context. I have 2 game ideas that are similar with each other.

A- A parody of star wars where a player is the dark lord and controls an empire that wants to control the galaxy.
B- A sorcerer who suddenly decides to declare war to everybody and want to conquer all adjacent kingdoms.

Both would have a board similar to catan or Twilight imperium where the player starts in the middle and the AI starts in the 6 corners or 6 sides. The AI would spawn units and then they will move according to a path, like in any tower defense game, toward the player's home.

For the space game, each hex will give resources that the dark lord(player) could use to produce ships to attack their opponent. To counter effect the fact that bigger player empire means more power, rebels are going to randomly spawn and attack the player's territories. There are 2 pawns, one for the dark lord and one for the apprentice. The player can play power cards when a battle take place where the pawns are located.

For the sorcerer game, it's slightly different. The troops would follow a path, but the terrain is much more important. Sometimes a bridge would only allow 1 or 2 unit to cross, forcing other units to use another path. Some water area requires a ship allowing moving troops once every 2 turns. The territories gives no resources to the player and he must summon all his creatures with spells. He cannot build troops, but there could be an option to build troops in captured kingdom. So magic here is much more powerful and can be cast anywhere. There is also no rebellions.

-------------------

Here are the suggestions I have received so far.

Redistribution of power : Consist in making other AI more powerful as AI falls. The problem is that it creates the hydra effect where killing people make the other stronger. A suggestion was to transfer weaker bonus. I don't really like the idea. It also create a situation where the player do not want to kill the AI to prevent a difficulty raise.

Diminishing resources with time for the player: I could me another solution but I really don't like it for my game because I want to give the players the feeling of power.

Make Players end far away: This is the idea that an army pushing and destroying an AI will get stuck far away from other kingdoms. This concept will we implemented in the game and will be more important near the end especially if the AI are far from each other.

AI gets added as the game progress: This is the most promising idea. Either an artificial diplomacy makes AI enter later in the game. Either some AI are not ready to attack and needs to build up. Either some Ai have difficult terrain which slow them down and takes much more time to invade.

Strength of the AI increase with time: This is something I could do. My idea of making AI come in what somewhat that idea, but if I want all AI in, I could make them progress with time, like if there were now more prepared or technologically advanced. (This is what starcraft solitaire does). I will use similar mechanics for the rebel attacks. The more territory you control, more locations will be attacked by rebels.

Thanks again for the input.

Shattered Empires
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Balancing AI

One of the things to consider is how you want the game to progress and what you want the ultimate goal to be. One of the things to consider is that while the Player is concentrating their attacks to kill one of the AI, the other AI are attacking as well. The player has to be able to balance offense and defense.

Do you want the game to scale? Will it be different playing against 3 AI vs 6 AI? Is it a challenge type where you want to see if you can handle all 6 AI at the same time, but it's really difficult? Those are some key points when considering balance.

larienna
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I think I would want the

I think I would want the player to eventually face 6 AI, and that the goal of the game would be to destroy all the AI.

Still, there needs to be some sort of progression to make sure the game will end. So if the player stall too much, the AI must become stronger to terminate the player.

I have not considered what will happen when only 1 or 2 AI are left, since there could be less challenge and it could become obvious that the player will win. The rebels will sure give a twist and create disturbance, but I will have to find something else for the other game.

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